“At DSW, we see an opportunity to acquire market share as the retail industry consolidates,” says DSW Inc. CEO Roger Rawlins. “We have reinvigorated and positioned DSW to benefit, beginning with a new brand mission: We inspire self-expression.”
DSW is beginning by enriching its assortment efforts, working to grow offerings and exclusive products. An extremely successful kids shoe test is leading to an aggressive add of this category to more warehouses.
Making Music for Your Feet
This mission also comes alive in a simple idea DSW calls music for your feet. It features initiatives which create emotional, inspiring experiences for customers, online and in-store. Recent examples include this summer’s mobile March On tour and concert series tie-in, and events like this fall’s in-store pop-up parties.
The company is blurring the lines between the online and in-store experience in a number of ways, too, beginning with the use of its physical locations as warehouses for the shipping and receiving of digital demand and returns.
“We’re unlocking the power of the warehouse with a synchronized and efficient infrastructure that virtually connects with the customer at every point, making DSW the place to find any shoe,” explains Rawlins. “It’s why we like to call our locations ‘warehouses,’ because more than half of our digital orders are fulfilled in-store, as opposed to in a traditional fulfillment center.”
To continue offering a compelling physical experience, some of those “warehouses” will return to their roots with a new design. Incorporating future-focused innovative elements, the new look embraces the aesthetic of a warehouse, featuring pallet fixtures and flexible roller conveyors. It also creates a 70 percent increase in units through vertical product showcasing.
The new store layout allows DSW to tell compelling, curated product stories across the floor, starting the moment the customer enters the space and begins their shopping journey.
“The customer expects that when they walk into a warehouse, that they get the same experience they had online,” said DSW Chief Operating Officer 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.”
The design is currently in test phase in DSW’s Polaris “lab” location just north of Columbus, Ohio, and the company plans to expand to several other locations in 2018. In addition, a new location on the Las Vegas strip, set to open in spring 2018, will showcase these new warehouse-inspired elements.
Engaging Customers with Experiences and Technology
In addition, DSW is launching a totally new loyalty program in 2018, leveraging the brand’s 25 million-customer loyalty database. Also under evaluation are several exciting services 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,” explains Love. “It will go beyond points, and tie back to our mission of inspiring self-expression.”
DSW is also co-developing new proprietary store technology which will allow associates to connect with customers like never before, facilitating their discovery and decision-making. 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. We know they’re walking in with their mobile device in-hand. They want the sales associate to guide them on their journey,” says Love. “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.”