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.

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. 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.

3 Must-Have Strategies For Keeping Store Doors Open

The demise of the brick-and-mortar store has been greatly exaggerated, with retailers expected to open as many as 1,300 net new stores in 2017. But retailers seeking to stay in consumers’ good graces must understand three trends that should shape their store strategies in 2017 and beyond, according to Retail Systems Research (RSR): Store associate training must be a priority; Even retail winners rely too much on price as a differentiator; and A “good” in-store experienceshould include changing store layouts, in-store community and more VIP-specific promotions. This article features exclusive insights from Steve Rowen, Managing Partner at RSR, who digs deeper into the research results and how retailers can pivot to secure a strong future.

Walmart To Cut 20% Of Leadership Staff: Breaking News

Walmart is in the process of cutting 20% of its leadership staff above store level, as reported by a field executive for the retailer. Within the next three weeks, the company will reduce its total number of regional markets from 450 to 350, which will eliminate approximately 300 executive positions by the beginning of October. This reduction in staff is reportedly the result of an edict to cut expenses quickly. The cuts will save Walmart from having to pay out bonus money and vested equity moving into Q1 2018.

Early Birds Get A Jump On Retail Transformation: RIC18 Reg Is Open

The premier event focused on retail innovation and transformation is open for Early Bird registration now! The 2018 Retail Innovation Conference (RIC18), set for May 1-2 in New York City, is offering a limited-time discount for retailer attendees who book early. Launched in 2014, the Retail Innovation Conference sought to expand Retail TouchPoints’ mission to empower and connect the retail world. Since the inaugural event, the conference has successfully brought together today’s top retail leaders, innovators and forward thinkers so they can better collaborate and share their perspectives on must-have tools and tactics for success.

Hurricane Harvey Donations Serve Up Reminder That Brand Authenticity Matters

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast, retailers are making a colossal effort to help citizens in need, charitable organizations and first responders. Retail’s biggest brands, including Walmart, Amazon, CVS, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Kroger, Target and many others have committed to donate, with some even set to contribute more than $1 million in aid. But any charitable effort, especially in a time of need, must always be handled with care. Authenticity is important in fostering a genuine connection with the consumer, and this is magnified in situations where a retailer has to go beyond their typical “role” in serving them.

AR And VR: Shopping Enhancements Or Shiny Distractions?

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are already making inroads in retail. Lowe’s, Wayfair and Design With Reach, for example, use these technologies to help customers visualize how furniture and other design changes will look in their homes. AR’s ability to bring ratings and reviews, long a staple of e-Commerce, into the brick-and-mortar environment presents an exciting prospect, according to Pano Anthos, Managing Director of XRC Labs. “Customers walk into a store and we’re blind as bats,” he said during a session at the 2017 Retail Innovation Conference. “We don’t know if the product stinks or falls apart in five minutes, or anything about where it comes from. Everyone online looks at ratings and reviews, so why not in the store? AR provides the first wave of that potential by having the digitization of ratings and reviews dropped onto your phone.” Despite these real-world use cases, opinion remains sharply divided about the ultimate value of AR and VR, as well as how much — and how quickly — retailers should invest in the technology. Members of the RetailWire BrainTrust recently debated the technologies’ merits: Art Suriano, CEO, The TSi CompanyI can see the strongest benefits of AR and VR…

Retail Apocalypse? More Like A Retail Transformation

With more than 9,000 store closures anticipated in 2017 and the number of retail bankruptcies already surpassing the 2016 total, the phrase “retail apocalypse” has been thrown around a lot in recent months. But while brick-and-mortar retailers of all sizes and types have had to make massive adjustments, the industry isn’t quite as close to its death bed as many would believe. The most recent RetailNext Store Performance Pulse indicated that while store traffic and sales remain in decline, these dips are less drastic than in the past. The 5.5% year-over-year traffic decline in July 2017 was retail’s lowest decline rate in 18 months, while the 5.7% year-over-year sales dip was the lowest in 14 months. And outside of three months during the past year, retailers’ in-store conversion rates — sales transactions as a percentage of traffic — have largely remained within a 0.1% to 0.5% range, in line with totals from April and May 2015.

Amazon Leads In Search Traffic Growth During BTS Season

  • Published in E-Commerce
The topic was growing site traffic and search traffic, and Amazon taught other retailers a lesson in 2017. The e-Commerce giant achieved a 16.2% increase in overall site traffic and an 18.4% increase in Google search traffic from “school” keywords during the back to school (BTS) season. The 18.4% Google search traffic increase may be Amazon’s biggest accomplishment, considering how far ahead of five major retail competitors the retailer is: Walmart/ 2.1% Google search traffic growth; Target: 1.4% growth; Best Buy: 14.2% Google search traffic loss; and Macy’s: 19.4% loss. Despite Amazon’s overall dominance in Google search traffic growth, Walmart actually saw the single biggest driver of Google search traffic for "school" keywords in both 2016 and 2017. The term "Walmart school supplies” outpaced Amazon's top keyword ("Amazon school supplies") by 4X this year.

‘Panic Mode’ Sets In As Sporting Goods Retailers Seek Answers

Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack made a headline-grabbing statement when he described the retail industry as being in “panic mode” during the company’s recent Q2 earnings call. But even if his comments about retail as a whole are hyperbole, his suggestion that “sporting goods is in the center” of “a perfect storm right now in retail” actually comes fairly close to the mark.  The sporting goods industry has taken some major hits since the end of 2015, most notably the bankruptcy and closing of former sector leader Sports Authority. Brands such as Sport Chalet and City Sports shuttered their operations, while Gander Mountain, Golfsmith and Eastern Outfitters were bought out by larger brands after bankruptcies.
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