Payless Launches Comeback with Emphasized Digital Presence

The retailer plans to integrate features such as AR into its new vision.

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Need to Know

  • After twice declaring bankruptcy, in 2017 and 2019, the footwear retailer is relaunching as Payless, officially dropping Shoesource from its name.
  • Payless has debuted an expansive e-commerce platform at payless.com, with a revamped look and feel.
  • The retailer plans to open 300-500 brick-and-mortar stores across North America over the next five years.
  • New stores will have new, digital-first features such as smart mirrors and an AR foot comparison chart.

Analysis

The beleaguered footwear store Payless is launching a comeback bid, officially dropping the “Shoesource” from its name and debuting a new-and-improved online store, the retailer announced this week.

Payless is making its digital presence the cornerstone of its relaunch, but also plans to open between 300 and 500 physical stores over the next five years. The stores will be part of the retailer’s digital-first comeback plan, and will feature smart mirrors, touchscreen wall panels, and a first-of-its-kind Augmented Reality foot comparison chart, as Payless aims for a completely integrated, omni-channel shopping experience for its customers.

Jared Margolis, CEO of Payless, says that the relaunch comes at a time when “value couldn’t be more critical:” “We saw an opportunity for the brand to relaunch into the US market, providing our community with the affordable, value driven products they’ve always searched for, now across multiple categories,” he said in a statement announcing the retailer’s comeback. “Payless is for everyone, and now more than ever, the world needs to pay less. We are so excited to bring Payless back to you, so you and future generations to come can lead the way forward.”

Margolis noted in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that Payless’ recent financial difficulties — the company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and again in 2019 — allowed the retailer the opportunity to start from scratch, eliminating “antiquated technology” and focusing on an e-commerce-focussed total overhaul.

The new payless.com, which is live now, is designed with a younger clientele in mind, highlighting well-known brands such as American Eagle and Kendall & Kylie. The site also highlights its affordable Safe Step line of workplace footwear as “essential footwear for the heroes”, featuring the shoes alongside images of healthcare workers.

The brand is also bringing its digital-first focus to its Powered by Payless initiative, a program that will see Payless partner with schools across the country to provide students and teachers with internet access and technology, complimentary lunches, and free shoes. The initiative is rooted in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: Payless is offering Powered by Payless in response to the need brought on by increased at-home learning due to coronavirus.

“We are in truly unprecedented times, and it’s undeniable that this year’s back-to-school season will be unlike any other,” Margolis said of Powered by Payless. “We are fully aware that we’re relaunching in a time when many have lost their jobs, finances are tight, and parents nationwide are adjusting to working from home, facilitating at-home schooling for their children, all while serving the most important role as parent. We’re excited and proud to be in a position to bring the Payless brand back to life to provide parents with the value they need, and kids with the styles they will love, in a way that acknowledges and celebrates every single one of our consumers.”

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