Whole Foods just announced that it was closing one of its popular Manhattan locations to handle only digital orders for the time being. It highlights the crunch even the most prepare retailers are facing. But once things begin to normalize, all grocery players are going to have to re-think and re-invest to better handle online fulfillment.
Essential retailers' workforces are under a lot of strain right now, as they are being forced to keep up with unprecedented demand, while at the same time many of their employees may be calling out sick. As a result, relying on robots to complete more in-store tasks is starting to look more and more attractive to retailers. Before the coronavirus pandemic, retailers including Walmart and Giant Eagle were starting to test out using robots in their stores for tasks like unloading pallets of inventory and scanning shelves to get a count of inventory. Now, that trend will likely accelerate.
Target's CEO just warned that this Q1 will bring lower profits than expected. While not surprising, it does paint a bleak picture for other retailers in similar situation. Companies big and small have had to shift their program online. If Target is having difficult making the economics work, it's going to be much worse for others.
I’m not working today. I have bad anxiety, and have increasingly become more terrified of killing someone’s grandma. I’m not as worried about getting sick myself, so grocery shopping for me has become awful. Even before the strike, I’d been cutting back on work. Thankfully my rent is paid through April, but I’m terrified of falling behind on bills.
Toy stores haven't fared well over the last century. But a new crop of retailer are trying to rethink the entire category — and make it less of a toy store and more of an experience. Will it work?
As other types of retail businesses have temporarily closed their stores in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, grocery store workers and employees at big-box chains like Target and Walmart have found that their jobs have become more critical than ever before. Shoppers are flooding their stores looking for toilet paper, hand sanitizer and to stock up on two weeks worth of groceries. That leaves workers scrambling to fulfill order pick-ups and make sure the stocks are shelved before the stores are opened, coming in earlier than usual to unload extra trucks, and struggling to keep up with more frequent cleanings that have been ordered by corporate offices.
This week, Neighborhood Goods opened its third location in Austin, Texas. With it, the company is also offering brands a new digital dashboard to better understand store analytics. As more physical retail concepts become popular with digital brands, the ability to analyze and contextualize real-time data is increasingly becoming table stakes.
ThredUp just announced a new partnership with Gap that would let customers consign their old clothes. It shows the secondhand clothing platform staking it claim as a helpful brand partner for traditional retailers looking for a refresh.
"We really thought the opportunity was to combine healthy and safe needle piercing with really accessibly priced, fun jewelry in an environment that the customer was excited to spend time in," Harman said.
Strip malls are starting to get a second look from some retailers who have historically ignored them. Last week, both Macy's and Sephora announced that they would seek to open more stores in strip malls in the coming years. Last year, supplements brand GNC announced plans to close 700 of its mall-based stores, and instead focus on its stores in strip malls, which were reporting "relatively stable" store comps.
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.”
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.
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.
With in-person sales largely out of the picture this holiday season, brands must adapt to deliver the frictionless experiences that online consumers expect and demand.
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