Macy's West shifts merchandise mix

Carole Sloan, March 19, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO-Macy's West is significantly changing its merchandise allocation in the more than 80 stores carrying home furnishings.

Typically, the stores have been identified-as they are throughout the department store channel-as A, B, and C units. Under the new approach demographics will play an increasingly important role. A store previously identified in one category or another because of size and volume may have its merchandise mix changed because of demographic changes.

In addition, this Federated department store division "is making major efforts to break out of the clutter" both in merchandise offering and presentation and marketing, said Bob Mettler, president.

These changes are part of a two-year development program that involves marketing and store operations as well as merchandising, Mettler explained.

"We are committed to making the shopping experience easier. It's not about putting more merchandise into the stores," he said. More precisely, "it is about knowing what you want to stand for both internally and externally."

Macy's West will emphasize merchandise presentation, item selection and marketing with a focus on bringing in new items quickly and replacing those items that didn't make it with customers equally as quickly. "This will improve our turns and let us bring in more newness, more frequently," he said.

"We have to be more aggressive in terms of newness, differentiation, exclusivity," he emphasized.

Key to the store-wide campaign is a reiteration of its brand emphasis, Mettler said. In home textiles, for example, "we are reducing the space for bed in a bag and are putting more focus on style and brands. We have no intention of building our bed in a bag business."

Coordination, which is a key piece of the program, is seen in the changes in the bath area where "we have a lot more focus on coordination. We have a great fixture program and the coordinates are performing very well."

In the brand arena for home textiles, Mettler cited the corporate Charter Club program, and especially the luxury segment, as ranking up with the Ralph Lauren, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Klein's Khaki as key players. "We'll have Lauren and Khaki in as many stores as possible," he said. Upcoming also will be Donna Karan Home.

The expansion of the national brands into units that previously didn't carry the brands is new. "We need to bring more fashion to the stores." And while many of these stores don't have space for shops, "we will have impact areas."

There's also more opportunity in luxury brands, Mettler said, citing Charisma as a case in point. "Customers react strongly to great quality and great colors."

Macy's West will support its new merchandise approach with a marketing program called "Macy's More You," which represents a radical departure from its traditional marketing efforts.

"We're going to promote products, coordination; and we're definitely rethinking how we spend our money."

One definite direction will be fewer pages in direct mail, different approaches to TV-including non-price branding messages-and a departure from their techniques, as well as different media, Mettler explained.

"The strength of our business can't be based on price. We have to spend on building brands and coordination and, equally important, our selling associates."

To the latter element, Mettler said the company will be doing more in areas like training and motivation.

Macy's catalog and will be part of the new approach, and at the same time will offer product from Macy's East. With the two distribution centers in California and Atlanta, the two divisions can offer division-specific product, Mettler noted.

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