Behind 10 of Last Week's Consumer Headlines

Toys R’ Us still a player despite brutal competition from Amazon, Walmart

  • There’s a big box store with positive same-story sales and it’s… Toys R’ Us, a company that had struggled recently and sells, largely, commodity product (think: Amazon)
  • I wish we knew how much spend was driven by consumers with kids in tow (i.e. kids are having an experience and parents are spending, which would be in line with other consumer trends)
  • Along those lines, the chain has increased floor space for interactive toys such as flying drones and differentiated the assortment with exclusives and private label — which is exactly what multi-brand retailers need to be doing.

Walmart brings back ‘retail-tainment’ with bull riders and all

  • Stores (like Walmart) that carry commodity product (like Walmart) need to offer experiences
  • It’s a traffic draw, keeps the traffic around longer, and makes the traffic more likely to buy
  • And when you can get vendors to pay for said “retail-tainment”, why not?

Are Lululemon executives delusional about its future?

  • Lululemon is going to grow by investing in innovative (i.e. exclusive) products and selling them in new stores they’re opening
  • What a concept — not just talking about digital for growth
  • Not sure their stores need to be bigger, as reported, though

5 trends that are radically reshaping shopper marketing
How I’d rank these in likelihood to radically re-shape anything through 2017:

  1. Throwbacks & crossovers
  2. Grocers go boho
  3. Science non-fiction (would’ve ranked this last if not for auto-checkout)
  4. Rise of VR (though I’m definitely going to try Lowes’s Holoroom app)
  5. Beacons

That’s right, I put the human elements of shopping above technology. I’d love to see beacons take off inside big stores but I’ve seen no progress in that direction.

Boots launches IBM-powered Sales Assist app, laying down the foundations of its omnichannel strategy

  • I was excited, but unless I’m missing something, it seems like the technology is just putting a slightly better version of Boots’ web site on an iPad for associates to use in front of customers
  • Would you not rather pull out your own phone and get the same information?

Amazon cuts shipping fees in threat to Alibaba’s U.S. business

  • Smaller and lighter items will cost customers less to have shipped; larger and heavier items relatively more
  • More retailers could try this if, based on their own merchandise mix, it would help e-commerce profitability
  • Customers — already used to heftier furniture delivery fees — understand shipping costs vary

Amazon makes it harder for retailers to ride Prime Day’s coattails

  • One can only hope that not knowing the date of Amazon’s event will save thousands of e-commerce professionals from having to dream up silly counter-events
  • In reality, too many companies will spend time creating multiple versions of home pages and e-mails to have ready to deploy instead of focusing on their own businesses

West Elm is lifting sales by using customers’ Instagram photos in Facebook Carousel ads — ROAS better than normal

  • I’ve been a huge proponent of UGC on e-commerce and social media for a long time and I think Curalate has done a great job facilitating it
  • The transition to using this content in paid advertising seems like a smart and natural way to set ads apart and play to consumer trends toward authenticity
  • Expect more retailers to follow suit… and then more everyday content creators to seek to monetize sees sales soar with pay-after-delivery option

  • I think pay-after-delivery, offered by Klarna, is a huge step toward increasing mobile conversion (no payment info to enter!)
  • But is, surprisingly to me, using it as more of a financial tool for customers who don’t want to outlay funds before they decide to keep the product
  • So the service isn’t offered on a $4 pair of socks, which seems like a miss for conversion since that’s where a customer may be even less likely to struggle through mobile checkout

Target names first 10 participants in its Techstar Accelerator

  • Having worked in bridal, I’ve long said it’s an industry ripe for disruption
  • Target agrees and/or wants to make bridal a bigger piece of their business, as one start-up they selected is a DIY floral tool and the other is a registry service