Fast Company Looks at Retail

| December 6, 2017

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Keeping customers coming through the doors is a challenge for stores large and small. According to a post-Black Friday Associated Press article, a JC Penney branch in NJ “was trying to make shopping in person more exciting with a DJ in the store.” The accompanying photo implies that this attempt may not have been a rousing success.

Spotlight

The Children's Place

The Children’s Place is the largest pure-play children’s specialty apparel retailer in North America. The Company designs, contracts to manufacture, sells and licenses to sell fashionable, high-quality merchandise at value prices. As of January 28, 2017, the Company operated 1,039 stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, an online store at www.childrensplace.com, and had 150 international points of distribution open and operated by its 6 franchise partners in 17 countries.

OTHER ARTICLES

We Have No Idea What We’re Doing

Article | December 15, 2020

Prior to the pandemic and quarantine, less than 8% of commerce was online. As of Q3FY20 eCommerce grew north of 14% of all commerce. So while the Retailpocalypse was in its last phase, physical retail still outsold eCommerce by at least 7:1. The failure rate of crowdfunding campaigns is 85%. The failure rate of eCommerce store owners ranges from 80 to 97%. What if there were a way to bridge the gap between these three failure rates? What if we could bridge what people consume online with what they purchase offline before waiting for brain-computer interfaces (BCI)? In short what if we could bridge social and commerce? (Example use case.) Mostly missing are the memorable, meaningful, measurable and monetizable responses from people interested in stories about beagles, princesses and pitbulls, pets, car repair, raspberry blueberry vinaigrette gyros, budget-saving techniques for holiday travel, getting stuck at airports in blizzards, rental cars and Cup o’ Noodles, My Fair Lady and @Instacart, dining out at the delicious Banana Leaves café, cooking kosher halal gelatin-free, blue #1 artificial dye-free egg nog flavored marshmallows, 50th anniversaries and chocolate ganache, adventures camping with youth groups, birdhouses built by kids, rainbow hair dye, artificial dye-free cakes DIY for your child’s birthday party, and Halloween gingerbread houses and Greek Mount Olympus costumes. Other than ad revenue Youtube collects which most of it’s video posters see little of, monetizing the DIY craze has proven quite tricky. Ditto for Christmas shopping, smartphone accessories, buying a new luxury Subaru online with no salesman, how to get hard to find contact lenses and vitamins for kids, how Amazon often has thrift store prices on inventory thrift stores rarely carry, the challenges of buying clothes on Amazon that don’t fit but you don’t realize that until the clothes arrive, DIY car repair, funny car repair, glorious victory of car repair, diaper cakes and muscle aches, drones and honey scones, Triple A baseball and blue-tailed skinks, favorite foods, fasting, and Boston, fused vertebrae and buried treasure, where to buy school supplies when most stores are sold out, creameries and charcuterie, Bridging social media with eCommerce has been the white rhino of many investors and start-ups for many years. Instead of working toward such solutions, we have VC’s and stockholders asking about vanity metrics: - How many people looked at your website? Instead of: How many people subscribed or how many purchased an item?- - How many downloads per month does your app have? Instead of: How many of the people who downloaded your app have note removed it less than 30 days later? - What’s your ad revenue? Instead of: How can your product capture or create more value? In reply entrepreneurs answer these questions, they often present their increased spend on marketing followed up with vanity milestones: “We’re using Google Analytics and similar providers to track every movement of the supply chain, to ensure when the purchaser’s journey is completed, there’s no delay in delivery. This will lead to more frequent purchases ideally of higher priced products, and… We are pitching to Chipotle on Friday!” This leads to concentrated research on Chipotle’s SWAT, followed up with an excellent pitch including a demo via Zoom. The result of this pitch is usually: 1. The person loved the pitch and accepts your invitation to meet again with his/her manager next week. 2. The person you pitched to is not the decision-maker 3. The person you pitched to doesn’t quite understand what you’re pitching 4. The person you pitched to had 3 other projects due by COB and wasn’t fully present and listening to your 10-minute pitch 5. You provided too many facts too quickly, trying to build rapport 6. You shared how you’re product can reduce shrink, increase ROI, decrease costs, increase retention, and cure cancer. The person you pitched to doesn’t believe all those promises. 7. The person you pitched to is afraid of advocating change; the risk from change that results in lesser results can lead to negative repercussions. The risk of “business as usual” is minimal. Forgotten by almost all eCommerce platforms and store owners are the facts that: - People behave differently when they are observed (best behavior vs. average behavior). Despite this, we are seeing an incredible number of start-ups that offer to help track everything your customers do. “We’re Palantir for eCommerce” is essentially the ethos of these companies. - The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwarz – too many choices overwhelm the person making the choice, to the point that no decision is made. If you don’t train your mind to buy what you want even if you have to look on pages other than Amazon and Google Shopping, you might end up buying the product you almost wanted. - The concept of incentivized virality – when PayPal gave $20 to each person who referred another person who joined, and when DropBox offered free data storage to people who referred friends who joined – which Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh brilliantly detailed in Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies. So now each eCommerce platform tries to copy Amazon who built their model on the opposite of physical retail. Consider your last experience renting a car at an airport vs. Amazon: - Do you want to refill the gas tank or would you like us to? - Would you like liability only or more comprehensive types of insurance coverage? - Would you like a GPS? - Would you like to join our exclusive members club? etc., etc. Adding to what @ElevateDemand said, “ B2B marketing is broken,” Raj De Datta, CEO and cofounder of @Bloomreach said, “The future of B2C marketing looks like B2B marketing,” Kevin Marasco, CMO of @Zenefits correctly said “marketing is going back in time from B2B to B2C” or person to person. Smart speakers in every phone, tablet, laptop PC, TV, and car succeeded by BCI, which @Facebook and @Neuralink are pioneering, hold great potential. Until those products arrive or after their R&D phase, @Homemaide’s object recognition and image recognition models can provide the sorely needed bridge between Social and Commerce.

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Next website overwhelmed after re-opening online trading

Article | April 14, 2020

Next returned to selling clothes online this morning after the fashion retailer put extra safety measures in place to ensure warehouse staff can work safely during the pandemic. However, by 9am the website had closed again, with the high street giant saying it had already received all the orders it could process for the day – but it would return tomorrow. Next had initially closed its online operations in late March amid the coronavirus crisis, in response to criticism from staff who felt unsafe at work.

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How field research can help retailers reach untapped sales opportunities

Article | April 20, 2020

When you think of field research, you might think of an archeologist bent over a dig site investigating civilizations from the past, excavating the terrain and sifting out important artifacts. In marketing, field research is also about the study of the human experience and uncovering those important pieces of knowledge — but as they pertain to your business. Field research can give you insights into your customers' pain points, what they need to solve their problems, their thoughts on how your product helps or even what where they feel your services might be improved.

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What the coronavirus means for DTC brands

Article | April 2, 2020

In the past several weeks, over 100 retailers both legacy and DTC have temporarily shuttered their doors or reduced hours to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. For digitally native brands, which operate few stores relative to more traditional players, the move to operating exclusively online, in theory, should have come with little disruption to business. But that hasn't been the case. Online spending at ThirdLove during the week of March 16 fell 39% week over week, while Poshmark fell 30% and StitchFix fell 9% during that same period, according to Edison Trends data shared with Retail Dive. As a whole, direct-to-consumer brand week-over-week spending fell 7% on average between March 2 and March 22. Comparatively, the average week-over-week increase for these brands from Jan. 6 to March 1 was 1%, according to the data.

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Spotlight

The Children's Place

The Children’s Place is the largest pure-play children’s specialty apparel retailer in North America. The Company designs, contracts to manufacture, sells and licenses to sell fashionable, high-quality merchandise at value prices. As of January 28, 2017, the Company operated 1,039 stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, an online store at www.childrensplace.com, and had 150 international points of distribution open and operated by its 6 franchise partners in 17 countries.

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