Retail

Retail Pulse: Macy’s Collaborates With Brands For STORY; Kohl’s Accepts Amazon Returns

Macy's

Brick-and-mortar retailers are opening experiential concepts by working with other brands as they look to engage consumers with experiences instead of products. Macy’s, for instance, is collaborating with DICK’S Sporting Goods and landscaping brand Miracle-Gro for Outdoor STORY, which is said to offer customers an “outdoor-inspired playground.”

The concept has a presence in 36 Macy’s locations ranging from Union Square in San Francisco to Herald Square in New York City. Amid the offerings, the areas will feature a hydroponic unit from Miracle-Gro that is intended to grow foods such as lettuce and basil while purportedly blending into home décor. At the same time, Macy’s customers can buy various live plants “to highlight favorite spots in their home and living spaces.” The installation will also be an experiential teaser campaign for a new online brand called Greendigs that is said to debut in the fall following its STORY run.

The installation also reportedly marks a “first-of-its-kind partnership” for Macy’s and DICK’S Sporting Goods. The retailer will “come to life” within the spaces with a mix of hard goods and apparel from its private brands Field & Stream and Alpine Design. According to the announcement, the occasion marks “their first debut at another major retailer.” DICK’S Chairman and CEO Ed Stack said in the announcement that he sees the work between the retailer, Macy’s and Miracle-Gro “as a way to showcase how three very different American-made companies can come together to create a unique shopping experience for all customers.”

Macy’s Brand Experience Officer and STORY Founder Rachel Shechtman said in the announcement, “We want to show both consumers, as well as businesses, that collaboration is the new competition; bringing together brands as storytellers to add authority and authenticity to a subject matter, like we are doing with DICK’S and Miracle-Gro, benefits both the customer and the business.” Shechtman also noted that, with the retail industry constantly evolving, “The timing felt right to lean on each brand’s respective strengths to empower new modes of collaboration and learning.”

The move comes as Macy’s has revamped its inventory, gotten rid of stores that are underperforming and reduced floor space. It now is said to be betting on the ability of STORY to connect with shoppers who are looking for experiences instead of products — and many times need extra inducement to pull them away from eCommerce per Footwear News. With the help of experiential spaces and collaborations, then, Macy’s is bringing narrative brand experiences to life in the age of retail innovation.

In Other Brick-and-Mortar News

Kohl’s has announced that Amazon Returns is now available at over 1,100 Kohl’s of its locations across the country. “The nationwide rollout of the Amazon Returns program is our single biggest initiative of the year,” Michelle Gass, the retailer’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Our top strategic priority is driving traffic, and this transformational program does just that. It drives customers into our stores, and we are expecting millions to benefit from this service.”

The two merchants experimented with the program in 100 stores in the Chicago, Los Angeles and Milwaukee markets before announcing in April plans to launch the service in all stores this summer — in time for the back-to-school shopping season. With the service, the retailer will take “eligible” Amazon items without a box or label. Kohl’s then packages the purchases before sending them to a return center of the eCommerce retailer.

And Microsoft plans to open its first European retail store as it looks to bolster its physical presence and compete with other firms that offer unique brick-and-mortar experiences for consumers. The 21,932-square-foot Oxford Circus location will be close to Apple’s flagship Regent Street store. Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela said, according to reports, “This is our very first foray into Europe, and we couldn’t be more pleased to be in London.”

The United Kingdom city is said to be the third flagship destination for the company, in addition to Sydney and New York City. The location will have meeting rooms, a customized McLaren sports car, an Xbox gaming room and a digital classroom. Microsoft U.K. CEO Cindy Rose said the store holds appeal for general consumers in addition to targeted clientele like businesses as well as gamers. The store is said to feature Surface computers as well as tablets from the tech company.

On another note, 7-Eleven Japan had to suspend the mobile payments feature on its 7Pay app because of a security flaw that impacted approximately around 900 people. The payments feature, which was rolled out on July 1, let consumers scan a barcode with the app and charge a linked debit or credit card. But the company received a complaint on July 2 when a customer noticed a charge that he or she didn’t make. It was then discovered that the app had a flaw that let hackers make $500,000 (or ¥ 55 million) worth of charges on roughly 900 accounts of customers.

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.

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