If the future of retail could be summed up in one word, it is collaboration, says Story founder and Macy’s brand experience officer Rachel Schechtman. Speaking at a panel chaired by Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette at NRF’s Big Show in New York today, Shechtman outlined how she is translating her successful retail concept to the American company 18 months into the new role, with a key focus on curation and scalability.
Working with such a large legacy retailer comes with a different set of challenges, but for Shechtman, it is important to retain the parameters that she applies to her successful NY-based concept, where its theme and product assortment changes every six weeks. Collaboration for her isn’t ever about simply merchandise, but rather strategic partnerships that become part of the storytelling Story has become known for.
When choosing a partner, she asks three questions: will this partner add authority and authenticity to the category in which they exist? Do they create a product that is relevant to a subset of men, women or children? And lastly, do they like them? The latter might sound simple, but when doing things that are pushing the envelope, it is important to have affinity with who you’re working with, she says.
There is no one-size-fits-all mentality to her approach, however, and the most important litmus test is: are customers receiving an experience the they cannot get on their couch? Focusing on strong staff training and visual merchandising allows the retailer to create a story around the product which will undoubtably lure the customer into the physical space, she says.
Shechtman has been attending the Macy’s university, she says, since beginning her new role, understanding how the brand’s culture and DNA affects the retail experience. Her in-house team is focused on three main strategies in order to translate the success that Story has achieved, but at a much wider scale. Firstly, they are looking at how to show up differently for their customers, presented within a Macy’s environment, both by testing and creating new processes. Secondly, engaging with 300+ colleagues within the organization and allowing them to become co-creators of this new experience in order to make it sustainable and scalable in the long run. Lastly is the important piece of partnerships, and how to maintain that value proposition when working with a company that has millions of social followers and store windows all over the country.
With internet democratisation and customer needs changing, collaboration and learning from what other businesses can offer is the way forward, concludes Shechtman. It’s about always thinking strategically about who you work with, and what the end result means for the customer experience.
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