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JCPenney Uses Mobile As A Clever Way To Track Where Gifts Go

Written by Evan Schuman
November 30th, 2011

The elves at JCPenney have come up with something rather clever: a mobile app that allows for gift recipients to hear custom voice messages from a gift-giver. The recipient scans a QR code that is taped to the gift and instantly hears the gift-giver’s voice relaying a holiday-friendly message. (In my family, it would something sweet like “Here are the ^#&! gloves you wanted. So where’s the $50 you borrowed from me?”)

The reason this idea has such potential is the chain is using the mobile device solely as a tool, where both JCPenney and the app quickly get out of the way and let the recipient and the gift-giver truly communicate. From a CRM perspective, it’s clever for JCPenney because they set it up to force the system to call the gift-giver back to record the message.

Therefore, the chain can gather lots of mobile numbers for later messaging use and, depending on future tracking purposes, perhaps much more through in-store interactions. The first step, though, is to collect those numbers (of both the gift-giver and the recipient) and this is a wonderfully innocuous way to start.

Another CRM plus is that this allows for the system to start establishing relationships between customers, which might be very useful down the road, especially when integration with social campaigns is considered.

The program is called Santa Tags and the adhesive-backed tags are being given away to customers who ask for them.

Also, if the customer happened to purchase just one gift at the time the Santa Tag is issued, the system could associate that tag with that gift. When the recipient uses his/her mobile phone to access the message, the chain could finally have the Holy Grail of CRM: knowing both who bought the gift and who ended up receiving the gift—with potentially phone numbers and geographies for both.

“For the past year, we have been incorporating QR codes into our marketing and in-store signage and our Santa Tags are the latest example of how we are using this new technology to connect with customers with digital experiences that are personalized and impactful,” said Kate Coultas, a JCPenney corporate communications senior manager. “Santa Tags are an easy way for gift givers to add a little extra fun to their gifts this season.”

Beyond the CRM and future mobile possibilities, the chain is also considering using the various recorded messages for marketing programs. “After customers make their recording, they can opt to let JCPenney use their recorded message. We may look to post some of these ‘voice of Christmas’ (messages) online later this season, but these plans are still being finalized,” Coultas said.


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