Kohl’s Kills Cafe Concept

While we hear over and over again that retail isn’t just about the goods anymore, it is about the experience consumers have while shopping for them, it is easy to forget that offering the right retail experience for consumers is not as easy as just making a slight change to the existing format.

Case in point, the Kohl’s cafe — one of the struggling retailer’s latest attempts to boost foot traffic by creating a warmer, more inviting and more desirable place to shop. The program was piloted in two locations in two southeastern Wisconsin stores for the last seven months, and as it turns out, whatever it is Kohl’s shoppers really want from their experience at the store, coffee is apparently not it.

Kohl’s will be pulling the plug on its cafe program, citing general lack of interest among consumers. Though the program was undertaken at the behest of Kohl’s customers — based on submitted comments — and though it got high marks from those who used it, on the whole, the overall effect of the cafe on sales and traffic seems to have been kind of negligible.

Kohl’s said that it will continue to look for ways to build a more unique customer experience and work to strengthen its brand offerings. However, some retail experts worry that Kohl’s is simply over-stored and stuck in some economic factors beyond its control.

“We’re the most over-stored country, and there are several overwhelming problems,” Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail consulting and investment banking firm Davidowitz & Associates Inc., told Retail Dive earlier this year. “People have less money, and this economy isn’t helping. You cannot double your number of people in poverty in 10 years, build more stores and not have some kind of gigantic shakeout. Kohl’s is slowing down because the middle class is getting killed.”


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