Macy’s opens online ambassador program to anyone

Discussion
Source: Macy’s
Aug 10, 2020
Tom Ryan

Macy’s has expanded its online Style Crew ambassador program from employee-only to include everyone from influencers to ordinary shoppers.

Macy’s Style Crew members use the retailer’s Video Storefronts platform to create personalized home pages for fashion, beauty and home goods on Macys.com and share shoppable videos and images across their social media channels. Linking back to product offers from Macy’s catalog, ambassadors earn a five percent commission when items are purchased through posts, plus awards for hitting sales milestones and other targets.

Officially launched in early 2018, the program currently has 3,300 employee participants.

“We are thrilled to expand Macy’s Style Crew to the broader fashion and beauty community,” said Marc Mastronardi, chief stores officer at Macy’s, in a statement. “Expanding our marquee e-commerce program will enable passionate content creators to grow their personal brands while providing Macy’s shoppers with a highly engaging online experience.”

Prominent influencers to regular customers can now join the program with no limits placed on the number of social followers. Macy’s approves applicants based on a screening process. Mr. Mastronardi told Glossy, “We obviously want to make sure that the content that is communicated also reflects our brand, even though it’s personalized and unique.”

Retailers have been ramping up their investments in digital engagement with shoppers still wary about visiting stores. Influencers are still seen as a way to connect with homebound consumers amid the pandemic. A study from social media marketing firm Socialbakers that came out in June found marketers continuing to follow a recent trend of using micro-influencers with smaller followings who are perceived as more authentic and less expensive than mega-influencers.

Macy’s expansion of its Style Crew program follows Google’s July launch of Shoploop, a video shopping platform, and Amazon’s addition of live streaming in June to its Amazon Influencer Program. Poshmark, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and number of startups, such as Popshop Live, also offer shoppable content via videos.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more benefits than risks in Macy’s move to expand its online Style Crew ambassador program beyond employee-only? Will commission-driven video shopping become a big part of retail’s future across more fashionable categories?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"What fun. A great small business opportunity and a platform for those who have a vision and passion for things from clothes to cooking to express themselves and earn some cash"
"It feels like Macy’s could quickly lose control of the brand positioning. Does Macy’s also screen the posts that come out with links back to its website?"
"Why do you need influencers for a brand tied to promotions and discounts? Until you fix that, no matter how much “buzz” you try to get – you’ll continue to miss the target."

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14 Comments on "Macy’s opens online ambassador program to anyone"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

I don’t think this will do any harm and it is a good initiative that has worked for a number of retailers. However I am afraid that Macy’s is disconnected from reality if it believes it is a stylish destination. Years and years of under-investment in stores and the underdevelopment of its own brands mean that, for many consumers, Macy’s is way down in the batting order when it comes to fashion. For this to work successfully, Macy’s needs to revitalize its wider proposition and improve its general shopkeeping standards – in both digital and physical spaces. Until Macy’s does that a lot of these initiatives will be little more than tinkering around the edges.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust

I think it makes great sense – The potential benefits far outweigh the risks. One thing that has been missing with Macy’s, particularly its physical presence, is a strong community. The marketing has been largely broadcast type and not a two-way street. The loyalty programs have been transactional and incentive based.

Building an influencer community from everyday users is a great idea. If executed well, it will help generate more stickiness and loyalty.

Jeff Weidauer
BrainTrust

Macy’s currently struggles with relevance to its target market. Inviting fans to be part of the Macy’s brand makes a lot of sense, and may bring some luster back to the brand by allowing broader access to it.

Rodger Buyvoets
BrainTrust

In a TikTok dominated culture, there are definite benefits to Macy’s expanding their ambassador program. Gen Z and Millennial consumers relate to and trust influencers over organizations. This move will give Macy’s the opportunity to sell their products in the same “TikTok” style, but using an experiential platform where consumers can engage with brands by hearing from other shoppers. Video shopping is a good way to leverage this relatability, but whether commission-driven video shopping will truly take off is hard to say. Just as influencer marketing depended on generational trends, so too will this depend on the coming economic/digital climate. Retailers will have to keep testing their ambassador programs on their loyal customers to see if they work first, and keep an eye out for consumer trends emerging from COVID-19.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

What fun. A great small business opportunity and a platform for those who have a vision and passion for things from clothes to cooking to express themselves and earn some cash. Being a non-employee ambassador able to start a business based on a love for a certain product category likely comes with more freedom of expression, less employee baggage, and what appears to be a true opportunity to be an innovator and influencer.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Why do you need influencers for a brand tied to promotions and discounts? Until you fix that, no matter how much “buzz” you try to get – you’ll continue to miss the target. Other than the influencers getting something out of it, I don’t see this driving sales.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I really like this idea, but I agree with Neil about the stores, at least the ones I have visited. Most do not look anything like Macy’s State Street in Chicago or NYC’s Herald Square. The physical properties need attention, and the merchandise assortment, particularly fashion goods for women my age, are not very exciting. Fixing the art when the frame is shabby doesn’t work.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

This is a great idea, and overdue. User-generated content will help Macy’s drive digital sales of popular brands that these influencers will promote for them. What it won’t do, however, is drive foot traffic to Macy’s stores. Maybe during a pandemic that’s what they want as I’m seeing more and more photos all over social media of badly merchandised and very messy Macy’s stores that just don’t inspire anyone to buy anything. Until Macy’s pays more attention to their in-store experience across their stores, not just at flagship stores, additions like this influencer program will bring incremental sales but won’t move the needle far enough to make a long-term impact.

Jasmine Glasheen
BrainTrust

This is an interesting strategy. I’ve seen a lot of brands activate their customer base by creating ambassador programs, but I wonder about the ambassador screening process.

It feels like Macy’s could quickly lose control of the brand positioning. Does Macy’s also screen the posts that come out with links back to its website? How many people, exactly, is Macy’s accepting? Is there an ambassador post review team that makes sure their posts are on-brand?

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

It sounds like you’re articulating what might be termed “Basic Complaint about Macy’s #1”: they come up with a (seemingly) good idea, but then fumble the execution.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

That’s a good question about screening posts!

Phil Rubin
BrainTrust
1 month 14 days ago

Smart strategy — and not a new one — but as the good Dr. Phibbs appropriately points out, Macy’s is now nothing more than a promotional brand. Unless those “influencers” are also driven by the brands they are repping, it’s hard to see this moving the needle for a bloated, over-stored, tired and increasingly irrelevant brand like Macy’s.

The entire soft goods department store category as a whole is increasingly irrelevant, it’s not just Macy’s, with the possible exception of Nordstrom, which is trying really hard.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I’m of mixed opinion on this: in theory commissions were always a good way to match reward with performance; but in reality, the sales process is a long one, and commissions inevitably rewarded (only) the final performer … the one who hit the sales key. So in this sense, the program seems to simply bring the same old store-based matching problem online.

OTOH, by making the many players eligible, it does at least recognize the part they’re playing. So let’s call it a step forward … albeit an imperfect one.

Brian Numainville
BrainTrust

While this is an interesting idea, who is the target market? Will those people they are letting in help bring in others who are in this target market? If just anyone can join, then is just anyone their customer? Need more clarity of who the brand is trying to appeal to and aligning those who join to the focus of the brand.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"What fun. A great small business opportunity and a platform for those who have a vision and passion for things from clothes to cooking to express themselves and earn some cash"
"It feels like Macy’s could quickly lose control of the brand positioning. Does Macy’s also screen the posts that come out with links back to its website?"
"Why do you need influencers for a brand tied to promotions and discounts? Until you fix that, no matter how much “buzz” you try to get – you’ll continue to miss the target."

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