Trend Watch

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.

Can Subscription Retail Solve Its Customer Retention Problem?

When it comes to subscription retail, the cross-currents are intense. Big retailers have either pulled out, as JCPenney did in February when it ended its Bombfell subscription apparel business, or they’ve gone all in. Look at American Eagle. While other apparel retailers have launched fairly standard box models, AE took the industry by surprise in February with a new model: Rent anything you want for $49.95 a month. And if you don’t like it, send it back. And if you want it laundered, send that too. Even with these contradictions, there’s no argument that subscription retail remains one of the industry’s most compelling growth areas. Its opportunities are only now being tapped, and its problems — mostly concerning customer retention — are just now being reckoned with. This article will track the growth of the subscription retail business and its current problems, including:

With U.S. Growth Uncertain, Global Commerce Offers New Opportunities

Early revenue predictions point to an uncertain year for the retail industry. Although the National Retail Federation forecasts that the U.S. retail market will grow between 3.8% and 4.4% year over year, this growth rate would represent a deceleration from the 4.6% growth achieved in 2018. But even as doubts seep in about the state of U.S. economic growth, retailers have plenty of chances to thrive in a global market that is still very much ripe with opportunity. When seeking to expand a business globally, retailers should take note of these trends: Even with trade tensions and expected tariffs, e-Commerce growth is set to continue worldwide, so investments in this channel are vital; 48% of global e-Commerce occurred in China in 2018, and the country’s shoppers are primed to buy from U.S. retailers; India has the largest growth potential of any global market, but government regulations continue to make it tough for foreign entities to break through; and The top 10 global retailers operate in more countries and have built a larger percentage of international sales than their major counterparts.

Exclusive Q&A With Brian Solis: Why Innovation Is Key To Engaging ‘Gen C’

We’ve all heard about Generations X, Y (a.k.a. Millennials) and Z, but have you heard about Generation C? The “C” stands for “Connected,” and despite the “Generation” title it’s not limited to people born during a specific span of years. The common factor for members of Generation C is a simple one: their use of smartphones. Using smartphones “rewires your brain to essentially move faster, makes you a lot less patient, and has created a lot of ‘accidental narcissism’,” said Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at Altimeter. The rise of Generation C has essentially created a new type of customer, forcing all kinds of businesses to reimagine both the customer journey and key elements of the customer experience (CX).

What To Expect From #RIC19 Panels: AI, Women’s Leadership, Pop-Ups

Every year, thought-provoking panel discussions are a staple of the Retail Innovation Conference agenda, because they allow a group of industry experts to exchange insiders’ perspectives on the hottest topics in retail. In 2019, RIC continues this trend with panels that will dive deep into hot-button topics that include: artificial intelligence, women’s leadership, influencer marketing, consumer shopping habits, next-gen pop-ups and more.

Top Takeaways From Holiday Earnings: Store Closures Will Continue, Best Buy Comes Out A Winner

After retail got hit with the tough (though controversial) news that industrywide sales fell 1.2% in December, anticipation loomed — how did individual retailers do? Shortly after, Walmart showed that it muscled its way to a stronger season than the year before, but the jury was still out on how others fared. Now that more quarterly results are in, a few key trends have emerged: Store closures will continue to be a theme throughout 2019, with Gap, Victoria’s Secret and JCPenney all shuttering locations; Department stores had mixed results, with off-price options expected to play a bigger role in 2019; Best Buy was a major holiday winner despite its continued competition with Amazon.

Shoptalk 2019: Nordstrom President Bets Big On Stores As ‘Long-Term Investments’

Erik Nordstrom being interviewed by Courtney Reagan, CNBC Two of retail’s biggest traditional players — Nordstrom and Macy’s — opened Shoptalk 2019 by revealing how they will take on 2019, fresh off a holiday season that didn’t quite reach expectations. Erik Nordstrom, Co-President of Nordstrom, noted during his keynote that despite challenges during the holiday season, during which same-store sales decreased 1.6% in Nordstrom full-price stores, he is undeterred about investing heavily in the brick-and-mortar channel for the foreseeable future. “Our stores are long-term investments,” Nordstrom said. “We don’t get concerned with short-term trends.”

ETail West Report: Humanization Is The Next Phase Of Personalization

Sessions at the eTail West show, held Feb. 19-22 in Palm Springs, Calif., covered an impressively wide range of topics. But one theme came up again and again: the value to be found in forging authentic human connections with both consumers and employees. Speakers from retailers as varied as LVMH, Dollar Shave Club, HP, Moda Operandi, Boot Barn and jewelry retailer Brilliant Earth identified humanization — not just personalization — as a critical element in brand differentiation, improving the customer experience and boosting revenues. Following are quotes from eTail West presenters that explore this theme and provide examples of humanization in action:

Exclusive Q&A: How Long Will The ‘Amazon Effect’ Continue To Rock Retail?

Despite the millions of words that have been written about Amazon, its actions often remain mysterious — so much so that the question of “What will Amazon do next?” can spark an animated guessing game at almost any gathering of retail executives. But according to consultants Natalie Berg and Miya Knights, one key to understanding the e-Commerce giant is that it’s not really a retailer; it’s a technology company that happens to be in the retail business. However it’s defined, Amazon has clearly changed consumer expectations about ease of shopping, convenience and delivery, but it also has forced other retailers to up their game in order to compete. In this exclusive interview, Berg and Knights, authors of the new book Amazon: How The World’s Most Relentless Retailer Will Continue to Revolutionize Commerce, reveal many of the secrets of Amazon’s success — as well as the vulnerabilities that could eventually turn the disruptor into the disrupted. Berg, former Global Research Director at Planet Retail, now runs her own consultancy, NBK Retail; Knights is Head of Industry Insight for Eagle Eye Solutions.

Can Cashierless Checkout Scale Up Without Breaking The Bank?

The rise of Amazon Go has put the spotlight on cashierless checkout technology over the past year, but retailers could face real dilemmas as they seek to implement and scale up these solutions. Consumers are intrigued by the technology and appreciate anything that removes friction from the in-store checkout process, but cashierless checkout has so far been largely limited to the convenience and grocery verticals. Additionally, the solutions’ current cost structure, as well as the overall disruption they bring to store operations, remain big challenges. Before building out cashierless checkout strategies, retailers must first consider: Which of the two types of cashierless technology should be deployed within stores: Amazon Go-style AI- and computer vision-powered technology, or mobile self-checkout; Why traditional self-checkout doesn’t always mean a frictionless experience; Why anti-theft measures remain a big concern; Costs associated with each technology; and The potential disruption to the cashier employment model.

Wayfair, Shinola, Boscov’s Execs Spotlight Innovation Strategies At RIC19

In its fifth year, the annual Retail Innovation Conference (RIC19) is bringing together leading innovators and disruptors who will shed light on the hottest trends, technologies and strategies driving business success in 2019 and beyond. Don’t miss the event that brings you the center of retail transformation in the center of the retail world: May 6-8, 2019 at Convene in midtown Manhattan, New York City. During more than 35 sessions over two days, 50+ retail executives, industry experts and keynote speakers will address topics including AI, Digital Darwinism, Next-Gen Loyalty, Influencer Strategies, Profitable Pop-Ups, Women’s Leadership and much more.

Exclusive Q&A: Biometric Data Uncovers Health Benefits For Sleep Number Customers

Heightened competition from startups as well as established brands is putting the sleep industry on notice — innovate or surrender market share. In fact, worldwide spending on mattresses has reached $27 billion, up 4% YOY, according to the 2018 World Mattress Industry Report. Sleep Number has been a leader in developing innovative new products and technologies to stand out in the increasingly crowded segment. In this exclusive Q&A, Sleep Number’s VP of Brand Experience Angela Gearhart shares details about the initiatives keeping Sleep Number on top. Retail TouchPoints (RTP):The sleep industry has been significantly disrupted by a number of new brands in recent years. How is Sleep Number staying ahead of the competition?

NRF2019: Innovation Lab Showcases Frictionless Self-Checkout, Facial Recognition And Last Mile Transparency

Photo credit: NRF For the third year the NRF Big Show put a spotlight on its top innovators, giving attendees tools and ideas for solving consumer needs in 2019 and beyond. The eclectic, hand-picked group of 50+ startups — broken out into customer convenience and customer experience sections — showcased new ways for retailers to manage some of their most pressing concerns, including: Removing friction from checkout; Providing targeted content to shoppers using facial recognition; Offering personalized assistance, whether in-store or online; and Adding transparency to last mile delivery.

NRF2019 Recap: Alibaba, Kroger, Walmart Supercharge Supermarkets; Target Store Investments Pay Off

The NRF 2019 Big Show filled New York City’s Javits Center with people (37,000 attendees) and exhibitors (800+) as well as several less tangible elements: ideas, energy and excitement. Both retailers and solution providers were generally upbeat about prospects for the coming year, holding productive discussions about the technologies and strategies that will help them achieve their business goals. “New technologies, such as AI/machine learning and AR/VR, are being explored in more practical detail,” said Debbie Hauss, Editor-in-Chief, Retail TouchPoints. “Companies are moving beyond initial interest in the concepts and are implementing the technologies in real-world applications. Other key trends include the integration of humans and machines, and using technology to achieve business goals rather than building goals around the new tech. New tech will be important moving forward, but the human element will be necessary to create a meaningful customer experience.”

NRF19: DICK’S, Best Buy, Levi’s CEOs Embrace ‘Leading With Conviction’

The top executives of DICK’S Sporting Goods, Best Buy and Levi Strauss & Co. — all hard-headed businesspeople at the helm of successful brands — are embracing a more socially and politically engaged leadership style than has been typical for U.S. CEOs. The three executives were interviewed by NRF President Matthew Shay at a Jan. 13 NRF Big Show session, titled Company Conscience: Leading With Conviction. For DICK’s Chairman and CEO Edward W. Stack, for example, the retailer’s decision to stop selling assault rifles following the Feb. 2018 Parkland school shooting was “not a tough decision,” he said. “The right decisions are never tough decisions.”

NRF Preview: Execs From Macy’s, Kroger, Lowe’s and Alibaba Headline Must-See Sessions

The wealth of sessions offered at the NRF Big Show, Jan. 13-15 at New York City’s Javits Center, can induce a case of “analysis paralysis” among attendees — but the variety ensures that there’s something for everyone. In addition to retail industry movers and shakers, speakers include experts from the analyst community, academia, innovative tech companies and government. Some of the marquee names on the agenda include: • Edward Stack, Chairman and CEO, DICK’S Sporting Goods• Janet Yellen, former Chair, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System• Rodney McMullen, Chairman and CEO, Kroger• Chip Bergh, President and CEO, Levi Strauss & Co.• Marvin Ellison, President and CEO, Lowe’s• Jeff Gennette, Chairman and CEO, Macy’s• Diane Dietz, President and CEO, Rodan + Fields• Shelly Ibach, President and CEO, Sleep Number• Brian Cornell, Chairman and CEO, Target
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