DSW Looks to Expand as a Lifestyle Brand for Customers

DSW has been seeing success in expanding into new product lines that encompass the lifestyle of its mostly female shoppers, CEO Roger Rawlins told attendees at ShopTalk.

“I challenged the team to find how we can bring services to life in a bigger way,” Rawlins said. “It’s more than selling shoes – it’s about making an emotional connection with our customers. It’s things that go with footwear like nails, and the results have been a home run. Customers who have tried it shop twice as frequently, and shopping carts have grown 60% on footwear, not counting nails.”

Rawlins said DSW has two store locations offering what it calls the W Nail Bar in its hometown of Columbus, OH, with five more opening later this year in Austin, TX, Washington, DC and nearby Dublin, OH. “Eventually we’d like to see a footprint of 200 to 300 in the U.S., offering not just nails but things like orthotics and repairs, all things that offer an emotional connection with the brand” he said.

Offering nail services is also a key to the company’s future, Rawlins explained. “Of the core DSW customers, 25% are millennials,” he said. “Among those accessing our nails services, 55% are millennials. It’s the holy grail – more wallet and younger customers, our lifeblood going forward.”

Rawlins said the 2018 merger with the Camuto Group, which was controversial in some quarters, has a number of benefits for DSW, including Camuto’s manufacturing capability and its potential to grow DSW’s private label business. “Today that margin is 10%, which is significantly higher,” he said.

Also tied to DSW’s future is its ability to expand its demographic base by appealing not just to adult women but to families by offering children’s footwear, an area where acquired retailer Shoe Company can lend a hand.

“We want to build an experience around that huge opportunity for us,” Rawlins said. “The penetration (into children’s footwear) is 10% to 15% at Shoe Company, but just 3% at DSW. It was zero a few years ago. It represents a huge upside for us, to retain (families) as consumers.”