Blogs

A Look at How to Drive Shopper Engagement Via Digital Technology

It's official: Digital technology has permanently altered the retail landscape. To examine why and how, Synchrony Financial took a deep dive into this reality with its current report, "Driving Shopper Engagement Through Digital Technology," which includes data from the 2016 Synchrony Financial Digital Study. The study, which gathered insights on mobile adoption and digital usage,…

Managing Carrier Rate Uncertainty

Parcel carriers are increasing their rates again. Unfortunately, that’s not surprising to most of us in the e-commerce industry. Over the past few years, retailers have been forced to deal with near-annual rate increases from UPS, FedEx and USPS. However, even small rate increases can translate into thousands of dollars in additional expenses that jeopardize…

Increase Margins With Predictive Localized Analytics

As I go through the discovery process with prospective SPI customers, there's a moment in almost every engagement when one of the planners or allocators shows their current multitab, multidimension, multipivot table, holographic (OK, I exaggerated on the last point) homegrown Excel spreadsheet. It always impresses. I'm genuinely in awe of the complex usage of…

Other Staff Bloggers
Technology

It's official: Digital technology has permanently altered the retail landscape. To examine why and how, Synchrony Financial took a deep dive into this reality with its current report, "Driving Shopper Engagement Through Digital Technology," which includes data from the 2016 Synchrony Financial Digital Study. The study, which gathered insights on mobile adoption and digital usage,…

I recently moved into a new house and was doing the requisite purging of years of accumulated stuff, including a few boxes of old work files. One of the dusty files was a project related to developing a vendor performance scorecard when I worked at Lands’ End around 20 years ago. At the time, we felt…

I recently received a really interesting whitepaper titled "The Top 10 Retail Trends For 2016" from Synchrony Financial that included a list of the top 10 technology, marketing and consumer trends that Synchrony predicts will have an impact on retail sales in 2016. Here are five of the key trends highlighted. Are any of them affecting…

Operations & Fulfillment

Parcel carriers are increasing their rates again. Unfortunately, that’s not surprising to most of us in the e-commerce industry. Over the past few years, retailers have been forced to deal with near-annual rate increases from UPS, FedEx and USPS. However, even small rate increases can translate into thousands of dollars in additional expenses that jeopardize…

In a somewhat surprising move to industry analysts, FedEx has announced shipping rate and surcharge changes for 2017 that do not match those announced Sept. 1 by rival UPS. FedEx Express, FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight, subsidiaries of FedEx Corp., will increase shipping rates effective Jan. 2, 2017 as follows: FedEx Express will increase shipping…

This is a guest post by Gordon Glazer, director of modal optimization and affiliate strategies at Shipware, a parcel audit and consulting firm. In the interest of full disclosure, Gordon recently took a small short position on Stamps.com after the two reports mentioned were published. Also, Shipware provides access to discounted postage pricing through one…

Marketing

As I go through the discovery process with prospective SPI customers, there's a moment in almost every engagement when one of the planners or allocators shows their current multitab, multidimension, multipivot table, holographic (OK, I exaggerated on the last point) homegrown Excel spreadsheet. It always impresses. I'm genuinely in awe of the complex usage of…

Don’t you just love it when Apple releases a new product. It brings out the haters. The iPhone 7 release last week was no exception.

With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your holiday strategy. A successful holiday shopping season doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, planning and a strategy that allows you to deliver the same high-quality customer experiences that shoppers enjoy throughout the year. During November and December, many retailers enjoy a healthy…

Omnichannel

It’s been a rough year for retail. The department store model has derailed into irrelevance, traditional brick-and-mortar stores have had to make massive investments in e-commerce, and customers’ needs have continued to change at breakneck speed. Despite some surprising (and some not so surprising) developments across the industry, the majority of retailers are looking forward…

Retailers today have to differentiate themselves with experiential products and services, since most can no longer win on price. This was the key message delivered by Ron Boire, CEO of Barnes & Noble (B&N), during a fireside chat with James Green, CEO of Magnetic, during a session at eTail West yesterday. During the chat, Boire…

A highlight of my year is the annual Direct Tech (now SPI) User Conference. (SPI acquired Direct Tech earlier this year.) This event brings together SPI clients for three days to network with their peers, learn more about SPI software applications and services, and discuss best practices related to merchandise and inventory planning. This year’s…

Management

As you've probably heard by now, President Obama announced the Department of Labor’s final rule updating the overtime regulations for middle-class workers yesterday. While the White House said the ruling is expected to boost wages for workers by $12 billion over the next 10 years, it's not going over well with many business associations, including the…

The National Retail Federation (NRF) today released a study authored by a University of Georgia economist who found that retail jobs pay wages that are highly competitive with those in other industries. The NRF's report, Wages in the Retail Industry: Getting the Facts Straight, is part of its Retail Jobs Week, an initiative from the trade association to educate Washington lawmakers about the value retail jobs deliver for millions of workers and the economy as a whole.

I'm at the Shop.org Annual Summit in Seattle and having a great time catching up with old friends and colleagues, meeting new contacts, and learning about new digital marketing strategies and technologies. Also, as usual, as I walk through the exhibit hall I'm being greeted by smiling vendors, eager to share with me information about their latest and greatest shiny new objects. For the most part, I actually enjoy talking with vendors and learning about their wares. But I have noticed many folks — retailers, probably — with their badges turned the other way or tucked into their jackets, and I know why: they don’t want to be singled out and aggressively sold to by vendors.

E-Commerce

There’s been a lot going on lately at Bluefly, the online seller of women's, men's and children's apparel and accessories, home furnishings and décor and beauty items from both high-end niche as well as up-and-coming brands. Earlier this spring, for example, Bluefly unveiled a new look, including a site redesign, new logo, new branding, and…

One thing retailers can count on in January is innovation. Each year, retailers across the globe gather for Retail’s BIG Show hosted by the National Retail Federation (NRF). This year’s event covered the usual topics, such as payment technologies and improving the customer experience, but also demonstrated that there’s a big shift affecting the retail…

Customer Service

Influencer marketing isn't new; using celebrities to sell products is an age-old practice. However, a new type of influencer marketing — using regular customers as brand spokespeople — is on the rise. Highlighted in a National Retail Federation (NRF) article, “Customers Are the New Celebrities,” this trend of curating a group of select social media…

While Facebook's users are getting their first taste of the new "Reactions" emojis that recently rolled out, marketers are already working to better understand the impact they will have on their social media efforts. Facebook Reactions, in case you missed it, are a collection of six emoji that can be clicked on all posts and…

Six hundred billion dollars. That’s what advertisers are set to spend worldwide in 2015. Social media powerhouses Facebook and Twitter have rolled out new ways to target consumers through advertisements. But is the return on investment there for the companies that are fronting the bill? According to Gallup, 62 percent of consumers say that social…

Brick-and-Mortar

I’ve just returned from the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York City, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to give those of you who didn’t make it to the show some of the major takeaways I have after spending two days wandering the vast Jacob Javits Convention Center. So without…

With this being the last issue of Total Retail Report of 2015 (it returns on Mon., Jan. 4), we thought it would be a good time to put together a list of our most popular content of the year. This content is ranked in order based on the number of page views. Our best wishes…

It’s not April Fool’s Day! Just before the holidays, Lowe's really is introducing two robotic shopping assistants at one of its Orchard Supply Hardware stores in San Jose, Calif. According to a press release from the home improvement retailer, the autonomous robots — called OSHbots — were developed by Fellow Robots, a technology company that specializes in the design and development of autonomous service robots, in partnership with Lowe's own Innovation Labs.

Mobile

What follows is a list of the Total Retail content in 2015 that generated the most reader comments. You’ll see that our readers are highly engaged when it comes to content on shipping rates — who isn’t when it has such an impact on your bottom line — social media marketing, payment options and cooperative…

If you’re a skeptic like me, all of the talk of beacons in retail stores sounds a little too pie-in-the-sky. Beacons, as you probably know by now, are devices that communicate with shoppers’ smartphones in the hopes of improving their in-store shopping experiences. When placed in-store, beacons use Bluetooth technology to detect nearby smartphones and send them ads, coupons or supplementary product information.

In an effort to make it simpler for consumers to simultaneously browse its print catalog and research and buy from their mobile devices, Sharper Image embedded a “Buy  Now” capability into its holiday preview catalog. The catalog is chock-full of electronic, recreation, fitness and travel products, and was sent to 4 million households and businesses on Nov. 4.

Catalog

There are plenty of Christmas catalogs in the mail this year — some great, some just OK, some forgettable. Here are my faves for 2015: The Folio Society "Christmas 2015 Collection" An impressive package in a large envelope with letter, three inserts and two catalogs (one just of children’s gift books). This high-end U.K. book…

PATIENT: “Doc, we do tests, but I don't feel that we learn much from them. What are we doing wrong? What should we change?” CATALOG DOCTOR: "Try building your tests differently to get clearer, more actionable results. Here are some tips for what to do, and what not to do.” Optimizing an Offer Test The goal:…

PATIENT: “Doc, I really need to cut catalog program costs again, but without impacting sales. We've already done the standard things like lighter paper, fewer pages, operational efficiencies, and so on. What's left?” CATALOG DOCTOR: “You've done well so far. What's left isn't as easy as the standard cuts. Most require study and elbow grease.…

Merchandising

Consumers are getting comfy. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a shift in how consumers dress for both work and play. From casual tennis shoes and T-shirts at work to yoga pants at the local watering hole, fitness wear is moving beyond the gym and hitting the streets. According to NPD Group, "athleisure" clothing…

In case you haven't seen or heard the news yet, Urban Outfitters is embroiled in yet another controversy. The apparel retailer decided it was a good idea to sell a red-stained, seemingly blood-splattered "Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt" on its website. The university in Kent, Ohio was the site of a deadly confrontation between students protesting the Vietnam War and the Ohio National Guard. Four students were killed and nine others were wounded on a fateful day in May 1970. Yet Urban Outfitters thought it was wise to make light — and a few bucks, the sweatshirt sold for a mere $129 — of the situation.

Brands these days want their customers to know that there are real aficionados behind their product doors, dreaming, creating and delivering unique and carefully curated goods they hope will be spot on for their customers. Brands tout this as "By and For," as in created "by teachers for teachers," "by chefs for chefs" or "designed by fashionistas for fashionistas." These merchants and brand builders are full-time users of the products they bring to market. A brand's By and For strategy cannot be faked.