Working on the (Supply) Chain Gang

“For many companies, competing both online and at the mall can mean trading fat profit margins for more customers—at least for now,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Fashion retailer DSW Inc. has given shoppers the option of placing online orders for out-of-stock items without leaving its stores. And, the chain is both fulfilling online orders and accepting returns at its growing number of locations.”

“The company is betting those efforts will pay off by increasing customer loyalty even though they aren’t adding to profits in the near term, said Roger Rawlins, who oversaw DSW’s omnichannel strategy before recently becoming CEO. He said customers who buy DSW products through multiple channels spend two or three times as much as those who shop exclusively in its stores or online only.”

“The strategy ‘ultimately allows you to grab additional market share, and then as we learn through using all these capabilities, we hopefully should be tweaking to be able to generate incremental profitability,’ Mr. Rawlins said.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Shipping Is Never Fast (or Cheap) Enough

The Wall Street Journal: “More than nine of 10 shoppers said they considered ‘same day,’ ‘next day’ and ‘two day’ delivery to be ‘fast,’ according to consulting firm Deloitte’s 2015 holiday survey of some 4,000 shoppers. At three to four days, only 63% called it ‘fast,’ and just 18% of shoppers considered five to seven days ‘fast’.”

“And customers for the most part are no longer willing to pay extra for expedited delivery. Shoppers on average said they would pay at most just $5.10 for same-day service, in the Deloitte survey. A quarter of shoppers said they wouldn’t expect to pay anything at all.”

However, absorbing the shipping may be worth it to some online retailers because it can reduce the return rate: “When you go to a store, you have that wonderful delight of carrying the bag down the street,” says David Maddocks, chief marketing officer of Cole Haan. “Online, after you click, you have to wait. And during that time you can fall out of love.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Bon Marché Merchandises “Poetry, Beauty, Dreams”

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has turned the Bon Marché department store in Paris into an art gallery, reports The New York Times. “Anyone needing more evidence that the distinctions between public and private, high and low, art and commerce, and actual versus Internet celebrity have now imploded beyond recognition need look no further than this example of a populist Chinese dissident artist exhibiting in a luxury department store in one of the world’s fashion capitals.”

“Why the Bon Marché? Mr. Ai said that no French museums had contacted him about organizing a show … The Bon Marché first contacted the artist in late 2014, when he was still prevented from leaving China, said Frédéric Bodenes, the store’s artistic director. Mr. Bodenes said the store was not worried about souring ties with China.”

“We’re about poetry, beauty, dreams. We’re here to entrance our customers, and there’s no politics behind it,” Mr. Bodenes said. “Art is a value-added thing that we give our clients.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Have We Reached Peak Home Furnishings?

The Guardian: The appetite of western consumers for home furnishings has reached its peak – according to Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer. “We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff … peak home furnishings,” Steve Howard (of Ikea) said at a Guardian Sustainable Business debate. He said the new state of affairs could be called “peak curtains.”

But Howard said his comments did not contradict Ikea’s target of almost doubling sales by 2020, and that changes in consumption were an opportunity for companies to rethink the way they did business. Ikea was trying to help customers live in a more environmentally friendly way, he added. “We will be increasingly building a circular Ikea where you can repair and recycle products,” Howard said.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Behind-the-Scenes at IKEA

Mental Floss: “Nineteen behind-the-scenes secrets of IKEA employees.” Among the gems: “The winding walkway is known lovingly among employees as the Long Natural Path or the Long Natural Way. According to a 2011 New Yorker article by Lauren Collins, the pathway is supposed to curve every 50 feet to prevent shoppers from getting bored.”

“There are multiple quick routes through the store, both for safety reasons and stocking reasons, and they’re open to the public. But they’re not advertised, so you’ll need a keen eye for secret passageways … If you’re the passive-aggressive type of shopper, you’re bound to be disappointed at IKEA. Employees are given specific instructions to let the customers come to them if they need assistance.”

“Lovers’ quarrels are so common in the store that at least one psychologist told the Wall Street Journal she has her bickering clients construct the Nornäs coffee table as a relationship-building exercise.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail