Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Brick & Mortar Shopping 2.0

Holiday shopping excitement is ramping up.  The National Retail Federation predicts an estimated 4% increase over 2014.  Forrester expects online shopping to exceed $95 billion; an increase of 11% over last year.  Long-term: Will brick & mortar shopping be eclipsed by online shopping?     

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Some leading retailers are modifying their business models to compete.  Detailed below are three retailers that are enhancing their brick & mortar operations for their customers:

1.)   One brand that I respect and have written about is North Face.  In select stores they are introducing a cinematic virtual reality experience titled “The North Face Nepal.”  Sounds more exciting than online shopping.  However, since North Face understands the value of connecting with its consumers (specifically Millennials), they are also offering the content to Outside magazine subscribers.  In-store shopping augmented by virtual reality.

2.)   In my hometown of Philadelphia, Urban Outfitters announced they are entering the restaurant business by purchasing the Vetri Family Group of restaurants that includes Pizzeria Vetri which they plan to open in some of their flagship stores.  In-store shopping combined with an eating experience.

3.)   ShopWithMe, a retail start-up is opening interactive “smart” stores.  Their pop up concepts will include merchandise presented (e.g., Toms Shoes, Raven+Lily) on glass top digital displays or in futuristic fitting rooms complete with interactive mirrors.  In-store shopping enhanced by futuristic design and interactive technology.  

E-commerce will continue to exhibit robust sales.  However, some leading retailers will continue to find ways to attract consumers to their brick & mortar locations.  What will be the key?  Find “smart” solutions to enhance their customers’ shopping experience. 

Brick & mortar shopping 2.0: The new look!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

No Tipping Thank You

A hot topic in the foodservice industry right now is the potential of eliminating tips.  Legendary New York restaurateur Danny Meyer was the first to announce a no tipping policy.  Last week national restaurant chain Joe’s Crab Shack indicated they were heading in this direction.  So what’s next?   

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What is the rationale behind the no-service gratuity model?  Restaurateurs will pay their servers, hosts and bartenders higher, fixed hourly wages which will improve the team performance of their workers and reduce turnover.  Oh yes, to cover this business model, menu prices will obviously be increased potentially 15 to 20%.  Will this policy go mainstream?  More importantly, will diners be comfortable with this move?

So what’s next?  Maybe Foodsy, a new restaurant in Amsterdam has the ultimate solution to a no tipping policy.  They have eliminated their staff altogether.  Guests are provided menu recipe cards.  Then guests use either raw/fresh or prepared ingredients to cook and serve themselves.  They are even provided instructions how to tap their own beer or brew coffee.  At the end of their experience, patrons pay via an iPad app.  Due to the elimination of staff, most of Foodsy’s meals are cheaper than other restaurants. 

How do you vote?  To tip or not to tip!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Tired Expression

“If I knew then what I know now, I would have been very successful.”  A tired expression (a.k.a. cliché)!

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I have lost count of how many times over the years I have heard the above cliché as it pertains to business.  Even to relationships!  Think about it.  What you know today can be attributed to all the cumulative learning (a.k.a. experience) achieved on your adventure.  Unless you have a time machine, you cannot turn back the clock and take all your current learning (a.k.a. experience) and apply it to the past.  A more realistic approach to life is best summated by Danish philosopher, theologian and social critic Søren Kierkegaard:

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Sixth Gretzky

Every year I designate the Gretzky award to an individual or company that is skating to where the puck is going to be.  This year’s award is special.  The winner is Andrew Shakman, leader of a food waste prevention company that is making a significant difference in our country, LeanPath.  

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If you follow my blog, you know that I am appalledby the amount of food wasted in our country.  There is no one solution.  However, Andrew Shakman, co-founder/CEO of LeanPath has been on a mission to reduce food waste since he conceived the company (headquartered in Portland, Oregon) back in 1994.  LeanPath via technology has built tracking systems that assist foodservice operators to monitor and reduce food waste.  The outcome of LeanPath’s tools/services is noteworthy.

·         Their clients cut food waste in half and save 2-6 % on food purchases.

·         LeanPath’s tools steps up an operation’s efforts beyond composting by tracking and reducing pre-guest waste (overproduction, expired items, trimmings, etc.).

·         In the process, LeanPath helps food operators create a waste reduction culture.

Earlier I stated that this year’s award is special.  I first met Andrew back in 2007 at a conference.  Since then he has evolved from an industry connection into a personal friend.  However, what I find really special is how hard Andrew has worked at delivering his message and building LeanPath.  Candidly, to me he is as passionate today as when I first met him back in Washington D.C.

Andrew, congratulations on your vision!  LeanPath is definitely making a difference and skating to where the puck is going to be – a significant reduction in America’s food waste!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wooing Millennials

Last month I went on holiday; spent two weeks offline to break my daily exercise of aggregating information online.  Candidly, I also wanted to take a break from constantly reading about marketers’ coveted target market, Millennials (18-to-34-year-olds).  No such luck! 

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While on holiday I stayed connected to the world by reading the International New York Times (print version).  Day one I opened the business section and the lead article was Brands Woo Millennials with Apps and Emojis.  OMG!  I cannot catch a break from reading at least a few times a day about the Millennials, the first generation that grew up on the internet.  The gist of this article was about the shift in Millennials’ media habits.  They do not watch as much traditional TV or read print newspapers/magazines.  Most block ads on their web browsers and smartphones.  Overall they are a tricky target to reach via advertising.  Advertisers are beginning to find success utilizing emojis and apps.  The Cassandra Report published by Deep Focus Agency revealed that 4 out of 10 Millennials indicated they prefer to communicate with pictures over words.

Okay I get it.  Marketers are salivating over capitalizing on tapping into the discretionary income of Millennials.  I also have studied the following statistics:

·         Millennials spend 41 percent of their time on mobile devices.  Adults ages 35 to 54 spend 34 percent of their time on mobile device while adults 55 and older spend only 16 percent of their time (source: comScore).   

·         Younger Millennials 18-to-24-year-olds spend an average of 91 hours a month on smartphone apps, about 18 hours more than people who are 35 to 44 and 33 hours more than 45-to 54-year olds (source: comScore). 

·         The population of the United States is 320 million (as of last week). Millennials account for approximately 83 million, thus there are 237 million other people that are not 18-to-34-years old.

I recognize that Millennials are influencing the future of consumerism.  However, I really do think it is time for marketers to better understand that there are other target markets with potentially equal discretionary income.  

Marketers, balance your future target marketing.