Is Macy's fighting the good fight?

ASC_842's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 566

I hope they survive another 20 years. Macy's is a great American department store icon. It sucks that they are dealing with Amazon, but it looks like they are making efforts to compete with it. Despite the issues with Amazon feel like they may not be competitive in their offerings as better deals and more fashionable selections may be found in fast fashion like Zara along with other clothing stores such as Banana Republic, GAP, and Nordstrom. I have only read articles and report on Macy's changing things up to deal with Amazon and online shopping, but I have read nothing on their ability to compete with the above mentioned stores/brands.

Their clothes is expensive and cheesy, tailored towards metrosexual males having a mid life crisis or teens looking for clothes. Lady's clothes seems to be lacking in selection and style. Its really sad. I hope JCP's bankruptcy helps em out a bit by driving customers to its backstage offerings.

I think its decision to amp up the experience aspect of shopping may work, but only if its at malls and location where its already happening.

Is Macy's doomed for failure?

Comments (23)

May 8, 2019

Doomed. The Macy's on Michigan Ave in Chicago sucks. Nordstrom > Macy's

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May 8, 2019

Can never find anything good in Macy's, they're done

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May 8, 2019

The majority of Amazon's profitability comes from AWS, and that is a hyper-competitive space, especially considering the other big players. I think the retailers that blend ecomm and B&M most effectively will do fairly well, especially when Amazon's chickens come home to roost. Right now, we're still in the paradigm shift from traditional B&M to ecomm with both Amazon and traditional B&M running towards the center.

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May 9, 2019

AWS is not in a hyper competitive space.

May 8, 2019

Hyper-competitive could be a stretch for now, but considering the other players in that space it'll be hard to maintain dominance over the long-term.

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May 12, 2019

Aws profitability is not real, it is accounting fraud.

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May 8, 2019

I haven't shopped consistently in Macy's in easily a decade or more - a far cry from my younger days, when my family went there for virtually everything from furniture and food as well as clothing, plus seasonal things like Santaland and the Flower Show. When my dad was alive, we would go to their coin department as my dad collected stamps and coins. It was a true department store once and had something for everyone.

Even with their massive $400M renovations a few years back, it did very little to inspire my return after going to see the changes they'd made. Seems they are catering more and more to tourists and they are going the route of carrying ridiculous 0 and 00 sizes in women's clothing...which, fine and understandable, if it sells, then that's what you stock.

However, I can't stand when there is literally too much inventory squeezed onto the retail floor that you are almost in constant contact with the clothes racks/displays as you walk around - I remember my mom and I getting static cling and shocking each other when we'd tap one another on the shoulder to show each other items during one of the last times we went.

Nordstrom is opening in the fall and I hope it's more like Lord & Taylor, Saks or Bergdorf's than Macy's, in regards to having a bit more open space. If all retailers are going to just cram their every inch of square footage with stock, it's simply going to push me to shop online more and/or shop the sales at Sak's and Bergdorf's more.

Everyone is revamping things in a way that puts more stock on the floor. I recently wrote to DSW to complain about their new floor layout and told them they lost a customer.

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May 8, 2019
InfoDominatrix:

I recently wrote to DSW to complain about their new floor layout and told them they lost a customer.

Lol. That's awesome.

May 8, 2019

I have been going to DSW on and off for years, but I don't remember them changing their layout. Can you elaborate?

Most Helpful
May 8, 2019

Here is my ranting elaboration... or my elaborate rant... take your pick, LOL.

When I wrote DSW in Nov 2018, they stated the new floor remodel would eventually take place at all locations. I was recently at the Palisades mall this past weekend and noticed they still have the old layout, but the Yonkers store has the new layout, which is where I most often went.

New layout-wise, they've apparently embraced the W in DSW - more of a big-box/Costco/"warehouse" vibe. You get little sense of where you are in the store, because the aisles are now basically walls of product that are easily over 10 feet high. These walls of product now make the store much darker. New layout doesn't lend itself to your trying shoes on, walking up and down a longer aisle to feel how the shoe fits unless you want to carry your purse/other shopping with you, as you can no longer put your purse/other shopping down on the small benches and keep it in sight as you test out your new shoes.

You used to be able to spot the boot aisle from the sneaker aisle and the flats aisle from the heel aisle. Now you have to circle back and forth to the ends of each aisle to peek and find where each and every other style is now located/where that particular inventory display ends. It's tough to be sure that you have checked everything out in a certain section before moving on.

The only good point that still exists from the past layout is the clearance/sale section, still separate from all else and located at the back of the store.

They also un-did the hosiery section which was all in one place. You now have hosiery at the ends of the aisles as if DSW were a supermarket and they're trying to make sure there are boxes of rice to be grabbed as you walk through an isle to grab a can of beans or chili or veggies. How am I to figure out where the Via Spiga stockings are and if my size and favorite shades are in stock? Walking through multiple aisles is a waste of my time compared to when I could walk up to an entire wall of hosiery and quickly surmise if my size and preferred shades were in stock.

Add to that, Hubby also found this new angled-aisle set up badly thought-out and felt he had to work through the women's section to get to the men's, unlike in the previous store layout where the men's aisles were easily distinguished from the women's and kids' sections.

Granted, I get it - as a business model, they'll now have more inventory on the retail floor plus this new layout very likely increases the length of time customers spend in-store. Whereas I can normally be in and out in literally 15 minutes, when I was there in September, it took me 40 minutes to shop for hiking boots. The new layout definitely makes me think of Stew Leonard's "nautilus" layout where you go round and round as there's technically no aisles, so you're damn-near forced to stroll the supermarket in its entirety, which likely guarantees you'll pick up more items than you originally came in for.

From time to time I shop DSW's website for hosiery but what a bummer as I've always preferred to shop in brick and mortar stores for my footwear. :(

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May 8, 2019

"Their clothes is expensive and cheesy, tailored towards metrosexual males having a mid life crisis or teens looking for clothes"

I don't think you've actually been to a Macy's before...

May 8, 2019

Its over priced for what you get. INC makes all these cheesey vnecks with faux lether shoulder pads and "multi-media" jackets.

May 9, 2019

Dude what teens do you know shop there. It's all moms

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May 11, 2019

How it is possible to compete effectively in a mature industry when you're saddled w/ a fucking massive RE footprint while your competitors are not is beyond me. I don't see them sticking around.

I come from down in the Valley, where Mr. when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done.

May 11, 2019

As a customer, I like that Macy's carries a lot of brands and lots of discounted items. However, most stores look old, messy, and not clean. I think Macy's needs to close a lot of stores and invest in fewer but better stores. I've been to stores that really damage Macy's reputation. Online competition will be there and grow stronger, but people will continue to want to go shopping for clothes and stuff in physical locations too.

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May 11, 2019

Honestly, if JCP is still clinging on to dear life (albeit by a thread), then Macy's is going to be around for at least another 20 years. Hopefully, Macy's will get it's shit together in the meantime, but no doubt brick-and-mortar retailing is a BITCH.

Macy's has been given the privilege of learning from it's peers' mistakes. As a result, the company is investing to refresh it's stores. It faces way, way less B/M competition than in the past. Sears, Bon-Ton/Carson's, JCP, Lord & Taylor, etc. are basically gone already.

As many malls go dark and Macy's voluntarily shuts some stores, it's refining it's retail footprint to be smaller and focused only on the best real estate. Also, lease terms are much more favorable for tenants these days; beggars (i.e. retail landlords) can't be choosers. For Macy's, costs are noticably going down and revenue has a shot of being maximized.

Through the use of financial engineering, Macy's is selling off prime real estate. The company's got a healthy balance sheet and is still profitable with decent margins. It's also optimizing it's current real estate by adding Backstage, a concept that carries identical items as Marshalls or TJ Maxx at similar price points. TJX is doing extremely well by the way, especially for a B/M apparel retailer. Instead of liquidating discontinued or slightly defective items to other discount retailers (e.g. TJX), at least right away, Macy's is attempting to cut out the middle man. The Backstage concept doesn't cost much to set-up, doesn't cost much to run (remember, it's a store within a store, so no extra rent, plus same Macy's employees), and Macy's already holds the inventory. What doesn't sell in Backstage can be unloaded to discount retailers. Backstage has the potential to contribute material revenue and profits to Macy's. Nordstrom has Nordstrom Rack, and even though the concept is alike, Rack is its own, separate entity. Even so, it's working well for Nordstrom too.

Macys.com is the fourth most trafficked website in the U.S., if I recall correctly. Buy online, return/exchange in store if you want. Shipping is free if you meet a low purchase threshold. Easy enough to navigate their site. Macy's is actually taking its e-commerce strategy seriously. As mentioned by someone else, retailers most likely to succeed moving forward are those with a harmonious balance between e-commerce and B/M. Some brands like Athleta and Warby Parker were born online, but now have physical stores. Even Amazon is opening B/M stores for God's sake.

In addition to big name brands, Macy's has some exclusive ones too. Not just INC, but Ryan Seacreast for example. Admittedly, it's not a make-or-break factor. Also, Macy's carries designer handbags, fragrances, and most importantly, cosmetics. The latter often requires an in-store experience (aka make customers, mostly women, [who are naturally looser with the purse strings] feel young and pretty, and use the emotion to upsell. You can't do this online). Just look at how well Ulta Beauty is doing. And to say the profit margins on makeup is lucrative would be an understatement.

To do a full 360, Macy's is truly an American icon with tremendous brand recognition. The company does a good job with it's marketing, like it's annual Christmas parade. Still mailing paper catalogs is surprisingly effective to generate sales. Of course there's e-mail marketing as well. There's room for improvement like fixing floor plans to be less congested. Macy's could also experiment with smaller stores, I suppose. At least Macy's has a CEO, unlike JC Penny. And thankfully, Macy's isn't being run by a hedge fund manager like Sears is.

TL;DR: Contrary to popular belief, Macy's will be around for the foreseeable future.

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May 12, 2019

I actually think certain brick and mortar retail has an opportunity in the near future.

The Amazon shopping experience is getting worse -- lots of copycat products, spammy descriptions, fake reviews, etc. Still gets the job done if you know exactly what you want but for browsing it's pretty bad.

Brick and mortar retail can distinguish itself by having a few well curated products, tastefully displayed and complemented by great customer service.

Also, they should position their offerings as "solutions" not commodity products. In other words, don't sell sheets and pillowcases, sell a comfortable bedroom (i.e. sheets, pillowcases, comforters as a package, in basic and premium versions). Don't sell shirts and pants, sell a work outfit. People will pay for this and you can't really get it on Amazon.

May 12, 2019

I have had a nightmare lately with Amazon. I had to do a lot of product returns because the vendor sent me the wrong product/items (multiple occasions). I had items damaged sent to me, which meant requesting a refund.

Regards to the fake review - there are plenty of PR firms I know of, that hire writers to write these reviews for product lines.

No pain no game.

May 12, 2019

Went to a Macy's recently and it was ugly and disorganized and I could hardly get any assistance. One of the worst department store experiences I've experienced. Amazon isn't cleaning their clock; Macy's is cleaning its own clock.

May 12, 2019
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