I recently had the pleasure of attending a Young Jewish Professionals event where Tommy Hilfiger interviewed Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren. Normally when high profile executives of publicly traded companies speak, I tend to leave disappointed, as it seems they always recite pre-prepped responses to all the juicy questions you want answered. This time, though, I was pleasantly surprised by how valuable I found both Hilfiger and Lundgren.
Here are a few of the key takeaways.
Bricks over clicks
When asked about the importance of physical stores in this quickly evolving omnichannel world, Lundgren stressed that physical stores are here to stay. Consumers still have a preference for touching and feeling their clothing, and Lundgren said he believes Macy’s has such a successful online business because of the vast presence it has in its physical stores.
Today’s consumer is informed and does her research. Most purchases start out on the phone—once the customer finds what they want, they then move on to a physical store to conclude the purchase. The more the customer goes into a store to try on and buy product, the more online business the retailer will ultimately realize. Maybe it’s another color of the same sweater or another pair of their favorite shoes that the customer will seek out online, but the key thing to realize is how complementary the physical store and the online store are to each other.
And to the naysayers in the audience who like to buy all of their clothing online and think the rest of America is no different, Lundgren made it clear that isn’t quite the case and they aren’t the average American. Not even close.
Lundgren may believe physical stores are here to stay but that doesn’t mean Macy’s isn’t betting big on e-commerce. When we think online business, how many people would put Netflix and Macy’s in the same sentence? Well, according to Lundgren, Macy’s is the seventh largest online business in the U.S., right behind Netflix. While he wouldn’t reveal exactly how much Macy’s Inc. has invested in technology, it was clear they are investing and looking for new and innovative companies, products and people to take their business further.