Busted: Simons Immortalizes Its Shoppers

The Globe and Mail: “As many ponder retail’s future, Quebec-based brand Simons is pushing the boundaries of what a bricks-and-mortar space can offer … Simons is hosting 3-D scanning and printing booths in its stores in an effort to immortalize customers; the project will culminate in some 1,500 busts that will be showcased in 2019 at Simons’s forthcoming Yorkdale location in Toronto.”

Douglas Coupland, the artist behind the project, comments: “I think if you want to succeed in any kind of retail store, it has to have a touch of Christmas morning to it. There has to be that feeling of, ‘Ooh! What will I find at the bottom of the stairs?’ That’s the sort of magic that retailers really need to stoke the fires with.”

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Pop-Up Shops Help Malls Compete

The Wall Street Journal: “Mall landlords are turning to short-term retailers known as ‘pop-up stores’ to attract shoppers and boost revenue as department stores and other tenants struggle to combat the growth of online commerce … Pop-up stores that introduce local brands, perform demos and offer shoppers an elite selection of products or allow them to interact directly with designers can help drive traffic to other tenants.”

“One big potential category: online retailers that don’t yet have a substantial bricks-and-mortar presence … For other retailers, a temporary space is also a way for established brands to offer new services. Auto maker Audi AG introduced Audi on demand in a San Francisco pop-up store. The service lets customers book Audi coupes, sedans, SUVs and convertibles by the day and have them delivered within the city limits.”

“In Westfield San Francisco Centre, the owner set apart the entire fourth level for pop-up shops, events and co-working space. The mall, which houses Bloomingdale’s and retailers such as Burberry and Kate Spade, said this ‘Bespoke’ project had seen success at appealing to shoppers seeking alternative experiences at malls and businesses looking to test to their prototypes.”

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The ‘Give’ Registry Embraces Survivors

Slate: “The Give Registry is a brilliant new gift registry and ad campaign from Australian department store chain Myer and agency Clemenger BBDO Melbourne that uses the model of a wedding gift registry to provide linens, cookware, dishes, and other household basics to domestic violence survivors.”

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Home Depot: Retail ‘Oasis’ Against Amazon

The Wall Street Journal: “Do-it-yourself chains Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Cos. appear to have built a retail oasis mostly walled off from the reach of online behemoth Amazon.com … Executives from the home improvement chains cite a litany of favorable housing trends for their good fortunes. New households are being formed and housing turnover remains steady. Millennials are even willing to buy homes … All that spurs trips to large chains to pick out appliances and paint colors, and plan projects around the home.”

“But the e-commerce giant doesn’t have a toehold in large parts of the home improvement space, like lumber, paint and gardening supplies. Home Depot says just 25% of its business—smaller, easy-to-ship items like power drills and small hand tools—faces tough online competition.”

“That doesn’t mean either chain is immune to Amazon. A UBS survey in June found that 11% of consumers planning a home improvement project themselves planned to buy something from Amazon. That is far behind the 36% who said they planned to shop at Home Depot and the 21% at Lowe’s, but up from just 7% a few months back.”

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Grocery Spoils Target’s Profits

The Wall Street Journal: “Target Corp. has a problem in its grocery aisles: Shoppers aren’t visiting often enough to buy the retailer’s fresh meat, fruits and vegetables before they spoil … The issue, in part, is that Target’s supply chain wasn’t built to transport items with a short shelf life … Perishable foods, which usually are the big traffic drivers at most grocery stores, have been a drag on Target’s profits.”

“Shifting more control to a third-party vendor would move Target in the opposite direction of its biggest competitors. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which gets more than half of its U.S. revenue from grocery, has invested in infrastructure to transport fresh foods on its own.”

“Target has made an aggressive push to add organic and gluten-free brands … Target also has spent more than $1 million per store to improve the look and inventory management of 25 locations in Los Angeles. The refurbished grocery area features new lighting and signage that highlights the organic and fresh products. The stores now get more frequent deliveries and carry more localized products. But rolling out those changes to all 1,800 Target stores nationwide would require a massive investment, analysts say.”

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Jet vs. Jetsons: Amazon Bets on Drones

Farhad Manjoo: “If Amazon’s drone program succeeds (and Amazon says it is well on track), it could fundamentally alter the company’s cost structure. A decade from now, drones would reduce the unit cost of each Amazon delivery by about half, analysts at Deutsche Bank projected in a recent research report. If that happens, the economic threat to competitors would be punishing — ‘retail stores would cease to exist,’ Deutsche’s analysts suggested, and we would live in a world more like that of ‘The Jetsons’ than our own.”

“Amazon … has built many different kinds of prototypes for different delivery circumstances … for instance, drones could deliver packages to smart lockers positioned on rooftops … Amazon’s patent filings hint at even more fanciful possibilities — drones could ferry packages between tiny depots housed on light poles, for example.”

“Amazon has filed patents that envision using trucks as mobile shipping warehouses … a drone might fly from the truck to a customer’s house, delivering the item in minutes … according to Amazon, the earliest incarnation of drone deliveries will happen … within five years, somewhere in the world.”

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Self-Checkout: A Shoplifter’s Dream?

The New York Times: “Self-service checkout technology may offer convenience and speed, but it also helps turn law-abiding shoppers into petty thieves by giving them ‘ready-made excuses’ to take merchandise without paying, two criminologists say.”

“The scanning technology, which grew in popularity about 10 years ago, relies largely on the honor system. Instead of having a cashier ring up and bag a purchase, the shopper is solely responsible for completing the transaction. That lack of human intervention, however, reduces the perception of risk and could make shoplifting more common, the report said.”

“In a behavior known as ‘neutralizing your guilt,’ shoppers may tell themselves that the store is overpriced, so taking an item without scanning is acceptable; or they might blame faulty technology, problems with product bar codes or claim a lack of technical know-how.”

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Simple Products Beget Simple Packages

The Wall Street Journal: “Instead of burying ingredient lists in the fine print on the back of the package, food manufacturers are trumpeting simpler formulas prominently on the label’s front … More people care deeply about what’s in their food and insist on recognizing the ingredients. The litmus test for many consumers is whether those ingredients might appear in their own kitchen cupboards.”

“Simply Tostitos Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips boast only three ingredients: blue corn, organic expeller-pressed sunflower oil and sea salt. This past June, General Mills Inc.’s Larabar snack bar line launched Larabar Bites. The bites—available in flavors such as double chocolate brownie and cherry chocolate chip—resemble truffles and contain few ingredients which are prominently displayed on the front of the package.”

“New ads for Haagen-Dazs ice cream in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles show a spoonful of vanilla ice cream. ‘5 ingredients, one incredible indulgence’ read ads, which also list the recipe of cream, milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla … This fall, ConAgra’s Bertolli Frozen Meals is rolling out a new, reformulated line of meals that feature a shorter ingredient list that reads more like a recipe.”

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Grocery Outlet: The TJX of Supermarkets?

Business Insider: “Grocery Outlet wants to be the TJ Maxx of grocery stores … Grocery Outlet says it sells items at a 40% to 70% discount off regular stores’ prices by offering surplus items, seasonal closeouts, and discontinued items. While some of its items aren’t up to manufacturer standards, none of what it sells is past the sell-by date.”

“Like TJ Maxx, grocery outlet says it relies on a ‘treasure hunt’ experience to hook consumers. Because customers don’t know exactly what products they will find at Grocery Outlet, they keep coming back for the thrill. Still, Grocery Outlet executives tell Frozen & Dairy Buyer magazine that they strive to make stores a place where people can do most, if not all, of their food shopping.”

“While Grocery Outlet doesn’t offer amenities like a deli, it tries to excel in customer service. It also sells wine … workers will carry your bags to your car for you … Grocery Outlet is also making a big push into organic, healthy, and specialty food … It plans to open an additional 125 stores in the California and mid-Atlantic region by 2020.”

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