As company after company has filed for bankruptcy or announced mass store closures, I'm reminded both of my question about how retailers are measuring stores and my ideas for how retailers can use stores to enhance the customer experience.
Regardless of whether retailers are thinking about either of these topics, there are obvious ways to leverage existing stores to drive sales in any or all channels.
I read many - probably too many - articles about retail. More than any I’ve seen recently, last week’s The New Yorker article, "Why J. Crew's Vision of Preppy America Failed", nails so much about retail today.
A few weeks ago, I announced the pre-launch of my new retail business, Box The Party. As the landing page says, I want to help people eliminate Pinterest party fails and create Instagrammable everyday celebrations at home. Despite the chatbot hype, I believe there's an opportunity in human-to-human interaction. So it's no coincidence that Box The Party's minimally viable product - which launched last week - is all via SMS.
I'm really impressed with how this retailer - a legacy department store in an age when their demise is predicted daily, no less - has evolved its product, presentation, and positioning. Plenty of retailers should be able to take a lesson from what they've done.
I'm not usually one to wallow in the doom and gloom angles of retail. But writing about an evergreen retail topic or recent store visit right now would seem to be ignoring the elephant in the dressing room. The 89,000 U.S. retail workers who have been laid off since October outnumber all of the people employed in the U.S. coal industry
Online merchandising and the ease of e-commerce filtering and sorting can make store visits comparably and increasingly frustrating.Amazon is bringing some of the best of online merchandising tactics to its stores.
Earlier this month, I got the chance to sit down with Robert D'Loren, Chairman & CEO of Xcel Brands. I'm so glad I took it because Bob isn't just another garment district leader and Xcel is anything but another apparel manufacturer. Below is what I learned and why I think Xcel and its brands are ones to watch -- if you can keep track of them as well as they keep track of global trends.
As the number of ways we can see and reach customers grows, seemingly at an exponential rate, retail organizations also become more complex. More sharing is needed. Meeting calendars are filling up faster than ever. When an initiative touches marketing, online/mobile, store visits, and tech, who owns it? Everyone? No one?
I packed about 17 experiences into my one day (Saturday, 3/11/17) in Austin, not including all the mind-expanding conversations I had along the way. The global, truly interdisciplinary nature of the crowd this event continues to draw is beyond impressive.
If there's no picture, did it even happen? For brands, it may as well not have. And for millennials, if there's no picture to be taken, the experience may not happen for them at all. But it better be an experience you're selling, and not just an item.
In making store closure decisions, retailers are, of course, looking at real estate terms and four-wall profitability and the prospect that customers of a closed location may decide to shop in another location nearby.
I hope these additional considerations are also part of the conversation and planning, if not the decision-making process itself.
Retailers can’t do “omnichannel” well without data that profile customers and their paths to purchase across channels. With in-store Wi-Fi log-ins and data collection powered by Euclid Connect, retailers gain illuminating visibility into how the store visit fits into a customer’s purchase journey
As social media took off, brands aspired to be our friends. And now they are. As with our other friends, we want to know what they think. And we hope they're on our side. It's awkward for companies to say they won't take a political stance for two reasons.
For an increasing number of purchases, consumers don’t need to enter a physical retail store. It's why foot traffic is down: When consumers know they want to buy something, they often can do it online.
Consumers need reasons to enter stores even when they don't intend to buy. Here's what I've seen drawing traffic recently and keeping visitors inside.
Late last year, Adidas opened a new "brand store" on 5th Ave. and 46th St. in NY. While I kept my eyes open for the technology I know is there, it didn't jump out at me (which isn't a bad thing). But five other aspects of the experience did.
Most of the recaps of Retail’s BIG Show, hosted by the National Retail Federation last week, have been focused on technology. But what stood out to me more than always-new technology was a collection of statements from the show about the people who work in retail and the investments the industry makes in them, largely in the name of customer experience.
"Technology is dramatically changing the retail landscape, but one thing remains the same: Retail is about providing high-quality, engaging experiences for customers. Human customers..."
When I’m in a store and I don’t have good cell service, I’m always surprised by how often I find the retailer doesn’t have public Wi-Fi. The reason I’m surprised is there are so many good reasons for stores to offer customers free Wi-Fi.
It's tempting to say closing 100 stores won't help Macy's and the company is doomed because there's so much wrong with it. Like the rest of the retail industry, Macy's needs to change with the times. I think closing so many stores is a big step toward that change.
The current issue of Harvard Business Review is one of the best I can remember. In a retail-focused section, "Curing the Addiction to Growth”, the researchers conclude "mature companies should rely on a strategy that focuses on growing revenues of existing stores faster than expenses”. This sounds rational and easy but, while logical, I’ve found it difficult for 3 reasons.
Amidst a world of digital snippets and statistical click bait, ELLE Magazine printed a well-researched longread on retail trends an sentiment in its January 2017 issue. I read it with interest because it's a fresh source talking to a different reader than the mainstream business publications. I wanted to know which themes they're seeing -- and reinforcing.
I think we've hit a new high this year in the quantity of gift guides published. Instead of recommending items for purchase, I'm sharing ideas for where to go shopping if you want to have fun browsing and find desirable gifts.
Personal shoppers, whether they’re entirely human or a human/algorithm combination, typically have a major advantage over a salesperson or a web site welcoming an unknown visitor: Time to plan... But my recent shopping experiences with a number of online and offline services have fallen far short of that expectation.
The store experience in Soho definitely lived up to expectations. And it’s definitely an experience more so than a store... The space is beautiful and not only brings the brand to life in a compelling way, but adds more dimension to the brand than could ever be conveyed by a web site or by the speakers themselves.
About weekly, I get this question from someone who sees the headlines but doesn't follow US retail - specifically the fashion segment of the industry - closely. Without spewing a lot of stats, I usually touch on some or all of the following.
Last month, I wrote about my successful shopping experience with Hamlet, where I discovered and bought a table lamp via text. Around the same time, I needed to book a flight so I downloaded the Mezi app.
There seems to be a perception among US retailers and retail-watchers that Singles Day, or 11.11, is China’s e-commerce version of Black Friday. In fact, headlines have called it that. But there’s more to the story. It’s a story global retailers need to understand.
As I've told people I'm heading to China this week for "Singles Day", I've found I need to remind some what this holiday - also known as "11.11" - is.
Below you'll find:
1. What I'm most excited to learn more about in Shenzhen
2. Key quotes from Alibaba's earnings conference call last week
Throughout, I'm linking to recent articles about 11.11, Alibaba and its competitors.
I read about Hamlet a couple of months ago. Having procrastinated on a ceiling light search because I had a specific aesthetic in mind yet technical limitations to conquer, I decided the time was ripe to try my "personal home stylist, from the comfort of my phone". I'm so glad I did.
Hamlet has a conveniently low barrier for consumer entry because it's just a number to text -- not an app, not even Facebook Messenger.