Metropark taps NearbyNow for mall sales drive

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Gen Y fashion retailer Metropark USA has teamed up with local search service firm NearbyNow to drive youthful consumers to its stores from both the Web and mobile.

San Francisco-based NearbyNow, whose stores recreate the club experience with high fashion products, music videos cut with store commercials and live DJs, is looking to reach its core 18- to 25-year-old consumer in an interactive way.

"Our customers are fashion-savvy and tech-savvy, and they are always online or on their mobile phones," said Laura Bojanowski, director of marketing for Metropark, City of Industry, CA.

NearbyNow lets shoppers check store inventory from the Internet or a mobile phone, and even to reserve products to pick up. This new service is available in shopping malls in more than 100 cities.

"It's Google for shopping malls. We offer the search service of what is in the mall; you can send items online or on the mobile phone to get [an] audience of people [who] are starting online, but wanting to purchase in-store," said Scott Dunlap, CEO of NearbyNow.

Seventy percent of traffic to NearbyNow.com comes from Google or Yahoo, and then this links to the local mall page, where partner retailers can feature products that are carried at a specific location. The inventory is usually updated every 24 hours, so that consumers can see if a particular sweater is carried, and in stock, at a particular location.

"We want to make sure that everybody knows what is at Metropark before they come into the store." Dunlap continued. "Our consumers have a high intent to buy, and are intending to come to the mall within 48 hours. So it's a great audience to target, and they particularly seem to be interested in new items."

Once the product is found, shoppers can check availability with the recently enhanced NearbyNow-powered service and the bonus option to put an item on hold at the retail store of their choice. NearbyNow will confirm the product's availability, usually within ten minutes, and notify shoppers when it will be available for in-store pickup.

While at the mall, consumers can use their mobile phone to find products, view coupons and sale promotions. Currently, Metropark is using this service only for inventory checks, but they hope to add mobile advertising to the marketing plan soon.

"Our consumer is constantly texting, so we are exploring reasons to send mobile marketing messages to them," Bojanowski added. "We don't usually do offers, so we are thinking about offering content about new products - maybe a special gift offering, or to let our customers know about events in the store, like DJs who'll be spinning."

By texting a mall-specific two letter code (such as "VF" for Valley Fair) to the shortcode NEARBY (632729), shoppers receive instructions on how to search hundreds of sale items in the mall by typing such categories as "toys" or "sneakers." Each shopping center will display signage outlining the appropriate shortcodes and instructions throughout the mall.

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