DSW meant business when it said it would up the ante on in-store experience.
The off-price footwear retailer this week unveiled its newest outpost: a souped-up store on the Las Vegas strip.
Half the size of a typical DSW location, the space — part of the company’s recent string of initiatives to innovate its brick-and-mortar presence — features a video tunnel, an arcade game and a completely new design. (Smaller concept stores are becoming a trend in retail, with Nordstrom, Macy’s, Target and Kohl’s all trying the strategy in a bid to boost experiences and profits.)
Perhaps the most showstopping feature in the store: a shoe escalator — or, as trademarked by the company, a “Shoevator.”
Here’s how it works: The store’s display wall of shoes includes three elevator lifts, serviced from a mezzanine over the sales floor. Customers order shoes from the wall via the DSW app or a tablet located at a nearby kiosk, which alerts an associate on the mezzanine. The associate receives the order, retrieves the shoes and sends it to the sales floor in a numbered bin by way of the “Shoevator,” where the customer picks it up.
“It’s essentially a giant shoe vending machine inspired by the assembly line-style mechanisms that we use to move product around our actual warehouse,” explained DSW CEO Roger Rawlins.
Customers can also win a pair of sneakers by playing an arcade style game called the Heat Vault Keymaster, which challenges players to retrieve a pair of kicks in two moves by inserting a key into a keyhole using a joystick.
“DSW has been transforming itself by creating engaging experiences that stir emotion and inspiration,” Rawlins said.
Among the store’s other innovative features are a video-covered passageway — serving as its entrance — “creating a sensory experience of light and sound on three sides, giving the feel of being inside the visual display,” the company said.
“Our ‘video tunnel’ is an immersive and exciting feature that makes customers feel as if they’re flying over a city, swimming underwater or walking through a desert,” Rawlins explained. “In reality, they’re traveling down an escalator into the new DSW sales floor, where more unique experiences await.”
DSW last year unveiled its new mission and strategic plan focused on boosting its customer experience by offering more exclusive products and enhancing omnichannel cohesion. It said some of its stores would feature a new design that incorporates “future-focused” innovative elements that also embrace a warehouse aesthetic. It also promised several new technologies in-store aimed at creating a more personalized shopping environment.
It started testing the concept in its Polaris “lab” location near Columbus, Ohio, where the company is headquartered. That location features a nail bar, shoe repair services and custom inserts. The opening of the Las Vegas location marks the extension of this project.
*This story was updated on Aug. 10 to reflect that the Las Vegas store does not feature a nail bar.