Last week 24 Seven had the privilege of hosting The Retail Design Institute’s panel event, Changing the Blueprint: The Department Store in 2019 at our New York HQ. Panelists included Richard Hamori – SVP Head of Global Design & Planning at HBC, Tony Riese – VP of Construction and Facilities for Macy’s and Bloomingdales, Kedar Deshpande – Director, Financial Planning and Analysis – Store Design, Visual Merchandising, and Flight at Nordstrom, and John Santore – Manager Operation Merchandise Presentation at Century 21 and the conversation was moderated by Roe Palermo – DVP of Store Visual at Lord & Taylor.
Are we doomed?
There’s a notion that the department store is dead, but Roe Palermo made the point that “as long as people still wear clothes the physical store will be alive and well.” The panelists all agreed that it’s a very exciting time to be in retail. While there’s a lot of talk of doom and gloom surrounding the industry, Richard Hamori noted that with challenge comes opportunity. To stay top of mind for consumers the concept of the store will continue to evolve and change. Customer Experience is more important than ever and advancements in technology have enabled us to improve quality and increase customization to meet customer demand. Online presence drives people into the store and vice versa. The changing landscape has forced many retailers to innovate, whether that means adopting the latest technology, creating unique experiences in-store to drive foot traffic or rethinking the typical layout of the department store, there is a tremendous opportunity to engage new retail consumers.
The kind of rapid change we’re seeing drives a need for constant analysis and flexibility. Hamori noted that “the faster you can go to market the better.” This way you can test things out in real time. It’s important to be flexible and able to adapt. Use setbacks as a creative opportunity to improve and move forward. Of course to attract new customers many retailers want to create mind-blowing experiences that utilize the latest technologies, but at the end of the day all of these projects must be approved by finance. Kedar Deshpande was able to provide the perspective of the “finance guy.” He said when it comes to determining whether or not to move forward with a new project, he wants to see that the potential revenue outweighs the cost and that the project falls within a reasonable budget.
Would you hire your family?
How do you manage this rapid change and stay sane? Tony Riese credited the importance of a strong, collaborative team. He said you must think of your team as a family and hire people who are passionate and able to learn. Another critical element to success is ensuring that all departments are working together. When the in-store, online, merchandising, and marketing teams partner together you can create a cohesive experience for the consumer no matter where they shop.
‘Tis the season
We know it’s July, but listening to the RDI panel we couldn’t help but start thinking about holiday. According to eMarketer the forecast for all retail sales (online and in-store) projects growth of 3.8% in 2018, to $691.9 billion. While there’s concern about the well-being of the physical store, using last year’s holiday season as benchmark, “the fact that total retail sales still grew at a healthy rate indicates an increasing number of retailers are successfully managing the transition from primarily brick-and-mortar to omnichannel.”
It’s never too early to start planning for the holiday season. Let 24 Seven help you secure top retail and ecommerce talent this year. Our proven store managers, sales associates, customer service representatives and ecommerce managers will create the kind of customer experience that leads to increased sales and brand loyalty.