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Editor's Perspective

The editors of Retail TouchPoints spend most of their waking hours exploring, learning and studying every aspect of the retail industry. To that end, they are bringing their unique insights and outlooks to a special Editor’s Perspective column each week on the RTP site. The pieces could include personal experiences, new takes on the latest world news, or a different look at how technologies may impact the future marketplace.

Jet.com Exec Shares 5 Tips To Survive And Thrive

Although only 2% of household goods are bought online and 8% of all goods are bought online, shoppers continue to find more reasons to skip their trip to the store and shop on their favorite e-Commerce site. In a presentation during the 2017 Retail Innovation Conference, Josh Wais, Emerging Technology and Strategy Lead at Jet.com, shared five key takeaways he felt retailers must follow if they want to survive and thrive in the midst of these constantly shifting consumer preferences.

The Not-So-Sexy Side Of Influencer Marketing

I’ve been writing about the benefits of influencer marketing for a few months now, but with these potential benefits come some serious issues that all brands and retailers need to be aware of. As influencer marketing continues to gain steam in both the B2C and B2B communities, regulations from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are becoming stricter, and new tools/bots are creeping in to make it harder to trust advertised follower counts and “likes.” Most recently, the FTC sent reminder letters to 90 or so influencers and marketers to ensure they are adding the correct disclosures within sponsored social media posts. Kamiu Lee, VP of Business Development & Finance at Bloglovin’, told Retail TouchPoints that if sponsored content is not properly disclosed by the influencer, it’s the brands and retailers that will have to face the storm.

5 Ways To Amplify Your Brand’s Mobile Influence

Smartphones influenced 31% of the $3.39 trillion in total (online and offline) U.S. retail sales in 2016, according to Forrester Research. Not bad for a technology that’s little more than a decade old. But despite mobile’s meteoric growth as a sales catalyst, the actual number of transactions completed on mobile devices remains low: $60.2 billion, or approximately 15% of the online sales total of $393.8 billion (and just 1% of total sales).

Potential Bonobos Acquisition Shows This Isn’t Your Father’s Walmart

Walmart has undertaken quite a shift in its e-Commerce operations over the past year, with the $3.3 billion Jet.com acquisition, bringing aboard new execs and a whole new attitude for the brand. While the Jet.com acquisition would have been considered an implausible idea for the retail giant as recently as two years ago, Walmart is continuing to buck “business as usual” as it prepares to buy another major e-Commerce player: Bonobos. The reported $300 million acquisition would be Walmart’s fourth in 2017, following the buyouts of ModCloth, Moosejaw and Shoebuy. It would be further proof that the brand is serious about diversifying its portfolio, adapting to rapidly changing customer trends and catering to a wider array of audiences.

Can A Business Like United Recover From A Customer Service Nightmare?

I wish the airlines had even more competition than they already do, because I think too often, people are forced to choose unsatisfactory travel options. With a more competitive environment, the airlines might be more compelled to try to delight their customers (beyond just those spending $1,000 for a first-class seat between Cincinnati and New York). The Spirit Airlines strategy seems like a joke in a way, because they are honest and up front about the fact that you have to pay extra for simply everything, even printing your boarding pass at the airport. And they tell you in no uncertain terms that your seat will not recline and there’s less legroom than you might expect.

Money Can't Fix What's Broken At Sears Holdings

The end is near, and I believe Q2 2017 will finally be the quarter when Sears Holdings files for bankruptcy and calls it quits. I’m not saying that solely because of its most-recent SEC filings, but also as someone who shops Kmart and Sears stores and e-Commerce sites. I moved to a small town in Connecticut about a year and a half ago, and quickly became a Kmart shopper. It’s not something I envisioned in life: It’s just that I have two Kmarts conveniently located within about a 15-minute drive of my condo, and the nearest Walmart or Target is at least a half an hour away.

Retailers: If You’re Not On YouTube, Where Are You?

To mimic the words of Zoolander’s Mugatu, video is so hot right now. Well, video has been popular for some time, but videos for businesses are gaining lots of steam. Yet video content is not considered a top-of-mind strategy for retailers, according to Sarah Waters, Agency Development Manager at Google. But it should be.

The Facebook Retail Reinvention

A few years ago retailers were lamenting their decisions to try to use Facebook as a commerce channel. A Business Insider article made the statement clearly: “Companies first started selling things directly through Facebook in 2009. Then, in 2011, Facebook convinced a bunch of big, high-profile brands like GameStop, Gap, J.C. Penney, and Nordstrom to open stores on the site through their business pages. They all ended up closing their stores within a year.”

ALDO VP Says ‘Omnichannel’ Thinking Must Go Away

As a Millennial, I certainly get very curious whenever I hear about retailers’ latest initiatives to market to my demographic and the younger Gen Z shoppers. Since these generations are the most significant drivers of retail’s continued transformation, their influence will only get stronger. When I attended the Millennial 20/20 event last week, I glimpsed how retailers and brands alike are handling this transition. C-Level execs from big names such as Subway, Taco Bell, Bacardi, Chobani and Boxed all spoke about their experiences catering to these younger segments, but the session that stood out for me was from the global footwear brand ALDO. What caught my attention was that ALDO has abandoned the omnichannel thought process that has been an article of faith among retailers for most of this decade.

Why 'Sleeping With The Enemy' Might Be A Good Strategic Move

If you’ve attended a retail industry conference during the past several years, I’d be willing to bet something like this has happened to you. You’re at a session with a title that is some variation on “How A Retailer Can Beat Amazon At Its Own Game.” The presenter will cite the many statistics attesting to Amazon’s amazing growth and market dominance. Then he or she will ask the attendees: “How many of you are members of Amazon Prime?” Somewhat sheepishly, hand after hand goes up. Retailers may spend their time feverishly worrying about how to survive in an Amazon-dominated world, but even as they do, many are simultaneously lining Jeff Bezos’ pockets.  Are these people foolish, or hypocritical? Hardly. Like everyone else, retailers are also customers. And Amazon is a company that is “maniacally focused on solving customer problems,” according to Patrick Gauthier, VP of External Payment Services at Amazon. Gauthier spoke at the recent National Merchant Day event in New York City, revealing some of the reasons behind the industry’s love/hate relationship with the e-Tail giant.

What Abercrombie & Fitch Could Teach Retailers About Rebranding

I remember my first purchase at Abercrombie & Fitch. I was in sixth grade and needed a new outfit for class pictures. My mom took me to the mall to find the perfect ensemble: a long-sleeve Abercrombie & Fitch top with the logo emblazoned on the chest, with a pair of cool grey swishy pants (also from A&F). What’s crazy is that the store hasn’t really changed since then — until now. As time went on, Abercrombie was what all the cool kids (now called Millennials) wore. But while we were growing up, Abercrombie & Fitch didn’t mature along with us — until the retailer announced plans for a major rebranding.

Can Lagging Luxury Brands Stage A Comeback In 2017?

Department stores’ woes have captured the headlines, but unfortunately they’re not the only ones on the sea of troubles. The worldwide luxury market is projected to grow only 1% to 2% in 2017, and in the Americas — the largest global market for personal luxury goods — sales actually shrank 3% in 2016, according to a report from Bain & Co. By comparison, from 1994 to 2007, 87% of personal luxury goods companies showed growth, with half posting growth rates greater than 10%. Less than half of these companies were projected to grow from 2015 to 2016, with just 14% showing double-digit growth.

Building A Brand From The Community Up

We talk a lot about Influencers and Community in retail today, but we’re typically talking about a retail brand trying to develop Influencers or create Community. But Truth In Aging has turned this concept upside down. What started out as a Community for women over 40 to share insights on beauty products has developed into a successful commerce operation.

How To Get Innovative About Innovation

For me, the days following the NRF Big Show are always a jumble of impressions: cool technologies, interesting new people I’ve met, old friends I’ve run into, and phrases that perfectly capture a concept. One that’s stuck in my mind since the event ended last week was uttered by Bill Lewis, EVP, Consumer Products, Retail & Distribution, Capgemini Consulting: “Retailers need to make innovation a repeatable, predictable process. It’s not just ‘fail fast,’ it’s 'learn quickly.’” The phrase is memorable to me for a couple of reasons. For one thing, “fail fast” always seemed like an odd goal. (I get that it really means “fail fast, learn from your mistakes and move on to the next iteration,” but still.) But to me, “learn quickly” puts the focus where it needs to be — on extracting the lessons from your experiments, no matter how big a flop they seem to be.

Neiman Marcus Shows Why Retail IPOs Are A Risky Business

Nearly 18 months after filing for an initial public offering (IPO), Neiman Marcus has requested to withdraw the registration. Like many other department stores, Neiman has had to amend its plans to adapt to declining sales and foot traffic within its stores. While the move signals that the brand isn’t confident in its ability to stay afloat as a publicly traded company, it also shows just how difficult it will be for any retailer to file an IPO going forward.
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