As the digital convergence “shake out” continues, retailers are shuttering doors, investing in their best physical stores and stepping up investments in e-commerce and online data analytics and marketing.
It’s been a painful process. DatabaseUSA describes recent store closings as a direct result of the growth of e-commerce. And according to Coresight Research, more than 4,800 stores have already closed this year alone, far above the 5,500 units closed in 2018 and on track to beat 2017’s 8,100 closures. Amid liquidations and massive closures from Charlotte Russe and Payless Shoesource, retail brands such as Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria’s Secret, among others, have revealed plans to pare their total store base. But consumers continue to shop online while also craving compelling brick-and-mortar experiences.
It’s with these changes in mind that WWD presents “Retail 2030: The New Store Experience” on April 3 in New York. Retail leaders will be sharing their insights and best practices in the current climate — as well as market challenges that lie ahead. Presenters include executives from Kohl’s, Bluemercury, Shinola, Rent the Runway and Nike. Event sponsors include American Express, Beauty Barrage, First Insight and Klarna.
On deck to speak is Barry Beck, chief operating officer and cofounder of Bluemercury Inc., which is celebrating its 20th anniversary and has expanded since being acquired by Macy’s Inc. in 2015. There are now 183 units, which include 20 shops inside Macy’s stores.
Beck will discuss the importance of site location, noting that “store siting can be difficult, but location is still everything.” Key to its growth has been a focused strategy on creating a “dense network” of units in the “last mile, near where clients live and work.”
But similar to other presenters at the event, having a solid location strategy is only a portion of the recipe for success. Bluemercury sees store associates as essential to creating a competitive advantage. And that means hiring only “beauty junkies,” the company said of its “secret weapon.” Also key is having products people want.
Regarding merchandising in the tumultuous climate created by digital convergence, Cathy Sparks, global vice president and general manager of Nike Direct Stores and Service, will share insights into the brand’s innovative approach to shopping experiences via “consumer-centric programs that merge the online world with off-line shopping.”
Speaking on the needs of meeting consumer demands while transforming how people shop will be Maureen Sullivan, chief operating officer of Rent the Runway, as well as Libby Wadle, president of Madewell. Wadle has focused on “inclusive sizing” and improving the interactions between sales associates and customers while Sullivan made her mark by overseeing the debut of the company’s physical stores.
Also presenting is Doug Howe, chief merchandising officer at Kohl’s, which is rethinking traditional approaches to better meet the demands of Millennials. Tom Lewand, chief executive officer of Shinola, will also be on hand to discuss how the brand has evolved since he took the helm in 2016.