Dear Tony,

Bloomingdale’s used to be one of the first places I went when I was looking to make a big purchase—a new coat, a blazer, some jeans—but I didn’t know what brand I was going to buy. There was always a bit of chaos, but the wide selection and generous return policy still made it worth it.

But in the last few years, as the both industry stakes and customer expectations have accelerated, keeping on the same course is not enough. Everyone needs to push their experience forward. Luckily, there are numerous things for Bloomingdale’s to do.

Here’s one idea.

Merchandise and educate for discovery—not just sales  

I walked into your Soho store a few weeks ago when I was looking for a blazer. Upon entering the men’s section, I had little sense where I should go and little guidance to help me get there. Once I did find a few relevant sections, I couldn’t locate anyone to help me find the right item nor talk to me about the options. I was looking for someone to help steer the ship but it was left unattended. I gave up soon after.

I know I am not alone in my quest for a better in-store experience. One of the irreplaceable benefits of physical retail is that it’s there when you need it, whether it’s for a short-notice or impulse purchase. It’s a place to learn more about brands and products, try on different items, and assess my options.

Given the real estate, brands and customers that Bloomingdale’s has access to, you have a massive opportunity to redefine your in-store experience. It likely has eager and educated sales associates that know their stuff, more relaxed layouts that allow shoppers to breathe and browse, and a diverse mix of brands that one can’t—or doesn’t want to find—elsewhere.

Stores can no longer operate like they used to before the internet existed. They need to be substantially better in order to drive enough foot traffic to survive. New and old companies alike, from Apple to Glossier, are opening stores that focus specifically on experiences and customer service. The results—and sales—are promising. Yet these stores look very different. They are closer to art galleries than warehouses.

If you want to turn your hundred thousand square foot stores into assets, not liabilities, it will start with refreshing a lot of the customer experience from the time a shopper walks in the store to the second she walks out—hopefully with a Bloomingdale’s bag in hand. Your website is making good progress, but your stores need to catch up.

This is just one idea among many others that could put Bloomingdale’s back on top. Let me know if you’d like to hear more.

Richie Siegel
Founder and CEO
Loose Threads