Traditionally, when retailers hear the word "local," several images come to mind. It conjures up mom-and-pop shops, regional farms and community gatherings. And for a national chain retailer, the localization of stores was about getting the assortment tailored toward the right demographic, such as weather-related gear or apparel for the right geographic location. But in 2015, local, or "hyper-local," as it's sometimes referred to, is taking on a new connotation. It's associated with digital technology and the in-store experience.
With the dramatic success and ascension of Apple as one of the world's most successful retailers (and most valuable company in the world), other brands are contemplating that a relationship with the consumer in the future will likely happen at multiple levels and within multiple channels.
A lot has changed in the two decades since I began reporting on the retail industry in 1995. The shoppers, the products and the retailers themselves have all shifted quite a bit. But nothing has changed more than the technology now used to sell, support and reach shoppers.
The Rebecca Minkoff store in SoHo certainly had its share of visitors during the recent NRF Big Show in New York. Tour buses and visitors from Europe, Asia and South America descended upon (and often overwhelmed) this small store to gain a glimpse of the "future of retail."
I was with another mom at the park when she announced that our play date was about to come to an abrupt end: She had to make it to Macy's to pick up some shoes for a gala happening that evening. The woman was very excited about her first click-and-collect purchase. In fact, she had previously bought the same style shoes—just in a different color—so she knew the brand, style and size would be a perfect match, no need for try-ons, exchanges or returns. I could see the triumph on her face. She had made the perfect purchase: something she needed, accessible quickly and locally—a guaranteed happy ending.
But this story got me thinking. How often is this the outcome for click-and-collect customers? The implementation of these programs is spreading like wildfire through retail, but what percentage of shoppers are using this purchasing option? And does it, more often than not, turn out to be a rewarding customer experience?
Sam's Club (NYSE:WMT) announced that it has started selling MakerBot 3D printers in more than 300 store locations across the country. The Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer is meant to fit into an office, classroom or home space and be marketed toward professionals, small-business owners, entrepreneurs and educators.
"I truly believe that having the opportunity to learn about 3D printing first-hand is a big step towards a better understanding of the technology," said Frank Alfano, acting CEO of MakerBot. "By expanding our retail presence into Sam's Club, we're providing opportunities to reach professionals, entrepreneurs and small-business owners and show them the power of 3D printing. Offering MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D printers in retail stores exposes potential users to 3D printing technology and provides them an opportunity to understand the benefits of 3D printing today."
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The state of Indiana is at the center of a firestorm this week that puts retailers on the front line of a pitched battle between conservative politicians and those voicing support of gay rights. And while it's being done in the name of religious freedom, one of the side effects of this law is forcing retailers to take a position.
Ascena Retail Group has announced Brian Lynch's appointment as president and CEO of Justice, the company's teen brand.
Amazon has announced the launch of Home Services, a new marketplace for on-demand professional services. The platform allows shoppers to purchase and schedule services ranging from house cleanings to electronics installments.
Quiksilver has announced that CEO Andy Mooney has resigned and will be replaced by Pierre Agnes, who has been with the company for 27 years. Richard Shields, the company's CFO, has also left, while APAC Region President Greg Healy has been promoted to president and Bob McKnight has been named chairman. All changes became effective March 27.
Looking back at the results of online holiday shopping in 2014, Cyber Monday was recorded as the most popular shopping day of the season, with retail traffic reaching 13 million page views per minute, up 16 percent from the 2013 holiday season.
Banana Republic has unveiled its Manhattan flagship on Fifth Avenue. The new store in the Flatiron District is part of the brand's all-around makeover.
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Facebook is diving into the Internet of Things via Parse, a mobile infrastructure company it bought in 2013.
More news from across the Web... > USA Today Q&A tells consumers how to opt out of ads > The Guardian reminds marketers location tracking should be all about the consumer. > Aireal...