Written by Bill Siwicki
With its mobile app, Shoe Carnival is literally turning shopping into a carnival. The 400-store family footwear retailer has taken their iconic Wheel of Savings from its stores and recreated it in its app. That mobile wheel is helping roll customers into stores.
In stores, an emcee wanders, occasionally letting customers ready to checkout spin the wheel to see if they can win special savings. The wheel might land on additional dollar amount off any purchase, for example. And that’s precisely what they get as they checkout.
Shoe Carnival shoppers in the mobile app—available for Apple iOS and Android devices—can spin the colorful mobile wheel themselves once a day to see if they can save big. They may be at home, in the office, or even in or near a Shoe Carnival store.
The offers in the app are typically limited to 24 or 48 hours and must be redeemed in a store. So an app user might win, for example, 20% off women’s sandals in the next 24 hours. The retailer’s goal is to get more consumers into its stores, where they may buy even more merchandise once they look around.
“For our first foray into mobile apps, we did not simply focus on creating another shopping experience or replicating what we already had on the mobile web—we used mobile technology to enhance the in-store experience we offer today,” explains Kent Zimmerman, Vice President of E-Commerce at Shoe Carnival. “That’s why we brought the wheel of savings into the app, to engage our customers in a fun yet familiar way. These sorts of contests and games are key to what our customers expect from Shoe Carnival. Using mobile technology to enhance the shopping experience was a no-brainer.”
The principle here is what many call gamification, which is using the thinking behind game design to make non-game mobile experiences more engaging and more fun. To build its app and help craft its mobile strategy, Shoe Carnival used mobile commerce and mobile marketing app developer GPShopper, which in part specializes in using mobile technology to drive in-store engagement.
“Our customers have responded very well to the app,” he says. “For the most part we see a lot of app activity happening outside of stores. And that is driving customers into stores because offers are so time-sensitive.”
“68% of consumers use their smartphones in-store, 23% use their smartphones to check prices in-aisle and 39% are more likely to consult store associates who are enabled with smartphones,” Silverman says, citing Forrester data. “Customers expect their retailers of choice to provide a seamless experience regardless of channel or touch-point.”
“Very few retailers should build a mobile app that does nothing more than replicate the retailer’s mobile web experience—customers are not going to download an app for every retailer they may or may not happen to frequent,” says Zimmerman of Shoe Carnival. “Our in-store wheel of savings gives us a unique advantage because we have this in-store experience that dovetails so nicely with a mobile shopping experience. While our app is geared toward our more loyal customers, a consumer with a smartphone walking into one of our stores for the first time can get a lot of value out of the app, and that kind of value can help turn those first-time customers into loyal customers.”