DSW on Wednesday announced a redesign of its stores with a new warehouse-like look, featuring pallet fixtures and flexible roller conveyors, a design that will allow 70% more merchandise to be showcased, according to a company press release. The design is being tested at the company’s Polaris "lab" location near Columbus, OH, with plans to expand to several locations in 2018, including one on the Las Vegas strip, next spring.
The footwear retailer is also co-developing new proprietary technology to allow store associates to connect with customers and facilitate their discovery and decision-making, while realizing operational efficiency by freeing up their time. Several electronic devices that store staff now juggle will be reduced to one simple, streamlined tablet, the company said.
DSW is also revamping its loyalty program next year, leveraging its 25 million-customer loyalty database, and is exploring shoe rental, shoe repair and a philanthropic connection, the company said. The effort also includes a test of kids shoe sales that the company called "extremely successful," according to the release.
"Warehouse" is in DSW’s name — and the retailer is going all in with a store re-design that promises to enable not just brick-and-mortar sales but also its longtime practice of using stores as fulfillment points for online orders.
"At DSW, we see an opportunity to acquire market share as the retail industry consolidates," DSW CEO Roger Rawlins said in a statement. "We have reinvigorated and positioned DSW to benefit, beginning with a new brand mission: We inspire self-expression."
The retailer is holding its own against Amazon, which has seen footwear sales rise significantly in recent quarters. DSW earlier this month said that second quarter sales rose 3.3% to $680.4 million and same-store sales edged up 0.6% compared to last year's 1.2% decline — turning positive for the first time since 2015. E-commerce sales in the quarter rose 27% thanks to mobile traffic growth. The company reiterated its full year outlook for adjusted earnings in the range of $1.45 to $1.55 per diluted share, according to a press release. Shares rose some 13% Tuesday on the news.
Much of the improvements entail further blurring of channels for customers, the company said. "The customer expects that when they walk into a warehouse, that they get the same experience they had online," DSW Chief Operating Officer Michele Love said in a statement. "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."
But the retailer aims to take advantage of its spaces not just for fulfillment but also as a venue for a customer experience beyond shopping, DSW said. That includes hosting events like concerts and pop-up parties.