You may have read that online retailers have usurped the throne of retail convenience, rendering department stores a relic of the pre-internet age. And with former retail giants like Sears declaring bankruptcy, you may think that the department store is a thing of the past. Here are a few department stores that are shaking up their operations, bringing in new tech and experience-based store design - keeping things fresh and relevant in today’s retail landscape.
Nordstrom’s reputation as a high-end department store is supported not only by products but also by a focus on an exceptional in-store experience. Stores are organized and elegant, with attentive customer support. In order to stay relevant, then, Nordstrom’s main focus has been on integrating convenience-based technology to keep customers coming. The store nails omnichannel marketing and retail with innovations on their social media pages and an app that facilitates shopping. Their Instagram and Pinterest pages feature links to items that take shoppers directly to their website to make for easy purchasing, and their app even features a scheduling page for personal shopping and online ordering. Their fusion of tech and brick-and-mortar operations has kept them competitive with online companies who prioritize convenience over a personal shopping experience.
The department store has thrived in recent years, keeping stores open as malls close and even renovating their NYC flagship store in 2018. Their secret? Much like Nordstrom and Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s has developed a successful omnichannel marketing strategy and maintained an excellent in-store experience. Their stores are oriented around customer service, with attentive staff available for consultation and suggestion. Meanwhile, their app is not only attractive and user-friendly; it also features special promotions for app users and a scanner that helps customers find products that are not available in-store. Along with an attractive store design, the company has perfected their recipe for a modern, elegant department store experience.
With the changing retail landscape, Macy’s department stores have struggled to stay afloat. But their stores outperformed expectations in 2018, and continued success shows that this isn’t just a fluke; it’s because of a deliberate strategy to update stores to meet the needs of the modern consumer. Leaving behind heavy-discounting initiatives, the store has focused on creating an in-store experience that makes an outing out of a trip to Macy’s. This initiative means in-store tech, like AI that lets customers view a piece of furniture in their virtual living room, and a renewed focus on store design and layout. Macy’s, too, has recently acquired STORY, an NYC concept store oriented around regular reinvention. STORY’s stock changes every six-to-eight weeks, meaning there’s always something new for customers to see. And the changes are paying off--their 2018 earnings outperformed Wall Street analysts’ expectations, and their stock grew about 25% in the last fiscal year.