Blurred Lines: Macy’s Approach to Omnichannel

In an effort to cut down on excess inventory and get products into their customers hands as fast as possible, no matter where they purchase it from, Macy’s is increasing their omnichannel efforts. According to, Macy’s is expanding to 500 fulfillment centers and can ship products from nearly two thirds of their retail stores.


From the article:

“If you want something at a store and they don’t have it, it’s a missed sales opportunity,” said Fitch Ratings analyst Monica Aggarwal. “Fulfillment departments are about maximizing revenue.”

The effort is pioneering the way department stores manage their inventory. Analysts say the strategy allows Macy’s to have it both ways: leveraging the appeal of in-store shopping with online efficiency. Macy’s is even bragging about its shipping savvy in TV ads that just started airing nationwide.

The effort also fattens Macy’s bottom line. Giving customers what they want where they want it is more profitable than trying to sell an unwanted item when the season is over.

The expansion of fulfillment departments – 200 new ones were added this summer – increases Macy’s efficiency in handling its merchandise. Proprietary software analyzes the location of an available item and orders it based on where it’s least likely to sell.

“This helps reduce markdowns – you want to sell everything at full price,” said Gilford Securities analyst Bernard Sosnick.

Dockers pop up store, manhattan, NYC, retail localization, shopper marketing

How does a pop-up store pop up?

In order to breath new life into a once veritable brand, Dockers is going after younger shoppers with their new line of clothing. According to the New York Times, their strategy was to leverage a pop-up store in New York City to launch.

Dockers pop up store, manhattan, NYC, retail localization, shopper marketing

The store was designed to feature Dockers’ new line of khakis that come in many new colors and styles. Not your khakis of the 90’s. The following is an excerpt of how that pop-up store came to be.

From the article:

The idea was to attract 18-to-34-year-old customers, said Adrienne Lofton Shaw, the chief marketing officer for Dockers, which is based in San Francisco. “In the past, 80 percent of the people who bought Dockers were 35 and older,” she said. “Now, it’s 50 percent who are over 35.”

Last October, Dockers hired MKG, which has offices in New York and Los Angeles and has done pop-up projects for clients like Delta Air Lines and the eyewear company Warby Parker.

This year, in March and April, MKG and Dockers outfitted an Airstream bus as a mobile Dockers store and sent it on tour, stopping in Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia for three weeks each. They partnered with GQ magazine to reach its readers, and hired local stylists to help customers get dressed. In Chicago, the bus brought in a barber; the haircuts were free.

The Dockers bus was advertised on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. In the three cities, Dockers gave away 750 pairs, to anyone who tried them on. Sales were not the goal, Mr. Goyal said. Exposure was.

Then it was time for New York. “For a style to penetrate, you have to be in New York,” Mr. Goyal said. “There’s no better way to get people to try them on than a pop-up store.”

Mr. Goyal started with location.

“SoHo has good foot traffic; it’s connected to the neighborhood, art, fashion, the New Museum,” he said. “You can’t have a pop-up in a B-list location. If you can’t find a grand-prize location, don’t do a pop-up.

“Never do Chelsea,” he went on. “Except for openings and Saturdays, no one is there.”

In-Store Campaign Compliance, Retail Localization, RBM Technologies

A Discussion on In-Store Communications and Campaign Compliance in Retail

Recently, Dr. Hugh Phillips, a cognitive psychologist who focuses on in-store communications, and Dan Wittner, EVP and COO at RBM Technologies, connected to discuss their mutual interest in campaign management/compliance and in-store communications, and share their thoughts on what the future holds for many big name retailers. Below is an overview of their conversation.

In-store marketing is a proven tactic to impress and interact with buyers in order to create loyal customers that will actively contribute to the bottom line over time. Over the last century, retailers and marketers have seen that in-store marketing has remained effective in the face of the decline of other traditional media such as print ads. The problem is that the way most retailers go about executing campaigns has not advanced to meet the needs of the stores they manage, leading to lost revenue and increased supply chain waste.

In-Store Campaign Compliance, Retail Localization, RBM Technologies

Wittner explains, “Most in-store marketing is being dictated by spreadsheets that are not specific enough to unique retail stores, generating confusion and too much “noise” on the store floor. Retailers know this is hurting them, and their campaign compliance levels are suffering as a result. Many are begging for tools to help them better manage their merchandising strategies and bring those levels up.”

The average compliance level of a retail store is around 29 percent, according to Dr. Phillips. What’s more, 80 percent of campaigns have no long-term effect on the store’s bottom line due to poor execution and competition from other retailers.

“You would be better served to cut your number of stores in half and double your compliance rate,” says Dr. Phillips. “Until you can effectively communicate merchandising objectives between headquarters, store managers and your sales staff, you will be hard pressed to increase revenue per square foot. It is best to keep in-store communications simple and to the point, and make sure they are implemented correctly before looking to expand your footprint.”

One way retailers can increase the percentage of campaigns that are properly executed is to invest in technology that allows them to better plan, unveil and report campaign compliance. This includes creating a streamlined communication system between corporate headquarters and individual stores to ensure merchandise makes it onto the right fixture, at the right time.

“The main reason many retailers have not yet deployed new technologies across their network of stores is because of a fundamental resistance to changing methods that have always been in place,” says Wittner. “Change has never been more critical for retailers as it means innovation and those retailers that don’t innovate will lose.”

Now for some good news.

With the right suite of visual merchandising management solutions, accurate in-store communications and merchandising planning processes are attainable. With these tools, communication becomes clear and precise, and retailers save time and money. These solutions enable retailers deliver real-time directives to store teams out on the sales floor and visually track those changes occurring as they happen.

When the right product and messaging is delivered to the right store, at the right time, on the right fixture, retailers can drive the customer experience envisioned in the original planning process.


Will there be an Apple store at the World Trade Center?

It appears as if Apple will be one of a handful of companies given the exclusive offer to pay $500-$600 per square foot for retail space in the new World Trade Center, according to Wall Street Cheat Sheet.


From the article:

Although the shopping-mall owner is already closing deals with retailers, it should be noted that the retail area is not expected to be opened until 2015, or possibly even later. However, Westfield has already signed a lease with Victoria’s Secret and is rumored to be close to having deals with other luxury retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Lindberg, Tory Burch, Theory, Michael Kors, and Swatch.

If Apple did secure a retail location at the rebuilt World Trade Center, it would fit right in with the other high-end shops. Apple Stores are well-known as the most successful retail stores in the U.S. based on sales per square foot. Apple’s retail locations make an estimated $4,542 per square foot according to Customer Growth Partners’ data cited by the Wall Street Journal.

Apple most recently opened a store in Northern California where it unveiled its new architectural design style that features a “floating” roof. CFO Peter Oppenheimer noted in Apple’s fiscal third quarter earnings call that Apple’s retail stores made 4.1 billion in revenue in the June quarter.


Inside Gap’s Ship-from-Store Strategy

To execute a successful ship-from-store strategy, companies need to have technology staff and tools that understand both consumer trends and company goals. The Gap has effectively connected these two halves according to Information Week.


From the article:

To bridge those two inventory sources, Gap came up with an algorithm, known as Ship From Store, at the end of 2012 and implemented it in the website e-commerce system. Ship From Store lets online shoppers buy directly from store inventory — though not from all stores, a factor that’s key to making the new feature profitable.

The challenge was that the e-commerce system would bog down if it had to check the inventory of every store, which changes hour by hour. So knowing which stores to include is “the secret sauce,” says Paul Chapman, Gap’s senior VP of IT. Asked how many stores the system taps, or what percentage of online shoppers find items in warehouses compared with before Ship From Store, Chapman says that’s proprietary information. Other retailers, Chapman believes, are working on this same Ship From Store concept.

Another reason not all Gap locations are included: The staff in participating stores must be trained and equipped to receive an order and ship the goods, the same as a fulfillment and distribution center. When the website tells a customer that a Ship From Store delivery will occur the next day, “it’s up to us to make that happen,” says Chapman. His developers have blended Ship From Store into the e-commerce system so that customers aren’t aware of it.


Apple’s James Bond Style Approach to Bring you the iPhone

Secret shipments on old Russian military vehicles, covert operations, and secret shipping plans – sounds like a scene from a James Bond movie, right?


Actually, it is just one of the ways Apple gets their iPhones into the United States. According to an article on Bloomberg, a complex shipping process had already been put in place before they announced the new iPhone lineup earlier this week.

From the article:

The process starts in China, where pallets of iPhones are moved from factories in unmarked containers accompanied by a security detail. The containers are then loaded onto trucks and shipped via pre-bought airfreight space, including on old Russian military transports. The journey ends in stores where the world’s biggest technology company makes constant adjustments based on demand, said people who have worked on Apple’s logistics and asked not to be identified because the process is secret.

The multi-pronged operation has been built up under Cook, who oversaw Apple’s supply chain before being tapped as Steve Jobs’s successor in 2011. Getting iPhones seamlessly moved from factories to customers is critical for the Cupertino, California-based company, which derives more than half of its annual revenue from the flagship product. Apple also relies on a sales spike after a product’s release. It sold more than 5 million units in the debut weekend for the iPhone 5 last year.

“It’s like a movie premiere,” said Richard Metzler, chairman of the Transportation Marketing and Communications Association and a former executive at FedEx and other logistics companies. “It all needs to arrive at the exact same time everywhere.”


Apple sees a future on the wrist, not on the face

Apple CEO Tim Cook sees the future of wearable technology, and its impact on his company. When pressed to discuss specific devices, Cook believes wrist devices such as watches will be a major player, though, according to The Guardian, he does not believe that Google Glass will make much of an impact because people do not want to wear a device on their face.


From the article:

But when asked about the heavily publicized Google Glass he parried the question by suggesting that people who don’t otherwise wear glasses might be reluctant to don such an accoutrement.

I don’t find Cook’s dismissal of eyewear very insightful: just go to a shopping center and count the eyewear stores. Many belong to the same rich Italian conglomerate, Luxottica, a company with about 10 house brands such as Oakley, Persol and Ray-Ban, and a supplier to more than 20 designer labels ranging from Armani to Versace. (As the perturbing Sixty Minutes exposé on Luxottica pointed out, the company nicely rounds out its vertical dominance of the sector through its ownership of EyeMed, a vision insurance business.)

Eyewear, necessary or not, is a pervasive, fashionable, rich product category, a fact that hasn’t escaped Google’s eye for numbers. The company is making an effort to transmute its geeky spectacles into fashion accessories. Courtesy of Counternotions I offer this picture of Sergey Brin and fashionista Diane von Furstenberg proudly donning the futuristic eyewear at the NY Fashion Week:


Nordstrom Bringing iPads to the Dressing Room

In an effort to boost the overall customer experience in their brick-and-mortar stores, and to reach the increasingly frenetic digital natives, Nordstrom is toying with the idea of putting iPads in their dressing rooms.


According to Luxury Daily, putting tablets in the dressing rooms would allow customers to look up other styles, colors, and sizes of clothing.

From the article:

“As we look at the interactions of ‘digital natives’ in department stores, it emerged that these consumers are less interested in having a sales associate interrupt them as they browse on the sales floor since many times they have already done pre-shopping before coming to a store,” said Rick Chavie, vice president of omnicommerce at hybris, Atlanta.

“An in-store service that extends a form of personalized shopper support, such as picking wish list items for trying on offering personal shopper services, could well be the next wave of in-store support to go beyond what web only shopping offers,” he said.

Mr. Chavie is not affiliated with Nordstrom, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Nordstrom did not respond by press deadline.

Mobile personal shopper
Nordstrom is looking into more ways that it can use iPads and mobile technologies in stores, with one of the main ideas being iPads in its dressing rooms, according to Cite World.

The iPads would aid consumers in a number of ways such as seeing if an item is available in a different size, color or a nearby store. The iPads will also sync with customer’s selections from home to have products waiting at the dressing room upon arrival and match up new items with other products that the customer has previously purchased.