A key component to WSS’s success has been incorporating what the company calls the “neighborhood” concept. As an urban specialty retailer, the company follows a model that keeps its stores close to the customers instead of opening stores in malls. As a result, WSS is known for its strong footprint on the West Coast and large customer base in the Hispanic and urban communities. “Our target customers are Hispanic and urban-living residents,” Aiken says.
The company’s customers are at the core of the business and have helped keep the company going for more than three decades. WSS says it will continue to provide the best customer service at each of its stores by having communication serve as a fundamental element within the WSS brand experience.
“WSS employs courtesy officers to meet, greet and assist customers as they enter or leave the store,” Aiken explains. “We also pride ourselves on staying connected with our customers through all our traditional and social communication channels.”
One of the programs that WSS is particularly proud of is called WSS Listens. On the back of receipts, customers are given detailed instructions for sharing their experiences at WSS. This gives the company valuable insights as to what it is doing well and, more importantly, what areas it needs to focus on to better serve the customers. There is also a reward for feedback in the form of a redeemable offer good at the customer’s next purchase at WSS. Although some restrictions apply, customers can contact WSS stores for details.
“Our customer loyalty program is another great way that we are able to give back to our devoted buyers, by awarding points and subsequent rewards to be earned and used based on the terms and conditions of the WSS Rewards program,” Aiken says.
WSS is continuing to expand its footprint on the West Coast and make key investments in locations where its customers want the company to be. WSS is committed to continuing to be the best store for its customers by carrying the best premium brands. The company’s focus is to continue providing customers on the West Coast with all premium brands in demand.
Being a supporter of its surrounding neighborhoods and communities is another area that has always been a big focus for WSS. For example, WSS recently made a commitment to donate $250,000 to the Neighborhood Los Angeles County Alliance Boys & Girls Clubs in the Western Region. WSS’s donation will provide funding in the four key areas of grants, youth engagement, individual recognition and job opportunities to benefit the organization. Each WSS store will support club programs that help youths build character, live a healthy lifestyle and achieve academic success.
“WSS employee volunteers will also have opportunities to work with club members to support their activities through events, games, tutoring and special programs,” Aiken says. “Our stores will work with their local Boys & Girls Clubs to help members create resumes, learn how to interview and have an opportunity to apply to work at WSS.”
2015 has been a busy year for WSS. The company expects to add 10 to 12 new stores to its 70-store footprint by the end of the year. In addition, it is currently remodeling and expanding some existing stores while relocating other stores to new locations that better serve its customers.
WSS has grown organically since its founding 30 years ago, and historically has averaged about five percent per year same-store sales growth. By 2016, the company hopes to be opening new stores at a rate of 15 to 20 per year. Infrastructure, along with human and financial capital, is being put in place now to support that growth rate.
“We work hard to stay true to our value offering of shoes, style and selection, which are the core attributes of what makes us stand out from the rest and what our customers appreciate about us,” Aiken says. “As we’re always evolving to keep our customers coming back for more, we look forward to announcing new customer-service initiatives in the New Year.”