Tech solutions providers have accelerated partnerships with retailers to implement new AI tools beyond autonomous checkout. In recent months, vendors have announced tools for more targeted in-store marketing and social distance compliance as foot traffic picks up again.
Amazon is about to open its first Fresh store, which lets customers put items in a cart and then leave without checking out. Meanwhile, this month, convenience store chain Circle K became the latest retailer to announce a new "grab and walk out" payments rollout across thousands of its stores. There's a growing race by retailers to implement this new type of cashier-less technology.
Party City’s annual October Halloween pop ups have been scaled back by about 90% this year. It also plans to hired 20% fewer seasonal workers. The party supply chain's decision, which counts on the holiday's sales for 20% of its annual revenue, could signal a similar fate for other seasonal pop-ups this year.
Less than two years into the opening of Hudson Yards, one of the most expensive real estate projects in the country, the development's shopping center is losing its anchor tenant. Last week, Neiman Marcus, which filed for bankruptcy in May, announced that it would be closing its Hudson Yards store, among other locations. As Hudson Yards considers a new type of tenant to take over the space, which spans three floors, each type of tenant comes with its own set of drawbacks.
Stores aren’t dead, but they aren’t exactly alive either. As stores across the U.S. are currently in phased reopenings, many retailers are still in disputes or negotiations over rent payments during Covid-19 closures and are discussing ways to rethink payments for a future with dramatically lowered foot traffic. While some have been able to negotiate with landlords and receive discounts on rent, others are facing landlords playing hardball, who are citing their own mortgage payments.
The shift in real estate planning, along with healthy online sales, has changed the way DTC brands think about real estate. It's also why the role of experiential stores -- those like Showfields, Neighborhood Goods and B8ta -- could be even more important to brands when it comes to awareness and conversion.
As retailers seek to make greater inroads into health care, many of them have unveiled aggressive plans to launch dozens -- if not hundreds -- of their own primary care clinics over the coming years. Whichever of them builds the most successful chain of clinics has the potential to win over a very lucrative share of shoppers' wallets.
As part of Nike's plan to increase the percentage of its sales that come from its direct-to-consumer, the company has been opening a slew of new stores in order over the past couple of years to boost sales. Now, the company is unveiling a new retail format that it hopes will make its stores a more regular destination for shoppers. Called Nike Rise, they serve as a hub for local sports enthusiasts, by hosting new in-store events as well as through the addition of new app features.
Over a decade after it opened its first store, Microsoft is scaling back its retail ambitions. Microsoft’s shuttering is yet another example of tech companies' bad luck with brick and mortar. The stores highlighted a major branding problem for the computing giant: at its core, Microsoft is essentially a wholesales goods company, with a limited history in selling them directly to end consumers.
As malls prepare to welcome back shoppers, the types of experiences that they are willing to step out of the house for has changed. Rather than spending hours rifling through racks of clothing, some shoppers are turning to curbside pickup. Instead of spending a Saturday at the movie theater, they may stop by a restaurant that's open for outdoor dining. And that means some malls may have to reconfigure their space to make way for new types of attractions.
Store closures could grow exponentially this year as brick-and-mortar retailers have seen their sales collapse over the last couple of months. Consulting firm Coresight Research released a study this week projecting that the number of permanent store closures in the U.S. could reach 20,000 to 25,000 this year. The question remains: what will happen to all those spaces?
Modern Retail spent a week looking into all the changes needed for stores around the country to reopen. Much of it involves guesswork, because no one knows what shoppers will want in the next few months. Neither do we know if the coronavirus will have a second wave. Taking this all into account, here's a rundown of all the biggest changes on the horizon.
Virtual try-ons quickly took the place of fitting rooms, and with many brands still strategizing reopenings, the solution has quickly become a growing part of the e-commerce offerings. For brands that heavily rely on help from store associates and customer test runs to make sales and minimize return rates, such as Lululemon, Deciem and Design Within Reach, providing virtual customer support is a long game.
Many retailers and companies rely on people testing out their products. But with social distancing in place and many stores closed, that gets much more difficult. For some, it may mean sampling is completely off the table. For others, it means introducing new operations and safeguards that were never thought of before.
The reservation-to-shop trend is in full swing, and results have been mixed. While grocery chains like DeCicco & Sons have “received an overwhelmingly positive response from customers," other businesses that rely on heavy walk-in traffic, such as bakeries, haven't found them very useful.
Seventy-three percent of shoppers now use multiple channels to research and shop before making a purchase. And 90 percent expect consistent interactions across all of those channels.
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