- Hy-Vee has partnered with footwear and accessories company Designer Brands Inc., parent company of DSW, to offer footwear to shoppers, according to a press release.
- Given the current pandemic, the partnership will launch with a DSW "digital experience" through Hy-Vee’s website. DSW and Hy-Vee are also working on buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) capabilities, but no date has been announced.
- In the future, the companies plan to open DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse shops inside Hy-Vee locations, but will begin by testing pallet sales of top-selling family footwear at more than 120 Hy-Vee stores.
Details of the partnership are still being worked out. As of now, shoppers can’t buy DSW products on Hy-Vee’s website, and the companies did not indicate a timeline for implementation. But the introduction of BOPIS combined with in-store shops and inventory will establish an omnichannel experience for customers.
Online shoe sales have been increasing steadily in recent years, growing about 8% year-over-year from 2014 to 2019, according to IBIS World. DSW, which closed its retail stores on March 17 due to the spreading coronavirus, has seen its e-commerce sales increase in recent years and has kept its online fulfillment business running amid the pandemic.
The move allows the accessories company, which is struggling like so many other retailers, to reach additional customers. It also gives Hy-Vee an opportunity to add incremental sales as customers do more stock-up shopping. With so many non-essential businesses now closed, grocers are seeing an opportunity to sell apparel, household products and other nonfood items to shoppers.
“Quality footwear and accessories will always serve as a top need for the American consumer, which is why we’ve made these solutions available to our shoppers,” Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker said in a statement.
However, in parts of the U.S., including Vermont and Michigan, grocers are barred from selling items deemed "non-essential," which includes apparel. The rules are aimed at keeping shoppers from spending too much time browsing in stores, but shoppers are starting to push back.
This isn’t Hy-Vee’s first foray into apparel. In 2017, the grocer announced plans to test a clothing section in a store in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Last year, the grocer partnered with Canadian fashion retailer Joe Fresh to outfit some of its stores with the clothing line, including shoes. Other retailers have added their own apparel lines as well, like Kroger with its Dip line and Costco’s Kirkland branded clothing.