Retail TouchPoints - Your Source For The Latest Retail News And Trends Sat, 13 Feb 2016 02:59:33 -0500 RTP en-gb Toys ‘R’ Us Promotes Joe Venezia To Global Store Operations Post

1joeveneziaToys ‘R’ Us has promoted Senior VP of Store Operations Joe Venezia to the post of Executive VP of Global Store Operations, effective February 22. Venezia will take on responsibility for providing strategic direction and support for global store operations, while serving as a member of the company’s Global Leadership Team.

“Since joining Toys ‘R’ Us two years ago, Joe has played a critical role in our transformation process, leading efforts to drive the business forward and deliver consistent operational execution across all stores, as well as improving customer satisfaction and developing a strong store operations team,” said Dave Brandon, Chairman and CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us, Inc., in a statement.

Before joining Toys ‘R’ Us in February 2014, Venezia held key operations and management positions at Walmart U.S., The Pantry and Procter & Gamble.

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) Retail Movers & Shakers Fri, 12 Feb 2016 14:17:23 -0500
Whole Foods May Triple Current Store Count To 1,200 Whole Foods May Triple Current Store Count To 1,200

WholeFoodsNo one could accuse Whole Foods of being timid about its growth prospects. The supermarket chain foresees operating 1,200 stores in the U.S. by 2021, which would be nearly three times its current store count of 436. Projected growth of the retailer's 365 by Whole Foods Market concept stores could push the total even higher than the 1,200 mark.

Whole Foods' optimistic projections come at a time when traditional supermarkets are consolidating and non-grocery retailers are making a strong bid for the consumer's food dollar. In Supermarket News'2016 Top 75 listing of grocery's biggest players, four of the top 10 were non-traditional formats: two big-box discounters, Walmart and Target, and two drugstores, CVS Health and Walgreens.

{loadposition GIAA}The 365 concept, designed to provide a more value-oriented experience for busy shoppers, could ride the wave of these changes by appealing to Millennials. Whole Foods plans to make space within these stores for shops offering complementary products including body care, fashion, food and drink, records, and even services such as tattoo parlors.

Still, the 365 stores have not yet been subjected to any real-world testing. The format is set to debut in May in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, with other 2016 openings scheduled in Lake Oswego, Ore., in July and Bellevue, Wash. in August. Whole Foods also has signed leases for five other 365 locations averaging 30,000 square feet. Three are in California, in Claremont, Concord and Los Alamitos, along with Gainesville, Fla. and Evergreen Park, Ill.

The retailer reported record Q1 sales of $4.8 billion, a 3% increase over the same period last year. However, comp store sales declined 1.8% during the quarter that ended January 17, 2016. In September 2015, Whole Foods announced it would be cutting 1,500 jobs as a cost-cutting measure.

Despite these challenges, Whole Foods executives expressed strong confidence in the company's prospects. "We improved our cost structure, stepped up our value efforts, and are excited to announce today the national launch of digital coupons within our mobile app," said Walter Robb, Co-CEO, in a statement. "We believe we will deliver strong returns to shareholders over the long term as we improve our price perception, better communicate our higher quality standards and differentiation, and continue to fundamentally evolve our business."

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Fri, 12 Feb 2016 11:04:02 -0500
Location-Based Technology: Plotting The Right Course Location-Based Technology: Plotting The Right Course

The potential opportunities available through location-based services (LBS) are transforming the retail industry and are essential to delivering enhanced customer experiences in 2016 and beyond. Cracking the Code: Deciphering Retail Location-Based Services Technology, a white paper from Boston Retail Partners, breaks down the nuances of each solution, from GPS to WiFi to RFID to Bluetooth and more, with in-use examples from retail giants North Face, Target, Burberry, Argos and Macy’s. LBS is here; are you ready to plot your course?

Why You Need Location-Based Services

With the staggering proliferation of mobile devices, it has never been easier or more vital for a business to take, and make actionable decisions from, the data that is literally walking through its doors. Mobile's growth also spurs the influence of in-store purchasing decisions, as 75% of consumers report using smartphones in browsing, shopping or finding product information. Location-based services leverage this technology, help control the overall experience and yield valuable behavioral data.

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A key use of LBS is to identify customers as they enter the store, affording retailers the best opportunity of personalizing the customer’s shopping experience through clienteling and guided selling. In addition to customer identification, other uses include:

• Automatic notification of information;

• Inventory management;

• Traffic counting;

• Monitoring customer flow through a location; and

• Payment facilitation. 

According to Boston Retail Partners’2015 CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey, within five years, 53% of retailers plan to have the ability to identify customers when they walk in the store, via their smartphones. That would be an 883% increase over the 6% who indicated they can already identify their customer in this way.

Which Way To The Best LBS?

Understanding the different technology options and how to best utilize them in conjunction with the customer'ssmartphone is critical for the future store. The primary location-based technologies assessed in the report, along with some of their pros and cons, include: 

  • GPS: All smart devices are receivers but they are susceptible to reception issues;
  • WiFi: It's pre-existing in many facilities, but is power hungry and requires an opt-in for anything beyond tracking; 
  • RFID: Offers a high degree of accuracy but it's not realistic to turn consumer smart devices into readers;
  • NFC: Both efficient and accurate, but coverage and compatibility are limited; and
  • Bluetooth: Flexible and easy to configure, but installation and maintenance is costly and range is dependent on broadcast signal power.

Retailers have discovered that the cost of piloting many of the available LBS solutions is low when compared to most other new technologies. This allows retailers to experiment and learn in small pilots with limited risk. The results from these pilots will give retailers the foundation to build the channel-agnostic personalized customer experience that is essential to survive in this new real-time retail world. 

From A Sea Of Uncertainty To A Safe Solution 

There is no straight-line solution that will streamline everything, but the idea of not having LBS as part of your future plans is tantamount to closing your doors. The retail landscape has become an extraordinarily competitive battle for customer information and superior shopping experiences. With projected LBS implementations at an all-time high, and a learning curve far less steep than it was even three years ago, there has never been a better time to investigate this rapidly evolving technology.

To download the Cracking the Code: Deciphering Retail Location-Based Services Technology white paper, visit:

]]> (David DeZuzio) Business Intelligence / Data / Analytics Fri, 12 Feb 2016 09:11:04 -0500
When Gearing Up For Valentine’s Day, Don’t Fall In Love With Stereotypes When Gearing Up For Valentine’s Day, Don’t Fall In Love With Stereotypes

As retailers prepare for Valentine’s Day this week, they should be sure to monitor purchasing trends before basing potential sales off of stereotypes.

For instance, 88% of male gift givers think it’s important for a Valentine’s Day present to be sentimental, which is actually a higher rate than female givers (75%), according to customer analysis platform provider Vennli. Further debunking the day’s stereotypes, male gift givers are 22% more likely to prioritize romantic gifts, whereas female gift givers are 17% more likely to emphasize practicality.

{loadposition GIAA}In another example of stereotypes being discredited, Millennials are showing that they have no plans to spend frugally on Valentine’s Day. More than half of Millennial men (58%) and 28% of Millennial women plan to spend more than $100 on Valentine’s Day, according to data from dunnhumby.

One stereotype does remain the same, however: consumers still love buying traditional Valentine’s Day gifts. The dunnhumby survey revealed that the most popular gifts for the day still are:

  • Greeting cards (41%);

  • Chocolates (39%); and

  • Flowers (31%).

Total consumer spending on Valentine’s Day 2016 is expected to reach $19.7 billion, according to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), so the day is not an occasion retailers should be selling short. With subscription retailing gaining traction as part of the day’s hype, retailers must understand that Valentine’s Day is slowly becoming more of an event than a one-time gifting opportunity.

The Vennli survey, which analyzed 276 Valentine’s Day gift givers and 173 gift recipients to measure the alignment of givers’ notions and consumer desires, revealed more key statistics that retailers should take note of as they prepare for the spending day:

  • 20% of dating app users say they would give a Valentine’s Day gift to a match;

  • 37% of women say they would not appreciate a gift card at all;

  • 81% of female recipients would appreciate jewelry, but only 26% think they’re likely to get jewelry; and

  • Less than 20% of men plan to give jewelry to their significant other.

Retailers also should gear more of their Valentine’s Day promotions to “newer” relationships, the survey indicates. As many as 81% of recipients in new relationships think it’s important to get a creative gift, compared to only 57% of married respondents. Instead, married gift recipients placed a higher importance on gifts that demonstrate their spouse’s knowledge of their personal preferences.

The dunnhumby study seconds the idea that relationship length is a factor in the amount of money that gets spent for the day. Those in newer relationships — those defined in the time frame of one to five years — were the most likely to buy an experience for a Valentine’s Day, choosing an adventure such as kayaking or a cooking class. On the other hand, 21% of respondents in a relationship at least 16 years said they would give nothing during the day.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 11 Feb 2016 11:37:49 -0500
3.1% Retail Growth Projections For 2016 Align With 2015 Results: NRF 3.1% Retail Growth Projections For 2016 Align With 2015 Results: NRF

Coming off a disappointing 2015 holiday season, the retail industry could benefit from a pick-me-up for the coming year ahead. However, for the time being, it appears retailers can expect more of the same.

Annual retail sales are expected to rise 3.1% in 2016, according to forecasts from the National Retail Federation (NRF). The sales growth projection would match NRF's preliminary reports of 3.1% industry growth in 2015.

{loadposition GIAA}The good news is: expected sales growth exceeds the 10-year average annual growth rate of 2.7%. Non-store sales in 2016 are expected to grow between 6% and 9%, furthering the notion that e-Commerce will continue to have a greater influence on consumer purchasing decisions.

The slight increase in spending in 2015 could be attributed to lower gas prices and lower goods prices, suggested Matthew Shay, President and CEO of NRF, as consumers had greater discretionary income at their disposal.

“We recognize that consumers are doing things differently than they have in the past,” Shay said during a media briefing. “They’re paying down debt at a level that we haven’t seen since before the recession. They’re devoting more of their spending to experiences, whether through travel, leisure or hospitality. They’re spending on health care and investing in their homes. The consumers are in a much healthier place than they were just a few years ago, and they’re getting healthier every year that goes by, so the money is there. We also recognize that they aren’t going to spend unless they’re confident about the future.”

Numerous external factors are expected to affect consumer confidence going into 2016, including volatile Q1 stock market performance and economic uncertainty stemming from the upcoming presidential election.

Regardless of the potential roadblocks, NRF Chief EconomistJack Kleinhenz believes the U.S. consumer will continue to drive the global economy, due to heightened domestic demand and more rational spending habits. Economic growth as a whole is likely to range between 1.9% and 2.4% in 2016, according to NRF.

“Last year, personal consumption expenditures — when you take out inflation — increased 3.1%,” Kleinhenz said during the briefing. “That was actually the fastest since the recession recovery began. Consumers are returning to spending within their own means. Auto sales rebounded last year and were a large benefit to the broader economy. With job growth, home building rising and low interest rates, this 2016 economy will hold up and support further growth, especially for retail this year.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:19:32 -0500
Subscription Gifts Challenge 'Big Bang' Valentine's Day Model Subscription Gifts Challenge 'Big Bang' Valentine's Day Model

Valentine's Day gift giving has traditionally been about the impact of a one-time gift. Whether it's flowers or candy that will only last a little while, diamonds that are both forever and a girl's best friend, or the hand-made card designed to melt the recipient's heart, gifting has been about making a splash on the big day itself.

This year, however, the growing popularity of subscription retailing is providing competition to the traditional "Big Bang" gifting model for Valentine's Day. Rather than the splashy one-time present, many shoppers are opting for gifts that keep on giving, month after month.

{loadposition GIAA}The subscription management platform Recurly reported a 230% jump in total payment volume (TPB) on Cyber Monday 2015. During the four-day period starting with Black Friday and ending on Cyber Monday, subscription merchants saw same-store sales increases of 70% over the same period the previous year. It's highly likely that a large portion of this activity was tied to subscription gift-giving, and the company is expecting a similar surge for Valentine's Day 2016.

The Non-Big Bang Theory

 Subscription retailers pour significant resources into these gift-buying occasions, seeing it as a strong opportunity to win new customers and to bolster long-term business from both gift givers and recipients.

Rocksbox is a premium jewelry subscription service that charges members $19 per month for three pieces of jewelry, which they can either wear once and return or keep for an indefinite period. The retailer has stepped up its product curation and styling guidance for the holiday. Rocksbox has identified personas such as the Hopeful Romantic, the Southern Belle and the Bohemian, to help guide gift-givers about what should go into a gift box that will match the recipient's taste.

"People are looking at us year-round, but it's true that the holidays are a huge time for us," said Maeve Ricaurte, Associate Marketing Manager at Rocksbox.

Guidance For Givers And Recipients

Part of Rocksbox' service is not just helping identify gifts but also providing members with detailed notes on optimal ways to wear the jewelry they choose. "We're more educational than we have ever been before, and we're testing out including images with the notes we provide," said Ricaurte in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.

Rocksbox relies on a range of sources for both product and presentation ideas. "We use input from our own stylists, but we also leverage input from our 4,000 Instagram bloggers," said Ricaurte. These shoppers take pictures of themselves modeling different pieces of Rocksbox jewelry in a variety of settings and accompanying various outfits and accessories.

For this holiday, "we selected a few social media mavens/influencers and sent them some jewelry samples" to elicit feedback, said Ricaurte. "While it's too early to say this is definitely a cause and effect, we think people will be choosing items that they might not normally have selected because they like the way an Instagram blogger wears it."

Of course, the danger of giving a subscription gift for Valentine's Day is that the gift may last longer than the relationship. But what's love without some risk?

Plenty of consumers will be focusing their spending on the big day itself. In fact, 54.8% of consumers surveyed by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insight and Analytics said they will celebrate Valentine's Day, spending an average of $146.84 on flowers, jewelry, candy, apparel and other items. This represents an increase over last year's average of $142.31, and the NRF survey projects total spending will reach $19.7 billion, a survey high.

Respondents identified their favored shopping destinations for Valentine's Day purchases, with consumers saying they would visit:

• Department stores: 34.5%

• Discount stores: 31%

• Online: 27.9%

• Florists: 19.4%

• Specialty stores: 19.1%

• Local small business: 15.4% 

Help For Procrastinators

For retailers that have put off their Valentine's Day planning until the last minute, there may still be time to put together promotions by leveraging social media. Following are some resources:

• Last-Minute Social Media Marketing Ideas from CyberAlert;

• Promotion Ideas For Clothing Retailers; and

Facebook Promotion Ideas.

]]> (Adam Blair) Trend Watch Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:32:59 -0500
Cabela’s Appoints Scott K. Williams As President

1cabelasSpecialty outdoors retailer Cabela’s has named Scott K. Williams President, effectively immediately. Williams, who previously held the titles of Executive VP and CCO, will handle additional responsibility for U.S. retail operations and all operations in Canada.

In December, Cabela’s announced its focus on enhancing its value to shareholders, and Williams’ new role is another step in that direction.

“We continue to take action to align our organization around Vision 2020, through which we will focus on serving our core customers and creating value for our shareholders, and Scott’s appointment as President is an important step in that process,” said Tommy Millner, CEO of Cabela’s. “We look forward to benefitting from Scott’s leadership and strategic expertise as we execute on our strategy.”

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) Retail Movers & Shakers Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:18:14 -0500
Heartland Acquires Beanstalk Data To Add Customer Engagement Capabilities

1heartlandHeartland Payment Systems has acquired Beanstalk Data, a customer engagement platform provider for quick service and fast food restaurants, for an undisclosed amount. The payment processor aims to help restaurants integrate their CRM systems and marketing and engagement programs with its POS and e-Commerce solutions.

Beanstalk Data will, together with Heartland’s existing POS solutions, comprise the Heartland Commerce division. This segment is designed to deliver secure POS solutions, payments processing capabilities and other business service applications for the hospitality and retail industries.

{loadposition GIAA}“Our team engineered a solution that addressed one of the largest problems perplexing modern business-to-consumer marketers: how to ingest, store and act on vast amounts of engagement and commerce data generated by their consumers in real-time,” said Gilbert Bailey, VP of Heartland Beanstalk Engage Cloud Services. “We expect to accelerate the pace of marketing innovation, allowing our employees and platform to create value for an even wider audience of business-to-consumer organizations, including the introduction of enterprise data driven marketing tools to small merchants.”

Beanstalk Data clients include Taco Bell, Pollo Tropical, Carl’s Jr. and Panda Express.

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) Mergers & Acquisitions Wed, 10 Feb 2016 13:06:12 -0500
Sears Stores Closings Shed Further Light On Physical Stores' Struggles Sears Stores Closings Shed Further Light On Physical Stores' Struggles

Sears is the next in a line of big name brand retailers shuttering brick-and-mortar stores in 2016, after what the retailer described as a “challenging” holiday season. The department store, which is desperately attempting to turn around its business, will accelerate the closing of approximately 50 unprofitable Sears and Kmart stores within the next few months, according to a company statement.

The anticipated store closures represent yet another step Sears has taken to downsize its physical presence. The amount of operating Sears department stores has dipped from 868 in 2011 to 708 as of now, while Kmart is down to 950 locations from 1,309 just five years ago.

{loadposition GIAA}The century-old retailer is following in the footsteps of Macy’s, Walmart, Gap, Sports Authority and Finish Line, all of which will be downsizing their physical footprint in 2016 and beyond. For its part, Sears expects to take a big hit in same store sales at its Sears Domestic and Kmart locations, which experienced a 7.1% decline in Q4 and a 9.2% decline for the full fiscal year.

The accelerated closings serve as another reminder that retailers are taking every step possible to save costs in an environment that appears to provide them with less returns each passing year. With many retailers cutting their underperforming stores, these merchants must now more than ever focus on emulating the strategies that are working in their best performing stores throughout the entire business.

The expensive overhead costs of employees, real estate and maintaining inventory mean that stores must continually generate enough revenue to justify their staying open. In the case of Sears, it’s clear that the retailer feels further cost reductions are necessary to stay afloat. The retailer, which expects 2015 revenues to total $25.1 billion, has announced overall cost cuts of $550 million to $650 million.

While predictions of the demise of the brick-and-mortar store as a concept have long been exaggerated, the store closing reports show that changes do need to take place among the big box and department store models, with these merchants furthering an emphasis on quality over quantity.

The success of any of Sears’ turnaround efforts are yet to be seen, but the retailer intends to bolster this quality in large part through the performance of its apparel business, specifically with changes to sourcing, product assortment, space allocation, pricing and inventory management practices.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 10 Feb 2016 10:38:27 -0500
The ABCs Of Tech Teaming: Lessons From Sesame Street The ABCs Of Tech Teaming: Lessons From Sesame Street

The development and implementation of new technology is vital to the future of retail. With all of the choices available, knowing when to start and who to team up with can make all the difference. But is it is more effective to build an internal innovation lab, hire a strategic partner, or create an effective hybrid of the two?

For example, should a retail company pair up with an augmented reality company’s existing platform or help develop an AR system to deliver a show-stopping customer experience? Retail TouchPoints uncovered a few examples of partnerships that might help companies decide if and when, and with whom, to take the tech plunge. 

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The key to success is to choose a match that mirrors your values and possesses brand and tech strength. And, of course, financial support. Last month, Sesame Workshop, producers of the iconic children's brand Sesame Street, announced Sesame Ventures, an internal team that will partner with venture capital firms to make investments in for-profit startups that support its mission. 

Its first partner is Collaborative Fund and together they will manage a new $10 million fund called Collab+Sesame Fund. Startups focused on education, media, family development, local and cultural development, food, health and wellness will benefit the company's mission of helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder. 

Any relevant retail startup teaming with Collab+Sesame would  benefit right away, seizing an opportunity to work closely with and utilize Sesame Workshop’s advanced research and global reach.

From The Ground Up

For those who want to solve their problems head-on and hands-on, it is possible to approach things from a more DIY approach. As reported, retailers such as Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Zappos, Sephora and Walmart are among the growing list of retailers launching internal innovation labs. 

These labs feature dedicated tech teams and change agents who focus on understanding shifting customer preferences, contributing actionable insights, investigating emerging technologies and solutions, and implementing new strategies across channels. In the age of the empowered customer, making tech serve both retailer and consumer could be the difference between keeping the doors open or closing them forever. Addressing specific concerns with an in-house experimentation and research and design team, while costly, can be most effective.

C Is For Cookie, AR Is For Augmented Reality

Of course, teaming up with a tech titan doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be gold, especially if you jump in too early. In 2012, Sesame Workshop announced they were teaming up with Qualcomm to utilize their Vuforia platform. 

The union produced Big Bird’s Words, an augmented reality-based educational app. Preschoolers use a smartphone or tablet as a digital eye to build their vocabularies and make playtime digitally interactive. When pointed at a playset, the play environment comes alive through the device’s camera, transforming the playset into an interactive experience. 

Qualcomm abandoned its AR division and sold its Vuforia platform to PTC, a tech firm interested in the Internet of Things, for $65 million in November 2015. Big Bird’s Words is still available through Google Play, currently garnering mixed reviews, possibly attributable to the fact that it was an early entry into AR apps and the gameplay didn’t deliver as much as promised.

Honey, I Shrunk The Fridge

Just unveiled at CES, Lowe’s Innovation Labs, a hub of Lowe’s Companies, Inc. and Marxent, virtual and augmented reality specialists, developed the Holoroom, an in-store and at-home virtual reality design tool that delivers a home improvement experience for customers.

Customers can design kitchens or bathrooms with an iPad by selecting from thousands of 3D representations of Lowe’s products, and then visualize their room in 360-degree virtual reality with an Oculus Rift. 

Products like countertops, appliances, hardware and paint colors can be easily switched out to customize the room and help customers achieve their desired design. 

They can then export their projects to YouTube 360 for viewing anytime, anywhere with Google Cardboard. Industry-wise the buzz is good and as the Holoroom is introduced into more markets, it will be interesting to see how the public reacts as AR looks to finally make its mark this year in a big way.

Innovation: In Cahoots Or Individual? 

It’s never easy to take the plunge when implementing a new technology. Of course, timing is everything, but even if you’re not the first to do something, you can always improve on an existing method or experience.

Retailers should choose substance over flash; trendy gizmos are cool but do they deliver conversions or just encourage people to hang around? And whether you are buying the rights to use an existing platform or developing your very own custom design, teaming up with a company that can provide exceptional experience and knowledge — while it most certainly comes at a price — is priceless. As shoppers continue to embrace new technology you should always look for ways to get your tech match and vision met. And a financial backer never hurts; even if it is Grover.

]]> (David DeZuzio) Trend Watch Tue, 09 Feb 2016 15:20:51 -0500