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Macy’s Launches Live Shopping, Upgrades App as Activist Investor Calls for Ecommerce Spinoff

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Macy’s is upgrading its digital presence in time for a holiday season that is once again poised to be an ecommerce-focused end of the year. The retailer will engage with shoppers through weekly live shopping events, roll out a new mobile app and add new omnichannel features. All this is taking place even as an activist investor pushes for the retailer to spin off its online operations, claiming this would increase the retailer’s overall valuation.

The Macy’s Live sessions will feature the retailer’s Stylists in an interactive chat environment where they will offer detailed product descriptions, give real-time reviews and make recommendations. Each session will have a focused theme, such as fall and holiday apparel, shoes and accessories or toys, and will be archived to watch and shop on demand following its conclusion.

The online experience will be rounded out by Macy’s updated mobile app, which includes new design and navigation features. Improved curation options include better product filters, personalized recommendations and favorite item lists.

Additionally, the app aims to bridge the gap between home and the store by letting shoppers check availability and pricing and helping them navigate the store upon their arrival. The Macy’s app also lets users seamlessly place orders for store pickup and plan frictionless in-store returns.

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Macy’s also has expanded its contactless payment options with the addition of PayPal and Venmo. Other new features added to its overall omnichannel experience include:

  • A new sustainability shopping experience at macys.com/s/sustainability, featuring a range of environmentally conscious products that have been independently certified as responsibly made or packaged;
  • The Macy’s Fragrance Finder, which creates a curated pool of recommendations based on shoppers’ preferences and desired scent profiles and offers education about scent families, ingredients and other fragrance attributes; and
  • The Macy’s 3D Room Planning service, powered by Marxent, which utilizes AR to let shoppers trial more than 13,000 furniture items in their homes through the Macy’s app, during a virtual consultation or in-store with help from an associate.

Macy’s is doubling down on its digital offerings at the same time as an activist investor called on the retailer to divest its online operations. Jana Partners called on Macy’s to follow the lead of Saks Fifth Avenue and boost its valuation by spinning off its ecommerce business during an investor meeting, according to Bloomberg.

Jana believes Macy’s digital side could be worth approximately $14 billion on its own, compared to Macy’s current valuation of $7 billion. However, a Macy’s spokesperson noted that the chain is committed to delivering a “dynamic, seamless omnichannel experience” in an email sent to Bloomberg, adding that customers who shop with Macy’s both online and in-store spend more.

It remains unclear how much impact Jana’s proposition will have on Macy’s future plans or investors’ demands. Additionally, Jana declined to disclose whether it owns a stake in Macy’s.

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