The retail industry received a clear message earlier this month about the opportunity outlet centers hold for future success. After a rough fourth quarter, Express, Inc. has shifted its thinking to focus on a working relationship between outlet centers and e-commerce.
In her article on ChainStoreAge.com, Marianne Wilson said, “The retailer expressed confidence about its performance going forward, with online and factory outlet stores expected to help boost sales. On a call with analysts, executives said the company will open 19 Express Factory Outlet locations in 2017, and also convert 20 regular stores into outlet units.”
This new direction from Express, that positions outlet centers as a “sister solution” with e-commerce, is a truly forward-thinking idea. It taps into an important audience mindset that’s been shifting to value-based thinking for a while now. According to a report released in July by NPD Group’s Checkout Tracking data service, two-thirds of U.S. shoppers are spending money at off-price retailers in search of bargains. Those evolved shoppers are a key reason that outlets are a brilliant centerpiece of any retail “move forward” plan.
Retailers that are seeing diminishing sales due to this evolving shopper mindset would be smart to take notice of the direction Express is headed. Instead of asking their shoppers to come to them, they’re now moving to the mindset of their shoppers. It’s smart since their audience’s behaviors have already changed.
David Hinkle of The Outlet Resource Group put it best, “Express has executed the roll out of their outlet concept flawlessly. The results speak to the strength of the outlet sector. Marrying the e-commerce and outlet “direct to the consumer” formats is a long-term winner.”
The possibility for outlets to be a central growth solution equal to e-commerce opens up all kinds of doors. The time to take full advantage of this intelligent trend is now!