Like many major retailers today, physical stores are a focus to move forward in this evolving retail climate while still maintaining an active online presence. Kohl’s is certainly one of these retailers as it strives to focus more on omnichannel.
“We’ve really made the determination that success for us is probably going to come by becoming an amazing omnichannel retailer,” said Kevin Mansell, CEO, President and Chairman of Kohl’s at the ShopTalk conference.
Mansell said with store sales and traffic being down for a number of quarters for not just Kohl’s, but for a number of other retailers, it is imperative that Kohl’s engages more with the customer.
For Kohl’s, Mansell said, it will be important to make stores a lot more productive in how it uses the tools and technology to drive the engagement. The other thing they are focused on in this effort is to move faster.
“We have not used speed and we’re not as agile as we need to be in order to be a better competitor to both virtual retailers who have the intensity to be really fast, but also brick-and-mortar retailers as well.”
Mansell said the most profitable and largest customer for Kohl’s is an omnichannel one, the one who shops online and in-store. The footprint puts Kohl’s in great proximity to its customers, since 85% of Americans live within 15 miles of a Kohl’s location.
This led Kohl’s to determine that convenience within the physical footprint and proximity for this engaging experience is critical for Kohl’s going forward.
Kohl’s is managing to keep the stores productive when it comes to fulfillment, since a large portion of what is bought online is fulfilled in stores.
“The fourth quarter, 33% to 34% of sales were fulfilled in store, even more of our online activity was transacted in stores because stores serve as a return center for customers,” said Mansell. “Providing associates tools that make getting that order ready to ship to the customer quickly so ship-from-store technology, making the buy online pick up in store made easier and faster and more convenient, those are all tools we can give associates today to make it more productive.”
Kohl’s also hired a chief operating officer this past year, who is in charge of all store operations, all technology, the entire supply chain and Kohl’s ecommerce presence.
“Our thinking is that if the first and most important value at Kohl’s is to put the customer first, then we have to start running a business through the lens of the customer,” said Mansell. “The supply chain and the store organization and the online representation of Kohl’s all have to aligned together in terms of what the priorities are and the technology has to serve that.”
Mansell said in the past few years, their technology spend has been around $2 billion for Kohl’s. Investments break into customer-facing options, improve engagement with the customer and making the customer experience simpler.
One example of Kohl’s technology investment for being in front of the customer is its Kohl’s app, which has close to 18 million lifetime downloads.
Kohl’s is much more focused on improving conversion, one of the aspects of the Kohl’s app that has been adopted is its digital wallet feature. This addresses big issues for customers like keeping track of savings, getting the best possible price on a product and offers, and sales that are personalized to the customer.
“The Wallet allows us to eliminate all of the Kohl’s cash coupons, credit card discount coupons or asking the customers to track the ‘Yes to You’ rewards and dumps it all into the wallet,” said Mansell.
The Kohl’s Wallet improves the confidence of the customer that he or she will get a great price and it improves Kohl’s ability to make it a unique experience for the customer versus somebody else, and it makes the journey to point of sale much easier.
Mansell said of the total technology spend over the past 3 years between $400 to $500 million is focused on the customer with a very large portion of that in mobile.