“What If You Are a Retailer Thinking of Just a Few Collections a Year?”

Or a brand for that matter.  Please find 13 minutes to watch this Ted Talk on the evolution of retail in China.  If you can’t do that, at least read the transcript in six minutes or so.

The trends she discusses are enabled by the fact that 90% of online sales are controlled by two companies in the Chinese market.  She tells us what is happening right now in China.  This is not about a possible future- it’s about how the Chinese retail market is operating right now.

Everything she highlights you are already seeing in your country, though the scale and rate of expansion is probably less.  Is this the future for your market?  Are there cultural or structural differences that might restrict it or, more likely, make it different?  Sure.  Probably.  I guess.

Next, you might check out this New York Times article on how Amazon is facilitating the emergence of cheap, high quality consumer devices.  It’s focused on electronics, but it’s worth considering how your product might be impacted.  Or maybe how it might benefit?

Both offerings tell us how market forces are driving a better deal for the completely in control consumer.  Both also give us some insights into how brands and retailers are eviscerating their traditional business practices to satisfy those consumers but still be able to earn a profit.

Retail Futures: Robo Shops?

So, I don’t know what’s going to happen this afternoon, much less five years from now.  Without comment, I just want to direct your attention to this article/presentation by the BBC.  Just go to this link, hit “TAP HERE” and start reading, scrolling and watching.  I’m sure some of this is going to happen.  I’m sure some of it isn’t.  I’m sure some stuff we haven’t even begun to imagine is going to happen.

Not predicting the future here.  Just want you to consider the possibilities and consider how it might be used to help your business.

3D Printing Finally Taking Off?

During the last couple of years, I’ve written some articles pointing to the emergence of 3D printing, urging you to at least be aware of the trends even if we agreed it wasn’t going to rock your world today.  I wrote about it here, here, and here.

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More Ideas About the Future of Retail

A reader sent me this article discussing how retail seems likely to evolve.  Why don’t you go and read it before I offer my comments?

The author (Doug Stephens) and I are, in general, in violent agreement about the direction and speed of retail change.  We further agree that if you, as a retailer are paralyzed by uncertainty and aren’t at least trying to keep up and figure out how to change, you’re in trouble.

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Some New (or Not) Retails Ideas

In my travels, I’ve come across a few articles describing some new retail ideas.  I don’t know which might turn out to be “right” or “wrong,” but it seems incumbent on us to be aware and consider whether any of the ideas might apply to our businesses.  I guess this is my way to help you whack yourselves on the side of your heads.

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Why is Back to School Shopping Slow?


SGB Media published an article last week called, “What’s Causing the Delays in Back-To-School Buying?”  Here’s the link to the article.  If you read the article (you should- SGB does a pretty good job), you’ll find a discussion of the factors said to be causing the delays- the usual suspects.

I’d like to offer a different point of view.  The factors they refer to are symptoms.  The overall reason it’s occurring is the condition of the economy- specifically wages.

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Why It’s Not Just Amazon’s Fault


I’ve spent some years now listening to everybody bemoan Amazon’s impact on retail.  Sometimes, it almost sounds like they believe that if there was no Amazon, everything at retail would be fine.  As I’ve written, that’s not the case.  Here’s an excellent article from somebody who agrees with me.    It repeats some of what I’ve said in the past, but also puts some better numbers on the source of our retail travails.  Hopefully, I don’t think it’s excellent just because he agrees with me.

You’ll have to sign up to see the whole article, but I recommend you do.  It’s free and Vitaliy’s occasional articles are worth reading.  You can always unsubscribe.

A Follow-up on Pop-ups- Popping Up in Interesting Ways

In early 2015, I wrote “The Evolution of Marketing & the Future Retail Model.”  It’s held up pretty well.  In describing that retail model, I hypothesized about how pop-ups might be used.

“Retail presence might be in pop up tents, in vans or trucks, on blankets at beaches, in a lift at a ski resort, in stores, in people’s houses. No location would be permanent. You might end up with 400 stores, but none of them would be in the same place for more than, maybe, a week. Your “stores” would be wherever your customers wanted them to be.  Maybe you announce where the stores are going to be. Maybe not. Maybe there are clues online.”

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“You Just Have to Get Traffic”

Specialty beauty retailer Sephora (2,300 stores worldwide) seems to be a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to brick and mortar retail.  As this article describes, they are using technology to give control to the consumer and create a “fun” experience for them.  They are reducing the role of the sales person and giving the customer the power to interact with them or not.  They note that their customers tend to know more about the product than the sales person anyway.

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What Keeps Jeff Bezos Up at Night- And Why What He’s Doing Should Keep You Up.

To my mind, Amazon’s biggest strategic advantage is that they started without brick and mortar retail.  The business was built for ecommerce and then, using the systems and data they’ve developed, they could look at brick and mortar making sure to have the right number of stores in the right places configured in the right way.  To put it another way, their brick and mortar business, whatever it turns out to be, supports their ecommerce.  With existing brick and mortar retailers, it’s the other way around.

As regular readers know, I’ve called the “omnichannel” the word that legacy brick and mortar retailers use to put a positive spin on the fact that, unlike Amazon, they have the wrong number of stores in some of the wrong places configured the wrong way.

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