Late this summer, lifestyle and performance footwear brand SKECHERS announced it was opening a flagship retail store inside the World Trade Center's new shopping district. The store is SKECHERS’ fifth in New York City, and will be an integral part in the launch of the new retail center in Lower Manhattan. Total Retail interviewed George Zelinsky, president of retail at SKECHERS, about the new flagship store as well as the retailer's strategy for integrating brick-and-mortar into its omnichannel mix.
Total Retail: Why did SKECHERS decide to open a new storefront in One World Trade Center?
George Zelinsky: SKECHERS has four other stores in Manhattan alone, so our brand has had a presence in the region for many years. This will be our first in Lower Manhattan, and we’re thrilled to be part of this incredible new shopping destination. It’s fair to say that One World Trade Center is the most eagerly anticipated retail destination that the city has had in decades. It’s drawn an impressive list of premium brands, and will be a huge draw for tourists as well as locals who travel through here daily. This gorgeous new retail, shopping and entertainment mecca will be one of New York’s most popular spots for years to come.
TR: Can you tell us about the factors that SKECHERS weighs before entering a market, increasing its presence in a market or closing stores in a market?
GZ: There are a wide range of factors behind where we launch and expand SKECHERS stores. Simply put, we often look for high-profile locations — tourist magnets that have great visibility and massive foot traffic as we continue to build SKECHERS globally, and locations that are conveniently accessible to locals. Being at a subway stop and the One World Trade Center … this is an incredible location.
TR: Tell us about the design of this new store at One World Trade Center. What kind of experience do you want to create for in-store shoppers, not only in One World Trade Center, but all of SKECHERS’ worldwide stores?
GZ: We always present our stores as a living catalog — a destination where shoppers can immerse themselves in our brand and fully experience the SKECHERS lifestyle. And in recent years, we’ve been able to take this experience to a new level with our state-of-the-art shopping environment and technology. Our One World Trade Center store will feature our newest design: Euro modern-inspired black granite floors, large-scale graphics, innovative audio/video presentations, and LED-lit shelves, fixtures and storefront displays, along with convenient mobile pay options for shoppers to purchase our product storewide. And it will showcase our entire house of brands — lifestyle product for men and women, a SKECHERS Performance shoe and apparel section, and SKECHERS Kids for boys and girls.
TR: Why is SKECHERS committed to brick-and-mortar retail at a time when many other companies are making moves to close stores?
GZ: Shoes can be a very tactile experience, and we’ve found that there are two distinct groups of consumers: those who want to purchase their product from the convenience of their home, and those who want to touch, feel, walk in and try on multiple pairs in person. We’ve been able to expand our retail network for this reason — to enable shoppers to hold our shoes and experience their comfort and fit firsthand. We’ve also found that our stores serve the additional purpose of promoting our brand and familiarizing consumers with our offering, which is especially nice in new markets where we can build our presence.
TR: How is SKECHERS integrating its physical stores into its other channels, notably mobile and online?
GZ: We see it as a two-way street: all of our sales channels support and elevate each other, and help our brand thrive. We use our brick-and-mortar stores as opportunities to test new styles and trends, which then help us place proven merchandise with our accounts and online. And our online and mobile consumers frequently visit our stores to try on styles that they see at skechers.com. Shoppers can even visit our stores and order shoes from multiple retail locations, and our stores will ship their pairs directly to their homes. Since different demographics are drawn to different shopping experiences, we’re able to broaden our reach and build a more powerful brand presence by marketing across all of our channels.
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