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Managing Editor

Retail Rants & Raves

By Joe Keenan

About Joe

Joe Keenan is senior editor of Retail Online Integration and Target Marketing Group's web-only brand, eM+C. In addition to his work on those publications, Joe has contributed articles for fellow Target Marketing Group publications Book Business and Publishing Executive magazines. Previously, he served as senior editor at Reed Technology & Information Services for five years. Retail Rants & Raves covers the wide spectrum of retail marketing, from the very best it has to offer to the very worst.

 

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  Often, while working with Direct Tech's current and prospective customers, I'll hear the age-old question: "Can't the system just do that?" If...



Catalog Doctor

Susan J. McIntyre
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Over the years, I've come to realize that in many ways cataloging is rocket science. Here are four reasons why:...



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In marketing, we often get so caught up with technology that we fail to focus on the insights we can...



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Andrea Syverson
Springboard From Your Brand Filter
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One of the most important ways I strengthen my clients’ brands and product lines is by collaborating with their leaders...



The Art of Delivering Style

Maria Haggerty
Delivery and Returns Experience Leaves Lasting Impression on Customers
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Consumers expect the online shopping experience to be nearly as seamless as the in-store experience. While companies like Amazon.com are working...



Print-Plus

Stephen Lett
The Real Driver of Catalog Circulation
Jun 20, 2014

Print catalog circulation is starting to increase for a number of reasons. First, mailing a catalog drives business to the...



Shipping Insights

Rob Martinez
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By now it's likely you've heard that both FedEx and UPS are revising pricing policies for ground packages, moving from...



Retail Revelations

Melissa Campanelli
’Tis the Season for Experienced Retail Sales Associates
Nov 15, 2013

Many retailers are preparing for the busy holiday shopping days ahead by making sure their websites are working properly, their...



B-to-B Insights

George Hague
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Apr 9, 2014

Smart CEOs know two essential B-to-B metrics to successfully grow their businesses: contribution per order (CPO) for new customers and...



Reflections on NRF 2013

 

Now that a full week has gone by since the National Retail Federation's Big Show in New York City, I've finally caught up and found the time to put together a post on what I took away from the show. Here are my thoughts (in no particular order):

  • Changing consumer behaviors (i.e., the use of mobile devices, primarily smartphones, for shopping) are causing retailers to adjust their marketing strategies. The days of marketing to consumers via one channel or enabling them to transact in one channel are long gone, replaced by omnichannel organizations that are flexible enough to engage consumers in the way they want (e.g., responding to a customer service question via Twitter), facilitate transactions in multiple channels (e.g., online marketplaces, pop-up shops, Facebook stores) and fulfill those orders via multiple channels (e.g., buy online, pick up in-store; fulfilling online orders from brick-and-mortar stores).
  • Brick-and-mortar stores are still relevant ... and profitable. It's been well documented that retail e-commerce sales continue to grow, but the value of a physical storefront wasn't lost on this gathering of retailers. A keynote presentation from Warby Parker's Co-Founder Neil Blumenthal focused on the formerly online-only eyewear retailer's decision to open brick-and-mortar locations. Not only do Warby Parker's stores and office showrooms provide a "learning laboratory" for the brand, they're an amazing sales channel, too, Blumenthal said. In fact, Warby Parker's store and showrooms generated $2.5 million in sales last year, registering higher sales per square foot than jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. 
  • Next-day shipping is old news; same-day shipping is the new standard. Consumers want instant gratification when they make online purchases. Making them wait any longer than a day for their orders to arrive is no longer acceptable in their eyes. Amazon.com, as is the case with many retail trends, is at the forefront of the same-day shipping movement. The online retailer is setting up distribution centers across the country to fulfill and ship its orders as quickly as possible. Now retailers have to compete with Amazon on not only price, but speed of delivery as well. Cross-channel retailers are addressing this immediacy trend by implementing shop online, pick up in-store programs as well as fulfilling online orders from the closest brick-and-mortar location.
  • Selling internationally, both online and via brick-and-mortar stores, is a potential growth opportunity for American retailers. That said, there are several factors you must consider before investing the time and money into an international expansion: will your product line resonate internationally; how does seasonality affect your product selection; do you open company-owned stores or have franchisees; among others.
  • The Javits Center needs more food choices (or more people working the available options). Standing in line an hour-and-a-half for a slice of pizza just doesn't seem worth it. And I'm not interested in eating lunch at 10:30 a.m. to avoid the lines.
  • Establishing an employee-centric culture within your organization is a wise move. Kip Tindell, chairman and CEO of The Container Store, spoke of his company's efforts to make its employees the cornerstone of its business. If you treat the people who work for you well, they in turn will treat your customers well, Tindell theorized.
  • One of my favorite quotes from the conference comes from Warby Parker's Blumenthal: Becoming lean [as a company] doesn't work if your definition of lean is fast and cheap. 2013 will be about deliberate and thoughtful. Ask the next question.

All in all it was another successful and educational NRF Big Show (despite some minor internet connection problems in the press room, but we'll leave that topic for another day). I'm already looking forward to next year.

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