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From Reviving Retail to Inventory Management, Here Are This Month’s Insights From Our Top Retail Influencers

By: RETHINK Retail

Last Friday, RETHINK Retail hosted their September Small Groups Mixer, a monthly virtual event catered to all of 2022’s Top Retail Influencers (TRI). This month attendees discussed a range of topics including the Upcoming Holiday Season, Inventory Management, and CPG companies & their DTC approach. During the mixer, one topic that was discussed at length was “Reviving Retail” where TRI shared their thoughts on how record-breaking inflation and supply chain challenges are leading struggling retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, and Peloton to experience significant difficulties turning things around.

Here, we’ll explore these topics and additional insights from the Mixer with the help of a few of our outstanding influencers!

Reviving Retail

In the Reviving Retail group, Top Retail Influencers discussed some of the best strategies for reeling new customers in, like:

  • Promoting clothing with size-inclusive mannequins and models
  • Retailers like Athleta and Target have started making positive changes, like showcasing size-inclusive mannequins with diverse hairstyles and creating clothes in multiple sizes. For example, Target’s size-inclusive All in Motion brand generated $1 billion in sales in the first year.
  • “Using curvy models helps plus-sized women feel welcome,” said Lara Marrero.
  • Utilizing technology to generate convenient experiences for both customers and employees
    • As the transition to fully digitized services continues, it’s no longer an option for retailers and brands to put off implementing technology into their stores.
    • “You can’t replace people with technology,” said Marie Driscoll
    • Retailers are encouraged to strategically choose technology that makes the store experience more convenient for both shoppers and frontline workers.
  • Training frontline workers to establish relationships 
    • Retailers must properly train their staff to establish relationships with customers as it is crucial for improving store experiences. 
    • Reduce employee turnover with incentives, like discounts, bonuses, and promotions, which can help encourage your frontline to provide quality, positive interactions.
    • “Retail needs to be more of a career path,” said Ian Middleton.

By incorporating strategic initiatives like these, struggling retailers may have a shot at reviving themselves.

Andrea Leigh — Upcoming Holiday Season

What a great mixer! We had a robust discussion about what to expect for the 2022 holiday. Brendan Witcher let us know that their analysts show sales will be up, but hard to say how much of that will be inflation-driven. We discussed how retailers have had difficulty planning for this holiday season, and how we’re expecting the seasonal curve to start earlier and have less of a peak as shoppers plan further ahead in anticipation of continued supply chain concerns. A recent poll I conducted on Linkedin indicated that most consumer brands are concerned about profitability right now, so we discussed how that might impact the types and numbers of deals they may run. We also discussed how shoppers may trade down to value-driven retailers, although the luxury segment is still going strong.

Marshall KayInventory Management

A few quick bullet points to recap Friday’s discussion:

  • Certain types of Inventory Management solutions are better suited for specific segments within Retail.  For example, RFID Smart Labels have been a “game changer” for retailers who sell Apparel and Footwear, but can’t be expected to have a similar impact at places like Lowes or Home Depot.
  • Retailers that don’t have an accurate view (at SKU level) of each store’s inventory are essentially operating a fleet of Black Boxes, not a fleet of Stores.
  • Some types of Inventory Management issues are common to all Retail sectors, while others are not. The ability to predict the state of the economy is something that all retailers wrestle with. Similarly, the shortage of shipping containers is something that hits all Retail sectors, not just one or two.

Brandon Rael– CPG and their DTC Approach

Below are a few key takeaways that came out of our thought-provoking discussion:

  • There is a rarefied collection of DTC that are driving outstanding customer experiences and value-added innovations, controlling the brand narrative while running a profitable business. 
    • The list includes Nike, Lego, Adidas, Warby Parker, etc
  • There are inherent complexities that DTC brands take on when they open up retail showrooms. Vertical integration is a competitive advantage and owning the customer journey. DTC firms should very strategically open physical locations to amplify the brand. 
  • Social selling via TikTok, Instagram and others is a viable channel for DTC and CPG firms.
  • The Metaverse is at its infant stages, where larger firms such as Nike, Walmart, and others have been able to set up strategic partnerships with Roblox and other companies to have a presence in this emerging channel.
  • It will be key for all DTC, Retailers, and CPG firms to evaluate their social selling, digital marketing, and metaverse strategies. 
  • The wholesale/retail model is an effective and proven operating model for CPG firms to sell their products. There is an element of too many physical retail stores. The challenge is to expect customers to shop at ten different DTC stores for their groceries, which creates a friction-filled and inconvenient experience.