News Feature | June 12, 2017

Macy's Puts The Shoe On the Other Foot With Self-Service Shoe Departments

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

macy's storefront

Aim is to lower costs and boost sales.

Macy’s is rolling out self-service systems in its shoe departments in stores nationwide, which means that customers will be required to seek out their own shoes instead of asking a sales associate for help. The change mirrors “open-sell” policies used in successful off-price retailers like TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, as Business Insider reported. The move is an effort to streamline store operations and cut costs, according to Fortune.

While customer service was once the aspect that set Macy’s apart from these cheaper competitors, the retailer is now responding to changing demands from its consumers, who reportedly don’t want or need that high level of personal attention in-store any longer.  Karen Hoguet, Macy’s chief financial officer, explained, “Lots just say, ‘Leave me alone. Let me get the shoe I want and move on.”

Rather than having store employees measure customers’ feet and fetch shoe styles and sizes, shoes in the approach are displayed on racks similar to those found in the self-service style favored by off-price retailers. The approach could also be a blueprint for other departments across Macy’s as well, which would help reduce operations costs, but which also cuts into the notion of the department store as a full-service retailer, according to Fortune.

When Macy’s began testing the self-service option in a few select stores earlier this year, Hoguet reported that those shoe departments experienced double-digit sales growth, “well above the shoe sales trends for the rest of the stores.” With such positive results, the company had committed to expanding the option nationwide. According to the company, the rollout will be completed by August. 

Macy’s has faced serious financial struggles over the past few years, facing a serious decline as customer habits change and the retailer has tried to keep up. The retailer closed 66 stores in fiscal 2016, with another estimated 34 store closings planned in the future. Macy’s sales also are anticipated to continue to decline in 2017.