Why the New DSW Will Look More Like a Warehouse

DSW in Saudi Arabia
A Designer Shoe Warehouse store.
Courtesy

DSW is going back to its roots.

Driven by an idea the company calls “music for your feet,” the off-price footwear retailer today unveiled a new mission and strategic plan focused on boosting its customer experience by offering more exclusive products and enhancing omnichannel cohesion.

As footwear-and-apparel firms continue navigate a landscape filled with digital disruption, DSW said it hopes it can “[blur] the lines between the online and in-store experience” by using 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,” said 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.”

DSW said some of its stores will feature a new design that incorporates “future-focused” innovative elements that also embrace a warehouse aesthetic. Such features include pallet fixtures and flexible roller conveyors.

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

The design is currently in test phase in DSW’s Polaris “lab” location near Columbus, 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 2018, will showcase the new warehouse-inspired elements.

DSW said it will add several new technologies in-store aimed at creating a more personalized shopping environment.

For example, the company is currently codeveloping a new proprietary store technology that will put customer-facing data such as personalized offers, wish lists and purchase history in the hands of its associates.

DSW said it is also launching a new loyalty program in 2018, leveraging the brand’s 25-million-customer loyalty database. Also under evaluation are new services such as shoe rental and shoe repair as well as a charitable connection.

“Today’s customer craves more than just a transaction — they want an experience,” said Love. “Our new program will be loyalty-tailored to the customer’s level of engagement. It will go beyond points and tie back to our mission of inspiring self-expression.”

On the product side, DSW is plans to “[distort] traditional assortment” by expanding its offerings and exclusive products.

All of the rollouts will fall under the company’s new brand mission: “We inspire self-expression.”