Macy's assembles talent, tech for its digital overhaul

Macy's recently named a new CTO, partnered with a retail-as-a-service provider and built out core features to meld its digital and in-store experiences.

Video: Macy's is making strides toward a digital overhaul

It's unclear whether Macy's will ultimately nail down its digital strategy, reinvent itself to fend off Amazon and create an in-store experience that can bolster sales, but you can't say the retailer isn't trying.

Macy's has hired a new chief technology officer from Home Depot, partnered with a retail as a service company called B8ta, restructured to focus on digital and acquired Story, a company focused on shopping experiences.

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Add it up and Macy's has assembled the parts to deliver a digital transformation. In two days this week, Macy's went a long way toward addressing its technology leadership and scaling a unique retail experiences.

  • On Wednesday, Macy's said it appointed Naveen Krishna as chief technology officer. Krishna was vice president of technology for Home Depot, which has been among the omni-channel retail leaders in its space.
  • On Tuesday, Macy's formed a strategic partnership with b8ta. The b8ta software platform will be used to scale The Market @ Macy's, a new in-store experience that will roll out concepts faster in apparel, beauty and home. Market @ Macy's is currently in 10 locations in the U.S.
  • In May, Macy's acquired Story, a concept store in New York City. Story founder Rachel Schectman joined Macy's as brand experience officer. Story is a retail model that is part gallery and part store. The retail space is reinvented with new designs, themes and merchandise every four to eight weeks.
  • Macy's has also been adding mobile checkout improvements as well as experimenting with augmented and virtual reality. CEO Jeffrey Gennette said on Macy's conference call in May the company is looking at technologies that will "eliminate friction from the shopping experience."

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Couple those moves with solid quarterly results and Macy's may have bought itself some time to pivot to a more digital and experiential model. Analysts are cautiously optimistic.

Cowen analyst Oliver Chen said in research note that the b8ta acquisition is promising:

We believe b8ta offers a compelling and innovative solution to the growing traffic problem of brick-and-mortal retail by bringing a non-conventional approach to selling. We like that b8ta adds regular product newness and innovation across categories given a rotating selection of products and partnerships.

In short order, Macy's has assembled some key digital parts. Now comes the execution.

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