Neiman Marcus, Macy's double down on digital

Omnichannel retailing is a big digital success for at least two department store chains, as Neiman Marcus and Macy's recently reported.

In separate statements—Neiman Marcus in its initial public offering filing and Macy's (NYSE:M) in its second quarter sales and earnings report—the chains emphasized the importance of various omnichannel efforts in maintaining and building their businesses. The two, along with many others, are looking for more ways to combine, and make consistent, the tangible strength of their physical stores, the emerging potency of e-commerce, and the ubiquity of mobile devices. The digital world is where they converge.

In the S1 filing, Neiman Marcus declares itself  "one of the largest omnichannel luxury fashion retailers in the world," and said its efforts to bridge e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores are paying off.

For example, Neiman Marcus' average consumer is 51 years old, but 75 percent of luxury spending with the retailer is "digitally influenced." Tallying its success across leading social platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, the company now has 1.2 million followers. Of 2014's $4.8 billion revenue, 24 percent, or $1.2 billion, came from online and mobile sales, the company said in the filing.

Neiman Marcus has been aware of a trend that other retailers are still adjusting to, Digiday reported. There is no longer a purely online or offline consumer, and the retail organization needs to reflect that.

"Brands are noticing that for consumers, the digital retail world isn't different than the physical retail world, but Neiman Marcus was doing it before others," said David Melancon, a brand strategist, who has worked with companies like Benjamin Moore and Visa. "They're innovating by putting the customer at the center, rather than themselves. They listen to customers."

The company includes three retail brands: Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf-Goodman and MyTheresa.com.

"As a leader in omnichannel retailing, we provide our customers a deep assortment of luxury merchandise and a consistent, seamless shopping experience, whether our customers shop in our stores, on our websites or via e-mail, text or phone communications with our sales associates," the company said in the S1 filing. Because of S1 restrictions, Neiman Marcus couldn't comment.

"Our comprehensive digital platform integrates and personalizes the online and in-store experience. We empower our sales associates with mobile devices and proprietary technology to improve their connection with our customers, and we utilize advanced analytics to personalize merchandise presentations to our customers when they shop online," according to the filing.

While Macy's reported negative financials for the second quarter, Chairman and CEO Terry Lundgren expressed optimism about new strategic initiatives that began in January —most relating to digital and omnichannel— and said they "will transform our company in the years ahead," according to a company statement.

Macy's reported accelerating progress in its online business through integrated omnichannel buying and planning of merchandise, as well as more strategic placement of inventories in stores and online fulfillment centers. There are expanded markets for same-day delivery, and a nationwide buy online, pick up in-store option for Macy's and Bloomingdale's. Macy's will also begin e-commerce sales in China later this year through a joint venture with Fung Retailing Limited.

Following the acquisition of Bluemercury in March, the company will open 10 new free-standing specialty beauty and spa locations before the end of the year, for a total store count of 76. The specialty chain is using Macy's omnichannel and digital expertise to improve its e-commerce offering and drive online sales, the company said. Four Bluemercury stores will open in Macy's locations in the fall.

"Our omnichannel strategies are working well as customers increasingly shop and buy across multiple channels," said Karen Hoguet, Macy's CFO, as reported by RIS News. "We believe that our new organization structure is helping to accelerate digital growth, which continued to be very strong in the (second) quarter."

For more:
-See this Digiday article
-See the Neiman Marcus S1 filing
-See this Macy's press release
-See this RIS News article

Related stories:
Neiman Marcus invests $100 million in omnichannel 
Neiman Marcus goes public again with $100 million IPO
Neiman Marcus acquires Mytheresa.com
Macy's sees pay-off from aggressive promotions and omnichannel strategies
Macy's unveils omnichannel initiatives and new technology

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