Charlotte Russe Shoppers Overwhelmingly Opt-In To GPShopper’s Push Notifications

An ‘Appy Hour’ campaign shows consumers aren’t annoyed by smartphone pings and alerts if it gets them the items — and deals — they want.

Charlotte Russe's mobile app look
Charlotte Russe’s mobile app look

Despite the understandable trepidation young women’s casual clothing retailer Charlotte Russe might have harbored about alienating its customers with geo-triggered smartphone notifications, the huge number of opt-ins to its “Appy Hour” alerts suggests that there is actually little to worry about — as long as the messaging remains precisely on target.

Back in April, the San Diego clothing chain partnered with proximity retail platform GPShopper on building out its omnichannel strategy around the idea of its regular “Appy Hour” promotions. The “Appy Hour” offers discounts on purchases made in its mobile app or in stores, and a key part of its plan rested on the use of push notifications designed to drive sales and store visits.

Field Of Shopping

“If you build it, they will come,” said Bill Siwicki, GPShopper’s VP of Mobile Strategy and Research, invoking the line from the film Field of Dreams to say that if you create a venue that people want, they’ll just show up. When it came to building out the app’s notification and location features, GPShopper’s stats suggest that Charlotte Russe customers “showed up” in droves.

The April campaign alone saw Charlotte Russe’s mobile app drive six times more user visits than its desktop and mobile web sites (Today, visit frequency is three times greater on the app than the desktop or mobile sites, says Kim Stromberg, director of Mobile and Omnichannel at Charlotte Russe in GPShopper’s case study of the work).

On the specific date the study looked at, April 16th, sales were 42 percent higher on average when compared to the previous 20 day period; meanwhile, unique visitors to the app grew 61 percent over the previous month. Among the other stats related to the April Appy Hour effort:

  • Charlotte Russe app downloads were up 295 percent versus the previous 30 day period
  • In-app revenue was up 321 percent — an impressive enough number. However, in-store sales dollars wound up being 3.7 times greater than in-app sales figures.
  • Over 500,000 users downloaded the app between its initial launch and July 2015
GPShopper's Bill Siwicki
GPShopper’s Bill Siwicki

Driving Opt-Ins

Perhaps the biggest surprise about the GPShopper’s app-based marketing program with Charlotte Russe, which maintains 560 retail outlets, was this stat: 85 percent of shoppers who downloaded the Charlotte Russe app have opted in to push notifications. To put that in context, the average push opt-in rate for retail apps is between 40- to 50 percent, according to various studies.

“The reason that Charlotte Russe was able to see twice the industry standard when it came to opt-in notifications, was that, as a retailer, they were smart enough to say ‘You know, if we give consumers something to incentivize them, such as an special offer or a discount, they will want a push notification,’” Siwicki said.

"Push," Not "Pushy": Charlotte Russe's push notification invite to its "Appy Hour."
“Push,” Not “Pushy”: Charlotte Russe’s push notification invite to its “Appy Hour.”

Engaging The Core Audience

Like most forms of advertising, the interruption of marketing notifications can be particularly vexing to consumers. They interrupt people with a sense of urgency — mostly false urgency — and ultimately, can eliminate the engagement they were intended to create.

Basically, what GPShopper helped Charlotte Russe realize is this: concentrate on the core audience — i.e., the people who already have expressed a significant affinity for the brand.

“If you ask a random person, ‘Hey can I tap you on the shoulder at any given time?’ they’ll likely say ‘No,’” Siwicki said. “But if you’re a loyal customer of Charlotte Russe, you’re part of a core group of people who want information about deals, new items, and you want to hear about it when you’re nearby. All of the sudden things get exciting, and things get exciting for the customer and that’s how you keep them engaged.”

The ability to build a closer relationship with its customers using push notifications from its app also sets Charlotte Russe apart from other retailers, particularly in the fashion space. Many still find that emails are still the preferred way of targeting consumers with store deals.

The issue is that younger consumers, who favor the immediacy of messaging apps and text, are tending to move away from email. By focusing on building the app connection around proximity, Charlotte Russe is laying the groundwork for continuing its appeal to younger shoppers.

“Location is already becoming an important factor for brick-and-mortar brands,” Siwicki said. “Charlotte Russe found that its location-based — which were being tested separately from the Appy Hour campaign — push notifications were being opened 10 times more frequently than a typical email blast. That just goes to show that, when can start communicating with a consumer via apps and push notifications, you’re getting around the noise of an email inbox. And you’re getting directly to shoppers’ home screens. And it works because you’re giving people a message that they have asked you to send and because they’re in or near a store, that message is more relevant than if they’re sitting at home watching TV.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.