Last week, McDonald's joined Chipotle in an increasing list of companies that are raising wages and offering other benefits like on-the-spot hiring to attract new employees amidst a post-pandemic worker shortage in retail. In 2020, more unemployment claims were filed than in the Great Recession, thanks to both temporary and permanent store closures. Today, businesses are beginning to see sales return to pre-pandemic levels: food and retail sales were up 36% and 26%, respectively, in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same time period the year prior according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, businesses like McDonalds and Chipotle are facing PR crises over workplace treatment, and are struggling to find workers. To meet demand, businesses are raising wages, using on-the-spot-hiring and offering one-time bonuses to interest potential candidates.
Last week, Walmart announced it would acquire Zeekit, a startup that has worked with ASOS, Adidas and other brands on building technology that lets customers virtually try on clothes before they buy them. The acquisition represents the highest-profile endorsement of virtual try-on technology yet from a major brick-and-mortar retailer -- suggesting that even while virtual try-on remains a niche phenomenon, it is fast becoming the next battleground in retail.
Over the last few days, major retail businesses released a flurry of statements over the weekend updating to a no-mask-policy or doubling down on continued mask usage for customers and employees alike. However, most of these businesses didn’t address their plans to support their sales associates amongst the confusion, and some employees are concerned about enforcement, health, and safety moving forward.
Marc Rosen has worn many hats -- or, perhaps, pants -- at Levi's over the last seven years. As such, he's seen a lot of changes -- both within the company and in retail as a whole. On the Modern Retail Podcast, Rosen spoke about what he's been observing, as well as how his role at Levi's has changed both over the years and during the pandemic.
For years, Rakuten was the go-to third party marketplace for Japanese shoppers looking to buy anything from electronics to tennis shoes online. But then, in a dynamic that's played out in other countries around the world, Rakuten found itself on the defensive as Amazon started making greater inroads in Japan. Now Amazon, not Rakuten, is the bigger e-commerce player in Japan, by some estimates. And that's put Rakuten on the defensive.
Denim retailers are gearing up for the return of “hard pants” as pandemic restrictions loosen. In the pandemic, denim brands pushed loungewear and comfort and saw a majority of sales come from e-commerce, partially off-setting brick-and-mortar loses. As restrictions loosen, denim brands are betting on new silhouettes, as well as collections with a sustainability focus to win shoppers over. They also are hoping that customers will be eager to return to stores to refresh their wardrobes after a year of not having many occasions to go out for.
New Belgium’s latest beer, Torched Earth, tastes bad on purpose. The product is another in a series of creative marketing and project-based efforts from the Colorado-based craft brewer to bring awareness to climate change by illustrating the way beer might taste in a future without climate action.
At the Modern Retail Summit, held between April 21 to April 23, top retail executives discussed precisely these topics. Here are some of the top insights presented during the three-day event.
Going into 2021, the bigger crafting retailers are focusing on social media strategies, and building out their ad targeting strategies to appeal to the casual crafter. Meanwhile, some startups like LoveCrafts are looking to expand their presence geographically after seeing huge sales increases. But, the jury's still out on just how permanent these pandemic gains will be.
An arbitrator recently ruled that Macy's wasn't giving salespeople commissions because of its app. The decision is relatively limited in scope, but it is drawing attention to an under-the-radar issue in the retail world: as more and more retailers launch their own “scan and pay” apps, there’s a risk that sales floor workers will be locked out of commissions.
E-commerce technology is the new gold rush. New data from CB Insights showcases just how hot the e-commerce space is. In the first quarter of 2021, funding for e-commerce startups hit $11.7 billion -- up from $2.8 billion in the first quarter of 2020 and $5.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019. It showcases an industry-wide realization: more VCs are investing in e-commerce startups and more businesses are adopting digital features to make their businesses omnichannel.
As more beauty sales are moving online, retailers like Sephora have had to up their e-commerce game. Carolyn Bojanowski, senior vice president and general manager of e-commerce at Sephora, said that a big focus for the retailer over the past year has been adding more e-commerce services, like a same-day delivery partnership with Instacart, as well as more ways for customers to chat with Sephora employees online. Bojanowski spoke more with Modern Retail about how Sephora's e-commerce experiences have evolved over the past year.
Google wants to make it crystal clear that it's not a marketplace. True, people can buy things on Google, but it also lets sellers link out to other marketplaces. On the Modern Retail Podcast, Bill Ready, the company's president of commerce and payments, discussed this important nuance.
After testing out same-day delivery with third party services -- including Instacart, DoorDash and Postmates -- Walgreens has designed and launched its own delivery program. To compete with large retailers, the pharmacy chain will use its store associates pick and pack orders for third party messengers to drop off at customers' homes.
When Walmart's chief marketing officer William White joined the company last May, America's largest retailer was in rapid response mode. During a video chat at the Modern Retail Summit last week, White spoke about how the company had to shift its marketing strategy during the coronavirus pandemic last year, as well as how his team is trying to make Walmart a "culturally and emotionally relevant brand.
At the Modern Retail Marketing Leaders Forum, we’ll bring together senior retail marketers to discuss the challenges they’re facing and the solutions they’re seeking in the era of smarter retail.Book Passes