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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.

The Real Retail Shakeup: A Split Between Value And Experience

The media may be quick to proclaim retail doom, but the industry’s upheaval is more of a renaissance than an apocalypse, according to The Great Retail Bifurcation report from Deloitte. Weakness in some areas is being offset by strength in others, and in-store sales grew $30 billion annually between 2012 and 2016, while e-Commerce sales grew $40 billion annually. The industry’s real split isn’t between physical and digital channels but between value- and experience-focused retailers. Macroeconomic factors are playing a significant role in creating this divide. While average household income has returned to pre-recession levels, the bottom 80% of households have only received 7% of capital gains since 2007, and their shopping habits have changed to reflect their reduced spending power. “What we’ve identified are pretty significant changes that are driven by the economic situation of the consumer,” said Kasey Lobaugh, Chief Innovation Officer, Retail & Distribution at Deloitte in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The best retailers are those retailers that identify how consumers are changing, and best modify their value propositions to deliver upon those needs.” Balanced retailers, which offer value through sales and deals, have been squeezed on one side by price-based retailers that focus on selling…

Shoptalk 2018 Secures Its Spot As A Must-Attend Retail Event

The impressive marketing and branding efforts have catapulted Shoptalk to the top of the events-on-your-radar list for retailers and brands, but the 2018 speaker lineup and massive 1:1 meeting setup has cemented the conference as one of the top “big” retail events-to-attend. As press attendees, it honestly was difficult to decide which sessions to cover and which meetings to schedule. Here’s a wrap-up of our key takeaways, in addition to the Quick Quotes article we shared last week:

Can The Toys ‘R’ Us Troubles Teach Valuable Lessons To Other Retailers?

Toys ‘R’ Us appears to be headed for chainwide store closures and liquidation in both the U.S. and the UK, where the retailer operates approximately 100 stores, according to a BBC News report. However, CNBC reports that the retailer is exploring a plan that would keep approximately 200 of its 800 U.S. stores open, in part by combining the stores with stronger Canadian operations. The demise (or the drastic slimming down) of this once-iconic chain raises urgent questions for other retailers seeking to avoid its fate: • How ‘special’ does a specialty retailer have to be? The merchandise at Toys ‘R’ Us is highly brand-driven, but consumers have numerous other places to buy these items — from Amazon to big box stores like Target and Walmart. Toys ‘R’ Us lacked the hands-on experience of Build-A-Bear or the private label brand power of Lego, creating a differentiation problem in a highly competitive field. • Does the store experience match today’s taste for experiential retail? Just days after filing for bankruptcy in September 2017, Toys ‘R’ Us announced plans to launch “Play Labs” at 42 stores, providing spaces for kids to test out the season’s hottest toys. Such investments can keep customers…

The Death Of Boring Retail: Exclusive Q&A With Steve Dennis

In this exclusive Q&A, industry expert Steve Dennis shares his predictions and recommendations for retailers struggling to find the best ways to survive and thrive in the age of Amazon. Dennis is the President of SageBerry Consulting, a strategic advisory firm focused on innovation and growth strategy for retail, luxury and social impact brands. Dennis will be speaking at the Retail Innovation Conference, April 30-May 2 in New York City. His session is titled: A Really Bad Time To Be Boring: Reinventing Retail In The Age Of Amazon.

How Will Gen Z Reshape Retail?

Given that the oldest members of Gen Z are just now reaching college graduation age (and the youngest are still finger-painting in kindergarten), it’s difficult to draw accurate conclusions about what this group’s ultimate impact on retail will be. Still, researchers and industry analysts have made predictions about Gen Z that have many retailers concerned about the fallout when these consumers start spending their own money, rather than their parents’: • Will anything draw these digital natives into brick-and-mortar stores, or will they rely almost exclusively on mobile and voice shopping? • Will Gen Z consumers follow in Millennials’ footsteps, spending their disposable income on experiences rather than possessions? • How will retailers meet the needs of this informed and savvy group of shoppers?

4-Step Survival Guide To Navigating The Online-Offline Grocery Convergence

The Amazon-Whole Foods deal made a splash that put every U.S. grocer on notice. In response, other grocery powerhouses — including Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons —have made bold moves that blur many of the lines separating “traditional” supermarket shopping from its online version. Industry experts say that retailers in this vertical, which accounts for $608 billionin sales annually, according to IBISWorld, will need to make strategic shifts as these channels continue to converge. Four of the most important steps will be: Competing online via “basket sales” instead of individual purchases; Adopting omnichannel fulfillment services, whether through same-day delivery, buy online/pick up in-store and/or curbside pickup; Aligning organizational structure across brick-and-mortar and online employees; and Following the industry leaders when deploying new services while including a personal touch.

E-Commerce Chargeback Costs Reach $40 Billion Per Year

Chargebacks, chargeback fraud and expenses related to managing them cost e-Commerce merchants $40 billion per year, according to Chargebacks 911. Retailers are fighting back, but their success rates vary widely by vertical. The State of Chargebacks: 2018 Report, sponsored by Kount and Chargebacks911, showed that 82% of organizations doing business within the card-not-present (CNP) payment space dispute chargebacks. Overall, when companies dispute chargebacks their win rates are discouraging. Almost half (45%) reported that they were able to reverse chargebacks less than 45% of the time, and only 32% were successful more than 45% of the time (24% of respondents did not know their win rate).

Wall Street Wakeup: New Business Metrics Define Retail Success

The host of the NPR business show Marketplace often asserts that Wall Street is not the economy (usually before he shares the day’s Dow Jones gains or losses). For retailers, particularly publicly held companies, Wall Street valuations definitely are part of their economy — even though those valuations don’t always correspond with today’s retail realities. For example, on Feb. 20, Walmart reported that it had only half the online sales growth in Q4 that it had in Q3, sending the company’s stock down more than 10% before market closing — the company’s biggest one-day decline since Jan. 8, 1988. The dip accounted for nearly one-third of that day’s Dow Jones 255-point drop, revealing a short-term lack of confidence in Walmart’s long-term strategy — despite a sustained record of e-Commerce success since Walmart’s acquisition of Jet.com in August 2016.

How Innovative Solutions Close The Store-Online Gap For Home Depot, Z Gallerie And Best Buy

It’s been a persistent retail challenge to connect consumers’ online and offline experiences. The ascent of mobile has made this challenge even tougher, because this portable touch point needs to be incorporated in retailers’ strategic thinking about the entire shopper journey, from pre-sale through post-sale. “The biggest challenge in the retail market is still offline/online integration,” said Pano Anthos, Managing Director of XRC Labs in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “If you’re browsing online, how does the retailer know who you are when you come into the store?”

Exclusive Q&A: Is The AI Buzz More Hype Than Reality For Retail?

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning were the blazing-hot buzzwords at the NRF Big Show in January 2018. But at least one industry expert, Forrester Principal Analyst for Digital Business Strategy Brendan Witcher, believes the AI excitement needs a reality check. In an exclusive interview with Retail TouchPoints, Witcher agrees that AI is a powerful set of technologies with significant potential applications in retail, but notes that the key word is potential. To turn that potential into reality, retailers will need a number of things, including time; resources; safeguards; and most important, lots and lots of data.

Should Retailers Prioritize Workforce AI Investments?

Artificial intelligence (AI) was the hot topic at the 2018 NRF Big Show. Big-name retailers, including eBay and 1-800-FLOWERS.COM shared success stories; academics debated the ethical safeguards that need to be built into AI programs; and everyone wants to know what will be needed for AI to reach its full potential. Yet a recent Accenture survey of 1,200 executives found that only 3% plan to significantly increase their companies’ investment in AI skills over the next three years, despite expressed optimism about the technology’s benefits:

Never Too Late: 69% Of Super Bowl Viewers Shop Two Days Prior To The Big Game

Before the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles square off in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, retailers had better ensure they are stocked up on food, beverages, team apparel and TVs. U.S. consumers will spend a total of $15.3 billion on Super Bowl-related retail purchases ahead of the game, according to estimates from the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics. This total marks an 8.5% year-over-year increase and is the second-highest estimate on record. Retailers have to prepare for the Super Bowl differently than a typical holiday or special occasion. While 30% of consumers started shopping at least one week before the game, 69% will complete their purchases just a day or two before, or even the day of, the Super Bowl, according to research from Valassis.

Does The 5.5% Holiday Sales Increase Signal A 2018 Retail Rebound?

While 2017 was arguably a year of turmoil for retailers, the industry managed to end on a high note: $691.6 billion in holiday sales for November and December, a 5.5% increase over the same period in 2016, according to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF). The results exceeded the NRF forecast of a 3.6% to 4% increase, and marked the largest percentage jump since the 5.2% seen in 2010, when the country was coming out of the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Another sign that things are looking up: growth was not limited to a few big retailers or specific verticals. “The holiday results were very strong, showing renewed confidence in the economy and some of the positive aspects of the tax cuts,” said Michael Brown, a partner in the retail practice of A.T. Kearney and author of an upcoming report on the future of retail real estate. “Additionally, the performance improvements seem to be across the board.”

NRF 2018: Retail Personalization Reaches A Crossroads

The National Retail Federation Big Show jammed the Javits Center with people, technology and excitement from January 14 to 16, and Retail TouchPoints was there in force. In addition to conducting video interviews, our team of editors met with retailers, analysts and solution providers to get a line on the biggest trends that will be shaping retail in 2018. Visit the #NRF2018 hub for our complete coverage.
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