Will pairing nail salons with shoe stores be a good fit for DSW?

Discussion
Photo: DSW
Mar 04, 2019
Tom Ryan

DSW Inc., the off-price footwear chain, is expanding its test of manicure and pedicure services to three additional markets.

Since 2017, DSW has been piloting in-store nail salons in two Ohio locations through a partnership with W Nail Bar, an Ohio-based company. The retailer will add nail salons to five locations in Austin, TX, Washington D.C. and Dublin, OH. DSW has nearly 1,000 locations in the U.S.

Beyond manicures starting at $29 and pedicures starting at $49, the salons offer waxing services and beer and wine offerings, depending on the location. DSW shoppers earn rewards points for every service purchased.

“The nail bar services engage customers and create loyalty by inspiring self-expression,” said Bill Jordan, president of DSW, in a statement. “They also create repeat visits to the DSW brand.”

In an interview with Advertising Age, DSW’s CEO Roger Rawlins said the tests showed the nail salons are attracting Millennial women, who make up about half of salon patrons and represent a quarter of the chain’s customer base. With flip flops and sandals merchandised nearby, salon patrons buy a pair of shoes during nearly a quarter of their visits. Salon patrons also spend about 60 percent more on footwear than they did before nail services arrived.

“You’ve got to develop differentiated experiences to ultimately retain and attract customers,” Mr. Rawlins told Ad Age. Those experiences, he said, need to be ones “that cannot be duplicated in just a digital environment.”

Getting a manicure or pedicure inside a store is a rare occurrence, even for stores that sell nail polish. Macy’s once had a nail bar inside its New York City flagship. Sephora earlier this decade partnered with XpresSpa, known for its massages and facials services in airports, on a test of nail bars in some doors.

Nordstrom Local, the retailer’s merchandise-free concept that launched last October, has a nail bar at its Melrose location as well as services such as tailoring, returns, same-day online pick-up and personal stylists.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more upsides than downsides to installing nail salons inside DSW? Will services in general become a bigger differentiator to physical retail in the years ahead?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I see no downside to this experiment for DSW. They are smartly taking it slow, testing and learning as they go."
"Their conversion and lift stats are impressive, but I don’t see myself trying on shoes after a pedicure!"
"Seems like a natural fit to me. Kind of a forehead-slapping “why didn’t I think if this sooner?”"

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21 Comments on "Will pairing nail salons with shoe stores be a good fit for DSW?"


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Charles Dimov
Guest

DSW is on the right track with the services mindset and with testing variations. All retailers need to be thinking about this. Testing and experimentation have to become second nature if retail is to thrive. DSW offering a service is brilliant. Already they are finding that it leads to a 60 percent boost in footwear sales. The future of retail is customer experience oriented. The important part is to discover what customers want, roll it out to your stores, then keep looking for the next innovation to keep differentiating.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I see no downside to this experiment for DSW. They are smartly taking it slow, testing and learning as they go. Adding value to the store experience through brand-adjacent experiences is exactly what retailers need to do to increase the relevance of their stores. This seems like a great concept, and early results are promising to say the least.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Seems like a natural fit to me. Kind of a forehead-slapping “why didn’t I think if this sooner?” I always applauded dropping banks and dry cleaners into grocery stores. Not exactly experiential, but efficient works too!

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Given the customer profile, this seems like a smart move from DSW. I can see customers using the service, which also gives them more of a reason to visit DSW.

Services will become more important. However, retailers need to understand that ensuring there is a good fit and the experience is up to par are both vital. Simply chucking in any old service to a retail space will not work.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Exactly Neil. Unfortunately, too many retailers will not heed your second paragraph.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Sadly, Ian, you are spot on — they won’t!

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

The teaming of product retail with relevant ancillary services is the future of successful retail. It reminds me of an article entitled “Boom Box” which appeared in August 13, 2000 issue of The New York Magazine and foreshadowed the future of the experience economy. I know because I had this article reprinted as a marketing tool when pitching the value and merits of digital signage. The co-location of nail salons and DSW is brilliant. Creating a mutually connected experience destination can enhance the shopping journey and leverage one of the golden rules of retail — keeping your shopper in the store longer will lead to more sales.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust
Here’s a term I learned from Dr. Nido Quebein, President of High Point University. When trying to blend various business activities that to some will seem like a total disconnect, what you want to ensure is “Intentional Congruity.” In the DSW case having a nail salon would rate high in intentional congruity if DSW sees itself in the foot health and beauty business. What is harder to classify in this way are “beer and wine offerings” they seem to be considering. As shown in the DSW increase in sales, when you feel good about your feet after a pedicure, you’ll want to extend that feeling by buying better shoes. That’s intentional congruence at work! Just throwing a mix of services against the wall to see what sticks is a waste of time and money and you’ll probably lose what you started with as well. On the other hand, many retailers are locked into a “stick-to-the-knitting” mentality. That was hot stuff way back when we thought “In Search of Excellence” was channeled from the divine. Now… Read more »
Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Their conversion and lift stats are impressive, but I don’t see myself trying on shoes after a pedicure!

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

Testing these services inside a DSW location would appear to have no downside and based on the early results certainly has a good upside. I applaud their go-slow approach to testing. It minimizes the risk and allows them to see what longer term impact the co-location has on their business.

Byron Kerr
BrainTrust

I don’t see much downside. Adding ancillary services that ensure the key Millennial demographic chooses DSW over the competition is a smart move. As long as DSW and others continue to test, learn and iterate, this trend will continue to lead to refined experiences for a given retailer’s key customer.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

This is an excellent example of pushing the boundaries of the box they are in. Who is to say this will or will not work until they run the test? My opinion might be slightly negative at this point. But let’s see how it plays out. It wasn’t that long ago that grocery stores had small banking places in the stores. It seemed to work for a short period, then they were gone. They already have a big plus in potential future business with the shuttering of Payless.

Laura Davis-Taylor
BrainTrust

I’m with Patricia. I just don’t see going somewhere to try on shoes and having wet nails. The price point is also too high…the average pedi is $25, they’ll need to create more incentive.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

Also interesting that the men all loved this service add-on but us women agree that trying on shoes does not work with mani’s and pedi’s. hmmm.

Rich Duprey
Guest

I see this as wasted space that could be put to better use. Maybe it’s a bias since where I live there seems to be a salon every two blocks, but it is tying up square footage that could be better used to drive more sales. Whatever lift DSW is getting has to be almost incidental.

A better use of the space would be gait-training treadmills or the run analysis sessions Nike conducts. That would actually help customers buy a better, more appropriate shoe. Simply having pretty toes doesn’t really do that.

It’s good that DSW is going slow with its testing, but it’s wasting time and energy on something that could have a more meaningful impact on sales.

Robin Mallory
Guest
5 months 16 days ago

As DSW is not an athletic shoe store, a better variation would be a dance floor with a wall timer to see how long a woman can dance in heels before they hurt like he$$. I do agree, however, that the store locations chosen for the nail offering should not be in mini-malls where there are already nail salons. Besides competition, it would DOWNplay the already less-than-needed-wow-factor of the service.

Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

I’m actually surprised to read about the lift experienced by DSW so far and the slew of positive comments this morning. I live in NYC and look for a nail salon near me that offers the services I want and the quality I demand. There have been times in the past where I only found what I was looking for in another neighborhood. Luckily, there’s a great salon and great technicians on the next block. There are nail salons on almost every street in Manhattan.

DSW is established, but not necessarily on the next block. Many women walk home in sandals after a pedicure, keeping their polish unblemished. I’m taken aback by the DSW initiative. But happy to learn about a new and successful approach to differentiation. It just means there are more retail opportunities out there for those with vision.

Chuck Palmer
BrainTrust
When DSW started renovating their lab store here in Columbus, my observation of the first W nail salon was a bit of a head scratch. It didn’t seem to emphasize pedicures. In chatting with the owners of the original business, the larger engagement strategy became clear. Also, I’m a dude. Not the primary target. The adjacent services concept became clear and I’m not surprised at the lift they are reporting. I wonder if it is a novelty or if they are truly giving women incentive to return to the store for more visits. I can see this as part of the overall loyalty program rewarding customers or being a reward for customers. They may not try on shoes with wet nails, but they can shop on their phones while getting their nails done, try on shoes at home or during the next visit. This seems to be another example of a retailer working on relevant innovations and investing in the ones that show promise. Now I’m wondering what I’m missing by not getting a pedicure.
Lee Kent
BrainTrust

I applaud them for thinking services, but this one has me scratching my head. The last thing I do when I get my nails done is touch anything much less try anything on. I am trying to keep my nails from smudging. If it’s working, great, but I’m wondering just what is causing the boost. Are people actually shopping when they decide to get their nails done or is it maybe the rewards program? Well, that’s just my 2 cents.

Carlos Arambula
BrainTrust

I like the idea of a service store within DSW, and it looks like the numbers favor nail salons.

The “differentiated experiences” appeal eschew the convenience associated with a store-within-a-store concept, which will require the experience to be very real — appeal to the exploratory nature of Millennials, and social media friendly.

Also, services are already a differentiator, and in the future might become the cost of entry.

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

I think it makes sense given the store square footage of DSW, and that they need something different than what Zappos and other online retailers have to offer. You can draw foot traffic (pardon the pun) with the pedicure and then cross sell open toe shoes (I see some store merchandising and display planning opportunities) in the adjacent area. As long as the service is competitive in quality I don’t see a downside.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I see no downside to this experiment for DSW. They are smartly taking it slow, testing and learning as they go."
"Their conversion and lift stats are impressive, but I don’t see myself trying on shoes after a pedicure!"
"Seems like a natural fit to me. Kind of a forehead-slapping “why didn’t I think if this sooner?”"

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