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Store Operations

Store Operations examines the issues and challenges facing today’s store operators. From workforce management to merchandising and new store openings, this section is designed to help retailers improve the bottom line while holding the line on costs. Subscribe to the feed and stay in touch with the latest retail happenings.

Stance Deploys Cashierless Self-Checkout Across 14 Stores

Cashierless checkout has for the most part been limited to major grocers thus far and is perhaps most commonly associated with Amazon Go, but one retailer — best known for selling socks — is showing that this technology can be deployed just as effectively in an apparel setting. Stance has deployed self-checkout technology from Moltin within its 14 U.S. stores, designed to let shoppers skip lines and check out via a browser-based mobile progressive web app (PWA). The goal for the technology was singular: eliminating lines, according to Paul Zaengle, EVP of Direct-to-Consumer at Stance. While Zaengle had followed self-checkout technologies for years, he said it wasn’t until 2018, when Apple allowed iOS to access cameras through a web page, that the Stance team was able to envision a realistic application.

At Half Price Books, Empowered Associates Create Curated, Store-Specific Assortments

While most physical booksellers are contracting and consolidating, Half Price Books has been slowly and steadily growing. Multiple factors, all of which are aimed at creating intense customer loyalty, contribute to the retailer’s success in a difficult industry: A focus on choosing highly promising locations for new stores; Comfortable store layouts built to encourage browsing and discovery; and An enthusiastic staff of associates who are empowered to shape each store’s inventory. “People always ask me, ‘How are you opening stores when other people are closing stores?’” said Kathy Doyle Thomas, Chief Strategy Officer at Half Price Books in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Part of the reason we are growing is because we’re privately held — we don’t have to open stores if we don’t want to, and if we can’t afford it. If we don’t have enough money in the bank and we know that store won’t make money for three or four years because it needs to build its brand and customer base, then we don’t do it, and we don’t have any debt. We grow and expand when we want to and how we want to.” This process includes taking a careful look at the overall retail…

Stage Stores Accelerates Off-Price Conversion Strategy, Anticipates 300 Gordmans Stores By 2020

Stage Stores is accelerating the conversion of its department stores to Gordmans stores after the off-price banner has achieved considerable success. Michael Glazer, President and CEO of Stage Stores, revealed that through mid-March 2019, sales in the nine converted Gordmans locations completed in 2018 grew by more than 150% compared…
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Only 23% Of Retailers Leverage In-Store AI, While Just 19% Deploy IoT Devices

Retailers often describe the “store of the future” having multiple customer service options, such as automated returns or cashierless checkout, and offering disruptive technologies such as AI, VR, AR, virtual mirrors and IoT. But many of these brick-and-mortar upgrades remain saved for just that — the future. For example, only 19% of retailers have implemented IoT within their stores, with 23% implementing AI-powered platforms such as voice-activated POS and digital assistants, according to a report from BRP. In another sign that adoption of these technologies is still a long way off, only 5% of retailers said they have implemented each technology and that it is working well.

Wayfair, Shinola Among Retail Leaders Presenting At RIC19

The fifth annual Retail Innovation Conference (#RIC19), May 6-8 in NYC, will be a motivational gold mine for retail executives who will be inspired by leading innovators and disruptors. They will have a chance to learn from retail executives at Wayfair, Orvis, Boscov’s, The Vitamin Shoppe, Rebecca Minkoff and other brands, along with industry experts such as Brian Solis, Deb Gabor, Brian Smith and Jeff Fromm. The RIC keynotes will be presented by some of the industry’s top thinkers, who will help retailers navigate the latest developments in the industry: Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at Altimeter, will discuss the topic of “Digital Darwinism” — how the modern landscape is challenging traditional brands and ushering in a new breed of retailers. Solis will offer best practices to help retailers understand this new wave of retailing, spotlighting six key takeaways and success stories from brands including TUMI and Neiman Marcus. Jeff Fromm, President of FutureCast, will tackle the topic of connecting with next-generation consumers. This session will debunk some of the myths surrounding Gen Z, explain how savvy retailers gain their frequency of use and price elasticity advantages, and identify the three kinds of retailers he expects to be big winners in…

Study: 85% Of Shoppers Expect Associates To Have Instant Access To Price, Inventory Information

As smartphones become a critical shopping tool for consumers, they expect associates to have the same level of access to digital information. In fact, 85.3% of shoppers expect retailers to provide associates with handheld or fixed devices to check inventory and price within a store, a nearly 51% increase over 2017, according to a survey from SOTI. The Annual Connected Retailer Survey has found that consumers’ expectations of in-store technology have heightened dramatically year over year: Mobile registers: 41.7% of shoppers expected this in 2018, up 64.3% from 2017; and Handheld devices to communicate with the back room — 22.3% of shoppers expected this in 2018, up 29.65% from 2017.

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.

Exclusive Q&A: How Dormify Pop-Ups Increased Market Revenue 250%

Although Dormify started as a pure play retailer selling bedding and home décor designed primarily for college dorms, the company learned upon testing that a physical showroom, pop-up stores and events helped the retailer generate more revenue across all channels. In an exclusive Q&A with Retail TouchPoints, Dormify President Caren Sinclair-Kay revealed: How the retailer’s move into pop-up “Style Studios” near Chicago and Washington, D.C. increased year-over-year revenue in those markets 200% to 250%, well ahead of the national revenue boost; Why the retailer’s customer acquisition push starts in January; Why Instagram is the top social network for social media engagement; and How the retailer differentiates itself, via online offerings including a College Freshman Planning Guide, Style Quiz and a new AR experience.

Absenteeism Impact: 31% Of Retailers Are Understaffed For Half Of Peak Sales Periods

Absenteeism is running rampant in retail: 31% of global retailers said they are understaffed during periods of peak workload at least half the time, and 67% are understaffed at least 25% of the time, according to a survey by Kronos. Additionally, 58% of retailers are challenged by the negative impact that unplanned absences have on staff productivity, 55% feel its effects on manager stress and 46% report taking a hit to team morale. Managing these issues can seriously hurt the bottom line: 88% of global retailers overschedule or add additional labor rather than risk being understaffed. While staffing at higher levels is a costly remedy, the alternative — not enough associates to help customers — often directly alienates shoppers. “We had 47% of employers say unplanned absenteeism affects customer satisfaction, and another 42% believe it impacts store revenue,” said Joyce Maroney, Executive Director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The impact of absenteeism goes beyond just a budget issue — it’s also an issue to the top-line revenue and the morale in the store.” One of the driving forces behind absenteeism is a lack of employee engagement: 52% of global retailers feel poor engagement…

Finding The Right Benefits And Engagement Strategies For Retail Workers

One of the biggest challenges retail employers face is finding relevant benefits solutions for their entire organization. With both employees behind the scenes working in corporate offices and front-line workers helping customers directly, retail businesses face unique challenges in finding benefits that make the biggest impact. As you evaluate your current benefits and plan for the years ahead, talking directly to employees about their unique needs and habits will help you make informed decisions about how to implement the most robust benefits plan.

Nurturing The Customer-Brand Relationship: Emotion Is Everything

It’s no secret that the consumer-brand relationship has changed, and continues to evolve. Consumers expect — and demand — more, particularly from the brands they’re loyal to. And in a competitive retail environment, it’s up to brands to deliver the kinds of experiences their customers expect. Across all platforms. This means it’s no longer enough to rely on products to attract and retain customers; in fact, the products brands produce and sell are rarely what define them anymore. Instead, it’s the experiences customers have with brands in-store, online, or through various marketing and communications channels that determine whether a consumer-brand relationship is healthy and profitable, or ultimately disposable.

Brandbox Gives E-Commerce Brands A Brick-And-Mortar Testing Ground

Real estate firm Macerich is best known for operating malls and shopping centers throughout the U.S., but now the company is taking a new approach to retailing: bridging “high-growth digitally native brands” with brick-and-mortar. The company launched BrandBox in November 2018, a concept designed to house e-Commerce brands in malls on a rotating basis, giving them the chance to operate storefronts at an affordable cost. Brandbox launched its first concept at Tysons Corner Center in Tysons, Va., and it includes: Flexible space and lease terms: A BrandBox store ranges from 500 to 2,500 square feet, and leases run six to 12 months; Support on design and buildout, staffing and technology through partnerships with companies including Bobby Redd, FITCH, Vitra, RetailNext and Boomtown; Store designs tailored to each brand; Social and experiential marketing designed to drive foot traffic and brand awareness both online and offline; Access to an analytics dashboard; and Educational content via Brandbox.com.

NRF2019: Ahold Will Deploy 500 Robots To Create More Spill-Proof Supermarkets

Ahold Delhaize has launched nearly 500 robots at its GIANT and Stop & Shop stores to patrol the aisles for spills and, eventually, out-of-stock items. The retailer discussed the capabilities of these six-foot machines, which have been outfitted with googly eyes and nametags that read “Marty,” at a Jan. 14 NRF Big Show session, titled Why There A Robot In My Store?
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