There should be elements of locality and even shopper targeting incorporated into item selection. Particular items might sell well in a limited geography while they would not move in other geographies. For example headache powders sell well in the Southeast, but not in other parts of the US.
Sophisticated retailers might be able to identify items that their best customers like to buy in their stores. These stores would certainly want to keep these top-tier customers happy, even if it means keeping something on their shelf that isn't otherwise a strong item.
Amazon owns fast, which means it is not the differentiator for competing retailers. Rather, it should be the in-store experience. This includes the shopping help as well as just plain, old fun- exceeding shoppers' expectations at every moment of truth.
It is ironic to read this article this morning. Over the weekend, I purchased a digital picture frame online. I first went to Walmart's site with the thought that I could pick it up at my local store. The online reviews were limited, but the frame that I would have purchased would not be available for pick-up in the store until Wednesday. I then checked Amazon Prime. They had better quality frames for less than that Walmart, but my decision was based on delivery. Prime promised to deliver it on Monday, two days earlier. I bought it from Amazon Prime.
It seems to me that AI cannot be completely unbiased because the inherent objective to building a database is to make determinations. If the output is biased, then the information used to create that database must also have some kind of bias.
Amazon is a major threat for consumer dollars, and trips, for any retailer that sells what they sell. Shoppers have limited time and money. If they select to spend either at Whole Foods or Amazon.com instead of at Trader Joe's, they are then chipping away at Trader Joe's business.
One of the best things about Trader Joe's is the shopping experience. In order to effectively combat Whole Foods, they need to keep their stores exciting and fun -- for every shopping trip and every customer.
Stating that "consumers prefer to shop for their own groceries" overly generalizes the value of online shopping for delivery or pick-up. There are many packaged, center-store products that are exactly the same and for which in-store shopping is unnecessary or inconvenient (razor blades, toilet paper, refrigerator water filters, 50-pound bag of lawn fertilizer). On the other hand, the quality, appearance and selection of fresh products can vary widely. (I want to know what kind of apples are available, see the full selection, and see what they look like.) This makes generalizing online shopping needs inaccurate. Different people have different needs, for different items and for a variety of different occasions.
Where I live in Central New Jersey, QuickChek is aggressively competing with Wawa. Both Wawa and QuickChek stores are minutes away from my home and work, and both are usually along the way to wherever I am going. Also, I am their target customer. I visit either Wawa or QuickChek almost daily.
The differences are minimal. Therefore, the decision about where to go is based on the quality of the food and the employee interactions. The tie-breaker for me -- Wawa has soft pretzels. While this may seem inconsequential to business experts, think about how many people think like I do.
I hope Mr. Storch can restore Toys "R" Us in the U.S. There is something special about bringing a child to a toy store as well as physically shopping for toys as gifts. It is fun. A new Toys "R" Us will be unencumbered by the business stuff that forced the old company to declare bankruptcy. Starting again offers Mr. Storch and his investors an open book to make selling toys fun for their shoppers and for their employees, the way it should be.
Many of the things that shoppers would have normally purchased in large stores are now easily obtained online. For example, home air filters. I used to buy them at Home Depot. Now, however, I can easily find the needed size online and have them shipped to me.
Smaller stores won't necessarily reduce losses. Rather, it is the set-up and the shopping experience provided at physical stores. They need to have a reason for being. Otherwise, the space is wasted.
Walmart may want to consider offering an incentive to customers to get them to try the Scan & Go application. This can be a part of the saving that Walmart realizes by not having the customer checkout at a regular cashier. This can be temporary, to get shoppers to give it a try.
A large percentage of American shoppers regularly shop at Walmart, whether in a physical store or online. Walmart offers their customers Amazon-like benefits for shoppers who are more likely to patronize Walmart than they are Amazon. If Walmart creates a partnership with Humana, then a great many of their shoppers will also be patronizing Walmart for healthcare. Therefore, we should not be fooled into thinking that Walmart's long-term strategy is to compete with Amazon, but rather it is to be a stronger, more relevant Walmart for Walmart customers.
Both Lowe's and Home Depot are about the same distance from my home, in opposite directions. It is my perception, based on past shopping trips, that Lowe's never has the item that I need, while Home Depot has it. That means that at Lowe's I am apt to turn around and leave, while at Home Depot, I am likely to buy other stuff.
There has to be a unique benefit to mobile purchases in order for people to be encouraged to use a mobile device to buy things. As it is now, it is not altogether inconvenient to wait to use a larger screen or even to wait until I am in a physical store.
There would have been no way for a company like Macy's to effectively notify their stores and customers about this credit card processing issues as it was occurring on Black Friday. Sure, they can apologize and they can even mail out more coupons. However someone, somewhere in Macy's stores must have had earlier difficulties with their credit card processing system that would portend potential holiday season difficulties.
This is the kind of store-level issue for which there has to be a process in place to identify and properly address. As Macy's is finding out, it is also the kind of thing that gets ignored by top management.
I worked at Brooks Brothers during last year's holiday season. There is a fine line between making good suggestions and being obnoxious. Most sales associates are paid the same whether or not they generate incremental sales. They don't have incentive to make suggestions. Meaningful but small incentives would provide the encouragement they need to better engage customers.