Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.

It's a given that inventory planners are always wrong. I learned this lesson early in my inventory planning career at Lands’ End many years ago. It was understood by the inventory staff that there would be mention at the end-of-year company meeting that inventory negatively affected results. The message was either, "demand was great, unfortunately, we were unable to capture all the sales due to shortage of inventory" or "sales were good, but unfortunately, gross margin suffered due to markdowns to liquidate excess inventory."

Before jumping to the conclusion that social media and e-commerce have left the mall deserted, it's important to think about what you can leverage from social media listening and interaction. What should retailers and brands be thinking about in order to capitalize on their physical store investments?

In the final stretch of the holiday season, big retailers are battling for the attention of the social shopper. This year, social engagement for the retail industry increased an average 96%, trending slightly lower than the average 110% growth for all U.S. brands. However, not all platforms are created equal when it comes to the social shopper: Facebook has declined by 25% across all retail brands, Twitter has spiked by 291%, and Instagram has grown by 190%.

In an interview with Retail Online Integration yesterday at the National Retail Federation's Big Show in New York City, Charlie Larkin, senior director of the GameStop Technology Institute (GTI), discussed why the retailer believes technology and innovation are critical to its future, as well as some of the cool new things GameStop is doing to connect the digital and physical worlds in its stores.  

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?

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