Store of the Future

Free samples are returning to the post-pandemic world — but they’re different than before

The future of samples is pre-packed, according to brands experimenting with handing out free products in the coming months. As CPG brands attempt to find and retain customers, some companies are looking to digital and outdoor pop-ups to distribute samples.

Latest Stories

  • JUN 22, 2021

    ‘I will never work in retail again’: Big-box retail employees are feeling burnt out after a year of being stretched thin

    Throughout the pandemic, retail workers  found their to-do-lists growing by the day. At the beginning of the pandemic, they were tasked with cleaning down highly-trafficked areas and working quickly to restock the items that were flying off the shelves, like toilet paper. Then, during the first round of stay-at-home orders, many of them were transferred over to fulfill curbside and buy online pickup in-store orders, services that became more popular during the pandemic. As a result, many retail workers are feeling burnt out after a year of being pulled in multiple directions.

  • JUN 15, 2021

    From McDonald’s to Chipotle, restaurants are doubling down on drive-thrus

    Fast food and fast casual chains are betting on drive-thrus to remain popular, even as the pandemic subsides. Particularly in the early stages of the pandemic, restaurants struggled as indoor dining shuttered in most states. But, drive-thru visits soared, up 26% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020 according to NPD Group. In response, experienced drive-thru players like McDonald’s as well as other newer players announced new investments in the feature.

  • JUN 14, 2021

    ‘The no mask policy is already giving me anxiety’: 4 retail workers on changing mask regulations

    Last month, the CDC announced the loosening of its mask guidance, saying people who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus are not required to wear a mask “in any setting” unless local laws and regulations demanded it. Since then, retailers have been left to their own devices to come up with new mask guidelines for employees and customers. Modern Retail spoke to four people currently working in retail about how they feel about these new guidelines.

  • JUN 14, 2021

    A tale of 3 cities: The state of retail in Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles

    After a year and a half of unevenly applied US Covid-19 regulations as well as various city exoduses, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago’s retail scenes fare differently. While many hope for a return to store in 2021, retailers' fates rest somewhat on location. Here's our look into how the three cities are faring.

  • JUN 07, 2021

    Why retailers are increasingly building mobile apps for store employees

    As store workers at many big-box retailers like Walmart, Target and Best Buy are now expected to deal with both online and in-store orders, retailers are increasingly thinking about creating new tech tools to help workers manage the growing list of tasks they're responsible for. Walmart, for example announced last week that it was creating a new mobile app called [email protected] Through the app, store employees can manage their shifts and view their schedules, use a voice-activated personal assistant to answer common questions, such as where certain items are located throughout the store, and eventually, use the app to scan merchandise in the backroom.

  • MAY 21, 2021

    ‘Buying things that make them feel happy’: Dresses and bright colors are driving sales at apparel startups

    As the United States begins to reopen, small fashion startups navigate new consumer interest in dressing up, bright colors, and in-store experiences. The fashion industry struggled in the pandemic, with economic uncertainty slowing discretionary spending and leading to store closures. Small fashion brands, with limited assortments and nimble business teams, pivoted to e-commerce and comfort. Now, small fashion start-ups are offering bright colors, dressed up silhouettes and in-store experiences that consumers are flocking to.

  • MAY 18, 2021

    Retailers and employees struggle to navigate new CDC mask guidelines

    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.

  • APR 27, 2021

    As brands take livestreaming more seriously, hosts become a hot commodity

    Nordstrom, Amazon, Mall of America, TikTok, Walmart and hundreds of other brands are trying to popularize the medium to the United States. That has, in turn, giving rise to a new category of retail professional: livestream shopping host.

  • APR 15, 2021

    As brands consider opening pop-ups, New York City loses its luster

    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.

  • APR 06, 2021

    After coronavirus losses, retailers are betting big on new store openings this year

    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.

  • MAR 22, 2021

    Buy now pay later services are going after smaller businesses

    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.

  • MAR 17, 2021

    How Sam’s Club’s mobile app helped it compete during the pandemic

    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.

  • OCT 18, 2021

    Report: The state of online marketplaces

Modern Retail Summit
Oct 12–Oct 14, 2021

At the Modern Retail Summit, retail marketers will discuss everything from the Amazon effect to new infrastructure to the shift in the direct-to-consumer world.

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