Macy’s Rolls Out Store-to-Door Program to 290 Locations


Following a successful 23-store launch, Macy’s will expand its Store-to-Door program throughout 290 store locations by the fall, according to a recent call with financial analysts. This program allows the company to be able to ship from a different store to the customer directly if an item is not in-stock.

“We are also forging ahead with experiments and innovations within our omni-channel strategy to serve customer needs in-store, online and via mobile,” said Karen Houget, Macy’s chief financial officer. “Not only is this driving sales, but it is also beginning to help us improve the management and velocity of our inventory.”

Macy’s anticipates new opportunities for growth through the expansion of the Store-to-Door program. Additional opportunities include methods to avoid taking a markdown on slow moving items in one store, which can now be shipped to customers making the purchase from a different store. The program also has a feature to automatically prioritize the closest shipping distance to the customer.

A key factor of the Store-to-Door program is the ability to see where the goods are selling the slowest and allow each store to be stocked according to demand. These elements of the program are designed to help Macy’s reduce the markdown rate of slow moving merchandise.

[via RISnews]

Walgreens Concept Store, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Retail Localization

Walgreens plans large Downtown Crossing store

Walgreens Concept Store, Downtown Crossing, Boston, Retail Localization

Fresh hand-rolled sushi. A juice bar with made-to-order smoothies. A hair and nail salon.

It’s certainly not a typical drugstore. But these are among the amenities that Walgreens will offer in the former Borders space when it debuts a 24,000-square-foot store this fall in Downtown Crossing.

The Illinois drugstore chain will model the Boston location after two it recently opened in New York City and Chicago.

These massive emporiums feature sushi stations with chefs, juice markets with smoothies, eyebrow grooming bars, expanded natural and organic sections containing fresh fruits, vegetables, wraps, sandwiches, and salads made daily. The upscale shops also offer more traditional goods, such as prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and household products.


Nordstrom, E-Commerce, Retail Localization

Nordstrom to spend $1B to grow e-commerce

Nordstrom, E-Commerce, Retail Localization

Nordstrom’s online sales are exploding, and the company is investing $1 billion over the next five years to support its e-commerce infrastructure, according to a story on

Nordstrom will add about 400 e-commerce employees to its direct business and flash-sale retailer HauteLook. Nordstrom CFO Michael Koppel told Wall Street analysts that sales for HauteLook grew nearly 60 percent for the year ended January 28. Direct sales increased about 30 percent, while total sales increased 12.8 percent to $10.50 billion from $9.31 billion in 2010.

Same-store sales grew 7.2 percent year on year. Direct sales accounted for about 8.7 percent of total sales compared with 7.6 percent in 2010. In the last quarter, direct sales increased about 35 percent.

“In 2012, we plan to spend over $140 million in e-commerce, representing approximately 30 percent of our capital expenditures, compared to a spend of almost $100 million or approximately 20 percent last year,” Koppel told analysts on the company’s recent year-end earnings call.


Mobile Less Popular Way to Buy Than in Store, Researchers Say

Research released today reveals that only a limited number of shoppers are using mobile technologies to buy their goods, despite ongoing investments in a multi-channel approach from retailers.

Shoppercentric, an independent agency specialising in shopper research, has released a report entitled ‘Shopping in a Multichannel World’ that highlights how only 13 percent of consumers used their smartphone to purchase goods in the past month, and only 7 percent used a tablet.

According to Shoppercentric, 45 percent of all consumers now own a smartphone, and 14 percent own a tablet.

Consumers with smartphones cited a number of reasons as to why they choose to shop in store, rather than through a mobile application or site; 51 percent said they could not experience products effectively, 46 percent blamed poor network coverage and only 29 percent felt it was secure.

Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric, suggested retailers need to invest in ensuring mobile applications can be demonstrably secure, so that consumers can feel as confident shopping on their smartphone as they do on the internet.

“It’s the idea of sharing information about yourself that could be used for other purposes that raises a question mark in people’s minds about how secure these access points are,” said Pinnington.

“They are feeling pretty comfortable with online now, as they know when they pay for things they will get security questions coming through. But they are not seeing this level of security when shopping on smartphones using mobile applications,” she added.

“There is an opportunity here for retailers to implement processes to make people feel comfortable with mobile security going forward”.

The Shoppercentric research also highlights that although mobile shopping amongst consumers is low, shopping online is popular, with 55 percent of respondents indicating that they had used this channel in the past month.

This indicates that although in-store shopping is still the most popular, consumers are looking to other channels, and Pinnington argues that retailers need to integrate the management of these channels to ensure success.

“The key point is that shoppers are becoming very adept at picking and choosing the channel that suits them under particular circumstances. Yet retailers and brands have tended to compartmentalise – thinking of shoppers who shop versus shoppers who go online. They’ve even structured themselves so that the shops are managed by one team and the online by another – very few have successfully merged the two,” said Pinnington.

“Our data shows that a huge amount of overlap between channels exists – shoppers don’t assign individual roles to individual channels. Shoppers don’t want them as separate teams, they want them as one seamless team working for them. They just want to approach that team from different angles,” she added.

“There would be one overall team – ‘the retailer’ – and then they would manage different disciplines within that. Running a store is different from running an online retail channel, but they need to be under the same umbrella and aiming towards the same thing”.

[via PC World]

Shopper Marketing, Retail Needs a Reboot

3 Factors Driving a Retail Reboot

“Customers will not pay literally a penny more than the true value of the product” — Ron Johnson, former senior vice president, Apple Retail, and J. C. Penney’s new CEO

Profit margins of Wal-Mart, Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Home Depot and Apple over the past decade.

While some may view the wholesale destruction of numerous brick-and-mortar segments as inevitable, we all have a vested interest in seeing the retail industry reboot itself for the modern age. Because as Main Street goes, so does America.

This is no mere platitude when you consider that 13.3 percent of all jobs in the U.S. are in retail (that’s 14.7 million jobs in all, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), and retail is deeply tied to consumer spending, the same spending bracket that accounts for two-thirds of the U.S. economy. This doesn’t even factor in the natural synergy between our domestic manufacturing base and Main Street retail as a sales channel for that base.

To say that our society and the American economy have undergone a prolonged period of disruption and change is an understatement. We are three-plus years removed from the onset of the Great Recession, a decade beyond the burst of the Internet bubble, and it’s almost five years since the rise of the iPhone, which signaled the true beginning of the always-on era.

In the big picture, the economic and technological shifts have created a discriminating consumer who is simply smarter about how they spend their dollar, both out of financial need and by virtue of having deep product and market intelligence at their fingertips.

Mobile ubiquity, in turn, has led to “showrooming,” where consumers use their nearby retailer as a personal testing ground to try before they buy — and as often as not, make a purchase on Amazon instead of at the retail store. And broadband is transforming entire categories of products (music, video, books) that were once exclusively analog to digital, and boundary-less.

Obviously, the game has permanently changed for brick-and-mortar retailers (see Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn’s recent letter), and companies must evolve to survive.

Shopper Marketing, Retail Needs a Reboot

Three routes to survival

I’d argue that offline retail stores have three primary paths to avoid extinction (note: my first career was in retail real estate asset management).

1. The first, and least appealing, is to compete on price. The hard truth is that in the age of the connected consumer, the real cost of a product is transparent. In the most commoditized of segments, this means that retailers have to live within Walmart (3.4 percent) or Amazon (less than 3 percent) profit margins, or they will die.

This is an incredibly challenging strategy to execute over the long-haul. Even at low-margin price points, consumers expect educated pre-sales service, functional post-sales support and seamless logistics from store to home.

2. The second path is to embrace a store-within-a-store model, where retailers focus on a few key product lines. With this approach, retailers and manufacturers work hand-in-hand to ensure that their products are meaningfully differentiated from the competition and that sales personnel are trained to articulate these differences.

Target is beginning to experiment with this via two different avenues. One is to work with Apple to create mini-Apple stores within Target locations, with a goal of tapping into everyday consumers who might not otherwise be looking for electronics. And under the name The Shops at Target, the company has partnered with specialty boutiques to co-create affordable, limited-edition collections.

3. The last path is to focus the totality of the business on creating products and experiences that are proprietary and unique. This, of course, is the Apple story. Apple focuses every fiber of its being on transformative solutions that blend design, development and distribution.

There are numerous innovation strategies that retailers can pursue on this path. For example, creative marketplaces like Kickstarter and Etsy could evolve into R & D farms for retailers. The upstarts get symbiotic funding, incubation, distribution and joint marketing, and the retailer gets exclusivity and a low-cost way to seed R & D.

Retailers can also build brand loyalty by retooling their manufacturing processes so that consumers can participate in product creation. Nike is doing some amazing things with their Nike ID system, which helps people design their own custom shoes and updates customers as their shoes are being made.

By perennially thinking beyond conventional wisdom about product categories and logistical boundaries, Nike has grown its stake of consumer mindshare, and it’s done so profitably through differentiation.

Applying this same ethos, retailers can optimize their entire supply-chain to achieve real-time agility within the markets they serve. With this approach, companies produce smaller lot sizes, tailor their inventory to suit local geographies and change inventory as rapidly as tastes change.

This strategy has served fashion retailer Zara extremely well. Zara’s “fast fashion” model has been a game-changer for the company, enabling new designs to move from the catwalk to its stores in two weeks (the industry average is four to six months). This helps Zara stay in sync with the latest fashion trends, and the new designs create a sense of exclusivity. The net effect is that 85 percent of their clothes sell at full-retail price, and the company now sees dramatically higher return visits by customers.

The critical point here is that each of these approaches goes way beyond platitudes about “delivering better customer service.” Instead, each path focuses on innovation, integration and extension to deliver a retail experience that is more than the sum of its parts.

[via GigaOm]

mobile commerce, retail localization

Report Predicts Future of Mobile Commerce

mobile commerce, retail localization

More than half of the U.S. smartphone population used their phone to perform retail research while inside a store in 2011, illustrating the emergence of savvy smartphone shoppers who bring online shopping behaviors in-store, according to ComScore’s report called 2012 Mobile Future in Focus. It found that at the end of 2011, nearly 1 in 5 smartphone users scanned product barcodes and nearly 1 in 8 compared prices on their phone while in a store.

The annual report examines the mobile and connected device landscape, covering several mobile markets measured by comScore, through an exploration of key trends driving smartphone adoption growth, mobile media usage in categories such as social networking and retail, mobile ecosystem dynamics, and shifts in multi-device digital media consumption in 2011, according to a company press release. The report highlights insights primarily from mobile markets in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada.

“As the industry continues to innovate and more consumers look to multiple devices and platforms to consume digital media, we expect the mobile and connected device landscape to be shaken up even further in 2012,” said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile.

“As mobile channels present a more personal, social, and ubiquitous experience to consumers, advertisers and publishers have an opportunity to better engage target audiences, given an understanding of how to connect and leverage the unique characteristics of these emerging platforms,” Donovan said.


Study Shows 29 Percent of Smartphone Owners Use their Phones as Shopping Companions

Nielsen Smartphone Study

A Nielsen study finds thats smartphone owners are using their devices to help make purchases more than ever, with 29 percent of all owners taking advantage of retail-related apps.

A new study from Nielsen’s upcoming United States Digital Consumer Report states that 29 percent of all smartphone users utilize their mobile devices to aid in shopping-related activities, whether online or in stores. Are we surprised the numbers seem relatively low even though numerous apps have been created to help consumers do everything from compare prices, scan barcodes and read product reviews with just a tap and a swipe of a finger?

The report finds that smartphone owners use their phones for price comparison the most, with 38 percent checking prices online while they are browsing items in stores. This method makes sense, as online prices tend to be a bit cheaper if you don’t mind waiting for the item to arrive via mail. Shoppers also seem to prefer ordering items online after they have inspected the product in person to see what they should be anticipating, or if it’s even worth buying. The ability to test items out in stores is something apps cannot replicate despite the many videos and photo gallery previews.

Smartphone owners also like to window shop on their phones, as the study also finds 38 percent of users are highly likely to browse products on mobile apps and official online shops. And when they might be serious about purchasing something, 32 percent of smartphone owners prefer to read consumer reviews online before making the final decision. Compared to last year, retail apps have also doubled in downloads as the smartphone lifestyle become more standardized. Do these numbers contribute to mobile apps helping shoppers be more conscious about their purchases, or are the apps just making people more of an impulsive shopper since they target the mobile market? After all, the apps are made to be used on the go though one can certainly sit down and browse on the palms of their hands at home instead of on a more bulky desktop or laptop.

The least popular option of using smartphones to shop is actually paying for products with the phone. The study cites that only 18 percent of iOS and 13 percent of Android users are interested in using their phones as credit cards. It comes as no surprise, as the recent Google Wallet hack likely made consumers vary of leaving their credit card and bank account informations stored inside their phones. This is more apparent with Android users since the hack appeared on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, with 33 percent of users showing absolutely no interest in such technological convenience.

Though we noted that the numbers of smartphone shoppers are lower than we thought, retailers should still be worried as the trend is likely to continue uphill the more consumers switch to the smartphone lifestyle. Pretty soon, stores might only become a showroom display of what people can buy seamlessly on the web, or at the very least, a last-minute gift shop for the procrastinating types.

[via DigitalTrends]

Ann Taylor, Concept Store, Boston Prudential Center, Retail Localization

Ann Taylor Opens Concept Store at Prudential Center

You’ve never met an Ann quite like this one. Ann Taylor has dressed professionally-minded women for generations, and now it’s her turn to spice up the game. Her design revolution comes from more than just partnerships with Hollywood’s leading ladies, like Demi Moore and Kate Hudson, but from the inside – namely, the stores. Such is the case with Ann Taylor’s concept store, opening Friday, April 6 at Boston’s Prudential Center.

Ann Taylor, Concept Store, Boston Prudential Center, Retail Localization

The talented American woman has been dressing with Ann since 1954, and much like the modern woman herself, this design legend has challenged today’s modern times; under Ann Taylor’s new Head of Design Lisa Axelson, today’s business-savvy confidant has begun to explore new design creations.

To liken today’s new garments with a street-savvy shopper, Ann Taylor is offering a store to match – that boasts of crystal chandeliers, tufted furniture, sleek feminine features and a brand new wardrobe. The concept store at Prudential Center, expected to open in April, will draw attention to both the clothing and the intricately designed space created with S. Russell Groves architects. The Prudential Center features a private lounge area for instant access to Ann Taylor’s website, where additional styles and sizes can be ordered in an instant.  

The new Ann Taylor concept store will draw attention to the powerful feminine who is attracted to rich fabrics, bold colors and statement pieces – everything that this legendary brand has been known to offer for decades. The store itself will now reflect this passion in store details, marking a cornerstone in the brand’s career, and ideally a modern equivalent to the buyer herself.

“The new Ann Taylor is chic and stylish with a more fashion forward direction to address the needs of today’s modern working women,” said Lisa Axelson, Head Designer and a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). “Our new concept stores are a reflection of our new fashion direction. They are light, modern, feminine, and designed to showcase the full Ann Taylor Collection while making our client feel comfortable and welcome.”

[via ExecDigital]

Nordstrom Point of Sale Technology, Retail Localization

Nordstrom Expands Mobile POS Functionality in Chain-wide Deployment

Nordstrom Point of Sale Technology, Retail Localization

Nordstrom has implemented mobile POS devices in all full-line stores and will continue to expand the functionality of those devices. Three quarters of traditional fixed POS capabilities can now be done on the mobile devices, helping to provide a better customer experience in terms of personalization and speed.

“We’ve got a number of different initiatives to improve the service we’re giving through mobile devices both in our stores and outside the store,” said Nordstrom EVP James Nordstrom, during a recent conference call. “We’re improving the speed and quality at which we can get merchandise to customers. A lot of tools and, frankly, the talent we need to be able to improve the service we’re giving through our online efforts are some of the things we’re investing in this year.”

The company continues to maintain focus on e-commerce and mobility, and with initiatives like free shipping, online shopping has improved greatly. Average order size, units per order, and cross-shopping across the website are also on the rise.

Overall, Nordstrom customers are spending more time in stores while the company broadens the customer experience with consistency across channels. A growing brand selection has proven beneficial, with top performers like handbags, designer and cosmetics.

[via RIS News]

Walmart Top US Brand, Shopper Marketing

Top 50 Retail Brands: Walmart Retains No. 1 Spot but Amazon Leads in Growth

By a wide margin, Walmart once again leads Interbrand’s Most Valuable U.S. Retail Brands list for 2012 – even though its total brand value declined by 2% during the past year to $139 billion. Target, Home Depot, CVS and Best Buy round out the Top 5 spots in this fourth annual ranking of U.S. retailers by their brand value.

Walmart Top US Brand, Shopper Marketing

The list reveals the continuing growth of e-commerce as a force in retail. Amazon’s brand value of $12.8 billion may be only a fraction of Walmart’s, but the online retailer achieved the largest percentage increase of any company on the list, soaring by 32%. Even with this impressive gain, Amazon didn’t move up in the rankings, retaining its number-nine spot for the second year running, but another online retailer, eBay, made its first appearance in the Top 10 this year.

The total brand value of this year’s Top 50 remains flat even though a number of retailers increased in value by impressive double digits, according to Interbrand Design Forum, which works with Interbrand to compile the list. The threshold for inclusion in the U.S. Top 50 is now $771 million.

Retail brands new to the list were Guess (#29), Buckle (#44), Abercrombie & Fitch (#45), Advance Auto Parts (#48) and Rent-A-Center (#50). Five brands on the 2011 list dropped off this year. Dell and Polo Ralph Lauren no longer meet Interbrand’s criteria for inclusion (generating at least 50% of revenues from sales through branded retail locations). The other three dropouts were Aeropostale, American Girl and Anthropologie, ranked #37, #49 and #50 respectively in 2011.

Following is the list of the Top 50 U.S. Retail Brands for 2012:

1. Walmart
2. Target
3. Home Depot
4. CVS
5. Best Buy
6. Walgreens
7. Coach
8. Sam’s Club
10. eBay
11. Nordstrom
12. Publix
13. Lowe’s
14. Dollar General
15. Costco
16. Kohl’s
17. Staples
18. Victoria’s Secret
19. Avon
20. Tiffany & Co.
21. AutoZone
22. Gap
23. GameStop
24. Bed Bath & Beyond
25. Old Navy
26. Sherwin-Williams
27. Michaels
28. Ross Dress for Less
29. Guess
30. Banana Republic
31. J. Crew
32. TJ Maxx
33. Marshall’s
34. PetSmart
35. Toys “R” Us
36. RadioShack
37. Dick’s Sporting Goods
38. Whole Foods
39. Dollar Tree
40. Bath & Body Works
41. Urban Outfitters
42. American Eagle Outfitters
43. Big Lots
44. Buckle
45. Abercrombie & Fitch
46. Tractor Supply
47. Family Dollar
48. Advance Auto Parts
49. Macy’s
50. Rent-A-Center

[via RIS News]