Retail Online Integration

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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.


Designed to Convert

Tim Ash
3 Things Every Retailer Should Know About Mobile Visitors
Apr 23, 2014

Even as smartphones, tablets and wearables become ubiquitous aspects of consumers’ daily lives, digital marketers continue to struggle to figure...

Return on Inventory

Joe Palzkill
Good Plans, Great Reactions
Apr 22, 2014

An underappreciated component to inventory planning excellence is careful alignment of the planning calendar to the timing of marketing activities....

ThinkAbout: Inspirational Verve for Your Product Line!

Andrea Syverson
What's Waiting to Be ‘Just Born' in Your Production Line?
Apr 17, 2014

What holiday best represents your brand? How might the successes from that season be a springboard for others? What whimsical...

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...

Catalog Doctor

Susan J. McIntyre
Why Catalogs Aren't a Bunch of Ads Stapled Together
Apr 11, 2014

PATIENT: "Doc, our new owners want to change the catalog so it's more like a series of ads — aspirational, exciting,...

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...

The Art of Delivering Style

Maria Haggerty
3 Ways Retailers Can Avoid Warehouse Scalability Problems
Apr 2, 2014

Although growing quickly may seem like the ideal scenario, it can cause operational issues for retailers who are ill equipped...

Return on Intelligence

Jim Gilbert
2 Simple Ways to Become a Social Media Thought Leader and Build Your Following
Mar 18, 2014

Today I begin a new series about social media marketing. The goal is to help you become more adept at...

Shipping Insights

Rob Martinez
2014-2015 Conference Calendar for Supply Chain, Distribution, Postal, Specialized Industry and More
Mar 4, 2014

The value of attending conferences is significant: learn from a combination of expert and peer-led presentations on trends and strategies...


Stephen Lett
Actions to Take (or Not Take) When Response Rates Decline
Feb 19, 2014

Catalog response rates have been flat or trending down the past few years … or so it seems. The web...

Email Applied

Reggie  Brady
Taking Advantage of Events, Not Just the Big Holidays
Sep 16, 2013

Most marketers develop an editorial and promotional master calendar to help organize their upcoming email schedule. You want to have...

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.

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