Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.

Buy online, pick up in-store capabilities are being rolled out to all of Kohl's nearly 1,200 stores this spring after a successful 100 store pilot program during the holidays. And that's just the beginning of the digital initiative the company has planned. The addition of pick up in-store to Kohl's omnichannel offering puts the retailer on equal footing with others in the industry that have recognized in-store pick up has quickly become a basic expectation shoppers have of retailers that operate physical stores. 

Email marketing is a very competitive field. Not only is your brand vying against direct competitors as well as other retailers for attention, you must also prove to mailbox providers that your content is desired by subscribers and should be placed in the inbox. To find out which brands are excelling in both inbox placement and subscriber engagement, Return Path compared the email programs of the top department stores and identified which brands stand out above the rest.

J.C. Penney will open its stores at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving in search of an edge over Macy's and Kohl's. J.C. Penney said on Monday it would open its stores for Black Friday shopping at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, an hour earlier than its closest competitors Macy's, Kohl's and Sears, and three hours earlier than it did last year, in the latest upping of the ante in the holiday sales wars. It's easy to see why Penney would want to gain an edge on its rivals in what promises to be a bruising, super-promotional holiday season.

For many years, Kohl's has struggled with its merchandise assortment. Until recently, management emphasized private labels like Sonoma and Croft & Barrow and Jumping Beans. Now Kohl's is moving away from private brands toward national brands like Nike, Adidas, Keds, Levi, Juicy Couture and Izod, Elie Tahari for DesigNation, Elle, Gloria Vanderbilt, Disney, Arrow, Dockers, Carters and many others. The emphasis on exclusive lines such as Vera Wang, Jennifer Lopez, Dana Buchman and others will continue. 

It's hard to believe we're less than a month away from Thanksgiving. Over the last few years, retailers have opened their stores earlier and earlier on Black Friday in order to cash in on the holiday shopping frenzy. So much so that Black Friday doorbuster sales have crept — uninvited — into our Thanksgiving dinners. Big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Toys"R"Us have gone on record as to how opening on Thanksgiving has increased their sales drastically. But honestly, how in the world did 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving turn into the new midnight for Black Friday sales?

Buying products from inside a video isn't a new concept — YouTube introduced a click-to-buy feature in January 2009 — but more online retailers are experimenting with interactive video sales as the interfaces improve and touchscreens become ubiquitous. Shoppable video is growing up. But without compelling statistics to back up its efficacy, it still has a ways to go. In the past year, 39 department stores produced and released at least one shoppable video, including Sears, Kohl's and Mr. Porter, according to business intelligence service L2. 

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