Lessons Learned From Macy's Store Closings

John Krautzel
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As of September 2016, there are 728 Macy's stores. This number will drop by more than 10 percent in 2017 when the retail giant closes 100 of its stores. While the Cincinnati-based company struggles to maintain its footing, there are a few valuable lessons other retailers can glean from the issues faced by Macy's stores.

Consumers Have Shifted Their Attentions

Consumers once enjoyed browsing through racks of items and dealing one-on-one with sales associates, but technology and modern times have changed they way people shop. The once-popular shopping malls and brick-and-mortar stores gave way to internet shopping, where consumers can perform in-depth research and compare prices in the ultimate quest for the best deal. According to the Cincinnati Business Courier, Amazon is expected to become the largest apparel retailer by 2017, a spot that is currently held by the now-unsteady Macy's stores.

Modern Changes Don't Always Do the Trick

In an attempt to keep up with changing times, Macy's amped up its in-store technology, employing electronic kiosks for easy ordering and Shopkick beacons that alert smartphone-wielding customers of discounts, deals and promotions. To keep its online-shopping consumer base satisfied, Macy's even introduced an image recognition mobile application that allows consumers to snap a picture of a wanted item and find a similar product at Macys.com. Unfortunately, these innovative changes weren't enough to make Macy's store customers increase their spending or keep them coming back for more.

Brand Consistency Is Key

In response to popular retailer Nordstrom opening Nordstrom Rack, Macy's opened its own outlet store, Backstage, to offer discounted merchandise for budget-conscious shoppers. While Nordstrom Rack has proven to be a hit, Backstage has fallen short of the parent company's expectations. The problem? Nordstrom Rack provides the same retail atmosphere and shopping experience as the full-price Nordstrom locations, touting quality products, exceptional customer service and clean stores. Backstage, on the other hand, focused too much on low prices and not enough on providing the customer experience that loyal shoppers expect from the Macy's brand.

Customer Satisfaction Data Isn't Always Valuable

While Macy's has put a lot of time, money and energy into customer satisfaction surveys, the perceived results may have led the retailer in the wrong direction when it comes to determining what consumers really want. For this information to be truly valuable to any company, the surveys must collect useful data that is accurately interpreted and applied in a meaningful way, a mark missed by Macy's stores in its attempt to hang on to straying customers.

While the fate of Macy's stores hangs in the balance, there are multiple valuable lessons other large retailers can learn from the company. The bottom line for any retailer that wants to remain successful is to keep the customer experience at the forefront of every decision.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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