Archive for September, 2013

Why is Target embracing “showrooming”?

In early 2012, Target was vocal in its concerns about “showrooming.” or shoppers’ habit of price-comparison via smartphone. At the time, Target reached out to its vendors asking for more exclusive products, and it more recently put a price-match policy in place. On today’s RetailWire blog, panelists are discussing a new article by Target’s director of omnichannel, in which he now describes the benefits to his company. Here’s my take:

To look at “showrooming” as an opportunity instead of a threat, retailers need to think about it beyond the simple issue of price-matching for customers using their smartphones. The bigger issue is how to engage those customers using their smartphones as a shopping tool. Yes, price competition is an element that retailers need to manage…but they can also use wifi and other technology to provide special offers, keep the customer in the store longer and otherwise make the brick-and-mortar experience more engaging.

JCP and Martha: All bets are off?

There are reports (unconfirmed by Penney) that it is dropping the Martha Stewart-branded product from its home store. My thoughts, as recently posted on RetailWire:

It’s unclear from the conflicting reports (from two divisions of News Corp.!) whether the JCP/MSLO deal is on or off. But it’s clear that dropping Martha-branded products (right now, only the party goods shop has her name on it) would represent a tremendous drain of company expense and effort, given the length of the Macy’s trial. Only the lawyers made any money on this one, even though the judge hasn’t ruled yet as of this writing.

The bigger question facing JCP is how quickly and how aggressively to discontinue any home store brands (or softline brands) that aren’t working. There may be contractual agreements in place with some vendors, especially if they helped pay for remodels. On the other hand, JCP could generate cash, traffic, inventory and floor space if it moved more urgently to drop the losers from the Johnson era — despite the short-term margin pain.

GGP steps into the omnichannel arena

Mall developer General Growth Properties is testing a concept where customers can shop online or in-store at some of its tenant retailers and arrange for same-day delivery or pickup. It’s an interesting case of a mall developer (rather than an individual retailer) thinking outside the box in order to make its properties more responsive. Here’s my recent RetailWire post on the subject:

The desire for “instant gratification” is one of the few roadblocks to e-commerce supplanting brick-and-mortar retail. Same-day delivery is a valuable tool for overcoming that roadblock, and it certainly gives a more concrete meaning to “omnichannel.” (Not to mention that same-day is the “next battlefield” after free delivery.) I applaud GGP for piloting a program that will have its logistical challenges, to be sure, but will especially drive business for specialty tenants of its malls.