DSW Connects Online and In-Store with New Brand Mission

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In an effort to inspire self-expression, DSW is launching a new brand mission through various initiatives both online and in store.

“It’s about our associates, it’s about every single vendor we work with, bringing our experience to life in a different way to inspire you to express yourself through footwear,” said DSW CEO Roger Rawlins at Shop.org in Los Angeles.

Rawlins said the initiatives will focus on building engaging customer experiences, distorting traditional assortment, enabling associate product knowledge and improving operational execution.

“There is a different definition of designer today than there has ever been,” said Rawlins. “It is our job to go find the next designer, it is our job to find the next Tory [Burch], the next Steve Madden. We have to go find niches.”

Rawlins said that as Amazon and Walmart are going at it in King Kong vs. Godzilla fashion, DSW is creating loyalty with brands that differentiate it.

He talked about a new campaign called “music for your feet.” The idea is creating emotional and inspiring experiences for customers across channels. Examples include this summer’s mobile “March On” tour and concert series tie-in along with in-store pop-up parties this fall.

DSW will also be launching a new loyalty program in 2018, leveraging its 25 million member customer database. It will include shoe rental, shoe repair and philanthropic connections by offering a “non-commerce” experience to its most loyal customers.

The company is also co-developing new proprietary store technology that will allow associates to connect with customers via tablet devices, facilitating their discovery and decision-making. DSW said it will increase operational efficiency by freeing up associates’ time to allow for more customer engagement. The technology will give associates access to customer-facing data such as personalized offers, wish lists and purchase history.

“DSW is delivering a new experience for customers who are craving something different,” Rawlins said. “Our goal is to earn their loyalty by creating an emotional connection and by inspiring self-expression.”

DSW was also an early adopter of omnichannel, using its store network to fulfill online orders and take in e-returns.

“It’s why we like to call our locations, ‘warehouses’ because more than half of our digital orders are fulfilled in store as opposed to a traditional fulfillment center,” said Rawlins.

Rawlins said the “warehouse” in the company’s name hearkens back to its roots. It started as a warehouse that was only open on weekends, selling through the inventory, buying up more product and opening the following weekend.

“In the last 25 years we’ve built an infrastructure that everyone in the country talks about,” said Rawlins.

Rawlins said DSW has already combined and integrated inventory from DSW.com and its store side, and now is taking omnichannel to the next level. Near its headquarters in Columbus, OH, the company’s Polaris lab is both a store location and a fulfillment center. It plans to expand this concept to several other locations in 2018, including Las Vegas.

“We have over 525 warehouses, and we only have utilized 20% of our cubic capacity,” Rawlins said. “In this lab, we went from 30,000 units to 50,000 units, so we’re going to take advantage of all of this excess capacity we have.”

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