This month’s Advertising Age, “The Retail Revolution,” discusses the reemphasis department stores are now making in promoting the attributes of their physical locations. JC Penney, Macy’s and Target are just a few retailers that have plans to reorganize and launch new sales floors and strategies. Department stores have seen a steady decline in market share, watching their portion of total retail sales decline from 10 percent in the mid-1980’s, down to 2.4 percent in 2009. Now, at a time where specialty stores and online shopping have dominated consumer purchases, department stores are finally stepping up and beginning the fight.
Abandoning the coupon craze, JC Penney recently launched a rebranding campaign focused on making shopping easy, and also plans to have all locations updated with “shop in shop” specialty spaces by 2015. “Shop in shops” like JC Penney’s current Sephora space have seen dramatic success in sales per square foot versus the traditional retail product spaces due to their specialty appeal. Target is planning a rotation of independent boutiques in stores called “The Shops” and will extend these to the company’s online site as well. Macy’s is also planning a revamp to the shopping experience with a pilot program, “Beauty Spots,” including concierge-style service with beauty department sales associates delivering a variety of products to the consumer rather than having consumers hop around to the segmented beauty counters to find the right product. By focusing on the ability shoppers have in experiencing the product and purchasing it right away, department stores are implementing new strategies to better compete.
However, it’s not just revamping the marketing, display or floor arrangement that makes the total difference – it’s also the staff. The benefit these retailers are trying to promote is the experience in shopping with them. That message will fall flat if the staff isn’t able to carry it through. The time, energy and money spent reinvigorating a brand is a wasted investment if internal stakeholders aren’t included as part of the strategy.
By focusing on consumer preferences and updating outdated practices, businesses can bring the power back to their brand. It’s a difficult road and one requiring a strong strategy, as well as the investment and commitment to implement, but it’s an essential exercise. Businesses can’t expect to remain competitive without evolving with their target audiences. Taking the initiative to review and analyze your competitors, the market and where you fit is a good start.
Reference: Advertising Age, “The Retail Revolution,” http://adage.com/article/news/retailers-department-store-salvation/233366/