Impulse Purchases to Keep Macy’s Registers Ringing

Oct 22, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Macy’s is taking a page from other apparel retailers with
a new program that rotates designers in-and-out of the chain’s store and website
on an ongoing basis.

The department store is launching its initiative in February with a new designer rotating onto the floor in its “Impulse” department every
two months. Designers working with Macy’s will create limited-edition women’s
lines to be sold in 235 stores and on

The first designer chosen to
kick off the program is Kinder Aggugin. The London-based designer, whose work
is described as having a covetable rocker-chic aesthetic, has worked with John
Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Calvin Klein, Costume National and
Versace over the course of his career.

“The launch of this designer program affirms that Macy’s is a unique
destination for fashion, bringing sophisticated design and aspirational fashion
to a customer that desires and demands constant newness in her wardrobe. We are
confident that Kinder’s unique styling and intriguing background will appeal
to Macy’s ‘Impulse’ customer and satisfy her desire for high-end fashion at an
affordable price,” said Jeff Gennette, Macy’s chief merchandising officer,
in a statement.

“When I was approached by Macy’s, I thought they were going to ask me
to be in the Thanksgiving Day Parade,” said Mr. Aggugini. “Imagine
my surprise when I heard they wanted me to design a line for their stores all
over the U.S. So I thought; a designer known for handcrafted luxury aimed to
the fashion elite, to create a contemporary line for the kids of America? Oh
yeah, sounds great! Let’s do it! And we can make it different. Let’s design
it as if it was a runway collection. Make this line about silhouettes, colors,
draping and structure. The idea is to give it a chic look that feels sexy
and edgy and, best of all, you can afford it.”

Items in Mr. Aggugini’s
Macy’s line are expected to retail between $40 and $300.

Discussion Question: Will Macy’s “Impulse” department keep shoppers
checking back in to see what’s new at the chain? What will Macy’s need to
do to make the concept stand out from the competition?

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9 Comments on "Impulse Purchases to Keep Macy’s Registers Ringing"

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Paula Rosenblum
10 years 6 months ago

It’s an odd phenomenon really. Macy’s seems to be doing a lot of things right–bringing in designers with hot products, impressive marketing campaigns, but the stores just don’t live up to the brand promise.

I actually think it’s a store layout problem more than anything else, maybe coupled with an assortment that just doesn’t gel…but I give the company big points for continuing to tweak.

Cathy Hotka
10 years 6 months ago

Fast fashion at Macy’s! This approach could bring a whole new clientele into the store, as shoppers are always looking for new looks at affordable prices. Temporary designer lines have done wonders for H&M; expect the same here.

Marge Laney
10 years 6 months ago
Macy’s is an iconic brand that does so many things right, and they’re making great strides with their localization strategy and now the new Impulse department. If they would just get their fitting room customer service right they could hit it out of the park. I was in a local store a couple of weeks ago and there were plenty of associates standing around the cash wraps ringing and chatting while customers were lined up in the fitting rooms. Not only was it irritating for the fitting room customers who were self-servicing, it was a huge waste of payroll. For the apparel retailer, conversion happens in the fitting room. The customer who uses the fitting room is more that 70% likely to buy versus the customer who browses the sales floor at 28%. And what about those that buy and try-on at home because they abhor the fitting room experience and return what doesn’t fit or they don’t like? Doesn’t it make more sense to get them in the fitting room and help them make… Read more »
Al McClain
Al McClain
10 years 6 months ago

I really like this idea because it addresses one problem department stores often have–‘same old, same old’. Just like events, this gives shoppers a reason to come back to see who the new featured designer is.

Ed Rosenbaum
10 years 6 months ago

I simply do not believe consumers continue to look online and revisit stores to see what is new and exciting on a regular basis. Don’t they have anything better to do?

I do give Macy’s credit for continuing to make changes to reach more people and draw them into the stores.

Anne Bieler
Anne Bieler
10 years 6 months ago

Successful retailers have to continue to work to make their store a shopping destination. Most of us are out there to look for a specific item or outfit–so choosing the store is the first important decision. If Macy’s can continue to refresh the selection and keep new items coming in, it can certainly become the first stop on a shopping trip. Sounds like a good strategy to connect with their shoppers, especially the younger ones.

Now, if they can work on the customer service experience as described by the previous panelist, Macy’s will continue to draw more repeat shoppers.

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson
10 years 6 months ago

So, isn’t this going to be a PR and training nightmare? We have this product this week. I loved it, but oops the next day it is gone. Consistency and regularity of high quality product should be the focus, not temporal pieces.

Jerry Gelsomino
10 years 6 months ago

I think that a constant flow of new and exciting merchandise is what the customer is looking for. But can Macy’s keep up the pace? Are there enough really different, fashionable, quality goods available that matches the Macy’s promise?

Shilpa Rao
10 years 6 months ago

Well one thing I can say–“Can’t wait to shop at Macy’s.” I think the impulse category will really help to cut the clutter out and redefine Macy’s as trendy, hot, and chic. However, the branding around this needs to be done right, or it will fall flat. Simply being one of the many brands carried at Macy’s and adding to the traditional problem of needing to search through different sections if I want to buy one black blouse won’t work. The line has to really stand out to create the impact that Macy’s wants to create.


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