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Deep Dive Into the Retail Personalization Index Top 10: DSW

During last year’s Retail Personalization Index, we called it: DSW was one to watch. From the first year to the second, the footwear retailer went from 26th place to missing the top 10 by a mere two points. And now in year three, DSW, the retailer responsible for 5% of North America’s footwear transactions, is in the top 5.

In March, DSW announced a new corporate name (Designer Brands Inc.) and a three-year plan, which includes enhancing its in-store offering. DSW was already ahead of the pack there, one of two brands to earn a perfect score in the Index’s offline category. Over the last year, DSW has introduced shoe repair services and donations, and in-store nail salons, but what really elevates the experience is how seamlessly they integrate the brand’s digital channels. That even applies to inventory; ecommerce data helps the brand make merchandise decisions.

During a December Q+A, the National Retail Federation asked Brian Seewald, DSW’s SVP of Customer Experience and Operations, what trends and technology excite him most going into the new year. He said, “I am most passionate about how we deliver personalized and relevant experiences to each and every customer,” noting that the DSW VIP loyalty program is the perfect vehicle to do so.

Revamped last spring, DSW VIP currently has more than 26 million members. New users are given an extensive quiz, helping the retailer help them find the best products. Perks include rewards, birthday presents, discounts, members-only events. The loyalty program lives within DSW’s app — downloading it is worth 30 rewards points — which organizes members’ rewards, recommendations, starred items and payment methods in one place. Within the app, shoppers can also take advantage of the brand’s clearance calculator and swipe on favorite items, Tinder-style.

Thanks to geolocation, app users get VIP treatment and relevant mobile messaging when they walk into one of DSW’s 501 brick-and-mortar stores. Seewald referred to mobile as the bridge between the digital and physical worlds, and it makes sense that the brand’s app functions in the same way. The only thing less surprising is that DSW earned a near-perfect score in the Index’s mobile category.

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