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Mobile technology. Digital innovations. Social Commerce. These and many other trends are constantly being changed and being updated with new solutions, services and strategies. Retail TouchPoints editors stay on top of the latest activities and announcements, and bring you fresh perspectives on the hottest trends affecting the marketplace. Check back regularly for the latest new perspectives.

Exclusive Q&A: In Amazon’s Search For HQ2, Tech Workforce Will Be Key Factor

Lots of cities want Amazon to call their location home — even if it’s only a second home. After announcing the search for a city to host its second headquarters, the pure play giant received proposals from a remarkable 238 cities and regions across North America, all vying for the promised $5 billion in investment and 50,000 jobs that will come with being “Amazon HQ2.” While Amazon will not announce its decision until early 2018, experts already are handicapping which cities are the likeliest candidates. Attorney Steven Polivy, Chair of the Economic Development and Incentives Practice at Akerman LLP, believes the presence of a highly trained tech workforce will be a critical factor in the winning city’s bid. Additionally, Amazon being Amazon, Polivy believes the company will make good use of data gathered during the search process in order to deepen its understanding of customers, competitors and geographies.

Exclusive: Neiman Marcus, Jet.com Execs Share Experiences From Dubai Tech Event

Last month I had the opportunity to chair the Retail Day during the GITEX Technology event in Dubai, UAE. It was a unique experience and a fantastic opportunity to learn about retail challenges around the world. I also was asked to invite some U.S.-based retail executives to speak at the event and was honored to share the experience with two amazing retail innovators:

Is Nordstrom Next On Amazon’s Shopping List? Exclusive Predictions From L2 Experts

Even before the ink was dry on Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, the retail industry began wondering, What will Amazon put in its shopping cart next? L2 founder Scott Galloway, who correctly predicted the Whole Foods purchase, recently identified Nordstrom as the next logical acquisition for the pure play giant. “The Whole Foods acquisition got Amazon into the wealthiest people’s refrigerators, but it didn’t get them into the wealthiest people’s closets,” said Galloway at the SAP Retail Executive Forum last month.

AR Advances Spark Consumer Interest: Will Retailers Grab The Opportunity?

Do you remember when the world went wild over the augmented reality (AR) game Pokémon Go? It was the first time we saw the mainstream potential of AR and how it could affect the retail industry. Businesses quickly jumped on the AR bandwagon by paying for “Lures” to add Pokémon to their radius, and ultimately bring consumers closer to their businesses when they went out hunting for characters.

Exclusive Q&A: How Retailers Can Escape The ‘Content Trap’

All kinds of businesses have been rocked by the digital revolution: news, music, media, transportation — and most definitely retail. But what exactly has made it so tough for some retailers to adapt to the changed landscape? Harvard Business School professor Bharat Anand has pinpointed some of the key reasons why traditional businesses, including retail, have found it so difficult to find their footing in a digital-first world. Too many companies fall into what Anand calls the “Content Trap.” In his book of the same name, Anand wrote that rather than focusing on the new world of connections that digital enables, companies remain fixated on the content they produce: a news story, a song, a taxi ride — and in the case of retail, the product they sell.

The Store Needs A Data-Driven Facelift

As e-Commerce shopping increases every year, all omnichannel retailers must assess the role of the store in their future strategies. But not every segment feels equal confidence in their stores going forward: only 13% of retailers that primarily sell consumer packaged goods believe that stores are more important to their future strategy than digital, according to the 2017 Digital Selling Report from Retail Systems Research (RSR). However, three times as many (39%) hard goods retailers — companies that sell merchandise such as electronics, furniture, home improvement products, appliances and sporting goods — still believe that stores are more important to the company’s future.

2017 Holiday Tips: Personalize Promotions, Target Millennial Dads, Prepare For ‘Black November’

Channel-agnostic retail is shaping the 2017 holiday season, requiring merchants to readjust many aspects of their holiday planning, including marketing, experiential retail, fulfillment and workforce optimization. With a little more than a month to go, retailers anticipate seasonal sales growth of anywhere from 3.6% to 4%, which remains in line with 2016 figures. Four retail experts shared insights into the steps merchants should take this holiday season to optimize for the anticipated growth. The experts covered topics such as pricing and markdowns, the de-emphasis of in-store shopping on Black Friday, the growth of mobile shopping and the anticipated role of voice and AI platforms. Here are some key takeaways:

3 Retailer Perspectives On Future Business Success: Hershey’s, Jo-Ann Stores, TechStyle

The onslaught of bankruptcies and acquisitions is motivating the smartest and most innovative retail businesses to find new ways to capture consumers’ attention, build brand loyalty and deliver on the omnichannel promise. “I look at it as a time of disruption, not the end of the world,” said Brian Kavanagh, Senior Director, Insights Driven Performance and Retail Evolution, The Hershey Company. “It is waking up sleeping giants” — the traditional retailers and slow movers that have balked at innovation. “They are hard-to-move big battleships, but the jet skis are scooting by them.”

Have Retailers Killed Black Friday?

Retailers may have sensed that Black Friday has been losing its punch as the single-day sales bonanza that kicks off the holiday season, but new research confirms just how sharp the drop-off has been. Only 35% of consumers who plan to shop during Thanksgiving week will do so on Black Friday, down from 51% last year and 59% in 2015, according to PwC. “Black Friday has lost its significance,” Steven Barr, consumer markets leader for PwC, told The Washington Post. “Retailers have conditioned the consumer to believe everything’s on sale every day, which means the deals on Black Friday are not significantly different from any other time.”

Exclusive Q&A With Boxed VP: Private ‘Brand’ Is The New Private Label

Private label is emerging from the shadow cast by major CPG brands, and more retailers are realizing the benefits of embracing private label as a primary brand. Some of the country’s biggest brands are upping their private label game. Jet.com is launching its own grocery and household items under the Uniquely J brand, while parent Walmart is adding 120 new items to its Parent’s Choice baby essentials brand. Target is in the process of launching 12 new private label brands, while Amazon’s private label sales are projected to go as high as $4.3 billion in 2017.

New Retail Stores From Nordstrom, Zachys Don’t Sell Merchandise

A new trend popping up in the retail industry is seemingly counterintuitive: brick-and-mortar stores that don’t actually stock and sell goods. Both Nordstrom and Zachys, a premier New York wine retailer, have recently announced concepts that focus more on the customer experience versus shopping for items.

RSP17 Recap: Making Personalization Practical And Effective

The Retail TouchPoints Retail Strategy & Planning (RSP17) webinar series aired live last week, and all 10 webinars are now available on demand. Three of the sessions focused on the hot topic of personalization, providing practical advice on how to: • Use basic personalization techniques to boost KPIs like conversions and click-through rates; • Maximize the impact of product recommendations by sending them when shoppers are most receptive to selling suggestions; and • Achieve true individualization by creating detailed, data-rich customer profiles and using them to influence shopper behavior in real time.

RSP17 Recap: Timely Tips For Maximizing Holiday Season Success

Early indications are that the 2017 holidays will bring good tidings of great joy — at least for those retailers able to convert high consumer confidence and a boost in disposable income into purchases. Deloitte’s annual retail holiday sales forecast, released last week, predicted a sales increase of 4% to 4.5% over 2016, with e-Commerce revenues climbing 18% to 21%. The Retail TouchPoints Retail Strategy & Planning (RSP17) webinar series aired live last week, and all 10 webinars are now available on demand. Just in time for the launch of the holiday season, three sessions provided practical tips on how to be successful in Q4 and beyond, including:

Innovators Point The Way To The Store Of The Future

The so-called “retail apocalypse” may have been debunked, but there’s still no question that the industry is in the midst of profound change. Retailers aren’t just looking for ways to tweak the shopping experience; many seek to reimagine every aspect of how they will interact with consumers. Pano Anthos, Founder and Managing Director, XRC Labs, brings a perspective that is both future-oriented and grounded in today’s retailing requirements. He has identified five key themes that are reshaping store-based retail:

Chinese Consumers Favor U.S. Retailers For Overseas Online Purchases

Just over half of consumers in five Chinese cities have purchased from foreign merchants/marketplaces during the previous year, and U.S. retailers are a favorite destination: 89% of shoppers “bought American,” according to a survey conducted by PayPal. That’s nearly twice as high as the percentage for the second-place country, the UK, which attracted 46% of shoppers, and third-place Japan, at 42%. Accessories (83%) and clothing (68%) were the product categories most frequently bought from U.S. merchants.
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