Destination XL Group proves a unique fit for customers who don’t like to shop

Discussion
Photos: Destination XL Group
Sep 24, 2021

Destination XL Group (DXLG) CEO Harvey Kanter says it wasn’t that long ago that some thought the largest specialty retailer of big and tall men’s apparel was in trouble. Today, he says, the company may be “the best kept secret” in retail with a digitally transformed business that is positioned for success in the near, medium and long-term.

Mr. Kanter, who joined the company in 2019, told RetailWire that he and his team were tasked with getting DXLG’s financial house in order and at the same time begin moving to create a digital-first organization.

“Our perspective is that the consumer today starts almost every shopping trip” with a digital device, he said. That has only become more true over the past two years with the pandemic accelerating consumers’ reliance on digital for researching and completing purchases.

DXLG was fortunate, he said, because it had begun implementing services such as in-store and curbside pickup prior to the pandemic.

The retailer, which takes pride in its culture of customer service in stores, rolled out an online chat feature so associates working in its physical locations could assist customers shopping from home.

Mr. Kanter said that the company’s unique and proprietary fit and exclusive offers are two big drivers of DXLG’s growth.

Destination XL Group proves a unique fit for customers who don’t like to shop
Photo: Destination XL Group

The retailer sets itself apart with its approach to fit as retailers operating in the space tend to scale their clothing sizes up.

“Most men that are big and tall have the biggest challenge in the mid belly section, and so when others just scale up, [the fit’s] still tight in the midsection,” he said. DXLG has developed its proprietary fitting approach by bringing in real customers to measure them and determine sizes that are as close to custom tailored as you can buy off the rack. Mr. Kanter said that return rates at DXLG are “categorically lower than I’ve ever seen elsewhere in an apparel business.”

Exclusive name brands also puts DXLG in an enviable position in a space where customers don’t generally like to shop and have limited options to do so.

“In many cases brands will sell us and the only other place the brand is carried is in their own business,” said Mr. Kanter.  He cited Vineyard Vines, which now only sells its big and tall men’s clothing through DXLG or directly to consumers. Other announcements are forthcoming.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does the DXLG business model offer a path to sustainable sales and profit growth going forward? What do you see as challenges and opportunities the business will face in the coming years?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"DXLG does have a model that will last because of their focus on omnichannel experience and quality products and partners."
"The digital approach, anytime anywhere, is right on the money."
"This is one more way to strengthen the need for physical retail locations."

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9 Comments on "Destination XL Group proves a unique fit for customers who don’t like to shop"


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Perry Kramer
BrainTrust

DXLG does have a model that will last because of their focus on omnichannel experience and quality products and partners. Their understanding that the significant majority of shopping experiences cross the digital channel at some point is critical to success. Also, their commitment to their specific segment with clothing that is specifically tailored for the segment will differentiate them. One of my best friends is 6 feet 6 inches tall and his wife starts most of their shopping online and finishes in the store and is very loyal to the brands that fit best. This segment is as much about the person buying the clothes as it is the person for whom the clothes are bought.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

“‘Our perspective is that the consumer today starts almost every shopping trip’ with a digital device…”

Is that true?

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

Gene, I can tell you for me, it’s not always the case – especially when it comes to apparel. I shop DXL and I have always gone to the store to look at the actual merchandise.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

While I am a digital shopper, about the only thing I would actually go to a store for is a suit or sports coat. And in that case I am visiting one place. On my first visit, I pick out the style or fabric. On my second visit I get the merchandise that fits perfectly. I would not go any place other than Suit Supply.

John Orr
BrainTrust

The digital approach, anytime anywhere, is right on the money. Furthermore, DXLG’s play to also provide consolidated access across brands adds an additional value for a one-stop shop destination.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I’m not certain that “nearly every” consumer starts their shopping trip on a digital device, but I’ll concede it’s headed in that direction. That aside, DXLG does something marvelous – it actually interacts with real, everyday shoppers to help them get clothes that fit. What a concept! And how about that scarcity brand play? Not too shabby. Seriously, DXLG is doing any number of things right, starting with working with customers to create offerings that work on their terms, not just DXLG’s. If all retailers just copied that part of the business model they would see both sales and customer satisfaction explode. As to challenges? The use of digital measurement by other retailers could bring that same “better fit” to a broad range of consumers. The opportunity? Keep listening to the customers and give them what they want to buy while the competition continues to focus on selling what they want to sell.

George Anderson
Staff

Harvey Kanter shared with me that DXLG has an embedded partner that it is working with to perfect fitting tech that would likely be deployed via its app and through a browser. He said that the tech was probably six to 12 months away from being where it needs to be before being rolled out to customers. I was impressed with the attitude that the convenience that comes with using the app would not be a substitute for performance when it comes to the right fit for DXLG’s customers.

Ryan Rosche
BrainTrust

Destination XL has taken an interesting approach to merge the in-store and online experiences. They utilize the in-store team members to assist the online customers. This is brilliant! If this technology and approach are location-based, the retailer could develop connections between the customers and in-store team members that could potentially drive foot traffic into their physical locations. This is one more way to strengthen the need for physical retail locations.

George Anderson
Staff

Another interesting aspect of my conversation with Harvey Kanter was his acknowledgement that pickup, particularly curbside, jumped as a percentage of total sales during the early going of the pandemic. DXLG managed to bring in new customers during that period who were buying from the chain but had not actually shopped in its stores. In more recent months, however, more of these new customers are getting out of their cars and trucks to go into stores where they are not only picking up their orders but frequently shopping and adding items to their cart in the process.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"DXLG does have a model that will last because of their focus on omnichannel experience and quality products and partners."
"The digital approach, anytime anywhere, is right on the money."
"This is one more way to strengthen the need for physical retail locations."

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