Macy’s: Out of the Box or a Different Box?
Robin Lewis - Macy's Market - the Robin Report

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Macy\’s is going bold and fast with Market by Macy\’s! The 20,000 square-foot boutique opened recently in the Southlake Town Square lifestyle shopping center in Southlake, Texas, an affluent suburb of Dallas. By suggesting Macy\’s should go bold and fast, it\’s another way of saying I hope this is the beginning implementation of a grand long-term strategy for Macy\’s to de-massify and de-couple itself from its mall \”anchors,\” (as ironically, the malls have become — literal anchors dragging down most of their legacy tenants. Market by Macy\’s may fundamentally transform the traditional department store model. Read on.

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Transform or Transpire

In this time of lurching transformation for the legacy giants, they must be bold and not of the faint of heart — or they will be toast. \”Try often and fail fast\” is a mantra that Amazon has never been shy about, and Walmart, Target and others have displayed their own mettle, advancing two steps forward and sometimes one back in many innovative endeavors. Macy\’s gets less credit than they deserve for their many forward-thinking initiatives. The \”one step back\” part gets all the negative attention.

I reported one bold initiative when Macy\’s acquired a unique, theme-revolving boutique called Story located in a hip neighborhood in the shadow of the High Line in downtown Manhattan. Macy\’s also acquired Story\’s founder, Rachel Shechtman, and brought her into the organization as Brand Experience Officer. I lauded CEO Jeff Gennette for thinking and acting out of the box by bringing the new, innovative Story boutique concept into the flagship. More importantly, I said the greater strategic move was bringing the \”imagineer\” Shechtman on board. In my opinion, this move confirmed Gennette was committed to shaking up the traditional \”box,\” to find new ways to elevate the customer experience. Regarding Story, it\’s hit a few speed bumps while they tweak the execution, experimenting with different things. Maybe it will succeed, maybe not. If Macy\’s continues to do what they\’ve always done, even if it\’s incrementally better, it will not succeed in this seismically shifting industry. Once again, try often, fail fast: Be bold.

Your Market

Bold is as bold does. We may be witnessing the beginning of a super-bold vision of how a mainstream department store can be fundamentally transformed into a personalized, neighborhood, modern \”mom and pop\” national chain. Interestingly, the logo positions Market as dominant followed by a smaller \”by Macy\’s\” with the recognizable Macy\’s stars. Is this a subtle signal to the local community that this is not your grandmother\’s Macy\’s, of big boxes all over the country?? That this is something special, curated with locally preferred products and services, including locally produced brands? In essence, it\’s Your Market by Macy\’s.

[callout]We may be witnessing the beginning of a super-bold vision of how a mainstream department store can be fundamentally transformed into a personalized, neighborhood, modern “mom and pop” national chain.[/callout]

In my opinion, the Market initiative is yet another out-of-the-box concept imagined and created by Shechtman. She spent a major part of 2019 immersing herself in the local Texan community to understand what would be compelling to consumers in terms of products and experiences. She landed on combining products and experiences with locally produced brands, creating the first Market in Southlake, Texas.

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As reported in the Dallas Morning News, Shechtman \”…even went to a couple of Southlake Carroll Dragons football games and arranged for Tommy Hilfiger to design exclusive product for the Dragons. Mayor Laura Hill is one of her new best friends, and she can tell the Uber driver when he\’s going the wrong way.\” Shechtman said in an interview, \”I bump into people I know in local restaurants now.\” Shechtman said she\’s obsessed with the concept of \”store as community,\” and that was the driving force behind the new concept. \”The way we talk about this space is [as] a social shopping space that celebrates discovery, community and convenience. We want it to feel like we\’re hosting people,\” Shechtman said. \”Like, \’welcome to our home,\’ but in a way that feels natural and authentic. We are very much a store, but we also want it to be a joyful experience and an inviting experience. We\’re using the past to impact the present and returning to a modern main street,\” Shechtman said. Back to the future.

What\’s in Store

While Market at Macy\’s houses women\’s, men\’s and children\’s apparel (including Austin-based Texas Standard men\’s apparel), beauty, accessories and some home décor, it also features two new concepts: Getchell\’s Apothecary beauty space (named after Margaret Getchell, Macy\’s first female executive in 1860) and a cafe named Herald where people can purchase local Oak Cliff Coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks and local craft cocktails, beer and wine. Artisanal products include the popular Veldhuizen Texas Gold cheddar cheese. Regularly scheduled events will include cookbook authors and upcoming events hosted by the Market by Macy\’s are noted on a community calendar.

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It\’s the Distribution Century Driven by Personalization

Macy\’s does get it. And it\’s the time for getting it right. The strategic positioning of Market by Macy\’s is spot on. The consumer is the new POS wherever they are. They do not have to travel to a store or mall anymore to procure their provisions. Time is the new luxury and consumers are on a speed trip of expectations from retailers. So, Macy\’s must go to them both digitally and physically on all possible distribution platforms.

Market by Macy\’s has come to customers into their own neighborhoods to bring them local products and community experiences. Bridging physical and digital, it\’s also a place where consumers can place online orders or return online items. And this is not a one-off tactic; additional Markets by Macy\’s are planned for Fort Worth, Atlanta and Washington DC.

Think of this new venture as a personalized, neighborhood, modern \”mom and pop,\” intimate national chain of Markets by Macy\’s. It\’s the beginning of a de-massification of all but a few of well-performing experiential flagships and de-coupling them from underperforming malls. This transformed non-department store model aligns with the new young consumer culture. It\’s got all the boxes checked off: experiential, artisanal, local, convenient, novel and engaging.

My message: Macy\’s, stay bold, be innovative and move quickly.

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