Melissa Minkow

Director, Retail Strategy, CI&T

Retail strategist and spectator for CI&T — a customized digital solutions provider for some of the largest global retailers. Passionate about drawing from consumer insights, pop culture phenomenon, and outside-of-industry best practices to improve the retail landscape.

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Melissa has overseen CI&T's retail strategy and industry perspective for a year now, after 2 years in merchandising strategy at Target, 6 years covering omni-channel, e-commerce, and social media retail at Gartner, a stint in pharmaceutical market research, and the completion of a Kellogg MBA. She is a retail futurist whose methodology is rooted in cross-industry consumer insights and innovation.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2022

    Nordstrom Local is summering in the Hamptons

    This makes sense to me. It shouldn't be too expensive operationally, but it's an example of the brand going to where its customers are. It would be better if it were instantaneously shoppable though.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2022

    Does virtual selling make for lonely salespeople?

    I do think it’s harder to convey warmth and connect at an interpersonal level virtually when it comes to B2B sales. There was a hefty culture built around sales visits that energized the interactions and allowed for more differentiation among providers. The pro to virtual selling is how little logistics are involved. There’s flexibility in scheduling and an ability to be available to more prospects in a day than with in-person visits.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2022

    Google rethinks employee reviews and promotions process

    The "non-anonymous" reviews is an issue for me. There's no way these won't be biased out of fear of backlash if someone reports any opportunities for a co-worker. The review and development process is extremely important, and I like the amount of scrutiny Google is giving it, but this method feels more political instead of less. For example, if the employee has a tenuous relationship with their boss, now their boss is the one solely in charge of calibration. That also is a huge miss.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2022

    Can Starbucks replicate the ‘third place’ in the metaverse?

    It sounds like there isn’t that clear of a vision yet for what this third place can be, and I think that’s because it’s going to be very difficult to draw consumers there. If there isn’t significant value in this digital destination, it’s not going to replace a physical one that’s no longer relevant either.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2022

    Has Etsy been missing the boat with men?

    Etsy will have to do significant research on what the side hustles are for men that could make for a marketplace on the platform. The fact that such a high percentage of its sellers are women to me says that’s why awareness is so low for men. The buying occasions for men are also often so different than for women. There’s a lot of event-based purchases on Etsy for women for events that men simply don’t celebrate (e.g. bachelorettes, showers, etc). Research on the key milestones for men will help the platform cater to that demographic.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2022

    Which personalization techniques work best?

    I worry about over-personalization. Predictive personalization doesn’t allow much room for nuance, and every buying scenario varies, even for the same shopper buying a repeat item. I do think that seeing more dynamic pricing and personalized landing pages would be valuable, but I think the key is really providing all the possible options for shoppers to customize their own journey as needed. For example, allow shoppers to build different filters dependent on their preferences and situational needs, offer all forms of fulfillment to choose from in order to accommodate changing delivery requirements, etc. Where personalization hasn’t yet advanced (but needs to) is in acknowledging how different each path to purchase can be.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2022

    Macy’s goes small outside the mall

    As mall culture morphs into social shopping via digital, there is less and less ROI in a mall presence. This is a smart move that a lot of retailers are making. Further, traditional department store floor plans with large square footage aren’t really conducive to how people shop today either. I’m glad they’re pursuing smaller formats, especially given how hard it’s been to find help in their traditional layouts where their staffing numbers don’t support the size of the space.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2022

    How long until the metaverse reaches mainstream appeal?

    I think there needs to be more clarity as to where the physical landscape of the metaverse begins and ends. If consumers better understood when they’re in the metaverse versus using metaverse-native tech (e.g. VR) they could more easily visualize how it could become a part of their lives. I do think the metaverse is an inevitable fate for many of our behaviors, but it will still take a few years. Omnichannel behaviors didn’t really occur until 2020.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2022

    Victoria’s Secret expects to have a beautiful experience on Amazon

    Victoria's Secret relied so heavily on mall traffic that retailers simply can't benefit from much anymore. Amazon simulates a mall in that sense for many brands today. This move also makes a lot of sense given that VS knows its shoppers are searching for it first on Amazon. You have to go where the customer expects to find you.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2022

    Is timing more important than speed for grocery delivery?

    Our Connected Retail Report revealed the same thing - consumers don't really need speed that often, they really need the convenience of timing. If same-day delivery requires you to be tethered to your home, waiting for your items, it's far less convenient than them arriving the next day at whatever time you know you'll be home.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2022

    Apple may be rethinking the role of its ‘geniuses’ in stores

    Geniuses are fundamental to the Apple Store experience. Shoppers so often go into Apple stores for the hands-on help. I don’t think it’s a smart move to reduce the number of associates on the floor, as they provide such crucial value to the Apple in-store experience.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2022

    Do Gen Z workers deserve to be called entitled?

    Gen Z’s overall sentiment towards work is another case of a younger generation no longer tolerating what an older generation was socialized to grin and bear. The pandemic has caused many to realize how short life is and how invaluable time and fulfillment are. Boomers were celebrated for missing their kids’ little league games if it meant prioritizing their employer. That isn’t aspirational for younger generations, and future-forward corporate cultures will have to recognize and adjust to that.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2022

    Are JCPenney’s owners a good fit to take over Kohl’s?

    This worries me because we haven’t seen a big comeback story from JCP. Kohl’s needs a massive shakeup in its strategy that will completely modernize its model. Every attempt at saving Kohl’s thus far has been a revamp that maintains too much of its same positioning. The Kohl’s offering and store design needs to resonate with how consumers are shopping today. Discount and dollar stores are doing well, department stores that are taking on more of a marketplace approach (e.g. Macy’s) or that are staying extremely trendy (e.g. Nordstrom) are turning around. Big box has continued to do well. The problem is that Kohl’s kind of straddles all of these categories. There needs to be much more focus and clear direction.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2022

    Will customers know everything about products with digital ID?

    Some retailers are already doing this in non-digital ways, such as Arket who lists out completely where every material is sourced. It’s certainly a smaller subset of consumers who want this level of transparency, but if retailers keep the higher level information available for shoppers, I do think that ultimately there will be majority interest. For example, instead of sharing every single material and its source, summarize whether or not all aspects of a product are sourced and manufactured ethically and sustainably. The nitty-gritty details don’t matter to shoppers, but the overall ethics and sustainability will.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2022

    Champs Sports seeks ‘Homefield’ advantage with new concept store

    I’m not sure I’m seeing enough in the experience to consistently draw consumers over time. Many outdoor retailers offer similar draws to brick and mortar, and they don’t bring the traffic required to offset the costs of such a large real estate footprint. Experiential definitely is an important dimension of the future of retail, but I’d love to see more out-of-the-box concepts than this.

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