Hoguet said the company views off-price as an opportunity to bring a new customer into Macy's, similar to when it launched outlet stores for its higher-end Bloomingdale's concept. At first the company was concerned that those outlets would cannibalize sales at its full-line shops, but "what we found is it served as an entry point for the customer."
"Instead of taking business away from the base Bloomingdale's store, we actually brought new customers," she said.
Nordstrom has cited similar findings from the expansion of its off-price Rack business, saying in its most recent earnings call that one-third of its Rack shoppers also visit its full-price locations.
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Although Hoguet was mum on many of the details regarding Macy's pilot locations, she said they would operate in a manner similar to traditional off-price stores. That way, they wouldn't directly compete with the company's 13 Bloomingdale's outlets.
She added that the firm plans to build out its Bloomingdale's outlet business, though the company declined to share additional details or sales figures for the unit after the call.
As for Macy's test locations, there are still a number of kinks to work out, notwithstanding the role of digital. Before greenlighting a full-fledged expansion into off-price, Hoguet said, "We'll let the customer vote and see what she says."
"[Macy's] does a fantastic job of testing new initiatives before broadly rolling out new strategies/processes," Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger wrote in a note to investors on Wednesday. "This leaves us quite confident [it] will only pursue profitable new avenues of growth, a key differentiator, in our opinion."
Still, investors responded with hesitation toward Macy's new initiatives and outlook for the new year, sending shares down about 3 percent on Tuesday; however, the stock regained some ground Wednesday, trading up nearly 2 percent.
"We believe the changes the company has made to its structure and leadership all make sense, as does the idea of trying to find new ways to drive sales growth," Wells Fargo analyst Paul Lejuez wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday.
"For investors, the issue may be that the timing on building new growth vehicles is not likely to be quick..., the environment remains highly challenging, and the heightened level of investment is not likely to generate the same level of returns as it has in the past."
Macy's said in its earnings release Tuesday that it expects capital expenditures for 2015 to increase to $1.2 billion from $1.07 billion last year, reflecting new investment in growth initiatives.