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DSW Plans New Store Design, Shoe Rental & Proprietary Store Technology

DSW announced a new brand mission, supported by key strategic initiatives focused on building engaging customer experiences, distorting traditional assortment, improving associate product knowledge and overall operational execution.

The company, which recently saw positive same-store sales for the first time since 2015, said it sees opportunity to acquire market share as the retail industry consolidates.

“DSW is delivering a new experience to customers who are craving something different from their shopping experience,” said DSW Inc. CEO Roger Rawlins. “Our goal is to earn their loyalty by creating an emotional connection and by inspiring self-expression.”

The company is blurring the lines between the online and in-store experience, beginning with the use of its physical locations 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,” Rawlins said. “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.”

To create a compelling physical experience, some of those “warehouses” will return to their roots with a new design. The new look embraces the aesthetic of a warehouse, featuring pallet fixtures and flexible roller conveyors. It also creates a 70 percent increase in units through vertical product showcasing.

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DSW says the new store layout allows the company to tell compelling, curated product stories across the floor, starting the moment the customer enters the space. The design is currently in test phase in DSW’s Polaris “lab” location in Ohio, and the company plans to expand to several other locations in 2018. In addition, a new location on the Las Vegas strip, set to open in Spring ’18, will showcase these new warehouse-inspired elements.

“The customer expects that when they walk into a warehouse, that they get the same experience they had online,” said 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.”

Modern retail requires next level technology and consumer engagement. DSW is launching a totally new loyalty program in 2018, leveraging the brand’s 25 million-customer loyalty database.

The retailer will also introduce new services like shoe rental, shoe repair and a philanthropic connection, offering an appealing “non-commerce” experience to its most loyal customers.

“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,” Love said. “It will go beyond points, and tie back to our mission of inspiring 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. Increased operational efficiency will free associates’ time and allow for more customer engagement. And the associate experience will be simplified by narrowing their need to juggle several electronic devices to one simple, streamlined tablet.

“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,” Love added. “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.”