Follow us on
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.


Catalog Doctor

Susan J. McIntyre
Benefit + Unique Sells
Apr 23, 2015

Are your catalog and products unique? Are they loaded with customer benefits? If "yes" to both, are you also telling...

Return on Intelligence

Jim Gilbert
How to Beat the 140-Character Limit on Twitter
Apr 21, 2015

A few weeks ago, Twitter made a major change to its user interface allowing marketers to break the barrier of the 140-character...

The Art of Delivering Style

Maria Haggerty
Become Part of the Problem-Solving Business
Apr 17, 2015

A great fulfillment partner is one that can help business owners accomplish their goals by providing trust, excitement and new...


Stephen Lett
50 Best Tips for 2015
Feb 9, 2015

It's a new year and the Lett Direct team has put together "50 Best Tips for 2015" that will help you increase...

Shipping Insights

Rob Martinez
FedEx SmartPost to Raise Rates Again?
Mar 30, 2015

While FedEx SmartPost hasn't made any public announcements as of this publication, select customers have received written notifications of a...

Designed to Convert

Tim Ash
If You Need More Darned Clutter on Your Site ...
Mar 27, 2015

You've probably heard this one before: When you're trying to get a visitor to your site, you should be screaming...

Return on Inventory

Joe Palzkill
Get Returns on Your Returns
Mar 5, 2015

With the advent of omnichannel retailing, the subject of customer returns has become a hot topic for retailers. The financial...

Retail Revelations

Melissa Campanelli
When Email Snafus Happen to Good Companies
Nov 12, 2014

Say it ain't so! I was actually sad when I read in MarketWatch this week that Seattle-based online retailer Zulily’s...

Email Marketing Bites

Liz Ryan
The Email Hierarchy of Needs: Deliverability is the Foundation
Jun 18, 2014

If you're not getting the most of your email messaging, you might not be asking the right questions. How many...

Email Applied

Reggie  Brady
Subject Lines That Work
Jul 18, 2014

Standing out in the inbox isn't easy. A lot of promotional emails I receive have subject lines that aren't special....

ThinkAbout: Inspirational Verve for Your Product Line!

Andrea Syverson
Springboard From Your Brand Filter
Jun 26, 2014

One of the most important ways I strengthen my clients’ brands and product lines is by collaborating with their leaders...

B-to-B Insights

George Hague
2 Must-Have B-to-B Metrics
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., 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.

Companies Mentioned:


Click here to leave a comment...
Comment *
Most Recent Comments: