Shoppers at one Macy’s no longer need to comb through piles of clothing to find specific sizes. In the recently redesigned Manhattan Beach store, users can request items via the Macy’s app on their smartphones or in-store tablets and receive them in the dressing room through a chute.
The change reflects how Macy’s blends technology with the in-store experience, a strategy that has helped it grow as other department stores struggle to compete with e-commerce. The retailer earned the second-highest spot in L2’s 2014 Department Stores Index thanks to digital and omnichannel innovations like the My Wallet payment option and experiments with beacon technology. As a result, Macy’s has been the only global department store besides Nordstrom to gain market share since 2009.
The new dressing rooms – and similar low-touch high-tech features – are a way for department stores to stand firm or swing back as Amazon encroaches on their turf. Boasting a greater variety of apparel options, Amazon is set to surpass Macy’s as the top U.S. clothing retailer by 2017. However, the L2 study indicates that the physical presence of brick-and-mortar retailers ensures their continued relevance. Despite the rapid growth of e-commerce, 90% of retail sales still occur in brick-and-mortar stores.
“E-commerce will win on simple things, and apparel is not simple. It has too many size dimensions and feel dimensions. Online they look exactly the same and you can’t differentiate at all,” the former Amazon executive who founded the company responsible for Macy’s dressing room renovation told Bloomberg.