Retail TouchPoints - Your Source For The Latest Retail News And Trends - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Wed, 11 Dec 2019 04:30:36 -0500 RTP en-gb Anomalie Leverages Data To Help Brides Create The Dress Of Their Dreams Anomalie Leverages Data To Help Brides Create The Dress Of Their Dreams

Anomalie, a made-to-order e-Commerce bridal retailer, has launched a revamped DressBuilder platform that lets shoppers create sketches of their ideal dress in minutes. DressBuilder includes four billion permutations for possible wedding dresses, created by leveraging the collective knowledge of expert dressmakers, stylists, technical designers and data scientists. Dresses come in any size (from 00 through 30+) or shape (including petite, curvy, athletic or tall).

Customers answer a few simple questions to create the sketch, schedule a call with an Anomalie stylist to finalize the design and receive sample fabric in the mail to ensure their order is exactly what they’re looking for.

The updated platform includes an overhauled survey, design dashboard and dress page, as well as new editing features and tools to help meet the shoppers’ perfect vision. The new dress page offers status updates, visuals, specific lace and fabric selections, measurements, and final sketches to give brides a behind-the-scenes look at how their dress is being prepared, along with more communication points with stylists.

The stylists themselves also have been given an updated dashboard with new sketch tools, which lets them create more efficient blueprints for each dress. Anomalie’s goal is to combine its data-backed technology with a vertically integrated supply chain to minimize pain points for its customers.

“I started Anomalie out of my own frustration with boutique shopping,” said Leslie Voorhees Means, co-founder and CEO of Anomalie in a statement. “Brides deserve to have their dream wedding dress and shouldn’t feel left out of the wedding dress shopping experience because of body size or shape, price range, or style preferences. We’re unlocking a better experience for brides by streamlining the wedding dress design and shopping journey, truly giving brides the inspiration, tools, support, and nearly unlimited options they need to create their perfect dress.”

]]> (Bryan Wassel) E-Commerce Tue, 10 Dec 2019 16:26:27 -0500
Moody’s Cuts Department Store Outlook Again, Projects 20% Operating Profit Decline In 2019 Moody’s Cuts Department Store Outlook Again, Projects 20% Operating Profit Decline In 2019

Despite a variety of efforts to revitalize their store footprints through new partnerships and experiential offerings, department stores continue to struggle — and according to one report, the financial hit has been worse than expected. Moody’s Investors Service is now calling for department stores’ operating profits to be down 20% in 2019, compared with prior expectations for a 15% drop.

What’s perhaps more alarming is that this is not the first downward adjustment. Moody’s cut its forecast from an initial expected 10% operating profit decline to 15% in October. If there is one piece of somewhat good news, Moody’s expects the overall profit declines to subside significantly in 2020, to roughly a 1% decline as department stores cycle the weak results of 2019. But even then, Moody’s describes them as remaining “among the worst performers in retail.”

During Q3, only Kohl’s saw positive same-store sales (0.4%) among its contemporaries. Dillard’s saw flat growth, while Nordstrom (down 2.2%), JCPenney (down 9.3%) and Macy’s (down 3.5%) all saw significant losses in the quarter.

Off-price retailers and discounters remain a major thorn in the side of department stores, with TJX and Ross Stores posting 4% and 5% same-store sales increases, respectively, in Q3 2019. The report indicates that the off-price sector turns inventory roughly twice as fast as department store chains.

Many department store retailers had planned for a more robust 2019 after improving inventory levels in 2018, but sales have lagged, forcing these companies to recalibrate to lower demand. Nordstrom has done the best job maneuvering through its inventory churn — although the company saw the 2.2% sales decline in Q3, it cut inventory by 2.7%, leading to a 9% increase in operating income. In contrast, sales declines at Macy's outpaced inventory declines (comparable inventory was flat relative to a 3.5% comp decline), with operating income declining 56.7%.

With the holiday season in full swing, department stores aren’t helping themselves from an income standpoint, due to continued reliance on promotions to generate traffic and sales, and offload excess inventory.

“The competitive landscape remains extremely promotional, with no let up as we wade further into the all-important holiday season,” said Christina Boni, VP and Senior Credit Officer of Moody’s, in the report. “Fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas relative to last year could exacerbate the promotional environment.”

The report estimates that the department store sector’s store count will decline 2.2% in 2018, more than any other sector except apparel and footwear retailers (7.3% decline). But the 2019 department store dip is tempered compared to the 13% decline in 2018, which was largely fueled by the Sears bankruptcy filing.

Moody’s anticipates these retailers will continue to reduce their store sizes through smaller replacement stores, subleasing of excess space or redeployment into other categories or business lines.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 10 Dec 2019 12:59:45 -0500
Away CEO Resigns Following Report Of ‘Toxic Working Environment’ Away CEO Resigns Following Report Of ‘Toxic Working Environment’

Away Co-Founder and CEO Steph Korey has become the latest retail executive to depart from her position, with the announcement made four days after The Verge published a story detailing a “toxic work environment” at the luggage brand. The CEO role will be assumed by lululemon athletica COO Stuart Haselden, effective Jan. 13, 2020.

It is unclear whether The Verge’s piece had an impact on the timing of Korey’s resignation. Away has been seeking a new CEO since the spring, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Former Away employees alleged that they were not allowed to email each other and that direct messages were limited to minor, non-work related subjects like lunch, according to The Verge. Instead, they were expected to use the chat app Slack, where direct messaging was discouraged in favor of transparent channels.

However, former employees claim that managers could oversee people’s conversations in a way that created a “culture of intimidation and constant surveillance,” according to The Verge. They alleged that Korey in particular was known for micromanaging and berating mistakes, often in a public manner.

Reports of a negative internal culture clash wildly with the brand’s consumer perception, which positions Away as a force of positivity. The “What we believe” section of its web site says that “we’re all in this together,” mentions the brand’s partnership with peace-focused nonprofit Peace Direct and says that the company values “access over aspiration.”

Modern shoppers prefer retailers that share their personal values, and the news surrounding Korey could threaten Away’s uplifting message. However, the company may have had another reason for seeking a new executive: maintaining its rapid growth.

Haselden Brings Operational And International Expertise

Away has experienced a landmark year in 2019: the retailer doubled its number of employees to 600, raised $100 million in a Series D funding round and achieved a valuation of $1.4 billion since January. Haselden is the highest-profile leader to join the company this year, but he joins eight vice presidents that were hired this year to keep up the momentum.

Haselden spent five years with lululemon, and during this time the retailer doubled its revenue and grew its market cap from $6 billion to nearly $30 billion. He also spearheaded category expansion, omnichannel development and growth in the retailer’s international footprint, which could be valuable experience for realizing Away’s own goals.

"With the immense growth of the Away brand, the complexities of our business have evolved as well," said Jennifer Rubio, Co-Founder, President and Chief Brand Officer of Away. "Stuart's deep experience across our three pillars of growth — product, retail, and international — and his passion for building, leading, and coaching teams will undoubtedly provide Away with the experience and leadership we need for long-term success."

However, it remains to be seen if Haselden can solve Away’s cultural woes: the retailer he is coming from has come under fire for its own poor working environment. This led to the resignation of former lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin in February 2018 for an unspecified conduct violation.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Tue, 10 Dec 2019 12:53:37 -0500
Hudson Reveals Updated Store Design, Mobile App For 2020 Hudson Reveals Updated Store Design, Mobile App For 2020

Hudson, which operates more than 1,000 stores in airports and tourist destinations across North America, will upgrade its store design for greater flexibility, including adding self-checkout stations to the remodeled stores.

Launching in key markets starting in early 2020, the next generation of Hudson stores will feature:

  • Digital displays that can host localized consumer content that is controlled internally by the corporate team;
  • Interchangeable modular walls to provide smooth transitions between retail offerings and a working rotation of seasonal displays and enhanced product categories; and
  • Self-checkout stations to expedite transactions for travelers.

“Our mission is to reflect the changes in the travel industry that passengers have come to expect,” said Brian Quinn, EVP and Chief Operating Officer of Hudson Group in a statement. “Our refreshed design concept will grab customers at the door and draw them all the way into the back of the store — giving us the opportunity to customize each store to make it more enticing to travelers and profitable for our travel-hub partners.”

The airport retail mainstay also will introduce its “Hudson Blue” app in mid-2020, a consumer-facing mobile application designed to connect travelers with a Hudson store from their mobile device and gather insight on products and promotions.

“As the world of travel changes and evolves with new technology, it is our obligation to evolve the product offerings, transactional capabilities, and overall store model,” said Roger Fordyce, Chief Executive Officer of Hudson Group in a statement. “In addition to the unique digital elements, our next generation store concept is the perfect platform to not only expand Hudson’s current retail offerings and partnership categories, but more importantly allows product mix and transactional flexibility to evolve as our customers and trends evolve.”

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Tue, 10 Dec 2019 12:02:24 -0500
Emotional Loyalty As A Growth Driver

0aaaJudd Marcello CheetahDigitalHistorically, having the best product or service on the market was the key to receiving and maintaining undying loyalty from consumers. Today, this strategy won’t cut it. The proliferation of the Internet has created a global economy where consumer choices are abundant. It no longer makes sense for consumers to maintain loyalty to brands. Instead, many base purchasing decisions on factors such as price and convenience; however, customer engagement is quickly emerging as the leading factor.

Rather than only rely on customer loyalty programs like reward cards and frequent flyer miles, brands need to go one step further by developing emotional loyalty. This type of loyalty achieves a deep connection with customers that makes them feel valued and respected at every action, input and communication with a brand.

The 3 Components Of Emotional Loyalty

1. Affinity: “I like you...but I don’t love you.”

Customers have an affinity for a brand when they enjoy what the company offers: high-quality goods, branding that appeals to their style, or products at a great value. But liking a brand doesn’t mean being loyal to it. When a different option comes along, or customers find a more competitive price, those who merely like a brand may be swayed to spend their dollars elsewhere. In this case, the brand may not be doing its best to build a relationship with the customer.

To gain a customer’s affinity, brands must deliver a high-quality product or service that provides value and elicits an emotional response. Brands can achieve affinity by:

  • Managing offers at an individual level to help reinforce your brand’s value with customers.
  • Communicating useful advice to ensure the usage of your product and reinforce quality/value.
  • Adding bi-direction and engagement to email communications through surveys and polls to gauge the emotional response.
  • Fostering relationships by inviting customers to share stories of affinity with their personal networks via social media.

2. Attachment: “You know me well.”

Attachment is less about liking a brand and more about making a connection. Customers will be able to tell if they are valued and appreciated by the relevance of the company’s communications and efforts to engage. When a brand makes an effort to connect in meaningful and personalized ways, customers feel valued, appreciated and confident in the company’s ability to meet their expectations.

To create an attachment between your customers and your brand, provide relevant communications, two-way interaction, added benefits as engagement increases and valuable content in multiple mediums. Three ways brands can foster attachment include:

  • Rewarding interaction, as well as transactions.
  • Recognizing customers with tiers that offer exclusive benefits and acknowledge their status in every communication.
  • Engaging across devices, channels and touch points in a consistent, relevant, and integrated way.

3. Trust: “Let’s be friends.”

Trust is the linchpin of emotional loyalty — the must-have ingredient to retaining a loyal customer. When a customer feels respected, their willingness to trust increases. Communication is one of the most meaningful ways to show customers respect. Is their privacy prioritized? Is communication two-way so they can provide feedback? Customers are willing to put their trust in a brand, but only if every touch point, interaction and channel displays the same authentic behavior. And, sadly, one wrong move can result in loss of trust.

To create a sense of trust, offer authenticity, timely communications, a healthy respect for privacy and the ability to provide feedback. Strategies to gain customer trust include:

  • Collecting first- and zero-party data in exchange for rewards and using this information to improve the customer experience while respecting privacy.
  • Collecting first-party data to give customers a feedback loop and use the information gathered to personalize responses.
  • Remaining true to the boundaries set forth by the customer (e.g., in the preference center).

Emotional Loyalty Drives Business Growth

Brands can and should use emotional connection as a growth strategy. Companies that successfully leverage emotional connection deliver extraordinary results, as measured in customer retention, lifetime value, cross-sales, brand advocacy and length of time spent with a brand.

To create emotional loyalty, your brand must offer a value exchange with customers and nurture the relationship at every touch point with unique, personalized brand experiences, content and offers. By employing these strategies, you’ll be able to deliver unique customer experiences that create deep emotional connections and ultimately achieve advanced-level loyalty that drives company growth.


As the EVP of Global Marketing at Cheetah Digital, Judd Marcello oversees a global team that is responsible for all aspects of the brand, demand generation, digital marketing, corporate communications, and sales development. A marketer at heart, Marcello has more than 20 years’ experience delivering high-impact B2C and B2B marketing leadership in the software, consumer packaged goods, consumer electronics, and food and beverage industries across the United Kingdom, Americas, Australian and European markets. Prior to joining Cheetah Digital, he held senior marketing roles at several companies, including Canon, Salesforce, ExactTarget, and Smartling.

]]> (Judd Marcello, Cheetah Digital) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 10 Dec 2019 08:59:24 -0500
ShopFulfill Introduces Anchor Shops To Help Online Retailers Launch Their First Physical Storefront ShopFulfill Introduces Anchor Shops To Help Online Retailers Launch Their First Physical Storefront

ShopFulfill has launched Anchor Shops, a vertically integrated retail storefront and distributed network designed to help e-Commerce pure plays launch their first forays into brick-and-mortar. As part of the venture, Anchor Shops will help its digitally native partner brands handle logistics and hire associates in its space.

The first Anchor Shops location will open in the Fashion District in Downtown Philadelphia, and the first fulfillment center is located at Moorestown Mall in Moorestown, N.J. Members of the Anchor Shop network will gain access to store space, a regional distribution network and buy online/pick up in-store (BOPIS) fulfillment options powered by Anchor Shops’ own in-store staff.

The Fashion District store is co-located with the Jefferson SEPTA station, which sees 22 million commuters pass through every year. The store is aiming to house more than 40 digital-first brands, which will support each other through a curated in-store customer journey.

“Anchor Shops is the logical next step in the evolution of retail,” said Chris Walton, CEO of Omni Talk and Third Haus and an advisor to Anchor Shops in a statement. “It is easy to start a shop online nowadays, but the infrastructure and knowledge it takes to expand a brand’s presence into the physical world is complicated and expensive.”

Both the store and fulfillment center will open in Q2 2020. ShopFulfill plans to scale the Anchor Shops network within the Philadelphia/South New Jersey region in the future.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Mon, 09 Dec 2019 13:04:54 -0500
McDonald’s Launches ‘Golden Arches Unlimited’ E-Commerce Store McDonald’s Launches ‘Golden Arches Unlimited’ E-Commerce Store

McDonald’s has launched its own e-Commerce site, Golden Arches Unlimited, which sells branded merchandise such as a Big Mac Bag, a McFlurry Dessert Journal and additional Golden Arches-themed apparel.

The initial lineup of 20 items is a winter collection that includes a sesame seed ornament, a Happy Meal t-shirt, a sesame seed zip hoodie and more, along with various themed accessories such as hair ties, umbrellas, journals and tote bags.

In 2017, the fast food giant launched a limited-time merchandise line, the McDelivery Collection, and has partnered with multiple fashion brands and retailers since the 1980s, but this is the first time McDonald’s has operated its own permanent direct-to-consumer e-Commerce presence.

Although launch quantities of merchandise are limited, McDonald’s says it will restock and drop new merchandise on a regular basis.

“McDonald’s has been ingrained in the fabric of culture for years, and there's a long history of fans wearing our brand with pride,” said Colin Mitchell, SVP of Global Marketing at McDonald’s in a statement. “We’re excited to help customers wear their brand love on their sleeves with the unveiling of Golden Arches Unlimited as we continue to inspire feel good moments with McDonald's."

McDonald’s is not the only fast food retailer, or even the only hamburger chain, getting into seasonal direct-to-consumer sales of branded merchandise. White Castle is offering its first-ever online holiday gift guide, “House of Crave,” and Dunkin’ is operating an online holiday pop-up shop, which it has already promised to bring back in 2020. Unlike McDonald’s, these two retailers will shutter their e-Commerce stores once the holidays have ended.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Mon, 09 Dec 2019 12:31:06 -0500
True Religion Apparel Appoints Former Design VP As New Creative Director True Religion Apparel Appoints Former Design VP As New Creative Director

True Religion Apparel has appointed Zihaad Wells as its new Creative Director, effective immediately. In the role, Wells’ responsibilities will include product design, marketing and driving the creative direction of the brand. He will report to CEO Michael Buckley.

Wells has more than 20 years’ experience across brand, product, wholesale, retail and e-Commerce. He started his career at Levi’s Europe, where he worked on Levi’s Red and Levi’s Vintage collections, before transitioning to True Religion Apparel. He worked at True Religion in various roles from 2006 to 2017, most recently serving as the brand’s VP of Design. Zihaad has also served as VP of Design and Creative at AG Jeans.

“I am extremely excited to return to True Religion as its Creative Director, it feels like coming home,” said Wells in a statement. “I look forward to working with Michael and the team to get back to the DNA of what made True Religion an amazing brand, which was the perfect balance of heritage and modernity rooted in iconic Jeanswear.”

]]> (Bryan Wassel) Retail Movers & Shakers Mon, 09 Dec 2019 12:18:03 -0500
How AI-Infused Machine Learning Is Radically Changing Brand Localization Strategy

0aaaJonas Ryberg PacteraAs global markets become increasingly shaped by the emerging on-demand economy, many businesses face the challenge of delivering products and services that are fully translated, personalized and localized for multiple international target markets. In addition, the new marketplace mandates that the front doors to a business, the e-Commerce web site, must also be properly localized, not simply translated.

Marketing of content to an audience immersed in a different language, culture and value system is a risky venture at best, and can lead to disastrous and reputation-damaging results. Every year, business magazines compile lists of major brand failures that stem from inadvertent cultural faux pas and poor translations. 

In 2009, for instance, HSBC Bank launched an international marketing campaign based on their new coy catchphrase “Assume Nothing.” Unfortunately, in many markets, the tag line was essentially translated as “Do Nothing” — which is what consumers ended up doing — ultimately requiring the bank to launch a new $10 million rebranding campaign and a lot of public relations backpedaling.

The global landscape is littered with similar marketing tales of woe, clearly showing that localization has always been a tricky business. To accurately translate web site copy, especially nuanced marketing language, takes a lot of effort and attention to detail — and every public incident with jargon “lost in translation” invariably results in lost sales and unimpressed consumers.

Fortunately, localization technologies are undergoing revolutionary changes. As artificial intelligence (AI) and language services converge, the process of recreating the English-language e-Commerce experience for a global audience is becoming a lot more rapid and accurate.

While AI and machine learning have long been back engine contributors to language services processing in functions like text-to-speech, this landscape is evolving. Recent developments and an onslaught of accessible global data have been the key to exponential improvement in how AI platforms handle language-related tasks, to the point of enabling an almost fully automated and pain-free localization process.

This can be particularly effective in structured environments such as e-Commerce inventory presentation and online sales workflow processes. Given the state of global connectedness and the vanishing of commercial borders, this maturation couldn’t come at a better time.

Those who are concerned AI is a job-killing menace that wields power unchecked and uncontrolled must know that the human component of language services has never been more critical, and employee talent will be needed long-term, in the foreseeable future, to train machine learning solutions the basics of reading and comprehension of English and many other languages. Human resources also will provide the crucial quality control role, reviewing and modifying machine translations, ever improving natural language processing models with authentic human understanding and feedback.

AI is already used in a wide array of translation solutions, making the localization of your web site, product and services easier, faster and better than ever before. For those looking to take their global customer outreach to the next level, here are some important tips for initiating the process.

1. Localize, don’t just translate

Too many businesses mistakenly believe that simply running their e-Commerce site through a basic translation service will be “good enough” to maintain their presence in a non-English speaking marketplace. It’s a big mistake. When a web site mangles the local market’s language, consumers lose confidence in the brand, merchandise or services instantly and take their business elsewhere. Be sure that your site is fully localized with all its content presented in both languages, and adjusted to appear idiomatically correct and stylistically appealing to the target market audience you’re hoping to reach. Remember that marketing content localization is almost always a creative process, oftentimes requiring significant changes in the translated content to factor in sociocultural characteristics of the target locale.

2. Account for local units of measurement, currency and trade regulations

Currency and prices must be all adapted to the local market. Your product description also will need to be localized: weights, measurements, clothing sizes, etc. need to conform not only to local norms but also any applicable government trade regulations. Shipping terms and limitations, local phone numbers, delivery address format, postal carrier names and accepted payment options (such as Alipay in China) must also be accounted for. Import taxes or other considerations may be applicable to goods shipped internationally.

3. Be mindful of coding and UX design elements

Customers in different markets may have grown up with different preferences when it comes to site design and user experience (UX). Color, image and layout all play important parts in making the web site visitor comfortable and ready to explore your company’s offerings. Similarly, the way your e-Commerce site is coded must conform to any character restrictions being employed by your fulfillment and product databases.

4. Expand globally/SEO locally

Search Engine Optimization content also needs to be localized based on regional search algorithm priorities. This likely means establishing new SEO practices, from keywords to content creation, based on the market you’re entering. Content may be king everywhere, but how customers find your content and how your site is promoted varies by country.

5. Ensure privacy compliance

As sensitive an issue as sales rhetoric and marketing practices are, privacy issues also vary widely by market. It’s critical that your e-Commerce site abides by the local privacy laws of the region you’re targeting, and that your business only collects data it’s legally allowed to. Failure to comply with all applicable local privacy laws may result in not only fines but bad press and, potentially, your future ability to do business there at all.

6. Be entrepreneurial but cautious

This market is evolving quickly, and new opportunities should be examined to see if they can support your strategic plans. New opportunities and online sales channels are best considered as a component of strategic business initiatives.

As AI-enabled localization tools become standard and affordable to everyone, the concerns of taking a business enterprise global start to appear less daunting. For now, even if you’re only thinking of expanding to just one new non-English market, it’s best to seek assistance from a professional language services provider, and join the growing number of companies that are localizing with great ease and success thanks to AI and machine learning technologies.


Jonas Ryberg is Vice President of Pactera EDGE Digital Globalization Solutions. He and his team provide AI-infused language services, global data curation for AI/ML and global marketing services. Ryberg has 20 years of experience in the Language Services industry in various roles, from solutioning and linguistics to sales and management, both as executive and as company founder.

]]> (Jonas Ryberg, Pactera EDGE) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 09 Dec 2019 09:14:13 -0500
Exclusive Q&A: Barber Surgeons Guild Makes Men’s Grooming A Luxury Experience 0aaaAri S Goldberg BSG FounderBy 2022, the men’s personal care market is expected to generate $166 billion globally, according to Allied Market Research. One company is seeking its share of this growing market by marrying the notions of premium grooming, retail and medical care all in one concept.

Barber Surgeons Guild (BSG), a luxury lifestyle brand for men’s personal grooming products and services, recently expanded from Los Angeles with a 2,200 square-foot location in NYC’s Soho that opened in November. The brand combines high-end barber shops and advanced medical grooming services, such as hair restoration, in a modern environment, and offers a luxury grooming product line including shampoo, conditioner, pomade and hair serum.

In an interview with Retail TouchPoints, BSG Co-Founder and CEO Ari Goldberg revealed the company’s growth strategies, including:

  • Finding the white space between consumer products and medical experiences as a way to differentiate the business;
  • The importance of thinking as a consumer as opposed to a business owner when building a brand;
  • Winning the “database game” to approach existing and new audiences;
  • Creating an experiential retail environment that felt elevated and sophisticated to the shopper; and
  • Expansion goals, both within the Los Angeles location and in the new Soho location.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): Men's grooming has seen significant digital growth in recent years. How do you feel like your product, services and overall brand have been able to stand out?

Ari Goldberg: A little background may help provide some context here, but my background is marketing and digital, and our last business, StyleCaster, which I was the founder and CEO of, was a large digital media, fashion and beauty business in the women’s lifestyle space. P&G, L’Oréal and Unilever used to pay us millions of dollars per year to help them sell their beauty products.

Over time my thinking became, Why don’t I do the same thing, but instead of selling someone else’s products, why don’t I sell my own? When I sold StyleCaster, I envisioned only working on products, services and businesses that I wanted as a consumer. I knew that men’s grooming was taking off with Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s, and even at that point, I knew the world wasn’t going to need another e-Commerce/DTC brand with plenty of venture money being poured into it. It was quickly starting to become a red ocean like the mattress industry did.

I believed that there was a ‘white space’ right on the fringe of consumer and medical. Everyone is going after consumer, and no one is going after medical. The medical experience sucks. What if there was a retail experience that combined both of those, and combined products and services? I realized I wanted a business partner who was a doctor — I want medical scientific credibility behind this brand. I was introduced to my Co-Founder, Dr. Justin Rome, and the rest was history.

That led to our building our brand thesis out further: guys like me and you, we wash our hair every day, we get a haircut every couple weeks. Every month, men should probably consider PRP [platelet-rich plasma] injections and micro-needling to keep our hair healthy and strong, and every few years, we might need more advanced procedures like robotic hair restoration. As a consumer, I just wanted the highest quality product to put on my head so my hair doesn’t fall out, alongside a doctor that I can trust that can show me services that are backed by scientific research.

It comes down to taking the consumer approach at every angle and us being the consumer, instead of the entrepreneur.

RTP: How have you managed to successfully build a business that appears to provide all the services of a barber shop (and even hair restoration) within a retail environment?

Goldberg: The blessing and curse of BSG is that it’s a very complex business. The blessing is that it’s a high barrier to entry — we believe we’re well-protected from potential competitors. From a consumer perspective, I now think about business in terms of the audience — the database. I was with the head of the venture arm of Guthy-Renker (a digital marketing company) when I was starting BSG and he told me ‘Don’t fool yourself. Unilever didn’t just buy Dollar Shave Club, they bought an email database with 3.2 million men. And those men buy other products that Unilever owns.’

Hearing someone of that caliber say that made me realize that this is a database game. This is an audience game. So when we approach a new business, we’re always asking who the audience is we’re going after, how do I build a relationship with them, and then from there, you’re just trying to layer on more products and services to sell them.

When you look at a business from that angle, it becomes very interesting, because if you can serve a specific customer, you really have so many clear avenues in the future to expand into, because all I need to do is reach out to the best customer and ask, ‘What do you need? Do you need a new face wash? What are the things in our grooming regimen that are bothering you?’ We can come up with a solution to that problem and expand that product line because we already have that database.

RTP: Can you tell me about the retail/barbershops in LA and Soho, as far as their features, characteristics and store environments?

Goldberg: First, we wanted to create an old school, “gentleman’s lounge” vibe, where sophisticated guys of any age or profession can have a place to go hang out and be in a trusted community. The truth of the matter is, for guys over 25, their hair is a concern. Two thirds of men are expected to experience some form of hair thinning or loss before the age of 35. Everyone I encounter is facing some thought about it.

We wanted to create an experiential retail environment that spoke to that, that was on-brand, that was cool — but felt elevated and sophisticated. At first glance, you just inherently know you’re in a good environment.

The barber shop element was pretty easy to implement, even with having no experience in barber shops — you can buy more expensive fixtures to put together a nice location. The same goes for the retail environment, there’s enough things to look at and get an inspiration for. It’s really the juxtaposition with putting the clinical room in the same environment, which elevates the barber shop and retail experience, making it more scientific and medical. It makes the advanced medical grooming aspect more accessible. It’s less of a taboo, stigma or fear around that. The idea of instilling and restoring confidence is such a big part of what we do.

RTP: Do you have any growth goals you can share, or potential expansion areas you're looking to bring BSG into?

Goldberg: We have aggressive goals, although as I get a little further in my career, I think I’m getting more pragmatic and rational. Alongside that, do we want to have 30 Barber Surgeons Guild locations all across the world? Of course. Who wouldn’t want that? But in terms of our immediate focus and goals, it’s continuing to ramp the Los Angeles location. We’re doing great, and driving millions per year out of one location without being ramped up to its full potential.

It’s about bringing the New York location up to speed as well. Even if New York does the same numbers as Los Angeles — we expect it to do more given the demographics, population density and market saturation — just on two physical locations and an e-Commerce business, you’re looking at a big business, and from there it’s about continuing to build the team.

RTP: How did the name ‘Barber Surgeons Guild’ come about in the first place?

Goldberg: During the medieval and Renaissance periods, there was a tradesman known as the barber surgeon and they were part of a guild. If you needed a haircut or a shave or if you were a soldier in the battlefield needing treatment by a medic, you were treated by a barber surgeon, because they were the only ones who knew how to use sharp instruments. Getting your arm amputated and getting a haircut were one and the same thing, you went to the same person.

Even the barber pole came about because barber surgeons would have white towels and there would be blood on them. They would hang them out to dry so people would know there was a barber surgeon nearby.

It’s a fascinating story, and when you think about the retail and consumer experience, having the master barbers, bringing the products and service and working alongside the doctors and technicians, we really are the modern-day version of the barber surgeon.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Mon, 09 Dec 2019 08:50:04 -0500