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Mind The Gap+

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Fashion retailer Gap has been slow to embrace many of the tropes of etail and has, in many ways, fallen behind the crowd in terms of e-commerce. However, the launch of its Gap+ loyalty app marks the start of an interesting journey into more advanced omni-channel retail and could see Gap leapfrog many other fashion chains in terms of personalisation and omni-channel in the coming years.

While how that pans out is only going to be revealed over time, what is interesting is that Gap has chosen loyalty as the jumping off point to instigate its etail revolution. While much of what it is setting out to achieve is actually to drive personalisation, it has chosen to use a loyalty scheme to make that happen.

As anyone who has ever bought anything from Gap online will know, once they have your email address they will email you offers pretty much every week, however they are all general emails, featuring offers on clothes for men, women and children. This is very 2010 and kind of irritating – it certainly made me realise how used to some degree of personalisation I had become.

The Gap+ app is based around users downloading it, signing up – and giving some details to kick start the personalisation process – then using it to redeem offers tailored at the very least to their gender and, in time as it learns more, tied to the user’s taste and shopping history.

Eventually, the app will also be used to drive users to stores and will, says the retailer, be a key part of Gap’s omni-channel strategy, bringing personalisation to the store.

But why loyalty? Gap already has an app that allows you to shop, scan, pin things on Pinterest and so on. Gap+ on the other hand is described as “like having your own personal Gap store in your pocket”. The Gap+ app features discounts, loyalty scheme, blog content, shopping advice and lets you buy things. What Gap has actually launched isn’t so much a loyalty app, but a better app that has a tie in with a revamped and better loyalty scheme.

And this is the trick with loyalty. It is part of everything else that you do and it is also one of the things that will help you drive personalisation. In the past few weeks we’ve seen some big moves towards incorporating loyalty into other aspects of m-commerce, most notably with payments and wallets with veoo and more recently in an interesting play by Zapper to bring m-payments and loyalty – and ultimately personalisation – to the convenience store market.

Consumers get loyalty – many have had a Boots card for the past 20 years – and understand how it works. Putting it on mobile makes it work better for them and they aren’t frightened of it. Once you have them doing loyalty on their phone then they are going to start giving you, unwittingly, a lot of data about what they like and buy – and that is the key to personalisation.

What Gap has done – and what Zapper is aiming to do – could well put the fashion retailer streets ahead of its competitors and by the end of the year could well be held up as a shining example of omni-channel best practice. If it works. And if consumers still want to buy beige combat slacks.

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