‘It’s a lot of extra work’: How the pandemic changed the store associate role

The role of the retail associate has historically been focused on store upkeep or helping customers. With the pandemic's lockdowns earlier this year, many retailers have found opportunities in asking their employees to adapt to their new hybrid online-brick and mortar strategy. These days, many workers are juggling fulfilling online orders, enforcing safety protocols and taking on virtual customer service duties.

Latest Stories

  • NOV 02, 2020

    To prepare for the holidays, Big-box retailers are making tech upgrades at warp speed

    While online sales are projected to rise over the holidays, many big-box retailers are still preparing for a rush of in-store traffic. So ahead of the holidays, many big-box retailers like Walmart and Target are making some tech upgrades in stores. To ensure customers who do shop in-store can get in and out while coming into contact with as few people as possible, retailers including Target and Walmart are adding more places to checkout through the store, as well as adding contactless payment options. They're also making upgrades to their store fulfillment services by making it easier for customers to adjust curbside or buy online pickup in-store orders within the retailers' app, and giving customers more contactless ways to pick up those items in stores.

  • OCT 30, 2020

    Deep Dive: Modern Retail Summit Live October 2020

    In the volatile world of 2020, retail merchants are scrambling to adjust to consumers’ rapid changes in shopping behaviors. Today, brands are developing new strategies to grow loyal customer bases by meeting consumers where they are -- both online and offline. These strategies pivot on the evolution of everything from products down to their brand voice. Here are takeaways and videos from the Modern Retail Summit Live.

  • OCT 29, 2020
    bed bath and beyond

    Bed Bath & Beyond’s grand turnaround plan: Make stores more inspirational, rely less on coupons

    After one year on the job, Bed Bath & Beyond CEO Mark Tritton has solidified a three-year plan that he hopes will turn the faltering home goods chain around. At a virtual investor day presentation, Tritton laid out the steps he and his executive team plan to take to return Bed Bath & Beyond to consistent sales growth, some of which have already been taken during the pandemic.

  • OCT 29, 2020

    Semihandmade’s John McDonald on hitching his wagon to Ikea, and then competing with it

    If you're going to hitch your company's wagon to another brand's success, Ikea isn't a bad choice. Semihandmade makes and sells cabinet doors for the giant retailer's fixtures, which can themselves be bought without the doors. For a small price increase, according to founder John McDonald, you get a big step up in quality. One big opportunity McDonald spots is the lack of name recognition beyond the top spot filled by Ikea. "There's Ikea in the U.S. and then there's 50 others made by the big guys," McDonald said on the Modern Retail Podcast.

  • OCT 27, 2020

    ‘Every day is casual’: How Kohl’s is betting on the wellness movement to become permanent

    Expect to see fewer handbags in Kohl's stores in the future, and more laundry detergent and yoga pants. On Monday, Kohl's announced that it would be testing out a new shop-in-shop called the Wellness Market, which will carry products like vitamins, dish soap, baby wipes from brands including Seventh Generation and the Honest Company. It's part of the new strategic framework Kohl's announced last week, in which the department store chain said its focus going forward is to be the leading retailer for shoppers looking for products to support an active and casual lifestyle.

  • OCT 26, 2020

    Why the holidays may upend American malls

    Malls have been struggling for a while now, but this holiday season may bring about a whole new reckoning. As more people shop online, traditional mall tenants find themselves in a lurch. Sales have plummets, many have gone bankrupt. And the only time of year that usually cushions the blow may leave malls worse off than before.

  • OCT 26, 2020

    The Container Store’s Netflix partnership hints at the future of streaming-based retail

    The tight-knit partnership between “Get Organized” and The Container Store is just an acceleration of an ongoing trend: Streaming is becoming ever more entangled with e-commerce. Product placements have existed forever, of course -- think of "E.T.", the 1982 film that sent sales of Reese’s soaring 70%. But these placements were almost never as thorough as the full-scale collaborations on “Get Organized.” And as brand sponsorships become more encompassing and data-driven, TV shows are beginning to look a lot more like retailers. 

  • OCT 23, 2020

    ‘Shopping patterns will feel longer and flatter’: Gap’s CMO on preparing for holiday campaigns

    The start of the holiday ads run usually takes place during the long Thanksgiving weekend. However, this year's schedule is all over the place, to say the least. Even before Halloween and Election Day have rolled around, retailers like Gap are already rolling out their national end-of-year TV and digital ads. Gap’s CMO Mary Alderete spoke about the brand is navigating this new terrain.

  • OCT 22, 2020

    How Blk & Bold capitalized on Target and Amazon’s coffee shortcomings

    It's hard to find good coffee online, and roaster Blk & Bold found that to be a competitive advantage. The company saw huge growth over the last year, thanks to its placement on retail shelves at stores like Target -- as well as being a top-selling brand on Amazon. On the Modern Retail Podcast, which was recorded live during our Modern Retail Summit this week, co-founder and CEO Pernell Cezar Jr. spoke about how he has grown the company.

  • OCT 22, 2020

    Why Ocean Spray’s cooperative business model is getting a second look

    Lost in Ocean Spray’s accidental moment in the spotlight is this fact: Ocean Spray is one of America’s oldest — and largest — retail coops. Since its founding, a network of farmers have owned and run the business. And even without TikTok in the picture, its business model is uniquely equipped for 2020. A number of businesses are turning to the cooperative model to stay afloat, while a group of incubators want to shepherd forward bigger coops that they believe can form the backbone of a more sustainable economy.

  • OCT 22, 2020

    As experience-based gifts wane, new types of presents emerge

    This year, many consumers aren't expecting or giving a Disney trip or a concert ticket under the tree. In fact, experience-based presents such as flight-based vacations and live shows are some of the least asked for, according to consumer data. Instead, shoppers are looking for alternatives like at home hobbies and gift cards for later use to make up for the lack of these experiences.

  • OCT 21, 2020

    How toy retailers and brands are preparing for a whole new world

    This year, as fewer people do their holiday shopping at stores, more toy sales are expected to move online. That means retailers like Walmart and Target also have to shift more of their marketing efforts for toys online, as do top toy brands like Mattel and Hasbro. This was a trend that was already underway before the start of the coronavirus outbreak, but has since been accelerated. According to eMarketer, e-commerce sales of toys are projected to grow 34.9% year-over-year, compared to 1.5.5% the year prior.

  • NOV 30, 2020

    Why shoppable content will help brands win this holiday season

    With in-person sales largely out of the picture this holiday season, brands must adapt to deliver the frictionless experiences that online consumers expect and demand.

Future Leader Awards
Dec 18, 2020

Recognizing the next generation of leaders across media and marketing, fashion, beauty and retail.

Remind Me