Department stores are in structural decline as apparel sales move online. To compete with the new challenges, brick-and-mortar department stores are integrating omnichannel features across search and navigation, as well as highlighting in-store services and events. A flurry of digital investment from sector stalwarts highlights a growing awareness of the importance of pick-up options and personalized shopping experiences—though most retailers miss key integration opportunities. Globally, the following ten brands are making the most of the shifting department store industry, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Department Stores:
1. Macy’s Digital IQ: 140
Macy’s leaves its mark as the only Genius brand in this year’s ranking. On its website, it offers sophisticated search and navigation tools with contextually relevant filters. A well-tailored Instagram earns the chain high engagement from a community of over a million followers while Macy’s mobile site boasts a smooth e-commerce experience. Numerous innovations, such as In-Store mode, top off Macy’s mobile app for a well-rounded digital performance.
2. Nordstrom Digital IQ: 132
Nordstrom excels with Facebook performance that accounts for the highest engagement per post out of all tracked brands, as well as frequent product promotions from major vendors. The brand also targets repeat customers with a fully developed loyalty program offering tender-neutral and tiered rewards. Finally, barcode scan functionality, Reserve Online, and a cart that resurfaces on the homepage make for a sophisticated mobile app.
3. ASOS Digital IQ: 127
ASOS appeals to online shoppers with a wide range of fulfillment options, such as Premier Delivery, an expedited delivery service that shoppers can opt in to for an annual fee. It also achieves high desktop traffic and has the largest community and second highest Instagram engagement out of all tracked brands.
4. M&S Digital IQ: 124
Marks & Spencer touts the fastest mobile site in the ranking, complete with a sophisticated store locator and a list of features available by location and business hours. On social media, it boasts the second-highest engagement per post on Facebook with more than half of posts promoted. It tops off its digital performance with free online returns and extensive customer service features, including live chat and searchable FAQ pages.
5. John Lewis Digital IQ: 123
John Lewis consistently takes the first position in organic search against branded keywords and earns high visibility against category keywords as well. Its annual Christmas ad earns high organic views and is backed by significant investments in YouTube, while an intuitive online shopping cart promotes click and collect and informs customers how much more they need to spend to get free shipping.
6. J.C. Penney Digital IQ: 122
This department store soars with the highest share of traffic from paid search, bidding against branded terms for rivals like Macy’s. Its mobile site targets shoppers with features like Add to Cart, Add to List, Add to Registry, and Back in Stock Alert options. Additionally, the company remains connected with customers via frequent rewards updates.
7. La Redoute Digital IQ: 120
La Redoute is a major web advertiser. The French brand places billions of impressions for a low CPM. Additionally, it offers a seamless transition between countries, languages, and currencies in its header online.
7. Otto Digital IQ: 120
Otto holds its own with the highest website traffic in Germany. It also excels in customer service and is the only retailer to explicitly feature plus size apparel on its homepage header, catering to plus size shoppers with guided selling tools.
9. El Corto Ingles Digital IQ: 119
The department store group makes this year’s top ten with a major improvement in its web advertising performance since 2017. Additionally, it earns high organic visibility against category keywords in Spain.
9. Kohl’s Digital IQ: 119
Kohl’s features mobile site search that allows for quick navigation to Shop My Store. It is also the only retailer in Gartner L2’s study to leverage Google Shopping Actions via Google Express partnership.
9. Sears Digital IQ: 119
Sears completes this year’s ranking with high visibility against home keywords appearing against 20% of queries. It prompts customers to log into their accounts upon entering on the homepage, making it the only retailer to follow Amazon’s model.