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.

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.

NRF 2017: Personalization, Deep Analytics And Talking Robots

This year’s NRF Big Show did not disappoint. The show floor was busy and energetic from Sunday through the end of the show on Tuesday. Sessions were packed and the Innovation Lab area was impressive. As usual, Retail TouchPoints sent a strong contingent of editors to cover sessions, attend briefings and record video interviews with retailers, solution providers and other industry experts. Read on for our six editors’ perspectives on key takeaways from #NRF17.

My Last Great Customer Experience: 5 Ways REI Is Saving The Store

I just experienced my first backcountry camping trip a few months ago, and REI helped to make it a fun, safe adventure. REI is one perfect example of why stores are not going to die. In this article I’ll share five reasons why the store is here to stay based on my experience with REI. And these tips really can apply to all retail brands.   I know that most retail brands don’t have the advantage of selling products that motivate adventure and help people stay safe while having fun. But I still think the REI model can motivate and inspire all retailers to rethink their store business model.

Why Retailers Should Beware The Influencer's Wrath

I don’t want to brag, but I have a friend who is an “influencer.” She is a powerful force in what I only half-jokingly refer to as the KC, or Knitting Community. This is a loosely stitched-together (sorry, couldn’t resist) group of people who knit, crochet, sew, and generally blanket the world with fabric-oriented crafts. I’m not a member of the Community myself — my dexterity is limited to typing, and filling in the blanks in a crossword puzzle — but I’ve seen how fiercely dedicated these people are. My Influencer friend recently used Facebook to vent her displeasure with a retailer that I will be kind enough not to name. Here’s what she said:

Fashion Brands Dior, Rag & Bone Move To VR’s Cutting Edge

This year has introduced retailers to a variety of unique, technology-driven opportunities to engage with consumers. Ever since the Pokémon Go craze, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been hot topics in the industry, although only a few brands have been actively experimenting with the technologies. The fashion industry, in particular, is already dabbling in VR by offering customers high-end, hyper-personalized luxury experiences. “[Fashion brands] will likely continue to invest more in VR in the upcoming year, because it’s creating a place to make a much more intimate connection with consumers,” said Roy DeYoung, SVP of Creative Strategy at PMX Agency. “VR really came to life during the fall Fashion Week, via partnerships like Intel and the Voke app, bringing the normally more exclusive experience to many more, and creating substantially more exposure for the brands.”

3 Lessons From Rent The Runway’s New Futuristic Flagship

With its new flagship store location that opened in Manhattan on Dec. 6, fashion rental retailer Rent the Runway is the latest signal that the “store of the future” is here. With a “Dream Closet,” its own bar-like concierge and a personalized Style Studio, the 5,000-square-foot storeis three times the size of any of the retailer’s existing stores and rotates the merchandise that appears on its floor daily. Last Friday, Dec. 9, I had the opportunity to take a tour of the recently opened store to capture the experience firsthand. Given the constant struggle retailers face in building out omnichannel experiences, the Rent the Runway flagship offers three key lessons for brands seeking to further engage consumers: Leverage full inventory visibility to extend store experience value; Cater to on-the-go shoppers via mobile and open communication; and Emphasize striking visuals within the store.

Organized Retail Crime Hurts You (Even If You're Not CVS Or Walgreens)

I’ve been covering the retail industry for a long time now, but just had my first truly intensive lesson on Organized Retail Crime (ORC) and its effect on the industry — and economy — as whole. I admit that at first I wasn’t fully engaged when Tony Sheppard, National Manager of Organized Retail Crime for CVS Health, stepped onto the stage at a recent event. But Sheppard’s enthusiasm for his job — and his dedication to putting a stop to this rampant criminal activity — grabbed my attention. The most important lesson I learned from the talk is that even if your business is not directly affected by ORC activities, the significant amount of loss from these crimes can have an indirect effect on business and the economy as a whole. Besides hitting the bottom line of affected retailers and raising the cost of legitimate goods for consumers, the diversion of sales tax revenues cheats cash-strapped local and state governments.

5 Ways To Maximize Influencer Marketing Impact

While influencer marketing is a relatively new phenomenon, it's already demonstrating its worth. Birchbox, for example, credits its influencer marketing program for a whopping 258% increase in sales when it launched its color cosmetics brand. You can’t argue with these types of results. No matter what vertical you’re in, an influencer marketing program can be the ticket to higher conversions and deeper engagement with customers.
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