David's Bridal has launched a suite of online wedding planning tools, including a messaging chatbot named Zoey, aimed at helping people find and purchase their wedding looks. The idea is that a service layer will be enough to fend off competition and create a more seamless experience. Taking a page from wedding planning services like Zola, David's Bridal helping brides do save the dates, curate mood boards via Pinterest and of course embarking on finding the perfect wedding dress, all from their device.
When retailers seek to cut costs, salaried store employees can be the first ones to get the ax. Among those who do remain, many of them say that their job is becoming harder and the hours more unpredictable, according to five current or former salaried managers Modern Retail spoke with.
Staples is launching Staples Connect, a concept store that will include spaces for co-working, podcast recording and events. The office supply chain said the format, which initially announced it last April, will debut in six Boston area Connect locations, and is “built around the ever-evolving needs of the retail customer.”
Where Amazon goes, other retailers follow. So as Amazon has rapidly expanded its network of Go stores, startups like Grabango and Zippin have launched to help retailers launch similar types of facilities that allow customers to walk in and out without having to stop at a cash register. These types of stores usually use a mix of computer vision and sensors to track which items shoppers pick up as they move throughout the store. That way, when a shopper exits, the store knows exactly which items to charge each customer for, typically through an app the customer has to download before entering.
More grocery stores are realizing they need to build out standalone programs to fulfill digital orders. There are a few choices on the market currently, but one trend called micro-fulfillment is increasingly catching companies' eyes.
Starbucks is opening a store only for online orders. It's a way for customers to not have to deal with a long line coffee drinks. It's also a growing trend for retailers, who are looking for cheaper ways to try new services and location concepts.
As legacy retailers struggle with what to do with their large store footprint, there's a growing industry of retail-as-a-service companies that are pitching them on software and services that they say will help them make better use of in-store space.
REI is extending Opt Outside. The retailer is again closing its stores and websites this Black Friday so employees can, ostensibly, go outside. This year, it’s also starting an Opt to Act program, joining a nationwide clean-up effort to collect trash, clean up their neighborhoods and tackle waste. (The company is also rethinking its own business model to use fewer plastic bags and be close to zero waste by 2020.)
Big-box retailers are starting to make bigger pushes into health care to target older shoppers. This week, Best Buy announced that it hired its first chief medical officer and announced at an investor meeting its plans to ramp up services like remote monitoring of seniors. Last month, Walmart began piloting a new standalone health care clinic in Georgia that offers primary care and mental health services.
Starbucks just announced a new store concept that allows customers to order their drinks online and more quickly and easily pick them up. It's not the only retailer seeking out new ways to reinvigorate physical spaces.
As shopping moves online and staple retailers increasingly close their doors, developers have been working to revive the draw of the mall. An audacious attempt to reinvigorate the American mall is taking shape in the dreary swamplands of East Rutherford, just outside New York City.
Brick-and-mortar remains an important sales channel for any mall-based retailer, but especially those whose most frequent customers are teenagers. According to a study last year from the International Council of Shopping Centers, 95% of Gen Z shoppers visited a mall between February and April 2018, compared to 75% of millennial and 58% of Gen X shoppers.
Target just announced that its opened around 100 small format stores. These curated shops -- generally in metropolitan locations -- have helped the big box retailer expand and provide more localized offerings. But past retailers have made the same scaled-back attempt and failed.
As big-box retailers like Target, Walmart and Kohl's are grappling with how to defend their business against Amazon's endless aisles, they are finding that in order to gain sales traction in certain categories, offering a curated, sometimes smaller assortment is key.
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