DSW's Store of the Future Aims to be the Definition of Omnichannel

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DSW's Store of the Future Aims to be the Definition of Omnichannel

By Jamie Grill-Goodman - 10/09/2017

DSW Inc. is marching its way into the future with new store designs, fulfillment plans, in-store tech and a new loyalty program, all aimed at helping it achieve the definition of omnichannel.

To start, the shoes and accessories retailer is using its stores 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," says DSW Inc. CEO Roger 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."

Now DSW says some of its stores will "return to their roots with a new design." 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, including  a new location on the Las Vegas strip, set to open in spring 2018.

Incorporating future-focused elements, the new store design embraces the aesthetic of a warehouse, featuring pallet fixtures and flexible roller conveyors. It also creates a 70% increase in units through vertical product showcasing. The new store layout is aimed at allowing the retailer to tell compelling, curated product stories across the floor.

"The customer expects that when they walk into a warehouse, that they get the same experience they had online," says 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."

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."  Associates will be getting one streamlined tablet, which DSW says will simplify their experience by narrowing their need to juggle several electronic devices.

"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."

In addition, DSW will launch a totally new loyalty program in 2018, leveraging its 25 million-customer loyalty database.

"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."

Also under evaluation are several services:  shoe rental, shoe repair and a philanthropic connection, offering a "non-commerce" experience to the retailer's most loyal customers.

"At DSW, we see an opportunity to acquire market share as the retail industry consolidates," says Rawlins. "We have reinvigorated and positioned DSW to benefit, beginning with a new brand mission: We inspire self-expression."

"DSW is delivering a new experience to customers who are craving something different from their shopping experience," he continues. "Our goal is to earn their loyalty by creating an emotional connection and by inspiring self-expression."