Kate Munro

VP of Marketing, Bamboo Rose
Kate Munro is the vice president of marketing at Bamboo Rose. In this role, Kate is responsible for all marketing activities and brings more than 20 years of experience promoting and shaping technologies and markets through global programs. In her spare time, Kate is a supporter of Seacoast Family Promise and enjoys music, playing the piano, and hiking.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2017

    Which off-price retailers will withstand the test of time?

    Far from it. From our perspective, the off-price retail segment is still growing and is still a bright spot in the overall retail segment. According to IHL, mass merchants and discount stores sales were up 4.5 percent in the first seven months of 2017. ACTION, an off-price store chain based out of the Netherlands, is growing sales by more than 30 percent year over year and is expanding into Europe. In the US, Ross Stores is another one doing well: Sales last quarter jumped 8 percent year over year on a 4 percent comparable-store-sales increase. And Dollar Tree store sales increased 5 percent last quarter while Family Dollar sales increased 1.5 percent. A few contrarians have predicted the demise of this segment, but increased competition, in my opinion, does not mean consumer interest is waning, it means more stores are jumping into the category because it’s one targeted at the future – millennials. IMHO, ACTION, Dollar Tree, Ross Stores, among many others, will continue to do well. The thrill of the hunt -- shopping and finding bargains and the unexpected -- will continue to be a draw.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2017

    Indie retailers can survive – even thrive – during the holidays

    I agree — the most important tactic for small retailers to succeed during the holidays is definitely to leverage digital showroom technology. The retail industry has been slow to adopt innovative backend digital technologies, which is holding them back from being able to compete with e-commerce giants like Amazon. By leveraging the right retail tech, retailers can use virtual showrooms to save time and money on overseas buying trips and compare product options and pricing across multiple suppliers to find the best deal. Communication and community integrations are also important — retailers need social, connected and collaborative approaches to product development to deliver quality products just in time for the holiday season.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2017

    Is workplace collaboration a drag for headquarters personnel?

    I would disagree -- there are a few tools available that enable both. Whether we’re talking about internal or external collaboration, we need to remember that the retail industry is a community. It includes retailers, suppliers, banks, freight forwarders, carriers, mills, factories and more, and all of these groups come into play when bringing a great product to market. This requires easy and efficient communication across all parties, no matter the time or location. I’ve mentioned before that 63 percent of retailers are still using outdated applications and manual methods to manage their sourcing relationships, which just isn’t working in today’s retail economy. Agility is key and there are more tech solutions offering retailers and brands a way to collaborate at every stage of the product lifecycle than ever before. Retailers need to shift away from the linear, cumbersome process they are used to and take advantage of these digital technologies that enable better communication and collaboration.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2017

    Retailers need supply chain urgency – now

    I completely agree. Further, retailers need to start thinking outside of the traditional linear product development model and look to approaches that involve faster collaboration and design sharing in order to compete with Amazon, Walmart and other retail giants. If these powerhouses are undercutting prices and offering endless options, brands need to find a completely new way to source creative ideas and bring better products to market, faster -- and this starts with upgrading their supply chains. Surprisingly, 63 percent of retailers are still using outdated applications like Outlook to manage complex sourcing relationships, despite the availability of other helpful tools and technologies. To upgrade their supply chains and stay competitive in an Amazon era, retailers need to use digital sourcing technology for a single communication channel that promotes ongoing collaboration and inspiration, making it easier to leverage the knowledge and expertise of other industry players. When retailers collaborate, they can bring products to market at consumer speed, stay on top of the biggest trends and make more informed and profitable operational decisions.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2017

    Are retailers caught in a content trap?

    Many of today’s brands and retailers are engaging in a race to the bottom, sacrificing quality and innovation for speed. When you are so focused on stripping out all costs to improve margin, there is no leeway for innovation. And many of these retailers and brands are mired in old ways of thinking and doing things -- relying solely on Excel spreadsheets, emails and flights abroad for buying trips instead of first shopping the supplier’s showrooms online. There are so many examples of things like this that it would fill a page. Last year, I heard a very seasoned retail executive bemoan the fact that a department at his company spent multiple meetings and many months debating a color change for one of their tools. Of course, this is not across the board, but speed bumps like this are getting in the way of retailers’ digital transformations. And they are getting in the way of their ability to compete. Retail is an industry built on communities and collaboration -- a key point for brands to keep in mind when creating products. Co-creation leads to better, higher quality products that people want to buy and quicker product development -- it’s a win-win. Co-creation with your existing teams and also with your suppliers. Digitization should aid this two-way dialogue. With the right technology, retailers will improve communication with suppliers and other entities to promote co-creation and truly be on the path to creating content and products that really appeals to their customers.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Five pain points grocers must address to survive in an Amazon/Whole Foods world

    The retail industry has been moving toward a fusion of digital and physical for years now, but the Amazon/Whole Foods acquisition caught retailers and grocers by surprise. In order to compete, retailers need to evolve and adapt by focusing on speed, convenience and differentiating their products from the competition. Amazon is so far ahead in the digital, convenience-oriented world that consumers have grown accustomed to, it’s hard for grocers and other retailers keep up and move their business forward. Improving delivery and convenience, with home delivery, and online shopping is one way forward for grocers and other retailers. Private label products that compete with big name brands and provide high margins is another bright spot for the grocery industry.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2017

    Why don’t more retailers ‘get’ curation?

    In order to compete in today’s new retail economy, retailers need to differentiate by providing products their consumers actually want to buy. To do so, retailers need a platform that allows them to collect and curate their ideas and inspirations from day one of the product development process and leverage community knowledge to collaborate on the perfect product. A digital platform that allows for easy online communication between retailers and brands and the rest of the community -- from sourcing to manufacturers -- will simplify back-end processes and result in a collaborative coming together of creative minds to bring a truly valuable product to market. Retailers that focus on the quality and value of a product from the start of the process -- inspiration, ideation and curation -- will more easily be able to differentiate their brand and step ahead of the competition.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2017

    Can indie dollar stores compete with the big chains?

    Smaller retail brands like indie dollar stores have a strength that megastores and big chains don’t – specialization. By being a jack-of-all-trades retailer, big chains miss out on the opportunity to provide their consumers with products they actually want. When consumers are forced to settle for a product that’s not entirely what they want or isn’t well made, the dollar amount doesn’t matter as much. Smaller dollar stores that take advantage of their niche place in the industry and focus on creating high-quality, low-cost products that they know their consumers will love, will find it much easier to compete with the big chains in the years to come.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2017

    What does it take for retailers to thrive amid shifting consumer preferences?

    The most important takeaway is that retailers must "Act Early," but they must also learn to effectively leverage "Experience." Retailers need to think like a digital native. They must be willing to change their thinking. Change the way they do things. Change the way they bring product to market. Change the way they design, discover, develop and deliver product. Retailers can have all the analytics, Big Data, and IoT in the world but if the product development process is broken, it’s all broken. If it’s slow, it’s all slow. Retailers need the ability to tie in their communities – faster. They need to quit spending so much time and money on physical sampling. They need to quit spending so such time and money on market weeks and costly trips to Asia. They need to quit spending so much time and money on manual invoicing and payment processes. They need to digitally connect their PLM, sourcing, GTM, P2P, order management and logistics. They need to tie this all together with immediate ways to communicate with their teams and their suppliers, manufacturers and partners all along the way. Retailers need to connect and leverage their entire retail community from design and development to delivery and act quickly to thrive.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2017

    Is ultrafast fashion a thing – seriously?

    Consumers no longer want to wait six months for trends to hit stores. Fast fashion retailers capitalize on the see-now-buy-now trend, driving the industry to adopt a seasonless buying mentality that gets new products to market quicker than ever before. In order to bring apparel to market in time to beat even fast fashion merchants, retailers need technology that speeds up supply chain processes and makes the design-to-delivery cycle more efficient. That technology should allow retailers to co-create. They need to leverage their entire community, from designers to suppliers and everyone in between. This focus on making a great product from the very beginning of the process and driving speed through co-creation needs to be done without sacrificing quality. As an industry, we need to match consumer demand for speed on the back-end, giving our product development teams the tools they need to develop new and innovative products quickly and efficiently.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2017

    Can retailers keep up with Gen Z’s digital savviness?

    This study indicates what those in the industry already know: Gen Z shares many traits with the Millennial generation but is much more invested in interactive technology that allows shoppers to easily access a brand or product and quickly make purchases. Retailers that invest in technology with well-designed features that better meet Gen Z’s need for ease of use and instant gratification will be a few steps ahead, but must still remember that this selective generation will only buy something that they really want, no matter how deep the discount or interesting the shopping experience. As these digital natives take over more of the consumer base, retailers will need to invest more not just in front-end technology, but back-end technology that allows them to craft quality, on-trend products that meet Gen Z’s needs.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2017

    What will the fourth industrial revolution mean for retail supply chains and jobs?

    With Industry 4.0 comes the opportunity for retailers to implement technology that helps suppliers become smarter, optimizing the manufacturing process. Purchase-to-pay systems will ease the process for retailers and suppliers, and overall the retail supply chain will become more efficient. As repetitive tasks become automated, human talent will be even more focused on creativity and innovation in the retail world.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2017

    BrainTrust throwdown: Is it inevitable that tech companies will dominate retail?

    I agree, Gib. Both Ken and Ryan make good points -- human creativity and innovation are important to a retailer’s success, but modern technology has evolved in a way that drives logistics and user interactions both for the consumer and on the backend. Technology should be more than just another tool and retailers need to fully embrace it to survive. With the right technology, retailers can leverage their entire community from all over the world in almost an instant to take advantage of data and provide an on-trend end product faster. Retailers who don’t adapt to the new retail economy and implement technology that encourages co-creation will fall behind.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2017

    Should retailers take a public stance on social issues?

    Several analysts asked us about what our customers were doing after the U.S. election and the new presidential administration -- how they were handling the threat of new tariffs, environmental factors, etc. We are seeing a number of large retailers work diligently to figure out what will happen if tariffs increase or change across borders -- what we call “what-if costing.” This has been more in response to economic changes. On the social issues side, we have seen retailers taking a stand one way or another on social issues in the media -- in keeping with their brand promise. There are many recent studies that show that Millennials are more likely to buy from companies that have similar social-political views. While “should” can be a loaded term, I believe it makes sense for most retailers to take a stand on issues nowadays -- to make it clear what their brand stands for. Today’s buyers expect it.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2017

    An open letter to retailers from a Millennial: Fix your omnichannel!

    I completely agree, Anna. Millennials are strategic decision makers who retailers have struggled to understand for a while. In order to address their needs and provide an on trend product that Millennials actually want, when they want it, retailers have to leverage the entire retail community instead of working in silos. As retailers adapt to an omnichannel world, they must engage their suppliers, manufacturers and other business partners from the start of the design to the production process. Only when they take advantage of the industry knowledge and expertise available can retailers provide a seamless experience for this particular generation.
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