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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.


Return on Inventory

Joe Palzkill
How Product Profiling Increases Sales and Profits
Aug 22, 2014

An accepted best practice in inventory planning is to adhere to the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule....

Catalog Doctor

Susan J. McIntyre
Fun and Profit From Your Square Inch Analysis Report
Aug 12, 2014

Planning your spring catalog? Your "sqinch" (aka square inch analysis) report is one of your most important tools. And more...

The Art of Delivering Style

Maria Haggerty
5 Ways Retailers Can Compete With Amazon’s Same-Day Delivery Model
Aug 12, 2014

Most small retailers lack the resources and store footprint to handle same-day shipping on their own. However, it's still possible...

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...

Designed to Convert

Tim Ash
Local Optimization Drives Conversions, But Your Local Page Won’t
Jul 31, 2014

Local was already in play before the iPhone changed the online marketing game in 2007, but the mobile shift has...

Return on Intelligence

Jim Gilbert
LinkedIn Publishing Platform: User Review, Tips and Some Wishes for its Next Iteration, Part 3
Jul 23, 2014

This week in the third and final part of this series, I offer suggestions for how LinkedIn's publishing platform can...

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...


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
Attention FedEx and UPS Ground Shippers: New Carrier Policies Amount to Largest Rate Increase Ever!
Jun 19, 2014

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
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.

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