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Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette Discusses Digital Transformation, D&I, and More

During a virtual keynote hosted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) on June 24, Jeff Gennette, Chairman and CEO of Macy’s Inc, discussed the company’s digital transformation since the beginning of the pandemic, how customer behaviors have changed and what the department store is doing to adapt, and why diversity and inclusion is critical to future success.

This keynote session was part of NRF’s Retail Converge event. Gennette was interviewed by Colleen Taylor, president of merchant services, U.S. American Express. Here are some highlights from their conversation.

Macy’s Digital Shift During the Pandemic

“Macy’s is a healthier business coming out of the pandemic than when we were going into it,” said Gennette. “We’re very accelerated and focused on digital shopping, and as an omnichannel brand, how we can best accomplish that for our customers.”

Gennette stated how Macy’s used the pandemic and its three-year Polaris strategy to enhance store experiences, modernize its supply chain, and utilize data and analytics to improve customer experiences. Furthermore, he mentioned his excitement for the future of Macy’s, citing investments in personalization as one of the many digital advancements the company is making.

“Since Q1, that strategy is working with improved fundamentals across the board,” added Gennette.

Shift in Customer Behaviors

After being asked by Taylor which customer trends he can see continuing post-pandemic, or even hopes will continue, Gennette highlighted customers buying clothing as more people get vaccinated and resume social activities as well as return to work offices.

“We’re seeing major improvements in categories like dresses,” said Gennette, “and that’s special occasion like prom and mother of the bride, but it’s also in casual categories, like men’s clothing.”

Gennette also noted that sales for items such as watches, sunglasses and luxury handbags are increasing as well. Most items at Macy’s Inc.-owned Bloomingdale’s have seen heightened sales recently as well. As the world opens up, people are looking for more clothing and accessories to wear as they venture out of their homes.

Redesigned Website to Capture Digital Consumers

In addition to the other digital changes the company has made, Macy’s has redesigned its website functionality. Now, the Macy’s website provides customers with more precise expected delivery dates, an updated search function, new product detail pages, and a pain-free returns feature that can be used within the retailer’s mobile app as well.

“These changes that we made on the site and in the app [have] really driven a higher conversion rate,” said Gennette. “It’s helped us get incremental sales across all of our platforms. And we’ve done that while increasing customer satisfaction.”

This new web design includes a contemporary section, including the latest fashion and beauty trends. This part of the site has attracted many new customers under the age of 40, a key target demographic for Macy’s. The company plans to integrate some of the virtual experiences that draw in this younger demographic to its physical store locations.

“We’re attracting the under 40 customer,” Gennette noted. “By the end of the year, we’re going to have a curated level of products and services that will be the physical expression for this under-40 strategy.”

Commitment to D&I

Macy’s has been committed to diversity and inclusion since long before the pandemic, however, the company’s determined to go even further with this commitment. Due to the company’s inclusive recruitment process, Gennette stated that Macy’s has greater than 99 percent racial and pay equity across the company. Macy’s has also established a Retail Diversity Committee, launching a program called MOSAIC, which focuses on attracting and retaining diverse talent.

“We’re providing ongoing diversity and inclusion education, and launching inclusive leadership education for all of our people and leaders,” Gennette said. “We’ve expanded opportunities for colleagues to experience a connection to achieve belonging.”

Macy’s focuses on diversity and inclusion externally as well, as it has had several collaborations with minority-owned businesses and creatives. In March, the company launched Icons of Style, a fashion collaboration with top Black creatives in the U.S. Macy’s has also launched and partnered with several Black-owned brands.

“I’m very proud to say that over the past 10 years, we’ve graduated more than 120 diverse-owned brands,” Gennette said. “They now are scaling their business at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, and across their own websites and other retailers across the country.”

Macy’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is far from over.

“ I think we’re walking the walk here and talking the talk here,” Gennette said. “And more progress is coming.”

Kendra Franklin is an editorial intern for NAPCO Media. She is attending Temple University for her Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies and Production, with a minor in Content Creation.

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