Written by One Step Retail Blog Team

Here at One Step, we can't say it enough, "continuous innovation is key to retail success." Just as consumers are always changing and moving forward, so must the retailer evolve along with them. Stagnation is death in retail.

Recently, NRF's Retail Gets Real has been featuring several retailers who are embracing change in this age of the modern shopper. This past month, they highlighted DSW— the American footwear retailer of designer and name brand shoes. After 25 years of successful retailing, DSW sought out to make some changes to stay competitive in the industry. They looked for their answers within their large group of loyal customers. They asked them what they wanted from the famous footwear retailer.

What was their response? Here is an excerpt from the broadcast.

DSW has a history of innovation. It was the first shoe retailer to create an open layout and the first to launch a rewards program, Rawlins says, which has resulted in “grocery store-like” returns — 95 percent of sales come from loyalty members. DSW taps into that loyalty: When thinking about revamping the business model, the team asked customers what they wanted from a shoe retailer that they could not find anywhere else.

One answer? Shoe rental. Poff [Jared Poff, CFO of DSW] says acquisitions help with the overall strategy; higher-end shoe retailers like Canada’s Town Shoes allow DSW to expand operations as well as its rental inventory. In select markets like Washington, D.C., where occupancy is expensive, customers can store their winter footwear with DSW. “We’ll take pictures, we’ll write product descriptions, you’ll have a virtual closet that you can look at,” Rawlins says. “From our standpoint, we think that’s a great value to our consumer.”

For more on NRF's "How DSW Stays Ahead," listen to the broadcast at https://nrf.com/blog/how-dsw-stays-step-ahead

Shoe rental! Footwear storage! Who would have thought? And, that is precisely the point I wanted to make with today's highlighted article. Consumer tastes and needs change day in and day out. It is up to retailers to continuously stay in touch with those changing needs to service their customers better. DSW understood this, made an effort to reach out, listened to their needs, and implemented different strategies to meet those needs. They chose to evolve to remain relevant in today's competitive market.

As DSW's CEO, Roger Rawlins, commented in the broadcast, "If you don’t figure out how to evolve your business [around] a value proposition that creates an emotional connection with your consumer... you’re going to melt away.”

Don't melt away. Don't fall victim to the so-called "Retail Apocalypse." Be among the group of innovative retailers stepping up to serve today's modern shopper.