Department Store Merchandising: Shops within a Store or “Bunch of Stuff”?

Interesting discussion on today’s Retail Wire: Over the past couple of decades, has the traditional department store leaned too much on the “shop within a store” concept? As usual, it would be nice to have more data to support one argument or the other (category dominance vs. “collection of brands”). But the long-term market share decline of the traditional department store may be connected to this trend:

The topic of shop-within-shop merchandising gets to the heart of the debate between item (or category) merchandising versus “collection” merchandising. It’s easy to point out the merits of merchandising by lifestyle or collection: It provides a more pointed brand or demographic message to a targeted customer, and it also enables that customer to add more to his or her shopping basket.

On the other hand, collection merchandising has contributed to the “breakdown of order” in the traditional department store. It’s become less convenient to shop within a category (for example, women’s shorts or men’s knit shirts) because of the fragmented approach to the product. I believe this has helped traditional department stores lose share over the past 15 years to more convenience-driven retailers like Kohl’s or the category killers.


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