Retail trends hurting some big box stores, helping others

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- The announcement of the closing of Dressbarn has contributed to a series of big box retailers shutting their doors in recent months.

Jerry O'Brien, Director of the Kohl's Center for Retailing at UW-Madison, said that now more than ever, retailers should cater to their customers.

"Long time ago it was, 'here's what we're offering, if you want it come get it,'" O'Brien said. "That definitely does not work now. Now, it's the customer saying, 'here's what I want, if you want me, you'll give it to me.' And the stores that are able to get closest to that are doing well, and the stores that have had a hard time adjusting to that change are falling to the wayside."

Recently, stores like Payless Shoes, Toys "R" Us, and Shopko have announced closures.

"A place like Dressbarn, I would say it's consumer tastes more that have changed and adjusted from them," O'Brien said. "And also consumers have come up with options for where to go for those styles and things that they want."

Some of those options include online retailers and websites.

"If all you're going to do is sell me the same thing that you've always sold or that all of your competitors sell, then you're not going to do it," he said.

However, O'Brien said some large retailers are implementing techniques that have led to success.

"You'll see a lot of companies going really after private labels, so that they're getting some maybe star power behind a brand that I can't get elsewhere and I want to go," he said. "I think a few companies are using a little bit of minimal supplies, so they encourage me to rush out because it might not be there tomorrow."

Brandon Neupert, executive team leader of service and engagement at Target Madison Hilldale, said the store is currently carrying a line for a Vineyard Vines select partnership with Target.

"We've released I believe it's about eight different brands to Target in the last month alone," Neupert said.

O'Brien said another aspect some retailers are adopting are additional customer services.

"If you're a busy mom with kids, instead of having to get your kids into a shopping cart, into a Target store, instead you can have it delivered to your car," O'Brien said. "You are really loving that experience."

Neupert said in addition to Drive Up, a service where shoppers can place an online order and have it delivered to their car in the parking lot, Target shoppers can also make in-store pick ups.

"I think the formula is knowing your customer," said O'Brien.