Sunday 21 January 2018

Some Highlights From Big Retail Show

Last week’s Big Retail Show in New York drew much attention from commentators and participants in this incredibly volatile retail industry. Here are some snippets that caught our eye.

Volatility Is The New Norm - Former vice chair of General Electric, Beth Comstock - “Transformation means you’re never done. Volatility is the new normal,” ……  She said that while retailers may be tempted to put everything on hold, while they “figure this one thing out”, that’s not an option anymore. Retailers need to become comfortable with many parts of the business changing all at once.

Levi’s president, James Curleigh, discussed the company’s move to find points of strategic balance between delivering the expected (having products in store, providing a level of service) and surprising customers with the unexpected; between leveraging the brand’s heritage and acquiring new customers through innovation.
Curleigh likened the approach to that iconic eighties hairstyle, the mullet: “What did [the mullet] say? It said business in the front, party in the back. The new brand of business mullet should be simple in the front, sophisticated in the back.”

Moderating a panel of ‘next-generation’ entrepreneurs, Rachel Schechtman, the founder and CEO of innovative revolving concept store, STORY, asked what it takes to create a successful brand or retail business today.According to the participants, Manish Vora, co-founder of the ‘playground for adults’ concept, Museum of Ice Cream, Michael Lastoria, co-founder of the food and lifestyle chain, &pizza, and Marcia Kilgore, founder of luxury beauty club, Beauty Pie, the best ideas combine the head and the heart, a bit of logic and magic and sometimes a little weird.

Continuing with the trend that, far from dying, retail is flourishing, albeit changing, the final keynote at the NRF Big Show featured iconic fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger speaking with IBM’s Michelle Peluso about technology and transformation at the iconic fashion label. Tommy Hilfiger was an early adopter of the see now, buy now trend in fashion and the first retailer to partner with Facebook Messenger on chatbots. The brand has embraced mobile shopping, such as ‘snap to shop’, and influencer marketing, striking advantageous partnerships with the likes of Gigi Hadid.
“Many years back, when we decided we should be technically advanced, it was a great decision because we were right on the cusp of change in retail. We were the reverse of that trend [of decline]… It all had to do with the fact that we embraced new technology and were not afraid to take risks,” Hilfiger said.

The Death of E-commerce - from a Forbes article -  “Anyone who has been paying attention (or who has been following research from folks like Deloitte Digital) knows that the distinction between e-commerce and physical stores is increasingly a distinction without a difference. Digital drives brick & mortar shopping and vice versa. It's all just commerce now and the customer is the channel.”

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