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Dive Brief:

  • Fresh out of sale talks that didn’t pan out, Kohl’s on Monday unveiled new merchandising tactics rolling out to 600 stores and online.

  • Dubbed “Discover @ Kohl’s,” the effort features seasonal areas throughout the store that curate “dozens of emerging, established, and diverse-owned brands that are new to Kohl’s,” the retailer said in a press release.

  • From July through October, the areas will include Back to School, Get Outside, Fall Family Fun and For Women By Women, a collection of female-founded activewear, the retailer said. Kohl’s Amazon Returns desk will be prominent, with a rotating assortment of gifts that donate proceeds from every purchase.

Dive Insight:

The pressure on Kohl’s to turn itself around has only intensified since rejecting at least one serious bid and otherwise evading two dozen other potential suitors. Now the department store is playing catch up to rivals Macy’s, Target and, more recently, Walmart in shaking up its merchandising approach.

The new Discover @ Kohl’s areas recall a few recent efforts at Macy’s, including Market @ Macy’s, which feature rotating selections of DTC brands; Market by Macy’s, small-format stores in off-mall locations that include local programming and exclusive brands; and Story, a shop-in-shop with revolving merchandising that never lived up to the original concept and whose creator left the retailer two years ago.

Earlier this year Walmart said it is testing new store display methods that, like many of the others, include curating and rotating merchandise. But the most successful of these is probably Target, which has updated elements of the classic department store playbook for a mass merchant customer base to great effect.

While Target has long created enticing areas to spotlight merchandise tied to the holidays or movie releases like Frozen, for example, Kohl’s has generally favored efficiency in showcasing goods. That’s about to change, in time for back-to-school shopping, the first major retail sales period of the second half of the year.

“The experience is not only designed to inspire, intrigue and bring a new sense of exploration to Kohl’s, but it also contributes to our overarching efforts to modernize, transform and elevate our store and online experience for our customers,” Ron Murray, Kohl’s interim chief merchandising officer, said in a statement. “Discover @ Kohl’s has also given us the opportunity to partner with truly unique and emerging brands that are hard to find anywhere else, and brands customers will feel good about purchasing from. In fact, Discover @ Kohl’s has paved the way for us to introduce over 30 new diverse and women-owned brands just this year.” 

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