Despite the record number of closures of brick and mortar stores over the past year, some retailers are finding an expansion opportunity. Several brands -- especially in booming categories like athleisure and discount stores -- are taking advantage of real estate deals to increase their footprint. Among them are Gap Inc., Lululemon and Dick's Sporting Goods.
The installment payment space is infiltrating local businesses. After a year of customers seeking the financing options from tech startups like Klarna and Affirm, buy now pay later startup Sunbit is hoping to ride that wave by attracting small merchants.
E-commerce brands are getting ready to test the waters of physical retail again. The increase in vaccinations over the spring has coincided with an uptick in pop-ups from e-commerce companies like Misfits Market and Cuts Clothing. The interest in pop-ups is being spurred by a combination of factors, including the fact that rent is still low in many places right now. But not all e-commerce companies are fully ready to commit to retail again.
A year into the pandemic, digital and mobile have become retailer must haves. Warehouse clubs have typically been behind the times when it comes to those types of services. However, as the success of the Sam's Club shows, Walmart's investment in mobile shopping features has paid off for the subsidiary.
Target's long term plans to capitalize on its record sales year includes investing in its physical stores. In its fourth quarter earnings announcement, the big box retailer unveiled plans to spend $4 billion annually to modernize and automate its existing stores, along with opening new ones near college campuses and metro areas.
This week, Tonal announced a store-within-store partnership with Nordstrom to bring its workout machines to a national consumer base. The move shows that as the virtual fitness field deepens, so does competition for retail space and customers.
After years of focusing on growing within large cities like New York and Los Angeles, skincare startup shop Heyday is going the franchise route to expand. The company, which closed a $20 funding round this month, is hoping the addition of a virtual consultation platform will help it gain a bigger presence.
Companies like Walgreens and CVS have managed to keep revenue growing during the pandemic -- but they've also been hurt by falling sales of products in non-essential categories like beauty. Before the pandemic, these companies were trying to reinvent themselves as primary care destinations, by adding more spaces in store and online for health care products and services beyond just refilling prescriptions. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has only made that transformation more urgent.
Burger King is the latest quick service restaurant to announce it's launching a customer rewards program. This week, the fast food chain joins rival McDonald's in piloting a loyalty program that encourages repeat purchases and digital orders. Many of these businesses incurred increased losses during the coronavirus outbreak -- and they likely see new digital programming as a way to try and garner more customer engagement.
Buy now, pay later services had a record year in customer acquisition during the pandemic. Now, companies like Afterpay and Affirm are turning to physical stores to market their installment payment options for customers. What began as an e-commerce checkout tool is becoming the latest tool to get shoppers back into stores.
As retailers increasingly open more stores in strip malls or open-air shopping centers, they're also rethinking what these locations should look like. Locations of Macy's new off-mall chain, for example run only 20,000 square feet, tens of thousands of feet smaller than the typical department store. As other retailers like Sephora and Foot Locker are looking at opening more off-mall locations, they're following similar playbook.
While gyms rush to build out virtual workout products to retain members, seeking out corporate clients has become a growing trend within the industry. From nationwide players like Equinox and Gympass, to regional studios like Fhitting Room, the race to be featured in employers' wellness offerings has begun.
In 2020, retail workers could no longer just be salespeople. They also had to be safety officers, virtual stylists and shepherds of buy online, pickup in-store orders. The job of the employee changed every single month," said David Marcotte. senior vice president of cross-border retail at Kantar Consulting. In 2021, retail workers shouldn't be pulled in as many different directions -- but the lines between roles will likely continue to blur.
2020 was a big year for Walmart. Not only did the big box store benefit from essential bulk shopping throughout the pandemic, it also overhauled its image as a hub for not only big CPG brands, but young DTC labels. With an aggressive strategy to appeal to every type of consumer, Walmart is proving that at the end of the day, millions of Americans end up turning to it for their needs.
Since the fall, Minnesota-based Mall of America has teamed up with live-stream shopping app Popshop Live to stream products from within its network of stores. Simon Property Group -- a commercial real estate company that owns over 100 malls in the U.S. -- has reportedly struck a partnership with another livestream app, ShopShops. As the pandemic continues to exacerbate long-term revenue declines, these companies are hoping that livestreams will sell products without customers ever needing to enter a store.
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