Blogs

Why Pulling Out of Amazon is the Smartest Decision for Your Brand

Nike announced last week that as part of the company’s focus on elevating consumer experiences through more direct, personal relationships, it will stop selling its merchandise directly to Amazon.com. Here’s why Nike made the right decision. Partnering with Amazon undoubtedly has benefits — namely, a built-in audience and speedy delivery options. However, it’s crucial to consider…

How Will Retailers Deal With the New Tariffs Heading Into Holiday 2019?

The retail industry is feeling the effects of 15 percent tariffs imposed on Sept. 1 on a wide range of consumer imports, and is bracing for the impact of their expansion to additional goods on Dec. 15. These tariffs cover a total of about $300 billion worth of imports from China. Increases on tariffs imposed…

What Evolving Online Consumer Expectations Mean for Retailers

In an effort to help brands and retailers stay on top of consumer mind-sets surrounding the evolving online shopping experience, Dotcom Distribution, a premier provider of B-to-C and B-to-B fulfillment and distribution services, conducts an annual e-commerce consumer survey. The 2019 study explores where brand decisions and consumer behaviors intersect, and how that affects purchase…

Other Staff Bloggers
E-Commerce

Nike announced last week that as part of the company’s focus on elevating consumer experiences through more direct, personal relationships, it will stop selling its merchandise directly to Amazon.com. Here’s why Nike made the right decision. Partnering with Amazon undoubtedly has benefits — namely, a built-in audience and speedy delivery options. However, it’s crucial to consider…

The retail industry is feeling the effects of 15 percent tariffs imposed on Sept. 1 on a wide range of consumer imports, and is bracing for the impact of their expansion to additional goods on Dec. 15. These tariffs cover a total of about $300 billion worth of imports from China. Increases on tariffs imposed…

Operations & Fulfillment

In an effort to help brands and retailers stay on top of consumer mind-sets surrounding the evolving online shopping experience, Dotcom Distribution, a premier provider of B-to-C and B-to-B fulfillment and distribution services, conducts an annual e-commerce consumer survey. The 2019 study explores where brand decisions and consumer behaviors intersect, and how that affects purchase…

I had the following email forwarded to me yesterday from a UPS Freight customer. And I have to say, I can’t believe UPS is doing this! The news starts at paragraph three … UPS Freight will not be picking up freight as the freight contract with the Teamsters gets close to the vote. Essentially, UPS will not be…

As most of the industry is aware, the most recent five-year UPS/Teamsters National Labor Agreement expired in July. However, the parties extended and have been operating under the same agreement as they negotiated a settlement. In July, UPS and the Teamsters announced they had reached a tentative “handshake” deal for both Freight (LTL) as well…

Marketing

What is the greatest coffee secret at Starbucks you never knew? Simple answer: a cup of coffee from its Clover machine. I will get to the sales and marketing point of this blog post in a moment. But first let’s talk about a subject most of us love: coffee! If you've never had a "Clover," you're…

The United States Postal Service is changing the way it charges for boxes shipped via Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express and other parcel shipping services. Currently, the Postal Service applies a dimensional divisor (DIM) of 194 for boxes that exceed one cubic foot in volume, and only for zones five and above. Effective June 23,…

The trade war with China has been cited as a primary cause of much of the recent economic volatility, from the stock market dive last fall to fluctuations in oil prices. While it's clear that tariffs are creating some level of instability as companies and investors try to guess what will happen next, many retailers…

Technology

The retail industry, like many others, is being disrupted and permanently changed by the ever-increasing capabilities and applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). As I wrote in my last post, we're just beginning to see the benefits of AI and ML implementations in the retail sector, but they've already helped forward-thinking companies…

With all the buzz about artificial intelligence (AI) these days, retailers are naturally asking, “Is AI for real, or is it just a passing fad?” Nearly every retail technology company is now slapping the “AI” moniker on their marketing materials, but which AI applications are really moving the needle for retailers? A Gartner report released…

Retail executives are too quick to dismiss the impact that pricing and new technologies are having on consumer purchase decisions.

Mobile

Despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, men are shopping both online and in-stores at higher rates than women. As discovered in First Insight’s latest consumer survey, The Rise of the New Male Power Shopper, men are bucking long-believed trends surrounding shopping habits. Men are more frequently shopping across all major channels both online and in-store,…

Each day, the world seems bigger, more diverse and moves much faster. Predicting the future — always a dubious proposition — seems like a fool’s errand in this climate, given the dizzying pace of disruption. But as Peter Drucker once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” For retailers, that…

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,…

Professional Development

I was excited to interview Tom Ebling last week, a true retail technology leader whose stint as CEO of Demandware from 2010-2016 included growing the software company into a $300 million public company that was acquired by Salesforce for $2.8 billion in 2016. Prior to Demandware, Ebling was the CEO of Lattice Engines, ProfitLogic and…

It’s not often that you get to hear from retail legends like Jim Sinegal, co-founder and director of Costco Wholesale Corp. That’s why I was so excited to attend his talk at SAP’s Retail Executive Forum, which was held in New York City earlier this month. And he didn't disappoint. Sinegal served as the CEO…

I’m excited to announce that this year Total Retail is a media partner for Retail East: The CPG & Retail Executive Summit. The event, which is returning to New York City for the fourth consecutive year on May 16, will be a great opportunity to network with retail and consumer products goods (CPG) professionals as they…

Omnichannel

Supposedly, Tori Spelling once said, “bad shopping habits die hard.” The "Beverly Hills 90210" actress was probably talking about her own shopping habits, but in a larger sense, Spelling, who helped personify consumerism in the 1990s, when the mall was king and Amazon.com was merely another dot-com, pretty much nailed today’s retail business, where bad habits…

The retail industry is facing an epidemic. As retailers continue to use markdowns to entice shoppers and drive traffic into stores, consumers are becoming increasingly price sensitive, leading them to expect sales at every turn. A recent study by First Insight took a deeper dive into the expectations of consumers, finding that 70 percent need…

It’s among the most frustrating parts of retailing: You built a strong assortment plan. Great product mix. Good margin. Customer response is better than you had hoped for. You're ready for an outstanding selling season. Yet the allocation process drops the ball. Too many large dresses in store A while the racks are empty in…

Customer Retention

I always love to learn about unique partnerships in the retail space, and I recently heard about one that involves two of my faves — food and jewelry — so I thought I’d share it with you. The partnership, which launched in June, is between online jewelry retailer BaubleBar and FoodKick by FreshDirect, an on-demand business…

Recently while I was in the mall, I saw the sign below in a storefront window. Marketers can drive revenue by making strong offers, either online or in this case at retail. I wouldn't consider this example to be a strong offer. Take a look. Can you tell me why? While the offer, “30% Off…

Merchandising

As consumers continue to seek convenience and instant gratification via mobile devices, retailers are challenged with thinking about new ways to generate customer interest and loyalty. To develop insights in these areas, Synchrony Financial recently tracked existing and emerging trends impacting both the retail and mobile payments space and published them in a new report. The report…

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…

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.

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.

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.…