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Karl Haller

Consumer Center of Competence Leader, IBM
  • Posted on: 02/16/2022

    Has a new, hybrid shopper emerged out of the pandemic?

    Hi everyone! I'm one of the co-authors -- great to see all your comments. JSYK, we agree that hybrid shopping has been around for a while, and we don't claim to have coined the term (IMO, Steve Dennis deserves the HT for that). Our study attempted to quantify how consumers shop today -- globally, across age groups, and within key product categories -- in a manner that hadn't been done before. We were a bit surprised to see that hybrid (defined as a means of buying that involves both digital and physical, e.g. BOPIS/BOPAC) was the primary buying method for so many -- especially the 20% who primarily groceries this way. And similarly, that Gen-Z appear to be the first hybrid-native generation (36% primarily buy "hybridly;" the highest of any age group). As a response, retailers and brands need to work on their omnipresence (The Everywhere Store more than The Everything Store) and make it easier for customers to research, shop, buy, receive, and return across touchpoints/channels. And many have a lot of work to have their stores be a bigger part of omnichannel and catch up to customers' expectations. Please email or DM me on LinkedIn if you're interested in a deeper dive. BTW, the other two themes (Purpose-Driven Consumers and Sustainability) also had some notable findings and implications.
  • Posted on: 02/19/2020

    Will store associates become the ultimate personalization tool at retail?

    Not crazy about the phrase “ultimate personalization tool,” but I strongly agree that associates (F2F and/or accessible via any device) can be a true differentiating factor — for help, for advice, for relationship-building (extending), and yes, to sell (in the Dan Pink manner of selling). Are retailers investing enough? No. A few are changing (Walmart and Best Buy come to mind), but it’s not pervasive.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2019

    Is Amazon Go heading for a hard stop?

    Technology and entrenched consumer behavior are both barriers in the next 1-3 years, but both will be overcome. I actually think the store concept itself is flawed, and needs to be split into:
    • Grab and go food (and drinks) - a la Pret A Manger
    • Small format grocery - a la Trader Joe’s
    • C-Store/G-Store
    And each one needs to be merchandised for those specific consumers/journeys. Right now, it’s too much of a hybrid. But who wouldn’t love to have a Trader Joe’s where you could "Just Walk Out"?
  • Posted on: 10/20/2017

    Rent the Runway sees new program leading to a ‘closetless’ future

    It's too early to determine if this is a broadly adopted trend, but it's definitely an attractive proposition for a slice of the population. I can corroborate the Washington Post story with what an RTR store manager told me, that there are many customers who come into the store three times a week, and a few that have multiple subscriptions, essentially replacing their entire wardrobe. Personally, I see it taking hold more broadly in handbags and accessories than ready-to-wear. But even in this scenario, the implications of an "owned wardrobe" focused on core items, surrounded by "BaaS" (Bling-as-a-Service) are massive. That's a lot of spend (and a lot of margin dollars) potentially shifting away from retail. I would also note the importance of the RTR "store" as a piece of the equation, especially in densely-populated urban areas.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2016

    Shoptalk recap: Are stores flying or dying?

    This is not a simple either-or issue, and really needs to be discussed at the category level, not in aggregate. Thinking specifically about Enjoy, they are going after an opportunity abdicated by traditional retailers who lost their focus on customer service / experience / relationship. (Not dissimilar to Crutchfield back in the day). And they may be able to carve out a meaningful niche business. Who cares if they become the predominant way of shopping for consumer electronics. I bet they don't. All Enjoy needs is to be big enough to afford their infrastructure on a market-by-market basis. And without the cost of stores, there's a lot more to spend on a different type of infrastructure. Switching to department stores, and apparel and softgoods in general, I think that Jerry Storch is right in many aspects. Digital will be involved in almost all shopping / buying activities, the vast majority of which will continue to include a store at some point in the process. The challenge, though, is cost structure. In specialty apparel, it only takes a sales decline of 10-20% to wipe out store four-wall profits. And combined with the investments required to build out Ecom, Mobile, Social, Omni-channel, etc, many retail chains are struggling to make the math work. And yes, some will likely go away.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2016

    Study: E-commerce is eroding retail profitability

    It's most definitely impacting profitability, and is compounded by the slowdown in stores. See my post --
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