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.

Core Versus More; A History of the Surf Industry

Perhaps I bring the most value to the industry when a reader sends me something they think is important but that they don’t want to be directly associated with.  And they figure, “Send it to Jeff!  He’ll publicize anything.”

Most of the time, they’re right and this is one of those times.

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Maybe Not Being a Brand Is a Brand

We believe in the power of brands.  We have to.  In action sports/active outdoor, there are very few “moats” around products.  That is, there are few distinguishing product features not based on marketing that are sustainable and even long-established brand names run into difficulties holding onto their market positions.  Witness Nike’s current struggles.

Years ago, I asked if maybe brands weren’t going to be as important as they had been.  I was wrong- and right.

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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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Retailer Plans to Go Public. Wait…Now?…A Retailer?…Really?

Roots, a Canadian retailer, has filed a prospectus for a public offering.  Here’s the link to their web site.  As usual, the initial prospectus is missing a lot of key numbers, but I’ll do the best I can.

Roots has been around since 1973, so they must be doing something right.  “As of July 29, 2017, our integrated omni-channel footprint included 116 corporate retail stores in Canada, 4 corporate retail stores in the United States, 109 partner-operated stores in Taiwan, 27 partner-operated stores in China and a global e-commerce platform that shipped to 54 countries during our most recently completed fiscal year.”  They had 2,200 full time employees.

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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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The Details We Don’t See; Zumiez’s July 29 Quarter

During the quarter, Zumiez increased its sales and reduced its loss compared to the same quarter last year.  It continued to follow its strategy and its balance sheet remains solid- perhaps a bit stronger than a year ago.

I’ve generally been a supporter of Zumiez’s strategy.  It’s not that they necessarily know any better than any other retailer how things are going to shake out as retail consolidation winds its way through the industry, or that they are certain how, exactly, brick and mortar and online are going to evolve and influence each other.  But they’ve made a couple of bets (that we’ve been talking about for some quarters bordering on years now) that are complementary to their long-term strengths and strategies and that offer them the data and flexibility to respond when, inevitably, things don’t turn out exactly as they expect.

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Not Too Bad, But Not Too Good. And Generally Uninformative. Globe’s Annual Results

Globe is no more immune to economic conditions than any other company.  But what I’ve always liked about them is they seem to be in touch with reality and have a positive attitude about it.  They haven’t always been right (me neither) but they’re not slow to realize when something should change and in making it happen.  Their results for the year ended June 30, 2017 demonstrate that.

As usual, we don’t get very much useful information in their statutory report, and nothing by brand, but I’ll give you what I’ve got.

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More of the Same; Billabong’s Results for the Year

Here’s what I said six months ago about Billabong:

“Six months ago [talking about a year ago], reporting on Billabong’s results for the whole year, I said this was a challenging turnaround, Billabong was doing things right, they were starting to see results, but the market was tough, and implementing their plan was taking longer and costing more (perhaps because it’s taking longer) than they’d initially expected.  That’s all still true…”

And it’s still, still true as we review the results for the year ended June 30, 2017.  I thought the delay was especially highlighted in Billabong’s July 28 “Omni Update” press release where they noted they’d “…terminated the agreement with the Omni-channel solution provider…” and taken a write down of AU $11.7 million as a result.  Billabong continues to try and change the engine oil while driving the car.  Tough task- but it’s what they have to do.

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