Looking for change at all costs

Month of September

In the world of retail, customization and differentiation at the time of sale has become an imperative if you want to overcome the accelerated transformation that the industry is experiencing today. It is one of the most attractive ways to engage customers and build up their brand loyalty. But that won’t be enough. The use of technology and the new tools that can be implemented in retail will be decisive for a number of decades-old operators to keep their businesses afloat. He who does not mutate or adapt, shall be sentenced to disappear.


Watching news video of the crowds descending on Costco’s opening day in Shanghai, you might wonder, why all the excitement? After all, China has been a graveyard for many foreign retailers, after arriving with grand hopes, only to pull back after years of debilitating struggle.


As companies seek to offer healthier food options to employees, the market for smart, unattended vending tech is on track to reach $15 billion by 2025.  But those unattended kiosks need customer-facing delivery drivers to stock shelves – with little appetite for lengthy reimbursement processes. 


The accepted wisdom is that the private equity business has played a significant role in the destruction of the retail industry.  A much publicized recent study by the Center for Popular Democracy and other groups claims that almost 600,000 jobs have been destroyed in retail in the last 10 years by private equity-owned retailers. 


When well-known retailers close large numbers of stores, we take notice.  Parents couldn’t miss it when Toys R Us went bankrupt. Whether or not you’ve shopped at a Sears lately, you certainly know it has shrunk massively, and that J.C. Penney, Barney’s, and other stalwart brands have shuttered many of their locations. Some chains are flirting with total closures. Others (farewell, Radio Shack and Bon-Ton) have already disappeared.


The Palacio de Hierro is hitting the gas on its retail business. The Mexican group of luxury department stores, which also operates single-brand stores, is stepping on the gas in its local market with about twenty store openings scheduled for the remainder of the year. Specifically, El Palacio de Hierro plans to strengthen brands such as Mango, Ugg, Desigual and The North Face in the Mexican market.


In my travels, I have heard a number come up often enough, and in diverse enough situations, that it strikes me as more than a coincidence: 50%.   From retailers as diverse as pets, automotive, and fashion, I have heard companies all set the same goal for themselves to have, in some mid-term amount of time (3-10 years), 50% of their sales come from services instead of products.


Its no surprise to anyone tuned into the current retail environment that A/B testing and having direct-to-consumer strategies and clear online purchase funnels are a regular reality of any up-and-coming brands retail playbook. And if youve really been paying attention, you know that pop-up and in-person brand experiences have become the trendy yet powerful tools for creating personal connections and increased brand loyalty among delighted customers.


I recently had the opportunity to connect with Francesca Danzi, the Chief Client Officer of Tory Burch, whom I met on a panel at the World Retail Congress.  Francesca has built her expertise in technology-enabled retail transformation through the years with the likes of Burberry, Bulgari, rag & bone, and Saint Laurent.


Each year, I take a look at the major digital transformation trends hitting every industry.  Next up are the big digital transformation trends in retail for 2020. Before getting into this year’s trends, I want to go over some of the hits and misses we chose for 2019


The retail shopping through mobile in Brazil is expected to record a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.6% to reach US$ 35,007.5 million by 2025.  The mobile wallet payment in retail industry increased at a CAGR of 20.1% during 2018-2025.


Hong Kong’s July retail sales sank by the most since February 2016 amid anti-government protests that have gripped the Chinese-ruled city for months. Retail sales in July fell 11.4% from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday, as social unrest hurt consumer sentiment and visitor arrivals started to fall.


Retailing thought leaders and co-founders of the Omni Talk podcast, Chris Walton and Anne Mezzenga teamed up with Xenia Retail, a Minneapolis-based point-of-sale technology company, to start Third Haus.


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