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The upcoming CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit event, happening in Chicago on Aug. 15 – 17, features a slew of top-tier brand leaders sharing insight on how mobile is transforming the retail and restaurant environment.

One of the many highlights will be insight from Alysia Kempa, director of mobile marketing at Sears Holding Corp., during a panel talk sponsored by Waterfall.

The CONNECT Mobile Innovation Summit focuses on the many opportunities that retailers, restaurants and other B2C enterprises have for leveraging mobile and digital channels to build their brands, increase sales and improve customer engagement, experience and loyalty.

Kempa boasts 20 years of experience in the retail industry for such brands as Stumps Printing, Oriental Trading Company, Bass Pro Shop and Target and has expansive experience in merchandising, merchandise planning, inventory management, digital communication and the systems needed for each.

Her primary focus is Sears and Kmart push and text marketing, and growing the contactable population for each. She has introduced contact strategies using API’s and one-on- one communication to deliver relevant messaging. She is now automating both text and push messaging. As Kempa is a passionate advocate of bridging the gap between physical store communication and digital, Retail Customer Experience tapped her for an email interview on what’s happening today in mobile customer experience trends and technology ahead of her panel discussion, “The Mobile Marketer’s Dilemma: SMS/MMS vs. Push vs. Beacons.”

RetailCustomerExperience: What do you hope attendees will learn from your presentation?

Alysia Kempa: You need a way to identify your customer so you can customize your communication stream with them – push, text, email, mWeb and the app;

Invest in the systems needed to know what your customer buys. While self-identification is great it’s often difficult to obtain. Adjust your communication based on the season – customer’s preferences change by season.  We currently are not sending back-to-school messaging to our entire text and push base – not everyone has children.
RCE: What are the top trends taking place today?

Kempa: One is the expansion of app functionality to differentiate and make unique to give customers a reason to download and not uninstall.  We have daily BlueLight specials and free Friday giveaways (giveaway only available to pick up in the store).  With a 70 percent uninstall rate, this is a challenging goal.

The second is the quest to make communications consistent across all media formats – circular, in-store, push, text, social and email, for example.  We do a walk the wall every week and the goal is to review all the collateral to make sure the messaging complements the overarching house messaging and the look and feel is similar.

RCE: What are the key elements to bridging the gap?


  1. Provide opportunities that entice the customer to transfer seamlessly from digital to store and vice versa. Examples are store signage to opt in and get an offer: Campaign-level program for a mystery bag – download the app to get the coupon and pick up the mystery bag in the store; and game on the app and you go to the store to click QR codes to see the reveal next step on the app (coupon or prize at the end). Our bigger problem is resistance by retail customers to shop online.
  2. Incentives to buy online targeted to retail-only shoppers – footers and space in circulars.
  3. Store pickup packing slips with incentives to download the app and opt in for text messaging with coupons.
  4. Grow your text opt-in file so it’s meaningful – people respond to text messages.
  5. Use MMS messaging for really special needs (higher cost).
  6. Include videos and DAP pages to help the customer with their purchasing decision or to entertain them in a helpful way – create top-of-mind awareness for your company.
  7. Use text messaging for appliance delivery and repair messaging.
  8. Delivery POS coupons redeemable in store and online.

Judy Mottl

Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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