The words “Charge it” are taking on new meaning at Neiman Marcus, with the store rolling out free phone-charging stations in its stores. The kiosks enable customers to lock up their phones while they shop, then retrieve them with a full battery. The plan, says Scott Emmons, head of NM’s Innovation Lab, is to both strengthen its digital connection to shoppers, while making the in-store experience more enjoyable.
“If I’m going to do amazing things with my mobile app and deliver augmented-reality experiences, for example, it's not going to do me any good if the customer’s phone isn’t charged,” he tells Marketing Daily. “She is not going to waste her battery on something a store sends her—she’s saving that lifeline to connect with friends and family. In fact, if she’s worried that her battery is too low, she’s not going to enjoy shopping at all.”
Each of the custom-designed charging kiosks offer individual lockers, which use the customers’ mobile number as a lock. When a customer checks her phone in and out, the kiosk is “a marketing opportunity,” he says, and a chance to alert shoppers to special events.
The custom-designed charging stations, made by ChargeItSpot, are now in the Dallas-based chain’s Washington, D.C., and Tysons Corners, Va., stores. By September, it expects to be in 37 locations in 30 stores. That includes Bergdorf Goodman, where it started experimenting with the kiosks back in 2014.
The effort is the latest step toward bringing more tech into stores, and Neiman Marcus claims to be the only luxury retailer using the kiosks. NM has been using digital “memory mirrors” in its stores for some time. And it was an early adopter of mobile, giving every sales associate an iPhone, in part to maximize CRM capabilities. “We’re just getting started,” he says. “We’ll be delivering more in-store digital experiences.”
The kiosks also offer brands and marketers with an out-of-home sponsorship opportunity, says Doug Baldasare, CEO of ChargeItSpot, based in Philadelphia. Other clients include Under Armour, Westfield Malls, and Verizon Wireless.