Retail Trends

Macy’s Hopes to Tell a New Story with Experiential Retail

2 min read

As more and more retail business shifts online, stores  today are desperately seeking ways to make customers return to their stores and to do so more often.

Macy’s, the US department store chain, is  the latest mainstream retailer attempting to give its stores a radical makeover. It plans to roll out a “narrative-driven retail concept shop”, called Story, in selected Macy’s stores.

The shop-within-a-store idea is not new of course, but Macy’s hopes that by taking an experiential approach and frequently changing the visual theme and the assortment, it can keep the idea fresh and increase footfall in the  36 stores chosen to participate.

Jeff Gennette, Macy’s chairman & chief executive officer, said:

 “The discovery-led, narrative experience of Story gives new customers a fresh reason to visit our stores and gives the current Macy’s customer even more reason to come back again and again throughout the year.”

Story started life as an experiential boutique in Manhattan that Macy’s acquired last year.  Clearly, Macy’s wanted to leverage  the Story concept across its stores and so breath new life into the tired image that department stores have to many customers, particularly younger ones.

Scaling up Story

It is encouraging to see that Macy’s has quickly pushed ahead with its plan and rolled out the Story concept to its own stores. But only 36 of Macy’s  680 department stores  will initially benefit from the makeover, so presumably management want to wait to see if the Story concept can be scaled up successfully.

The key to the Story experience is that every four to eight weeks, the space reinvents itself – from the design of the store to the merchandise – around a  new theme. That’s a radically different approach from how retailers like Macy’s have operated in the past, with long lead times and largely static assortments

It remains, to be seen if Macy’s Story initiative can inject new life into the tired department store format, and clearly one of its biggest challenges in making it work will be in the area of merchandise management agility.

The other challenge facing  department stores and other large retailers is creating richer, more personalized in-store experiences.

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