Macy's is bringing its new self-service shoe concept to three Chicago-area stores, enabling customers to bypass sales associates and slip on a pair all by themselves. The "help yourself" approach is one piece of a new shoe strategy the department store chain began testing at some stores in California and the southwestern U.S. last fall, focused on making sure it has in-demand brands, stocks the right shoes and makes shopping less of a hassle. All Macy's stores will adopt a version of the new approach by July, since stores that were part of the test saw shoe sales increase at a rate "well above" that at regular stores, Chief Financial Officer Karen Hoguet said this month during a call with investors.
Total Retail's Take: Like many brick-and-mortar retailers, Macy's is testing new ideas to make the in-store shopping experience as easy, seamless and attractive to consumers as possible. With the growth of online shopping — and in particular, Amazon.com — putting a serious dent in traditional store retailers’ traffic and sales, new approaches are being tested in-store to see what resonates with consumers. Giving shoppers the ability to do something themselves — e.g., try on shoes — without requiring assistance from an associate is a step in the right direction for me. I'm the type of shopper that has a good idea of what I want before I walk into the store. The easier I'm able to find that product and try it on (in the case of apparel and footwear), the more likely I am to purchase it. I have to imagine there's a whole of lot of other shoppers like me. So from a customer experience perspective, self-service shoe departments are a win for Macy's.