DSW has a new plan to woo the kids – just in time for back to school
DSW is testing new ways to engage with its youngest consumers – ahead of one of the busiest shopping periods for the retailer.
Since early May, the shoe chain has been testing a new store format at its Hedwig Village store in Houston, which includes child-friendly displays designed to meet toddlers at eye level as well as a hopscotch board, a basketball hoop, a toy car race track, and kid-friendly shopping carts.
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“The goal is to keep the child engaged and to make it fun for them,” said Jim Weinberg, director of merchandising at Designer Brands, who said some elements of this test store, such as hopscotch and carts , have already been rolled out to other DSW stores in an effort to enhance the overall experiential shopping offerings.
Although the Hedwig store didn’t open until early May, Weinberg said the company would reassess progress after a 90-day period and make decisions about expansion from there.
DSW has also reduced the number of different children’s shoe silhouettes in stores, a move designed to ensure the company can keep most of its shoes in stock. The supply chain issues that plagued last year’s back-to-school season have, for the most part, abated, giving Weinberg confidence in the retailer’s ability to meet demand this year.
“I think we’re demonstrating that staying in stock is really important to the consumer and we weren’t able to do that last year,” Weinberg said.
When it comes to pricing, DSW is navigating an inflationary environment, where consumers are looking for value for their money. Weinberg said he expects back-to-school to be more promotional than last year, when demand far outstripped supply.
Weinberg said DSW’s value proposition stands out from other players in the same space, due to the company’s loyalty program and wide assortment of footwear across all major categories. The company’s recent focus on athletic footwear has also helped it capture market share in the back-to-school space since 2019.
This season, DSW will also bring back a partnership it tested with Staples last year, in which the retailer offered a curated selection of school and office supplies at select stores. This year, DSW will carry this assortment in half of its locations, helping to supplement consumers’ back-to-school purchases this season.
“[Back to school] is important,” Weinberg said. “That will continue to be important.”
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