Next-Gen Tech Could Be Key To Men’s Wearhouse Turnaround

Next-Gen Tech Could Be Key To Men’s Wearhouse Turnaround

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Men’s Wearhouse recently introduced its first two next-gen store locations that feature a more streamlined layout and host of digital elements.

Men’s Wearhouse recently introduced its first two next-gen store locations that feature a more streamlined layout and host of digital elements.

Men’s Wearhouse recently introduced its first two next-gen store locations that feature a more streamlined layout and host of digital elements.

The new feature were received as a welcome shift in strategy by some of the experts on the RetailWire BrainTrust in an online discussion last week.

“Any guy knows that Men’s Wearhouse is the buy-one-get-two store,” wrote The Retail Doctor Bob Phibbs. “I love the departure and hope these improvements can move them to a more quality experience based on something other than price.”

The standout non-tech feature of the concept is a visible back stock area called “The Vault,” which significantly reduces inventory on the sales floor, including an 85 percent reduction in on-floor suiting count.

The reduced inventory on the floor improves sight lines, reduces clutter and enables elevated visual merchandising of key items and head-to-toe looks on perimeter walls. The chain’s historically wide size range availability is retained.

“We’ve always kept a range of sizes in the store,” Carrie Ask, chief customer officer of Tailored Brands, the parent of Men’s Wearhouse, told WWD. “We are preserving that legacy but liberating space for more storytelling. We’ve opened up the entire sales floor.”

The store features distinct zones for custom, rental and retail sections. Casualwear and rental, two key areas targeted for growth, receive more prominent positioning.

Among the tech features:

 

  • Artificial intelligence-driven technology from 3DLOOK analyzes two photos taken of the customer to quickly determine their clothing sizes for contactless measurement.
  • A “Digital Shirt Wall” enables customers to use a touch screen to select their desired style, fit and color from in-store and online inventory. Customers add shirts to their “virtual fitting room” and associates bring selections for them to try on.
  • In the custom department, a “co-create” table enables stylists to tap technology to work with customers. Stylists browse iPads to allow customers to visualize hundreds of fabrics and multiple style combinations. Devices cast 3D-renderings on a large-screen display during the design process.

 

“I like a lot of what they’re trying; it’s more adventurous/relevant than many others who have opened ‘next gen’ stores recently,” wrote Lee Peterson, EVP of thought leadership and marketing at WD Partners. “Makes sense to me to have one of these physical efforts in a market and the rest of the business coming from an online version, especially the shirt wall. (I love that idea.)”

“While this is new for Men’s Wearhouse, it is not new to the retail industry,” wrote Shep Hyken of Shepard Presentations. “Other retailers in the eyeglass, makeup and jewelry spaces and more have created a strong digital shopping experience. Some see this as a gimmick, however it is proving to be a viable way of engaging the customer and making the sale.”

Tailored Brands underwent bankruptcy proceedings last year and is in the process of closing about a third of its stores as the work-from-home trend and restrictions on business events, weddings and other dressier events has hampered sales.

RetailWire BrainTrust member Cathy Hotka, principal at Cathy Hotka & Associates, saw hope in the concept, even in the face of these headwinds.

“Men’s Wearhouse has been a destination for suits — and very few people are buying suits these days,” wrote Ms. Hotka. “Tailored Brands should lead with this concept and invite younger customers in. This approach should have been tried years ago; Millennials who shop on phones (and see a maximum of four items at a time) get a little freaked out when they can see 1,000 SKUs at a time.”

Others, however, were skeptical about the potential positive impact.

“While the improvements in store experience and inventory management sound promising, it reminds me of the J.C. Penney test store in Hurst, TX,” wrote Dick Seesel, principal at Retailing in Focus. “Is it too little, too late? If the company has emerged from bankruptcy with a smaller footprint and more financial constraints, it’s going to be hard to roll out the next-gen concept fast enough to impact the brand.”

Originally published on Retail Wire.

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