BoF: ‘Is it the Death of the Department Store?’

This is an extra post this week, but I came across an article on the Business of Fashion website and it brought up an interesting topic. Is it the death of the department store? Now if you go into any bustling city, department stores are one of the busiest stores you’ll go into on your shopping spree. So it’s difficult to understand why department store’s profits are slowly declining. What needs to happen is the reinvention of the department store in order for them to keep their relevance in the industry. Well looking at BoF’s article there several factors that have contributed to this problem, such as consumers choosing to visit brand’s chain stores, speciality retailers, but also the growing trend of consumers preferring to shop from the comfort of their own home rather than visit the stores first hand.

One of the key solutions to reinventing the department store is to ‘elevate the store experience.’ I have to admit that this is one of the reasons why sometimes I don’t particularly like shopping in department stores, I feel the store experience lacks. I much more prefer the store experience and consumer experience in monobrand stores. The consumer experience plays a big part to the store experience and for some department stores the customer experience is lost or seriously lacks. The article refers to a Canadian department store ‘Holt Renfrew’ have built a personal service experiences to enhance their customer experience. These experiences consist of ‘customisable VIP suites where customers can try on garments, rest and also leave their children to play’ (BoF). So this department store has noticed the need of improvement their customer’s experience. But also, personally I feel the customer experience isn’t just about the facilities given to the customers, such as innovative dressing rooms and the wide range of cafés and restaurants, but also the smaller details, the ones that can change the entire shopping experience. Over the years I’ve had with shopping experiences I definitely do prefer the monobrand stores due to the smaller, fine details like, how the sales staff communicate with you and how your products are packed for you.

Another way the article talks about the reinvention is the use of creative merchandising. Customers soon get bored of the same range of products, so maybe this is a reason why customers aren’t choosing to shop in department stores. So the article suggests that the stores should start supplying unique products and designers that are new and exciting, and possibly brands and designers that the customers has not heard of before. Of course this is a risky move, but so is most business moves, but it’s a creative one and a exciting one. For me being a fashionista, I would be excited to walk into new and upcoming designers, so if it works it could be very successful for the business.

I found Business of Fashion’s article extremely interesting, especially for someone who is interested in going into the business side of the fashion industry. I think there will always be a place in the industry for department stores, there would be something missing without them. And just like any business they just need to keep reinventing themselves to keep up with consumer spending trends.

If you would like to take a look at the Business of Fashion article for your selfs, the link is below,

Midnight

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Business of Fashion: Reinventing the Department Store Article

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