Macy’s Department Stores should have seen this coming

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

17 August 2016

Macy’s Department Stores should have seen this coming

Macy’s Department Stores continue to stumble

We have written a number of times about Macy’s Department Stores failing brand. Most recently we wrote about it in July and also in May. (Check out this new article (1/6/17) on the Sears and Macy’s store closings)

Whenever we have written about Macy’s, the theme has always been the same. It needs to change. Macy’s problems are not unique. The retailers is just one of the most glaring examples of how badly retail in general fails to predict and adapt to the changing needs and expectations of their customers.

Macy's Department Stores

The problems at Macy’s have been there for years.

Now, Macy’s Department Stores is closing 100 of its namesake stores sometime in early 2017. This roughly accounts for 15% of its total remaining stores. If you recall, there once was a retailer called Circuit City that employed the same strategy, figuring it was better to just close stores rather than change.

We all know how that turned out.

While Macy’s has brand equity and heritage that Circuit City lacked, this is still a major problem for Macy’s, the malls its stores anchor and the retail industry in general.

“I don’t believe all is lost for brick and mortar retailers. They still have an opportunity to make their brands important to the consumer again.”

Macy’s Department Stores and other retailers have failed to act.

Macy’s claims that closing stores will allow it to improve overall business and help it to better perform in an omni-channel environment – specifically online.

Macy’s Department Stores isn’t the first one to make this claim, but online isn’t the problem. Whatever its brand means is the problem.

The blame retailers place on companies like Amazon is simply an excuse for poor management and a failure to act. Amazon has been in existence for 22 years and retailers couldn’t see what was on the horizon?

Amazon has given consumers a reason to care about Amazon. As difficult as it for retailers to grasp, it’s not all about price. Amazon has consistently tweaked its services to better meet the needs of the changing customer.

Retailers, on the other hand, have historically failed in even giving consumers a reason to care about their brands, instead believing their troubles are all about bargain shopping online.

As I think about retailers like Macy’s Department Stores, JC Penney’s and Sears (just to name a few), I struggle to understand who they believe their target audiences are. Not knowing who the brand is for is quite troubling.

But at least I know who it’s not for.

I don’t believe all is lost for brick and mortar retailers. They still have an opportunity to make their brands important to the consumer again.

But I do believe they need to stop blaming their legacy of inaction and poor vision on something that has been brewing for nearly a quarter of a century. Online isn’t going away and we all knew that the moment when we first saw it.

Everyone but the retailers themselves, apparently.


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