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Kohl's rolling out initiatives to spark higher spend

Menomonee Falls, Wis. - Home continued to struggle at Kohl's during the fourth quarter, with comps performing below the store average except for housewares, bedding and small electrics.

During this morning's conference call with analysts, executives didn't say what the retailer plans to do about home specifically, but did outline broader changes in focus and messaging.

Over the past year, Kohl's has installed "essentially a new merchandising team across the company," said Kevin Mansell, chairman, president and ceo. As the company works to improve its ecommerce business - which is scheduled to move to a new platform this summer - Kohl's continues to hire merchants, planners and techs for the effort, he said.

Kohl's will also introduce a new marketing message, making greater use of television and de-emphasizing print. The target: moms aged 35 to 55.

"We will position Kohl's as the savings leader," said Mansell, who added this will require improving both style and quality. "We will own savings."

Kohl's tested some format tweaks last year, but they didn't deliver the hoped-for results, especially in home. While the formats won't go forward, they did generate some ideas that will be adopted, he said.

Last fall, Kohl's also tested a loyalty program in 100 stores among customers who either don't qualify for a Kohl's credit card or don't want to use credit. That test will expand to more markets this spring.

"We have to broaden our mix to reach more non-credit card customers," said Wes McDonald, senior evp and cfo.

During the holidays, the company tested in-store pick-up for merchandise purchased online. That test will widen to 100 stores by holiday 2013.


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