Short of palatable options, U.S. retailer Crate & Barrel made a strategic decision in 2002 to adopt Building Information Modeling (BIM). The Illinois-headquartered firm hasn’t looked back. The organization, which doesn’t use prototype designs, currently has 22 BIM projects under its belt. Current projects take 40 per cent less time and cost 50 per cent less than pre-BIM projects. “BIM is allowing us to build through a challenging [economic] period.”
Macy’s has been serving up fashion advice via a series of “irreverent” celebrity-studded Web videos. The department store, which saw same store sales increase 3.7 percent in February, has tapped style gurus like Martha Stewart, Donald Trump, Clinton Kelly, and Rachel Roy to guide consumers through real life challenges — like what to wear when meeting your ex-boyfriend for coffee. The goal is to give consumers the confidence and style tips they need to “put it all together.” The effort stemmed from research that showed consumers wanted more than just “fashion advice from Macy’s.”
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is cutting prices on thousands of products in an aggressive campaign to reinforce its reputation as a discount leader, as the company seeks to reverse months of slowing U.S. sales. The world's largest retailer was a rare beneficiary of the economic downturn, as large numbers of bargain-hungry Americans, including many middle-class families, flocked to its supercenters from supermarkets and specialty clothing stores. Wal-Mart's sales at U.S. stores open a year or more have edged lower recently, while other retailers have started to see an uptick in consumers' discretionary spending. That suggests to some analysts that Wal-Mart is having trouble hanging on to middle-class shoppers.
As Charlotte Russe looks to reshape its brand after its sale last year to a private investment firm, the San Diego-based chain hopes to broaden its reach to a slightly older young female while remaining committed to its core demographic, the teen. Since being acquired last year by private equity firm Advent International Corp. for $380 million, the former publicly owned company is on a mission to sharpen its image by improving the quality of its merchandise as well as the styling, enhancing the in-store experience and offering customers increased affordability.
Overstock.com Inc. reported its first annual profit Wednesday, giving CEO Patrick Byrne a win in his personal crusade. The company's narrow 2009 gain of $7.7 million, Byrne said, proves that those who traded presuming Overstock's weaknesses were wrong and vindicates his tumultuous effort to position the company as a challenger to the Goliaths of internet retail.
eBay is expanding its mobile commerce strategy with recently launched iPhone applications and an iPad application. “We clearly see that people want to shop on the go – last year we saw $600 million in eBay merchandise volume come through mobile devices and we expect to more than double that this year with $1.5 billion,” said Steve Yankovich, vice president of mobile at eBay.
Consulting agency Morpace did a survey of about 1,000 online users, polling them on their habits when it comes to brands and product pages on Facebook. Based on the results, it would appear that consumers who become a fan of brand pages are actually more interested in sharing products they like with friends than they are in scoring rebates or special deals. Sixty-eight percent of respondents indicated that a positive recommendation on a product from one of their Facebook friends would influence their decision on whether to buy a product or not.
The Postal Regulatory Commission has approved the Postal Service’s request for a 2010 Summer Sale for Standard Mail. Mailers who entered at least 350,000 pieces of Standard Mail letters and flats July 1 through September 30, 2009 are eligible for the sale. Any eligible mailer that increases Standard letter and flat mail volume by more than five percent between July 1 through September 30, 2010 over the same period last year will receive a 30 percent discount on volume over the five percent increase threshold.
Few industries have been hurt as badly by the recession as retail, the front lines of the battlefield where businesses try to separate consumers from their money. In an industry that got overbuilt during flush times, the recession sent sales plunging, forcing chains to close stores. But there are exceptions — retailers that have found a strong competitive advantage.
As Forever 21 continues to rocket into the 21st century, competitors are undoubtedly trying to decode the fast-fashion chain's successful formula. Low prices? Trendy merchandise that cycles in and out of stores on a daily basis? Super-size stores modeled after the 86,000-square-foot location that recently opened in Cerritos? Forever 21 has all that, but the real secret weapon may be a couple of women who look as if they're barely out of high school. Linda Chang, 28, and her sister Esther, 23, the Ivy League-educated daughters of Forever 21's Korean American founders Don and Jin Sook Chang, seem to have the stylish eye and marketing savvy to take the $2-billion brand into the future and make it a competitor on a global level with European fast-fashion giants H&M, Mango and Zara.