"Department stores were built around the idea that consumers would come to the store for inspiration and discovery. But retailers can no longer rely on that draw. Consumers increasingly get inspiration online first, from social media and blogs, and not from the retailers themselves.
When that happens, the decision-making process employed by shoppers gets turned completely on its head – consumers start to choose the specific products they want to buy before they choose where to buy them from. This leaves department stores forced to compete on price instead of value.
Another place where department stores are getting hammered is on the fast fashion front. Retailers like Zara and H&M can put out new fashions every few weeks. Department stores were built around the concept of featuring brands, almost like a store-in-store.
If your only value proposition to consumers is that you have great brands under one roof, you’re going to lose. ... News flash: you can get great brands anywhere. And when you look for them online, even if they’re at different stores, they’re only a tab away.
So what should department stores stand for, then? They should stand for a lifestyle. They should stand for things that help consumers solve their lifestyle problems. But stores have been gutted. High-end luxury department stores are the exception. The rest of the vertical have no expertise in stores. Not beyond what I could get asking random people on the street. Why should I go to a store when I can get better advice from blogs? At least they have followers to help give them some cache and sense of expertise.
And department stores are not organized to present solutions to lifestyle problems. Need an outfit for a wedding? Well, first you have to go to dresses, and then shoes, and then accessories. Need a new outfit for a job interview? Same deal, except it may be even worse. You might have to visit several brand vignettes to find this brand’s suits vs. that brand’s suits, and then start all over again if you need a blouse or shoes to go with.
Now, part of the problem is that the brands themselves want their vignettes. They want their voice to the customer to stand out, even within the department store. But how do consumers shop online? They see all blouses together. They can filter by brand if they want, but the primary sort is the function first, brand later. And you just can’t shop that way in a department store."
Trechos retirados de "Here's What's Wrong With Department Stores"