“Closing stores starts a spiral that can’t be stopped,” posited Hudson Bay Company CEO Jerry Storch on stage at Shoptalk in Copenhagen this past Monday. The strategy for 2018 and beyond: Play to Win. Sure, like most retailers, HBC may have a few duds across their chain, but unlike many retailers, they aren’t just closing down stores. Instead, the company which owns the likes of Saks and Lord & Taylor is retooling and investing in underperforming stores, modifying the footprint and concept to better address the local market, and making technology investments that connect stores and online shoppers – driving value to an ever-more integrated set of channels. “Be great in stores and be great online,” according to Storch.
On Monday, the first ever ShopTalk Europe event kicks off in Copenhagen! Top retailers from not just Europe, the US, and around the world will head to the northern European city for this new version of the original, Vegas based event. Shoptalk Europe promises to be a fertile ground for innovators and disruptors looking to the future of retail and the discussions on customer experience, brick and mortar, ecommerce, mobility, logistics, and more.
A “New Retail” Mantra “Location, Location, Location” becomes “Local, Local, Local” in Today’s Age of Connected Consumers
Jack Ma hoists an enormous spider crab out of a pool of water in one of Alibaba’s growing fleet of Hema grocery stores in Shanghai. This is more than just a typical photo opportunity – the 13 Hema supermarkets represent Alibaba investment in “new retail.” The video of a tour of the store, reveals that Hema stores are taking huge leaps in data powered store experiences. Compared to Amazon’s convenience store concepts, Hema takes the connected store experience to a new scale – customers are fully connected to hundreds of thousands of grocery products, including a constantly revolving assortment of fresh produce, meats, and fish. You can shop in store and pick up your items or have them delivered locally within a nearby radius of the store - Hema employees pick, pack, and deliver your order right to your door.
Today, the digital sphere rules Gen-Z and Millennial interactions more than ever. From tagging a store with an Instagram post to sharing a new purchase via Snapchat, the technologically-involved customer base has its methods of subconscious peer-to-peer store marketing. Branded ads, posts, and interactions are just parts of the puzzle of winning over younger shoppers— using the right apps and social media platforms for the desired audience can make all the difference. With Gen-Zs alone possessing $44 billion in buying power, it’s essential that stores make the right moves when targeting these digitally-connected customers.
This week Apple announced two new devices, and with them iOS 11, and Apple’s ARKit. ARKit was announced at WWDC and there have been some cool demos circulating this summer utilizing ARKit, most notably this remake of A-ha’s “Take on Me” (which is definitely worth checking out!) However, this was the first time we could see some compelling demos of the technology on the iPhone. During the demo of the iPhone 8 we saw some other great demos of technology for gaming, a ‘night sky’ constellation map, as well as, a major league baseball game where a spectator in the stands could access information and stats about players on base, just by viewing the field through their phone.
98% of Generation Z are walking into stores on a regular basis according to a study by IBM, and greater than 60% actually prefer shopping in store according to Accenture. That’s higher compared to the older Millennial cohort.
It has been an interesting couple of weeks for retail. While earnings reports for traditional mall retailers, perhaps not surprisingly slumped. A slew of other retailers, notably those who have been investing in integrated store experiences and embracing innovation like Nordstrom, reported positive earnings and actual growth in same store growth. Other retailers continue to tweak their current foot print allocations and invest in technology also reported positive numbers. Those included Williams-Sonoma, Abercrombie & Fitch, PVH, Dollar Tree, Burlington Stores, Guess and PVH. This forced Wall Street to admit that perhaps the current doom and gloom retail outlook is not nearly as bad as it may seem.
Last week, I wrote about an emerging trend- retailers who are creating unique social experiences on their websites that engage shoppers, increase dwell time and return visits, provide new layers of social proof, and ultimately drive sales and conversion. Amazon has been leading the charge with their new “Spark” program a social experience built on top of their ecommerce site. Other retailers have integrated social aspects to their ecommerce experiences utilizing customer-generated tags, ‘likes’ and other social inputs.
There is no denying that Social Media dominates the digital attention of today’s customers- 81% of Americans visit some form of social media daily. This captive audience presents a tremendous opportunity to turn ‘like’ moments into ‘buy’ moments. As a result, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter have all rolled out some form of buyable posts, pins, grams, and various other shopping opportunities directly in user’s social feeds. While Facebook and Instagram appear to be having some success in this realm, Pinterest has struggled with their shopping platform and Twitter outright abandoned their efforts. Social shopping presents a unique challenge in striking the right balance of social and shopping to make the experience feel natural.
There is no denying the dominance Amazon has exerted in the retail world. When it comes to convenience Amazon reigns supreme. Their annual Prime Day set new records for traffic and sales. Much of these sales were driven by sales of Amazon brands, especially in the technology category.
Recently Amazon has greatly expanded their efforts on brand creation especially into the apparel space. While their electronics and CPG brands have been widely successful the jury is still out on whether customers will embrace these Amazon apparel brands.