Hudson’s Bay launches new bilingual app

The retailer's new iOS app comes with functionality for customers shopping both in-store and online.
HBC app

Hudson’s Bay has launched a new bilingual iOS app with functionality for customers shopping in-store and online.

The new app, available in English and French, includes a homepage of curated products and a bar code scanner enabling customers to scan a product in-store to view more details, search for additional styles and sizes, purchase that item, have it delivered for free and track the shipment. The company intends to launch an Android version and additional features, including integration of its loyalty program, over the next several months.

According to Adam Powell, the company’s VP of ecommerce, roughly 50% of Canadians live within 16 kilometres of a Hudson’s Bay store, making the app’s in-store functionality as important as the online experience. “Whether shopping online, in store or both, we want the experience to be seamless,” he said in an email to strategy. 

In building out the new app, which was developed internally, Powell says the company focused on ease and speed, since the “vast majority” of online customers still visit stores prior to purchasing and still use their mobile devices while in-store to research products. In a press release, he noted that mobile now exceeds desktop shoppers on Thebay.com.

A 2018 Salesforce report found that around 70% of shoppers access their phones while shopping in-store to read reviews, compare prices and browse items. But whether brands should launch their own apps or optimize their sites for mobile shopping is another question.

At a retail conference in May, a number of senior marketers discussed the issue, finding that while apps lead to greater opportunity for conversion, brands should ultimately consider the number of times they can expect customers to purchase individual items (rather than a variety).

Another point discussed by the panel was that for apparel brands and retailers, updating an app (versus managing an optimized site) can be more expensive, given the seasonality of their products.

Hudson’s Bay same-store sales fell 4.3% in the most recent quarter. Meanwhile, consolidated digital sales were up 9.8%.