Fairplay

Main Image
Fashion & Trends, People

Retail Tech: Department Stores Fight For Survival

By Sofia Celeste 30 August 2018

BOSTON, USA - Step into Macy’s in Boston’s Downtown Crossing area on a weekday - sale signs abound, but very few consumers can be spotted in the store. It is also just a few miles from Haverhill, the very place where America's most reputable department store, was founded by Rowland Hussey Macy, who opened his dry goods stores throughout the state of Massachusetts to serve the growing mill industry of the mid-1800s.

Boston’s Downtown Crossing represents a burial ground for historic retailers - Filenes and Jordan Marsh - two historic department stores frequented by at least five generations of Bostonians, shuttered their doors as behemoths like Target and Amazon began their trajectory as market leaders.

Behind the scenes; however, stores like Macy’s and Seattle-based Norstrom, its 117 year old rival, are fighting back, hoping that embracing technology will secure their future.

Top luxury and retail analyst Luca Solca of BNP Paribas said, in a recent report, that physical retail stores and malls are striving to cater to the perpetually-connected consumer. As a result of a change in human behaviour and retail interaction, many market players are upgrading their digital offerings to create a "well-rounded and customised customer experience". Some of these enhancements include digital and mobile integrations to keep shoppers engaged during their visit, as many bricks-and-mortar store visitors turn to their smartphones as a source of information and inspiration while shopping, Solca added, citing Japan's PARCO Mall app as a prime example. The Pocket Parco app rewards customer loyalty and incentivises customers to check in at the mall to provide added information like opening hours and store locations.

Changes have also been taking place on the top management level. Earlier this summer, Macy’s named Naveen Krishna, as its chief technology officer to oversee the company’s e-commerce revamp and because he garnered two-decades of priceless experience with Target Inc. and Home Depot, where he had responsibility for all digital platforms, user experience design, marketing technologies and customer care.

“We are investing in technology to improve digital and mobile experiences, site stability, store technology and fulfillment and logistics improvements,” Macy’s president Hal Lawton said in a statement. “Naveen’s track record in omni-channel retail makes him the perfect fit to lead the Macy’s Technology organization at this critical time.”

Others are turning a select number of stores into tech-hubs. Earlier this year, Seattle-based Nordstrom, decided to enhance its New York City, West 57th street store with a shopping tech laboratory - one of several like it that serve as a testimony to how the family-run department store is is working on high-touch retail, and other enhancements like return drop off bins for all purchases, including online, as well as life size avatars that display how bespoke jackets will look on made-to-measure consumers.

Across the board, in-store traffic has slowed while online sales are booming. Macy's for example has seen double digit growth in online sales.

Market watchers say that this is a sign of the times and a signal that competitive market players have done well so far in adapting to a new playing field where few will survive.

“Department stores have become much less important than before; a small number of high quality multi-brand independent stores remain, while a sliver has engaged in grey market activity,” Solca said.

 

 

 

Sofia Celeste
FAIRPLAY Editor-in-Chief

When she is not hunting down the latest in tech and fashion, Sofia Celeste is scouting artisan talent for her online magazine bacoluxury.com. Born in the US and raised on the Pacific Island of Guam, she went on to write for Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal. Her work is now regularly published in top fashion publications NOWFASHION and WWD.

BOSTON, USA - Step into Macy’s in Boston’s Downtown Crossing area on a weekday - sale signs abound, but very few consumers can be spotted in the store. It is also just a few miles from Haverhill, the very place where America's most reputable department store, was founded by Rowland Hussey Macy, who opened his dry goods stores throughout the state of Massachusetts to serve the growing mill industry of the mid-1800s.

Boston’s Downtown Crossing represents a burial ground for historic retailers - Filenes and Jordan Marsh - two historic department stores frequented by at least five generations of Bostonians, shuttered their doors as behemoths like Target and Amazon began their trajectory as market leaders.

Behind the scenes; however, stores like Macy’s and Seattle-based Norstrom, its 117 year old rival, are fighting back, hoping that embracing technology will secure their future.

Top luxury and retail analyst Luca Solca of BNP Paribas said, in a recent report, that physical retail stores and malls are striving to cater to the perpetually-connected consumer. As a result of a change in human behaviour and retail interaction, many market players are upgrading their digital offerings to create a "well-rounded and customised customer experience". Some of these enhancements include digital and mobile integrations to keep shoppers engaged during their visit, as many bricks-and-mortar store visitors turn to their smartphones as a source of information and inspiration while shopping, Solca added, citing Japan's PARCO Mall app as a prime example. The Pocket Parco app rewards customer loyalty and incentivises customers to check in at the mall to provide added information like opening hours and store locations.

Changes have also been taking place on the top management level. Earlier this summer, Macy’s named Naveen Krishna, as its chief technology officer to oversee the company’s e-commerce revamp and because he garnered two-decades of priceless experience with Target Inc. and Home Depot, where he had responsibility for all digital platforms, user experience design, marketing technologies and customer care.

“We are investing in technology to improve digital and mobile experiences, site stability, store technology and fulfillment and logistics improvements,” Macy’s president Hal Lawton said in a statement. “Naveen’s track record in omni-channel retail makes him the perfect fit to lead the Macy’s Technology organization at this critical time.”

Others are turning a select number of stores into tech-hubs. Earlier this year, Seattle-based Nordstrom, decided to enhance its New York City, West 57th street store with a shopping tech laboratory - one of several like it that serve as a testimony to how the family-run department store is is working on high-touch retail, and other enhancements like return drop off bins for all purchases, including online, as well as life size avatars that display how bespoke jackets will look on made-to-measure consumers.

Across the board, in-store traffic has slowed while online sales are booming. Macy's for example has seen double digit growth in online sales.

Market watchers say that this is a sign of the times and a signal that competitive market players have done well so far in adapting to a new playing field where few will survive.

“Department stores have become much less important than before; a small number of high quality multi-brand independent stores remain, while a sliver has engaged in grey market activity,” Solca said.

 

 

 

Sofia Celeste
FAIRPLAY Editor-in-Chief

When she is not hunting down the latest in tech and fashion, Sofia Celeste is scouting artisan talent for her online magazine bacoluxury.com. Born in the US and raised on the Pacific Island of Guam, she went on to write for Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal. Her work is now regularly published in top fashion publications NOWFASHION and WWD.

 

Photo: Reuters, Fortune

 

Photo: Reuters, Fortune

Read also...

e-P Summit Maps Out Tech Future

Gucci Supported Diversity Film Debuts

Yoox Unveils Artificial Intelligence Line

An Overview of SS 19 Fashion Weeks’ Impact on Online and Social