The only true judge is winning. Or growing both bottom line, top line and increasing shareholder value. There is no set blueprint so it is up to the boards to try what, and who, they want. However, the last line of this article is the most telling. If you want to understand what works and what doesn’t and who wins/loses one must look at the unsuccessful hires, as well. A great sports analogy is “nobody wins the world series in spring training.” Translation: anyone can look good on paper but results are what matter.
Retailers need to get away from gimmicks and get back to how clothes make customers feel. This technology will never measure or understand how customers feel, so it will ultimately be a challenge for it to improve the buying process. Get back to basics and get customers excited -- why else is “experiential retail” winning?
If it drives shipping and fulfillment costs down it will become the norm. Although I believe it creates more complexity in having appropriate stock levels for physical retail locations it can have great benefits covering the last mile to the customer as well as increased speed. Most companies would do it immediately if they could but converting systems to accomplish this and getting store personnel to correctly execute it are roadblocks.
Basically, this sounds like just part of the job description. Having started in retail more than 25 years ago in NYC I can tell you that there always was and always will be a percentage of customers who are unreasonable. Part of the problem (or solution) now is that we just hear about it more due to social media and the fact that everyone involved can record the transaction. However, I think it does speak to a slow decline across many aspects of our culture that we can now see and basically experience these rather detestable displays. I just saw the McDonald’s milkshake brawl yesterday and it made my stomach turn. Agreed that better training always helps but dealing with people is part of the job.
Out-of-stocks are a significant problem for all retailers not just online merchants. Accurate inventory levels are key and, at least in apparel and shoes, with increasing free returns there is only more inventory moving around many different locations at many different times. Prior to significant online purchasing lower return rate items would not disrupt inventory levels significantly but now due to BOPIS and, more importantly, accepting returns in-store for web purchases (again with a focus on apparel) the ability to understand how much inventory should be kept in-store vs. at an online DC is cloudy at best.
More choices for consumers is great but retailers need to vastly improve the “right item, right time, right place” equation if they are to increase revenue without speeding up turn to ridiculous levels or losing sales. Lastly, out-of-stock is out-of-stock whether for online or brick and mortar -- omnichannel is omnichannel so solutions need to take both online and in-store into account.
There is not much vendors can do as clearly Kroger is feeling their oats. This is a power move from a retailer that is seeing other brick-and-mortar players on the decline so it is using its leverage. I'm not saying it is a wise move or that they won’t regret it in the future, either.
This is a new expertise for most grocers since the majority of their efforts are to enhance the brick experience. If they are to simply say “come and get it at the store” that isn’t much of an offer. The convenience of “brick and order” speaks for itself but translating this idea is quite complex and can confuse merchants trying hard enough to keep up on pricing, competition and a great in-store experience.
Needless to say, the online experience needs to be seamless, interesting and super convenient to entice customers to engage and adapt to what is a pretty personal experience like pondering “what’s for dinner?” or picking out fresh fruit. A different take here but I love Fresh Direct’s approach -- granted it's not a “brick and order” process.
Finally, I'm not really sure that one of the suggestions offered (the picture of a person holding a box) is cutting-edge online merchandising but it is very important to understand the unique differences when it comes to the experience of buying something that will go in our bodies as opposed to on them.
I agree -- I feel like this conversation started 30 years ago. The customer is agnostic as so much has happened to make things more convenient that this line is blurring. I'm not sure what Ralph would have thought back in the 1980s if he knew customers could order a Polo shirt from their phone while sitting on their couch. Or how soon it would happen. Retailers (either brands or traditional department stores) still need to work harder than ever to get customers' attention.
Nordstrom is already in an advantageous position since it is offering greater exposure to these direct-to-consumer brands. As physical retail space continues to decline (albeit to a lesser degree at Nordstrom) this move helps both sides and sets up smaller brands with a potential larger win. It's doubtful that many of them would engage with Nordstrom if they weren’t looking for a big order. This is really just re-packaging traditional efforts but it is a nice touch.
A great idea from a marketing perspective that generates buzz and coverage, as previously noted, and also a message that might actually pay for itself as a standalone idea, to a certain degree. I think The Dreamery concept is somewhat limited to urban settings, but who is actually saying these days that they are well-rested? On the flip side, I haven’t met many managers encouraging the mid-day nap (sleep-shaming?!). Bottom line, I think it works on both fronts.
This concept is really digitally focused and I’m not sure it is “blended” that well with traditional retail services. It sounds like a part store and, as Nike states, a “hub” -- so it seems like they are interested in gathering information and offering services as much as they are interested in selling. I think the customer might be confused as well.
As for innovative services that might take hold:
Swoosh Text: I could see this becoming more common as it might be easier to text an associate then actually see one -- at least in most department stores.
Express Sessions with a treadmill sounds interesting as this is the “experience” that most brick-and-mortar is lacking these days. As a runner I would welcome the chance to actually try out the product.
Agreed on the "Shiny objects" aspect 100 percent. Just because the technology is the latest and greatest doesn't solve the core problem of good service. If it is an essential function (i.e., checkout) and can be done correctly, efficiently and seamlessly then I would recommend independents go for it. Otherwise, be wary of the claim that chasing something new (for the sake of "new") will generate more business. Consumers (albeit fewer of them) are going to the larger chains for selection and convenience -- I don't think this is why they are visiting independents.