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Sam's Club enters tablet space with commerce-enabled iPad app: ad:tech

NEW YORK ? Sam's Club is entering the tablet space with a commerce-enabled iPad application, a company executive revealed at ad:tech.

At the ?Tablet marketing: How we really use them? panel, executives from The Weather Channel, The Daily and Sam?s Club talked about the ways that tablets have been integrated into their brands and that the device needs to be viewed differently than smartphones. The session also presented trends that the brands are seeing based on their own mobile initiatives.

?The old mobile model is to think of things in a channel-centric way with each device separately,? said Matt Martin, senior manager of mobile strategy at Sam?s Club, Bentonville, AR.

?The new thinking is to start with the user for a continuous channel and what they are doing to engage with the new technology,? he said.

?Have to get outside the box in mobile, break rules and invent new things.?

Simple shopping
The Sam?s Club iPad app is scheduled to launch in a few weeks.

?The idea is to bring the bricks-and-mortar store to the iPad,? Mr. Martin said.

?It is all about lounging back on the couch and knowing what is going on at Sam?s Club,? he said.

The app is Sam?s Club first foray into the tablet space and is commerce-enabled to let users either buy things and have them delivered or pick them up at a nearby store.

Consumers can also learn more about Sam?s Club membership services and about its programs.

One of the most difficult things for retailers is finding a way to make the mobile experience personalized for users.

According to Mr. Martin, Sam?s Club already has a leg up on tailoring users? mobile experience because the retailer has access to its consumers? demographic and shopping history via their membership.

Tailored tablets
Scott Jensen, vice president of digital product and applications at The Weather Channel, Atlanta, also spoke on the panel.

Mr. Jensen spoke about the ways that consumers are increasingly swapping out more traditional media outlets such as Web and broadcast with mobile as being the go-to first medium.

?What is unique about The Weather Channel is that we are immersed in everything that is going on because weather covers and impacts everyone,? Mr. Jensen said.

?As people talk about the weather, they need to share and talk about it through devices and find a way to communicate about it,? he said.

According to the Nielsen Co., The Weather Channel's mobile site brings in 1.8 billion monthly visits.

The Weather Channel?s tablet apps have seen a 35 percent growth in usage on the weekends to weekdays.

The Weather Channel most recently created an iPad app that uses 3D technology to match the current weather conditions for users.

Mr. Jensen said that the key to an effective mobile ad is for consumers to interact with it on its own.

For example, starting with a full-page ad will make consumers feel overwhelmed and not engaged. Instead it is better to start with banner ads that consumers can play with on their own.

Scott Jensen, vice president of digital product and applications at The Weather Channel, Atlanta

Leapfrogged users
Christine Cook, senior vice president of sales and advertising operations at The Daily, New York, also spoke on the panel.

According to Ms. Cook, with the rise in tablet consumption, some users have skipped over using laptops and started using tablets.

?However, the time people spend on their tablet is highly engaged and they are spending time where they are focused,? Ms. Cook said.

The Daily is a daily iPad-only publication owned by News Corp. that launched in February 2011.

Although the publication is currently only available on iPads, the company has said it has a strong interest in pursuing other platforms such as Android.

In September, The Daily launched its first non-iPad product with a social news app for Facebook.

The Daily also has released special-edition apps, most recently with its current gift guide app with 100 commerce-enabled pages for consumers to shop from.

?The challenge is to look at how people are interacting with content, shopping and spending time on their tablets,? Ms. Cook said.

Final Take

Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York