STORE SPACES

DSW going back to its roots for store of the future

BY Marianne Wilson

DSW has announced a new store design inspired by its warehouse roots.

The footwear giant announced the design along with several other initiatives intended to build engaging customer experiences, enable better associate product knowledge and improve operational execution.

“At DSW, we see an opportunity to acquire market share as the retail industry consolidates,” said CEO Roger Rawlins. “We have reinvigorated and positioned DSW to benefit, beginning with a new brand mission: We inspire self-expression.” To watch a video from the company on its updated brand mission, click here.

The chain is testing a new store design that reflects the aesthetic of a warehouse, complete with pallet fixtures and flexible roller conveyors, and creates a 70% increase in units through vertical product showcasing. The retailer said the new layout allows DSW to tell compelling, curated product stories across the floor, starting the moment the customer enters the space.

DSW is using its physical locations as warehouses for the shipping and receiving of digital demand and returns. More than half of its digital orders are fulfilled in-store.

The design is currently in test phase at DSW’s ‘lab” location at Polaris just north of Columbus, Ohio. The company plans to expand it to several other locations in 2018. In addition, a new location on the Las Vegas strip, set to open in spring 2018, will showcase the warehouse-inspired elements.

“The customer expects that when they walk into a warehouse, that they get the same experience they had online,” said DSW COO Michele Love. “Our goal is to give customers a seamless omnichannel experience. As an authority on fashion, we’re curating the must-haves for the season in ways that really inspire self-expression.”

On the product front, DSW is working to grow offerings and exclusive products. An extremely successful kids shoe test is leading to an aggressive add of the category to more locations, the retailer said.

In other initiatives, DSW is co-developing new proprietary store technology that will allow store associates to better connect with customers. Increased operational efficiency will free associates’ time and allow for more customer engagement. And the associate experience will be simplified by narrowing their need to juggle several electronic devices to one simple, streamlined tablet.

“This technology enables shopping on the customer’s terms,” Love said. “Our new technology will not only put customer-facing data like personalized offers, wish lists and purchase history in the palm of associates’ hands. It will empower them with valuable information to enhance the shopping experience.”

In addition, DSW is launching a new loyalty program in 2018 that will leverage the brand’s 25 million-customer loyalty database. Also under evaluation are several new services, including like shoe rental, shoe repair and a philanthropic connection, offering an appealing “non-commerce” experience to its most loyal customers.

“Today’s customer craves more than just a transaction, they want an experience. Our new program will be loyalty tailored to the customer’s level of engagement,” said Love. “It will go beyond points, and tie back to our mission of inspiring self-expression.”

DSW operates 511 stores in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, along with e-commerce sites. It also owns Ebuys, an online off price footwear and accessories retailer.

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