Payless Makes a Retail Comeback

Tuesday, Aug 18, 2020

Payless has re-emerged in the world of retail. The company initially rose from bankruptcy earlier this year and hinted at a potential comeback.

Today the brand made waves in the media again — announcing a new retail strategy with plans to relaunch their e-commerce site, change their name and reinvent brick-and-mortar.

After appointing Jared Margolis as the new Chief Executive Officer at Payless, the company’s potential for growth in the industry was apparent. Plans were immediately made by Margolis to alter the retail landscape and engage in social change.

Payless’ first step in making a comeback was relaunching their website, which has just started accepting orders. The retailer also took “ShoeSource” out from their name, keeping it straightforward and simple.

For their brick-and-mortar plans, the new store prototype will be a smaller format, capping physical locations between 400-500. Originally, the brand housed over 4,000 stores across the US alone. However, with millions of dollars of debt from their past two bankruptcies, it’s clear that the brand wants to start out conservatively across the board.

Margolis understands the potential for opportunity within brick-and-mortar retail for the Payless brand. At one point the company clocked $1.5 billion in annual sales, and only $100 million of that came from e-commerce. It’s clear that many of Payless shoppers prefer to shop in-store.

New Payless stores will be designed with omnichannel capabilities and technology at the forefront. Touch-screen mirrors will be located throughout the store to view additional products or sizes they might not offer. They will also partner with Zappar to offer a program that allows shoppers to measure their shoe size with their phones.

To keep up with today’s everchanging retail landscape, the brand understands that they can’t go back to where they were over a year ago, especially when it comes to their store format. With the current pandemic, there’s now new expectations they must meet in order to survive.

“We have all the learnings of what didn’t work and now we have a blank canvas. All of the stores that were nonperforming, we know to never open stores in those areas. Even the old shop concept — a lot companies are going through a lot, even if they make it through there is a new norm that we now have to create an environment for that is user-friendly,” Margolis said.

The first Payless store will be opened as soon as November in Miami, where their headquarters are located. This will serve as a prototype, allowing the retailer to closely watch its performance. Margolis said that the Texas and US-Mexico border is another area where Payless will have a strong 100-store footprint. The retailer plans to open 30-45 stores in both regions by the end of next year.

This is an interesting time for Payless to relaunch their brand and physical identity in retail. To some, this may seem like a terrible idea. However, we understand there’s a lot of opportunity in the industry right now. Commercial real estate continues to expand and thrive, while retail has seen an increase in sales for the third straight month in a row. Pent-up consumer demand is real during the current health crisis, and we have seen numerous signs that point to a healthy recovery. Even across our own portfolio the retail landscape has exceeded our expectations, both in sales and traffic.

The brand also wants to make an impact on local communities with various outreach programs – including initiatives for Wi-Fi hotspots and lunch programs for students in need, as well as free shoes to help children get “back on their feet” during this time.

Although this is Payless’ second attempt to rebrand themselves and emerge from bankruptcy, something seems different this time around. They have a clearer understanding for what they need to improve and what they need to do to succeed. Their strategy strives to reinvent retail in their own way, while also meeting consumer demands for everchanging trends in technology.

Payless has a clear vision for their path going forward — and now, it’s put to the test. It’s up to them to make a true, strong retail comeback. If they succeed, it will be a known as a powerful move in retail history.

Source: Payless – Press Release 8/18/20, Payless is Back – WWD
Photo Credit:  Payless is Back – WWD


About Payless
Founded in 1956 in Topeka, KS, Payless is an iconic footwear retailer with a 60+ year heritage, and uncompromised commitment to value. Serving millions of customers through its extensive global network of brick-and-mortar and Ecommerce retail footprint, Payless spans 30 countries with over 700 stores in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Caribbean. Relaunched in 2020, Payless is now headquartered in Miami, FL and offers a wide range of fashionable footwear as well as apparel and accessories, all at affordable prices for every member of the family.

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