Putting the ‘Warehouse’ Back in DSW

DSW concept retail

At Theory House, we’re always leaving our backyard and traveling to explore other markets on the hunt for the newest retail concepts. Our latest adventure took us to Columbus, OH which has plenty to offer retail enthusiasts like ourselves. As Columbus has long been known to represent a demographic cross-section that mirrors much of our nation, it’s a city to which you can find many of the current strategies big box retailers are looking to deploy. And with its Ohio charm, it’s a retail hot bed that also breeds many localized concepts unique to Columbus

DSW is one big box retailer testing a new store design in Columbus. One of the most noticeable changes to their format is a clear strategy to embrace “Warehouse”. Aisles are now created using larger and taller warehouse-style shelving versus the standard, lower fixturing used throughout the chain today. Just inside the entrance hero displays made of conveyer belts highlight the season’s choice merchandise.

A more delineated merchandising between Men’s, Women’s, Youth, Nike, Accessories and Clearance creates the feeling that there is more inventory available and hence, more to discover, compared to the typical open concept in standard stores. Youth footwear and the Nike brand are allocated their own mini shops within the store’s front corners. Overall, merchandising takes on greater curation as unique displays anchor each department. Most notably, women’s accessories play a greater role as new displays, increased floor space, creative merchandising and expanded assortments work to create a destination for the category.

In conjunction with the new warehouse look, there is also an increased use of in-store signage. With sightlines now more dissected, enhanced signage such as theater marquees and neon typography, engage customers upon entry into the store and anchors each department. Both the Men’s and Women’s departments are flanked with lifestyle marketing calling attention to seasonal merchandise.

Finally, the most innovative and surprising enhancement to this store concept is the in-store partnership with local boutique salon, The W Nail Bar. It’s not dissimilar to the increasing implementation of bars and TVs in menswear shops or basketball courts and treadmills in sporting goods stores. What makes this partnership’s potential so powerful is two-fold. First, it is a clear enhancement to the store experience, giving shoppers another reason to visit the store and stay longer, expanding the in-store personal connection and infusing a service-first mindset. Secondarily, it gives DSW permission to expand into new and adjacent product categories in a more strategic way, for future growth and expansion.


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