Lush Cosmetics Lowers Prices and Improves Service Through Store Communication Platform

Lush Cosmetics, a beauty retailer, recently launched a communication platform and workflow platform to help its managers and store associates. This app-based platform allows for regular communication between company executives and front-line employees in stores. Lush uses the platform for important messages such as product launches and merchandising displays. It also helps with in-store marketing campaigns. Lush previously used voicemails, emails and the intranet of the company to communicate with employees in stores, but it wasn’t getting the engagement it wanted.

 

Lush partnered last year with Retail Zipline to enable this new communication system. This app helps businesses simplify communications and task management. Lush’s employees in-store use their mobile devices to download the app and log into it at the beginning of each shift. They can access important messages related to their shift and the entire business from the app.

 

Retail Zipline CEO Melissa Wong says brands need to be able to interact with their employees in real-time. Lush believes that engaging with its employees is about more than the product they sell in their stores. Although that is an important part of it, it is also about how the associates interact with customers. It also involves the role of the store associate within the company and how they can make the brand’s experience better for customers.

Lindsay Nelson, Lush’s retail communications manager, said that Retail Zipline’s partnership has allowed the retailer to communicate more effectively with its staff. It also provides better insight into the performance of the store, which has resulted in time savings, improved operations, and improved efficiency, all leading to cost savings. Lush’s employees love using Retail Zipline. This has led to happier employees. Customers are more likely be able to return to Lush’s brand for more service. Two, happier employees tend to stay longer and reduce hiring costs.

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Lindsay Nelson, Retail Communications Manager at Lush Cosmetics

Lush’s store employees are used to using their phones and apps every day. This means that there was little to no training needed when the Retail Zipline platform went live to its nearly 250 North American brick and mortar locations. The Retail Zipline app must be fun and easy to use for them to access it daily. Nelson and her team emphasize storytelling in their communications with store employees, especially around Lush’s unique products.

Lush is proud to sell organic and fresh products and it has a mission to share that message with consumers. Retail Zipline allows Lush to take the first step towards that goal, at least offline. It provides a platform for real time communications between headquarters and the store teams. They then relay product stories to customers. Lush’s products are important to store associates. They also have a direct impact on customers’ purchasing decisions.

Source https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/lush-cosmetics-reduces-costs-improves-service-with-store-communication-platform/

Barneys New York Launches a Cannabis Store in California

According to Forbes, Barneys New York will open a California cannabis shop called The High End. The new “cannabis lifestyle” shop will open March within an existing Barneys Beverly Hills store. Barneys stores across California will soon have more cannabis shops. The Beverly Hills location will be a partner of luxury cannabis brand Beboe and will carry the brand’s vaporizer pen, pastilles and CBD range. High End will also carry accessories from other high-end marijuana brands as well as cannabis-themed jewellery. Barneys.com will have a selection of products from the high-end cannabis shop.

Total Retail’s View: The cannabis market continues to grow and attract larger brands to the sector. Barneys New York has partnered with California’s recreational cannabis users in order to combine the rising culture trend and the brand’s high-end retail stores. This partnership between Beboe and the luxury brand demonstrates how mainstream cannabis is becoming. It also likely foreshadows other competitors looking to grab a piece of this market. There are also luxury cannabis experience brands like MedMen. Their chief marketing officer was interviewed recently on Total Retail Talks.

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source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/barneys-new-york-to-launch-cannabis-store-in-california/

How successful retailers create community spaces for customers

It started with “groceraunts” but has since spread to all aspects of the retail industry. Community spaces in retail stores have been proven to increase foot traffic and provide a better customer experience. Community spaces can be a cafe or wine bar, a bistro, or just a place to relax with Wi-Fi. They help retailers stand out and increase customer loyalty.

A community space can be a great way to accomplish several things in your store.

A strong sense of belonging is key

You give shoppers the chance to make new connections and strengthen existing ones by creating a space that is open to them. The retail space becomes a place where friends can gather and have a drink. Students can use the Wi-Fi to work on projects. Clubs can also meet in the area. This creates a community and a sense loyalty to the group as well as the place.

These types of tight-knit communities are what drive customers to go offline and shop in physical stores. A customer-centric space is essential when you want to compete with ecommerce. It allows people to interact in a way that’s not possible through online shopping.

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Encourage customers to return

You can encourage repeat visits once you have attracted customers. By personalizing your marketing campaigns and allowing customers to choose the products that interest them, you can tailor your offers to suit their needs.

To entice them back to your cafe, offer specials on their favorite drinks if they spend a lot of time there. You can also offer themed nights in your cafe to entice customers to return. Customers will be drawn to your cafe if you provide a welcoming environment and offer amenities such as free Wi-Fi.

Encourage customers to spend more

Your store will make more money if customers return to it more often. Customers who stay longer are more likely to come back. Customers will stay longer if they feel that your store is customer-oriented. Customers can browse your products and discover something new.

Your loyalty program can be leveraged to increase customers’ average spending by allowing points to accrue based on dollar spent. You can offer customers a $5 coupon for a smoothie, or a free cup of coffee when they reach a certain spending threshold. This will encourage them to spend more.

Why it matters

In the end, customers will notice that your store is customer-centric. Online shopping is so easy that customers can find almost anything they need online. The actual products you sell are secondary. Customers should have great customer experiences. This will drive loyalty. This can be achieved by creating a relaxing environment for customers.

Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/why-successful-retailers-create-community-spaces-for-customers/

Sam’s Club is gaining loyalty because of private-label products

Customers will be more loyal to your store if they can only purchase their favorite products at that location. Chandra Holt is the senior vice president and chief operational officer of Sam’s Club, and SamsClub.com. This was discussed in a session held at Groceryshop Monday. Krystina Gstafson, vice-president of content at Groceryshop, interviewed Holt.

Holt joined Sam’s Club as a member in 2015. The membership-only retailer owned 21 private-label brands before Holt joined. Holt’s strategy was change. In the end, he embarked on a plan to reduce the number of Sam’s Club’s privately-label brands down to one.

Holt stated that Sam’s Club’s private label was a traditional approach when he joined. It had many brands that focused on products with a lower price than a national brand. When I arrived, we did customer research, and heard what our members wanted from the private labels. We knew that we had to do more.” Holt and Sam’s Club combined all these brands under one private label called Member’s Mark.

Gustafson wanted to know Holt’s strategy for promoting Member’s Mark online and in-store. Holt explained that the two strategies are quite different.

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Holt replied, “In shops, you’ll find retailers have traditionally placed private labels next to the national brands. As people look for national brand, they see private label and it might [cost less] and so they’ll buy it.” Online, you can have a completely different experience. There’s less browse and more search. To ensure that customers can see all we have to offer, we provide […] space online.

Holt stated that consumers tend to search online more than they browse and that a lot of people will search for “Member’s Mark” on Sam’s Club’s site.

Holt stated that members shop in the club and sometimes don’t have the time or the desire to visit the club. “Members also know Member’s Mark because it’s the only brand we offer,” Holt added. They’ll search […] for it by name.

Holt explained that even though customers don’t search Member’s Mark by name, they still search for products like dog food. Because they perform well, Member’s Mark products often rise to the top of search results pages.

Sam’s Club’s private-label brand has been a huge success, but it’s bound to be a concern for national brands who share shelf space with Member’s Mark products. Gustafson wanted to know how Holt responds when brand partners are concerned about the growing influence of Member’s Mark with consumers.

Holt stated that Sam’s is growing and reminds suppliers […] that even if a private label wins, national brands still lose. “Everyone is growing and we discovered that suppliers can be very resilient in growing our business if they understand our strategies and prioritize our goals. Everyone can grow, and it all depends on what our members and customers want.

A successful private-label business means that customers will continue to come back to Sam’s Club.

Holt stated that when people begin to buy our private label, they tend renew their membership at a higher rate. Exclusive items are a great way to build loyalty. The stickiness of private-label items keeps customers coming back for more. It has had a tremendous positive impact on our overall business.”

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/chandra-holt-svp-and-coo-sams-club-on-how-private-label-products-drive-loyalty/

8 Proven Methods to Increase Store Efficiency on Black Friday

Black Friday is a serious game that has been in the works for many months. They have reexamined their operations and identified the areas they can improve in 2019. It’s a big business. For many retailers, their holiday performance is a key indicator of their year-end profits.

Let’s say you aren’t one of those businesses that has Black Friday carefully planned. What can you do to improve your store efficiency? These are eight tips to help you increase your store efficiency.

  1. Stock up. Have it there. Be sure to have it on hand in time for Black Friday. Retail locations must have enough space to store and organize merchandise. This will allow employees to find the right product and retrieve it quickly as sales come in. You will miss opportunities if you find a box of bestsellers in a corner of your warehouse the next day.
  2. Get organized. Let the stores know when and how much stock they will receive so that they can make sure their staff are available at the right moment. Plan to have the stock ready before the store opens. Also, make sure you include in-store promotional messaging. Although it sounds simple, stock availability is often cited by CEOs of retailers who have not been able to meet their sales targets.
  3. Communication is important. Customers should be informed about specials in-store. You should think about how you can reach as many consumers as possible as quickly as possible. Because of its speed and reach, digital marketing is your best friend.
  4. Check your opening hours. Are you open earlier than normal? Stay open later? You should make these decisions, especially if you have competitors or other local shops.
  5. Prepare your team for the day. Make sure customers don’t have to wait in line or walk out. Consider when your busiest times are and plan shifts and breaks accordingly. Black Friday is not the time to cut team hours or try to save money.
  6. Act early if lines begin to form. Clearing a queue once it has formed is easier than clearing it.
  7. Get ready for your store managers. They must be able to handle the unexpected and direct the store team to meet the demands of a busy shopping day. Peak trading requires that your managers are at their best. The golden rule is to keep them away from any hands-on work. They are responsible for orchestrating the day and keeping the operations in order.
  8. After the day is over, go through everything. Take a look at logistics, buying, and how head office helped store get ready. Ask your store managers to give you feedback about how they could have been set up better. Also, identify the highlights and failures in their local execution. You will be able to identify what worked and make improvements next year.

The next Black Friday is coming again. Before that Cyber Monday, Christmas and Singles Day are all around. Learn from these lessons.

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/8-proven-ways-to-boost-store-efficiency-on-black-friday/

Birchbox will Open Holiday Fixtures at 500 Walgreens Locations

Birchbox, a subscription service for beauty products, will increase its partnership with Walgreens during the holiday season by placing fixtures in 500 Walgreens’ locations across 44 states. From Friday, December 5, to the end of December 6, Birchbox displays are available. These displays will feature limited-edition Birchbox Beauty or Birchbox Grooming themed Birchbox Beauty boxes and an Advent calendar. They also include Birchbox subscription gift card vouchers and travel-sized beauty products. In late 2018, Walgreens and Birchbox established a partnership, launching pilot store-instore partnerships in 11 Walgreens across the United States. For an undisclosed amount, Walgreens Boots Alliance, the parent company, also purchased a minority stake in this beauty brand.

Total Retail’s View: Beauty is now one of the most profitable retail categories. Walgreens and CVS are taking notice. CVS last year announced that it would double the size of its beauty department in its stores by launching a store-within a-store concept called BeautyIRL. CVS also partnered with Glamsquad, an on-demand beauty service, to offer services such as hair and makeup, lash application and face and eye masks. Walgreens also partnered with Birchbox to incorporate the digital-native brand in its physical stores. This announcement highlights two trends in the industry: growing popularity of seasonal pop up shops, especially for direct-to consumer brands, and retailers’ willingness to find brand partners to generate traffic, especially in-store and sales.

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/birchbox-to-open-holiday-pop-up-shops-at-500-walgreens-locations/

Victoria’s Secret Plans To Go Private; Les Wexner to Resign

CNBC reported that Victoria’s Secret will be going private. Victoria’s Secret was once a powerful and popular lingerie brand. Sycamore Partners, a private equity firm, made the deal that shows how little value Victoria’s Secret has had in recent years. The firm will purchase a 55 percent stake in Victoria’s Secret from L Brands. Les Wexner, L Brands founder, will be its chairman and CEO. Wexner will continue to serve as chairman emeritus.

CNBC reported that L Brands’ stock dropped 10% in pre-market trades after the announcement. This is likely to be a sign that the market was not thrilled with the deal. Victoria’s Secret’s value has been valued at $1.1 billion. L Brands will use the money and $500 million of surplus balance sheet cash to reduce its debt. L Brands will now be focusing on its Bath & Body Works brand.

Total Retail’s Turn: In recent years, consumers have chosen to shop at lingerie brands with more inclusivity, comfortable products and body positivity. Victoria’s Secret, the brand that is known for its “fantasy”, supermodels, and high-end products, has struggled with adapting to changing consumer mindsets. It has been criticized for not including women in its sizes. In 2018, Victoria’s Secret was still defending its exclusive ways. Ed Razek (CEO of L Brands at that time) stated that Victoria’s Secret should not have plus-sized models in its fashion shows as the brand promotes a fantasy world. Victoria’s Secret remains the most popular brand in the lingerie category. Perhaps with new leadership, it can strengthen its position. But I believe that millennials might be sceptical about Victoria’s Secret’s brand and will reject any attempts Victoria’s Secret makes at being more inclusive, if they aren’t genuine.

Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/victorias-secret-plans-to-go-private-les-wexner-to-step-down/

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US Stores to Stay Open after Forever 21 Acquisition

Three companies have completed the acquisition of Forever 21. This was announced by Authentic Brands Group earlier in this week. Brookfield Property Partners and Simon Property Group, along with Authentic Brands, are the new owners of Forever 21’s 448 U.S. locations. According to court filings, the price of the sale was $81 million. The new owners intend to keep the Los Angeles headquarters of fast-fashion retailer and its e-commerce operations running.

Total Retail’s View: Mall owners have an interest in the success of their largest tenants. Here are Joe Jackman’s thoughts as CEO of Jackman Reinvents and author of ” The Reinventionist Mindset”: Learn to love change and how to do it brilliantly.

“Does Forever 21 really have a chance of redemption under new ownership?” My starting point is always “yes” provided that some fundamentals are true. I am a reinventionist. Is there a solid, core idea? What is the core idea that made the brand so special? Is it possible to reimagine the idea today with the same will and resources as when the brand was created in the mid-80s?

Forever 21 was founded out of the American dream. It was founded on the belief that exciting and current fashion could be affordable to all. But it also believed that anyone could choose to be anything they want. The Forever 21 story is the story its immigrants founders. It sold fast-fashion long before this was commonplace. It was selling what customers really wanted: a better version themselves, closer towards their aspirations than their reality. This is a powerful, timeless idea that’s even more relevant today. But the idea was never realized. This is just one example of the many options available, proving yet again that interchangeability is not a winning strategy. Forever 21 was able to be another mall-based retailer selling cheap, disposable clothing. This is a disturbing trend in today’s wider landscape. But that core idea shines brightly…

“On the second point, the will and the wherewithal — I like the vision of a diverse ownership group that has a common goal: to not only create brand value but also create a compelling reason for people to go to the mall. They have deep pockets.

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“My conclusion is that Forever 21 can last forever if it continues to innovate and think thoughtfully.”

Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/forever-21-acquisition-finalized-us-stores-to-remain-open/

Keep it simple: How retail can retain convenience

Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/keep-it-simple-how-retail-can-retain-convenience/

I don’t know if you feel the same, but convenience is something I really love. Whole Foods is my favorite place to order groceries. They deliver my groceries right to my door when I get home. I love the convenience of being able to purchase online and pick them up in-store. I place an order on Nordstrom.com and wait for them to arrive. Then, I pick them up when it suits me best. You can be sure that I will try any company or brand that offers more convenience in my life.

One thing that I have noticed over the last few months is that many of my favorite stores are experiencing a noticeable and dramatic resurgence to make them more convenient. These retailers offer a variety of options to promote the convenience factor in-store, which is a result of the next-day delivery initiatives led by Amazon.com. Walmart. Nearly 90% of retail sales are done in brick-and mortar stores. However, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stated earlier this year that retailers need to find more cost-effective ways to automate tasks while still maintaining a competitive price.

Take notice brick-and-mortar stores, there are five options available to increase convenience.

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1. Delivery

Brick-and-mortar shops can show off their convenience by offering on-demand delivery, local pickup points and free shipping. A recent CommonSense Robotics survey found that customers prefer same-day delivery to in-store pickup by a margin of four to one.

Target is one brick and mortar retailer that focuses on same-day grocery delivery. Walmart offers a membership program to expand its grocery delivery service. Instead of the $9.99 delivery fee, customers can pay a $98 annual fee or $12.95 per monthly. Walmart has better options to compete with Instacart/Whole Foods and Amazon Prime Now/Whole Foods. Retailers can differentiate themselves by evaluating local opportunities that appeal to local customers to increase incremental sales and draw repeat customers.

2. Subscription Services

Consumers can now enjoy new products from the comfort of their own homes and make repeat purchases through subscriptions. Subscription models are also being offered by traditional retailers. Birchbox and Walgreens partnered last year to create retail experiences in select stores. Urban Outfitters recently announced it would launch a rental program in addition to its existing e-commerce and physical presence. Both Walgreens and Urban Outfitters have taken inspiration from other successful direct-to consumer brands in order to create an in-store experience for shoppers that gives them the joy of making a purchase, whether it be a repeat or new, that can be worn, gifted, or used immediately.

3. Self-Checkout

A positive shopping experience is built on ease and convenience. RIS News survey found that consumers prefer to “grab and run” technology. They also use smartphones for self-checkout. Fivety-nine percent said they would like it and nine percent had already used it. Payment kiosks can also be moved and used by retailers to set up “quick-sale” displays that allow for quick payment options for seasonal gifting aisles, or limited-time items.

4. Order Online and Pick up in-Store

Many retailers, including Target, Old Navy and Home Depot offer buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS). In-store pickup technology has had one of the biggest transformational effects on retail over the last few years. CFI Group research shows that 78 percent of consumers view in-store pickup for online orders as very or important. This proves that in-store pickup has many benefits. This service has been used by 57% of online shoppers in the past year. Retailers see BOPIS orders accounting to 21 percent to 30% of their revenue.

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5. Loyalty programs

There are so many options for consumers, brands need to pay extra attention to their loyal customers. Customer loyalty programs are designed to help customers build lasting relationships with them, win new guests, increase sales, and ultimately create lifetime value. Loyalty programs can be very cost-effective for companies. Travel companies have developed loyalty programs that are extremely convenient for travelers, whether they’re traveling for business or pleasure. Delta is my go-to airline for all of my travel needs. It knows me well and makes it easy to rent a car or fly with them.

All of the strategies and tactics retailers use today have one goal: to build loyalty and repeat customers while being aware of rising costs. Customers will return to these options for convenience, whether it’s delivery, subscription services or self-checkout options.

Future retail technologies, such as augmented reality, virtual realities, and personalization enabled via tech, will be the most important. If this technology adds more convenience to my daily life, then I’m all in.

Total Retail’s Top Five News Stories for 2019

Retail news was certainly big in 2019. Here are the top news stories that Total Retail published in 2019, ranked according to page views.

1. May 10, Sears’ New Logo Receives Mixed Reviews

Sears revealed a new logo in May via its social media channels. While the company stated that the logo “was created to symbolize both home and heart, but this shape also conveys movement through an infinity loop. Reminiscent of one embracing both life and home,” others mocked the design’s resemblance with Airbnb’s logo. “Why am I thinking of AIR BNB every time I see the new logo?” Facebook user asked the question. Another user wrote, “Air B&B called and said they wanted their logo back.”

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2. April 19: Sears Sues Former CEO Eddie Lampert and Others for alleged ‘Theft’ of Billions

Sears filed a suit against Eddie Lampert, its former CEO, and several of its prominent past board members for allegedly taking billions from the retailer. After years of losses, Sears Holdings filed bankruptcy in October 2018 after Lampert was its CEO, chairman and largest shareholder.

3. May 23rd: Nordstrom Reduces Direct Mail Program and Loses Sales

Nordstrom reduced its full-year profit and sales forecast in May after reporting lower-than-expected first quarter results. This was partly due to ‘s decision to stop using direct mail as a means of promoting its loyalty program. Yahoo Finance reports that Erik Nordstrom, the co-president of Nordstrom, stated on a conference call after earnings that the company had stopped mailing rewards “notes,” to loyalty customers in order to make the program more accessible online. Nordstrom stated that this change caused a decrease in foot traffic to all its stores. Many customers depend on receiving their rewards via mail. Erik Nordstrom stated that “We are making the changes we believe necessary to drive our top-line as we continue to focus our aggressively on expenses.” According to the company, trends from the fourth quarter were carried over into the first quarter. It also stated that promotions had to be increased to clear out excess stock from its winter collection.

4. April 5, Sears opens stores Yes, That’s Right

Sears in April announced that it would open stores again. , the department store chain that had closed hundreds upon scores of Sears and Kmart stores over the years, announced it would be opening three “Sears Home & Life” stores in May.

5. September 11th: Sugarfina files for bankruptcy, closing 6 stores immediately

CandyIndustry.com reports that Sugarfina, a high-end candy retailer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on September. Six of its 44 boutique shops were immediately closed. According to the brand, shifts in retail, uncertainty in international partnerships and difficulties in controlling margins are reasons why it is not profitable.

Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/total-retails-top-5-news-stories-of-2019/

COVID-19 Part 2: The Impact of CPG and Retail on COVID-19

Two months have passed since the COVID-19 pandemic. With that comes a new wave in consumer behavior. Consumers are getting more used to their current lifestyles and anticipating how shopping will be for them after the crisis passes.

The new trend is to prioritize comfort foods over paper and pantry products. Our latest survey about the impact of COVID-19 revealed that sweets, frozen pizza, and salty snacks were top-of-mind for shoppers when they looked at their shopping lists.

However, we are also witnessing trends consolidate, with ecommerce continuing to grow in popularity, and in-store visits continuing to decline. This is directly related to rising concerns about the virus, particularly among seniors and those living in hard-hit areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control recommendations, shoppers make 52 percent fewer shopping trips.

As e-commerce continues to gain popularity, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely have a lasting impact. Our latest survey of shoppers found that 51 percent placed an order online in the four-week period ending April 7. In addition, 33% placed their first online order within the four-week period. This is an increase of 5% over our previous report. The best part is that 75 percent of online shoppers reported being very or extremely satisfied by their online grocery shopping experience.

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Are all those online shoppers going to continue shopping that way? We asked shoppers to use their imaginations to predict how shopping will be for them after this event. 31% of shoppers stated that it is very or very likely they will do more online grocery pickup and delivery than before.

The forecasts for shopper behavior are mixed. 47% of shoppers believe they will be less likely to go to the grocery and will stock up more on what they buy. However, 68% said that it is extremely or very probable that they will return to pre-pandemic grocery shopping habits. 58% of shoppers believe it’s very or very likely they’ll return to their old eating habits, but only 56 percent say that it’s very or very probable that they’ll eat more at home than before.

What does this mean for retailers? It is important to ensure that retailers have e-commerce and digital shelves in place for the accelerated growth and sustained customer demand.

Another area to focus on is lifting the spirits of shoppers. It is important to celebrate birthdays and graduations, as well as grilling season. Retailers need to provide a variety of comfort foods and snacks, as well as essentials. With the likelihood that people will stay at home in the months following COVID, it is important to provide “solutions” for shoppers that are focused on food and self-care.

Retailers should also continue to meet the needs of shoppers in terms of safety and finances. To ensure safety for shoppers in-store, stores should allow no-touch transactions wherever possible. This includes Apple Pay and self-checkout. It’s also important to remember that shoppers with lower incomes are often the most vulnerable. Many people may be using stimulus checks for food and other necessities. They will likely look to trade down or leverage grocery promotions in the near future.

The CPG industry is certainly on edge with the COVID-19 pandemic. Retailers and brands must continue to be aware of changing customer attitudes and behaviors and respond quickly to their customers’ needs. They’re doing an amazing job of rising to the occasion.

Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/covid-19-impact-on-cpg-and-retail-part-2/

J.C. Penney files for Bankruptcy Protection

J.C. Penney filed to bankruptcy protection Friday. The company plans to close certain stores permanently and explore the possibility of a sale. The family-owned department store chain is known for selling jewelry, cosmetics, and apparel at over 850 locations. It reached an agreement with existing lenders to provide $900 million in debtor-in possession financing to help it through bankruptcy proceedings. J.C. Penney will reorganize the company and emerge from bankruptcy proceedings having eliminated several billion dollars worth of debt. However, the new financing will allow it to explore selling as part of its terms. It also stated that it would close some stores in stages and will provide more details in the coming weeks.

Total Retail’s View: It is no surprise that this iconic retailer filed for bankruptcy. We reported last week that J.C. Penney had just days to file bankruptcy and was scrambling for enough financing to allow the company to continue operating under Chapter 11 proceedings. More than 80,000 employees have been laid off or furloughed and two deadlines for debt payments missed. This month, the company also resolved a legal dispute with Sephora, LVMH beauty chain that threatened to terminate its agreement to sell cosmetics in J.C. Penney shops. J.C. Penney is now the latest brick-and mortar retailer to collapse in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has been threatening long-troubled retailers. J.C. Penney had nearly $4 billion in debt before the coronavirus epidemic. This was combined with pressure from discount retailers and ecommerce companies. Bottom line: It is sad to see J.C. Penney at its current level. Friday’s bankruptcy filing ends a long decline in the 118-year old department store chain. It was founded in rural towns that were dominated by farmers and had more than 1,600 locations at one time.

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/j-c-penney-files-for-bankruptcy-protection/

COVID-19 Resources – Leadership, Data, Employment Info. and Fun Stuff

This week’s Retail Resources blog post is a collection of the best content and resources that I have seen in the past week. I hope it will help you navigate the coronavirus pandemic. This week, I share information on leadership, interesting data and employment information. It’s a fun post that should help you feel better.

Leadership

  • Jennifer Thornton, CEO at 304 Coaching, will host a free online workshop called Leading Edge that offers executive leadership training. Thornton, who was formerly a prominent retail executive, offers the series free of charge to help the community. This week’s workshops include ” Building Better Relationships through Conversation” on Tuesday, May 5, at 12 p.m. EDT/9 a.m. PST, and ” The Golden Ladder Network with Susan Collins on Thursday, May 7, at 12 p.m. EDT/9 AM PT. Register here. In your email, you’ll get all the details and a link to a Workbook that you can follow along.
  • Harvard Business Publishing created an online portal to provide information and resources for business leaders in order to manage their teams and communicate well during uncertain and challenging times. This portal offers advice on how to maintain collaboration, productivity, and learning among remote teams during this crisis.

Interesting Data

  • NPD is a market research company that tracks consumer purchases from over 290,000 retail outlets and e-commerce platforms. It has now created a COVID-19 hub which provides up-to-the-minute information on how the virus affects consumer spending. Civic Science is NPD’s partner. They have started a blog with interesting data on consumers and COVID-19. Register here to receive NPD’s weekly webcast that discusses key shifts in retail spending and consumer spending, based on NPD’s sales data and expert commentary.
  • Pepperjam is an affiliate marketing solution provider. They have created several assets to assist the entire online marketing community in navigating the uncertainties that COVID-19 brings. Pepperjam’s Pepperjam Affiliate Marketing Sales Index provides trend information about daily gross merchandise sales for all verticals, year-over-year. Its How to Optimize With Affiliate Partners Amid COVID-19 ebook offers information about opportunities with Pepperjam publisher partners. And its Customer Spend Strategy Survey eBook offers data on the effects of COVID-19 on marketing spend, strategy, and prominence.

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Information about Job Search and Hiring.

  • LinkedIn continues to update a listing of companies currently hiring. A ” Coronavirus Resources Hub” was also launched by the social network. This hub helps users find work, recruit talent, and receives advice on how to navigate the ever-changing world of work. LinkedIn also features a list listing volunteer opportunities for organizations at the forefront of the global coronavirus epidemic.
  • This was mentioned before , but I thought I would return to it: Adam Rose, a well-known ecommerce recruiter, has created a Google Sheet listing names of ecommerce professionals who lost their jobs due to the current crisis. It is possible to create a spreadsheet that lists all those affected and can be shared on LinkedIn. You can view the entire list . Adam can be reached on LinkedIn if you’d like to join the list. The good news is that Adam stated that the list was being routed to the right people, and many of those on it have found employment already!

Fun Stuff

  • You are looking for something to do with your friends, colleagues, or on your own? Airbnb offers an Online Experiences website that allows people who practice social distancing or stay at home to find activities they can do remotely. You can find activities such as cooking and bartending classes, virtual bike tours and Korean makeup tutorials. There are also comedy shows and lessons in drawing.
  • Kids in Parks’ e-Adventures online activity program could be the perfect solution for families with children. Families can use their smartphones or tablets to participate in a series of scavenger hunt-style activities within their yards, neighborhoods, and green spaces. To earn prizes like a nature journal or patch, backpack, magnifying lens, and patch, children can log their participation. This sounds like a great way to spend Saturday or Sunday.

Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/post/covid-19-resources-leadership-data-employment-info-and-fun-stuff/

Retailers are rethinking their operations to increase resilience

The COVID-19 epidemic continues to have a devastating effect on the global economy. Retail has been particularly hard hit. Many retailers are still experiencing store closures as a result of the shift in consumer behavior. However, it is imperative that retailers develop a plan to allow them to adapt their operations and protect customers and employees when they reopen. In the short-term, many of these retailers can make minor changes to their operations (retail shops, distribution centers, etc. Some retailers can make minor changes to their operations, while others will need to overhaul all of their processes and systems.

It is important to understand the context for these changes by highlighting the key guidelines that were recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization (WHO), and how retailers can pivot their strategies to address them.

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Maintaining Social Distancing Rules

Many stores that are considered “essential” such as pharmacies and grocery stores, have already implemented social distancing measures. Simple changes like placing tape on the floor to remind customers to keep within the six-foot threshold can be made. This is done at all points where there are queues, such as at the cashier or customer service desk. In some cases, the maximum occupancy of a store was reduced and enforced with door greeters and automatic counting devices.

Implementing infection protection measures

Hand hygiene is an important aspect of reducing the spread and severity of the coronavirus. Many retailers offer hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and gloves for customers and shoppers in order to promote good hand hygiene. Retailers should look to the healthcare sector for guidance in the long-term. One example of an innovative solution from HITactics is Bluetooth sensors and/or tags, which link to mobile apps with context aware alerts. These alerts are audible reminders that you should wash your hands regularly and remind you to follow other hand washing procedures.

Reduce Face-to-Face contact and activities that require physical touch

Another area where there are high potential for infection is the checkout process. This is due to direct contact with customers. Companies are trying to find ways to minimize this intrusiveness while still allowing for positive human experiences. Clear Plexiglas dividers have been quickly adopted by many grocery stores to separate the area between customers and cashiers. To improve the “no touch” environment, and to make transactions safer for all parties, retailers who have been slow to accept contact-less payments with physical credit cards or mobile wallets such as Apple Pay or Google Pay are now accelerating the implementation of these technologies. Long-term, retailers might consider investing in RFID technology to manage product stock and manage it. This investment will have a significant impact on both safety for customers and employees during touchless checkout.

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Redesign Policies and Procedures with Ongoing Training

Retailers will be required to provide ongoing training programs that address changes in procedures. To ensure that employees feel confident and safe in their work, these trainings should be conducted frequently. Wingspan, among others, is a digital platform that provides a single, easy-to-follow view of what is expected to protect customers and employees while in-store. These technologies are easily adaptable to meet changing guidelines and requirements. These learning solutions provide insights directly to mobile devices, and offer short, immediate learning to improve compliance rates.

Employers can take generous leave policies

These guidelines are intended to reduce the chance of infection and instill confidence in employees regarding the safety and security of their work environment. An infected worker spreading the virus at work should not cause employees to lose their job or wages. Retailers must instill confidence in employees. This will help to remove fear from employees and retailers.

There is a simple but crucial first step retailers should take when navigating the multitude of options and changes available to improve safety. They should first conduct a step-by-step review and identify any potential “hot spots” to improve safety and comfort. This critical step may seem to be focused on the immediate, but it should also consider the long-term with the goal of implementing safeguards in the customer experience. Safety is key, but it should not be detrimental to the customer experience, today or tomorrow.

Although I have discussed in-store operations above, it is becoming increasingly important to increase your digital presence and capabilities. As expectations have increased, it will be necessary to rethink how you serve customers at home. This won’t change after the pandemic. It will continue to accelerate in fact.

The pace of change has never been greater than now. However, companies who “seize” the moment and take action to “virus-proof” their operations will be stronger once we are out of this pandemic.

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/retailers-are-rethinking-their-operations-to-add-resiliency/

Brick-and-Mortar must repurpose existing employees for a new retail model

Retail has been transformed by the coronavirus pandemic. Contactless delivery and curbside pickup have become the new standard in fulfillment. It’s clear that consumers are in desperate need of essential items like groceries, hand sanitizer, and masks. This demand is so high that even Amazon.com, an e-commerce giant, was unable to keep up. Demand grew as did shipping and fulfillment delays. While retailers are adapting to this new environment, there is still a need to fill the gaps in the market for consumers who have been used to receiving same-day/next day delivery. These gaps offer brick-and-mortar stores opportunities if they are able to repurpose their workforce.

This may seem counterintuitive at first glance, as so much of the current retail model relies on delivery. But let’s take a look at the order fulfillment chain. E-commerce businesses are more suited to delivery than other types of business. However, they are also tied to third-party shipping companies. This type of fulfillment relay will be subject to delays in high-volume, high demand environments, like the one created by the pandemic. Brick-and-mortar retailers have the opportunity to gain competitive advantage in the current fulfillment landscape.

Brick-and-mortar retail has a few key advantages that will allow it to profit from the increased demand for next day delivery. Brick-and-mortar shops have local stock available and have built relationships with local consumers over many years. They have the inventory and are closer to the customer. Most of the inventory isn’t designed for curbside pickup or delivery. There are some changes that they can make in order to adapt quickly to this new normal.

Retailers must first repurpose their workforce. This will not only save jobs but also allow retailers to be more agile. Many employees who stock items or work at the point-of-purchase must be made delivery drivers or placed on curbside pick up detail. To make this work easier, retailers must take control of the delivery and pick-up portions of their business. To make this happen, retailers will need to use a cloud-based delivery platform that allows them to quickly create and maintain a customer-friendly, last mile delivery solution that is easy to implement.

The lesson that this health crisis has taught us as a society is that last-mile delivery is a microcosm: Local matters in times of great need. This lesson was learned as a nation when we were forced to import essential items from other nations, just as we did when N95 surgical masks came from China. The same lesson applies to the local level. Retailers who learn this lesson and make necessary adjustments will not only be able to survive in current realities, but will also have the ability to create a retail environment that is likely to bring about lasting changes.

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/brick-and-mortar-must-repurpose-existing-employees-for-a-new-retail-model/

Best Buy Plans to Reopen Stores By Appointment Only

CNBC reported that Best Buy will gradually open its stores to customers by making appointments starting in May. CNBC reported that shoppers will be able schedule appointments to meet with a sales representative to discuss potential purchases, technology concerns, and other matters. This service will be offered in approximately 200 locations by Best Buy, which already has over 1,000 U.S. shops. Customers will be able make appointments online, by phone, or via Best Buy’s mobile app. Before the appointment, an employee will call to explain the process. A specific employee will visit each customer in-store and shop with them. If the customer asks to test a product, it will then be washed down. CNBC reported that the employee will take the customer to the register and then out of the store.

In-home delivery, installation, and repairs will be resumed by Best Buy in May with new safety precautions. All employees of the retailer will have to wear masks, gloves and undergo a health screening via Best Buy’s app. Best Buy temporarily closed its stores and suspended in-home services during the COIVD-19 pandemic. They shifted to curbside pickup instead. CNBC reported that Best Buy furloughed 51,00 employees in the beginning of this month.

Total Retail’s View:Best Buy was one of the first to announce a reopening strategy since the COVID-19 pandemic. Not many retailers have yet shared the vision for the future shopping experience post-coronavirus. This announcement shows that Best Buy is putting its customers first and bringing back some of its employees. The consultation component of the store reopening could even increase in-store sales. It will be interesting for consumers to respond to Best Buy’s plan to reopen, as well as how other retailers’ plans to reopen are compared once they share them with the public. Other retailers will closely monitor Best Buy’s reopening as they try to bring back their physical stores.

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/best-buy-plans-to-reopen-some-stores-by-appointment-only/

The new reality for non-essential retail: Can the store experience survive?

COVID-19 caused a major shift in the way we shop. Stores deemed not essential were closed and those that remained open were drastically altered. It was a difficult task to go to the grocery store. You had to wait in long lines, wear masks and keep your distance from other customers.

These restrictions can feel uncomfortable as retailers open stores that are not essential. Customers are used to taking their own time in an enjoyable experience. Although shopping for toys, cosmetics, and clothes is a great escape, customers may soon find these experiences less enjoyable.

Retailers must provide experiences that are not only safe, adaptable to changing conditions and enjoyable for customers in order to keep them engaged.

Building Trust Through Safety

Many retailers have increased safety measures beyond limiting the number of people allowed in a store and keeping them away from the entrance. Sephora and Costco encourage customers to wear masks. Apple and American Eagle Outfitters will take customers’ temperatures at their doors. Hand sanitizer will be available at all store entrances and exits. Stores will also be regularly cleaned. The actions taken to protect customers who are anxious about shopping in stores may make them more loyal.

Contactless Shopping Accelerated

For years, retailers have experimented with contactless shopping. The Amazon Go store and Sam’s Club’s Scan & Go apps both reimagined store experiences. COVID-19 increases the possibility of contactless shopping in the interests of safety. It is important to understand where touch happens during the shopping experience and replace it with touchless options. This includes apps that allow customers to search for product information, which reduces the need to touch the products; apps that alert associates to customer queries; payment via an app or tap; and robotics that deliver items to customers. Kroger and Walmart have explored robotics and automation in warehouses. This can reduce human contact.

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Creating Delight

Augmented reality (AR), which can add a sense of play and discovery to the shopping experience, can also enhance safety. AR wayfinding can be used in stores to direct customers to the right item, and offer savings as they shop. The ability to virtual try on apparel, jewelry, and cosmetics can reduce browsing time and help consumers find new products. Sales associates and robots can source products from the back of the store in showroom environments. Digital tools that are connected to customer profiles can be used to make smart recommendations. This allows the shopper access to the best products quicker and creates genuine value.

The Store Format can be repurposed

For retailers that offer omnichannel services, the ability to adjust the store’s layout quickly could prove vital. A portion of a store’s space can be used to allow store employees to order online. Online orders can be fulfilled efficiently by dark stores, which allow retailers to quickly get products to customers and save space.

Shop for Personal Items Virtually

Online shopping may be easier if retailers consider the grocery picking model. This is where sales associates pick items for customers. A virtual personal shopper can help customers with non-essential retail items like cosmetics or clothing. They can also offer advice and suggest items based upon customer profiles. These personal shoppers could provide high-quality service remotely, which would keep customers and associates safe.

A path of uncertainty but full of opportunity

The future is uncertain in many ways. If stores keep focusing on safety, will customers become more impatient with this new reality? Will people turn to online shopping more often? It will be interesting to watch how retailers become more adept at selling customers online. Or if they will prefer the convenience of shopping in a physical location.

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/the-new-reality-for-non-essential-retail-can-the-store-experience-survive/

Simon, Mall Owner and Authentic Brands Place $305M Offer for Bankrupt Brooks Brothers

According to a court filing last week, SPARC LLC, a full service retail operator that includes the U.S. mall owners Simon Property Group (ABG) and the apparel licensing company Authentic Brands Group, has submitted a $305 million offer for Brooks Brothers. According to the court filing, the offer is subject to higher and better bids as well as court approval. It will allow Brooks Brothers stores to remain open for business at least 125 times. According to the filing, a court hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 3 to approve the bid. Other competing offers must be received by Aug. 5. August 11th will see the Brooks Brothers assets being sold. WHP Global, which is a competitor to ABG, is also considering a bid for Brooks Brothers’ assets, the company said to CNBC. Brooks Brothers applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors. It had 250 locations across North America at the time. The iconic retailer had been struggling with rent and was forced to close its locations. A disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2019 accelerated the sales process.

Total Retail’s View: Last week’s announcement is not surprising. As America’s largest mall owners, Simon, are looking to make deals to save retailers that were affected by the coronavirus pandemic. CNBC reported. The problem of empty storefronts is becoming a growing concern for mall owners. J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and J.Crew are just a few of the many people who have filed for bankruptcy protection, along with Ann Taylor parent Ascena Retail Group. Simon and ABG worked together before. ABG, which is an expert in manufacturing and licensing, has joined forces with Simon, who specializes in retail real-estate. The court has yet to approve the offer. Before SPARC was created, ABG and Simon merged in 2016 to purchase the teen clothing retailer Aeropostale from bankruptcy.

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/mall-owner-simon-and-authentic-brands-make-305m-bid-for-bankrupt-brooks-brothers/

Yahoo Mail Now Offers Groceries Shopping

Today, Verizon Media announced the launch Groceries From Walmart, a Yahoo Mail feature which allows users to browse, add groceries to cart and buy essential groceries from Walmart. Verizon Media claims that this is the first time email users have been able to fill out a shopping basket directly from their inbox. This streamlines their shopping experience and makes it easier for them to shop from within their mail app. One in four Americans use Yahoo Mail today, which sends 4.5 billion emails per day.

Rich Lehrfeld, senior vice-president, Walmart Marketing, stated that customers are relying more on Walmart to save money on the items they need and to save time. The new “Groceries From Walmart” feature, which lives in Yahoo Mail, takes another step to make our customers’ lives easier by allowing them to shop whenever, how, and wherever they want.

Here’s how Groceries From Walmart works: After users sign in to their email accounts, they will see a Walmart banner at top of their incoming emails. Click that banner, then enter the required information and click on it to search for essential grocery items. Then they can check out. Groceries from Walmart are currently available in the Yahoo Mail iOS and desktop apps, with Android to follow later this year.

The feature allows users to receive customized grocery recommendations based upon their Yahoo profiles. The shopping cart doesn’t expire, so consumers can continue adding items throughout the week, and then check out when they’re ready.

Total Retail’s View: This new functionality makes perfect sense considering that more Americans shop online for groceries now than ever and they do it more often with COVID-19. According to a May survey from Inmar Intelligence almost 80 percent of Americans now shop online for groceries, up 40 percent over pre-pandemic levels. A majority of respondents say they shop online for groceries more frequently than before the pandemic. This is not the first time Verizon has offered a service that helps consumers shop for groceries. Yahoo Mail, for instance, announced last year that its updated app now includes GroceryView. This allows users to see deals at local grocery stores and save them to their shopping lists. It also lets them connect their loyalty cards to automatically apply coupons at checkout. Although the feature may have seemed strange at first, it is not related to email. Verizon claims that it serves consumers’ desire to save money on mass mailing lists and spam. Yahoo users will now be able to browse Walmart’s grocery catalogue at their own leisure, and to add items to their Yahoo Mail shopping cart for pickup at their local Walmart.

Learn more:

Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/new-feature-lets-consumers-shop-for-groceries-from-yahoo-mail/

L.L. Bean Expands with First U.S. Wholesale Partnerships

L.L. Bean is moving beyond its original model of direct to customer catalog sales and in store sales. The company has an agreement to sell its products at Nordstrom, Staples and SCHEELS. AP News. The first wholesale deals in the U.S. are a push to bring the brand’s products closer to consumers. L.L.Bean backpacks, water bottles and other products were sold in the first phase of this initiative. They went on sale in over 1,000 Staples stores just two weeks ago. L.L.Bean gear is expected to be available in a dozen SCHEELS stores throughout the Midwest, and 20 Nordstrom stores across the U.S. in the fall.

The 108-year-old retailer isn’t unusual in moving into wholesale. In 2018, L.L. Bean signed an agreement to sell products in Canadian Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Hudson’s Bay, and Sporting Life stores. Three years ago, the company reached an agreement to expand its sales in Japan beyond its company-branded stores. L.L. Bean remains committed to its stores and will continue to open stores in selected markets.

Total Retail’s View: With increasing competition in retail and online, L.L. Bean is making it easier for consumers to touch and feel its products through more channels and places than ever. Wholesale partnerships allow the brand to quickly increase its physical footprint and reduce the cost of running nearly 50 stores across the country.

Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for The NPD Group, stated that “it’s a smart strategy by retailers like L.L.Bean in order to reach more customers without the risks that come with opening new shops and signing long leases.” L.L.Bean’s online store allows consumers who live far from the store to have greater access to the product to test it before they buy. This will increase the brand’s sales.

The Maine-based retailer, Charlie Bruder (Vice President of Merchandising at L.L. Bean), stated that despite the current retail environment, he believes there is an opportunity to grow while others contract. Bruder said that the key to L.L.Bean’s success in expanding its retail partnerships was “finding a few retailers that share the company’s customer service philosophy”. This will ensure that customers are satisfied at all locations that sell L.L.Bean merchandise. Although it is not the most ideal time to venture into wholesale, considering the strength and reputation of L.L.Bean, it’s likely that this will be a good move for both the company and its wholesale partners.

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/l-l-bean-expands-with-first-u-s-wholesale-partnerships/

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