Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:08 AM
In the 1980s, a huge transit strike in New York City forced many executives to walk to work instead of taking the subway or bus. To make the commute manageable, many younger executives wore tennis or running shoes and brought their leather oxfords with them to the office in backpacks. The era and look of the "Yuppie" - the young, upwardly-mobile professional - had begun.
The Nike brand became a household name. People began placing more emphasis on personal wellness and exercise, and chains of fitness centers started to spring up all over the country to take advantage of these trends.
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Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:30 AM
'The Guardian' Names 'Powell's' Best Independent Bookstore Worldwide
The end-of-the-year shopping spree is fun if for only one reason: To see what the creative advertising firms of Madison Avenue have come up with in terms of memorable TV spots. My favorite this year is an ad for the Barnes & Noble bookstore. Pop music stars Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett are shopping for books and meeting each other inside the store, which, of course, results in the two of them belting out a duet. Both Bennett and Lady Gaga are holding up the books they presumably are going to purchase. The store, decked up in resplendent holiday decorations, is part of an overall TV commercial that proclaims that the death of the brick-and-mortar store has been greatly exaggerated.
Not too long ago retail analysts were predicting the death of bookstores like Barnes & Noble. So what, they said, if the store had coffee boutiques within each space or impromptu concerts by local chamber music groups? None of these mattered when compared with the sheer power and influence of the giant web retailers. Could it be, however, that we as consumers became downright intimidated by unmanned delivery drones, and reports in the press about the lousy working conditions in the fulfillment centers of the web retails? Could a quick walk or car ride to a local Barnes & Noble, beautifully decorated for the shopping season, actually be an enjoyable experience?
Continue reading "Bookstores Make A Comeback Through Customer Experience " »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:29 AM
Amazon Opens Bookstore in Seattle
There are plenty of examples of the relatively new phenomenon of omnichannel retailing, but none is quite so striking as that of Amazon. Omnichannel retailing aims to appeal to all of a customer's senses and to empower her to buy whatever she wants at her convenience. On the surface, the fact that Amazon, a global online retailer, is opening a 'brick-and-mortar' bookstore in a single location, seems to be a validation of the omnichannel trend.
But then there is the fact that Amazon is indeed a global retailing behemoth and it is opening (for now, at least) just one store in a Seattle neighborhood. The move, given that it's right before the holiday shopping season, could be a one-off. It doesn't spell actual commitment to dealing with the many challenges that come with operating physical outlets (hiring and training sales associates, leasing real estate, etc.) on Amazon's part.
Continue reading "The Retailer That Killed Bookstores Is Opening...A Bookstore" »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:43 AM
What is Design Thinking [ Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ee4CKIPkIik ]
When one of Detroit's 'Big Three' automotive companies hired a new design chief about 15 years ago, the gentleman stated in an interview that he didn't get his inspiration from certain types of cars as much as he did from other industrial products. Yes, here was a newly-minted automotive company executive telling the world that he found design inspiration in toasters and clocks and chairs!
He might have insulted his new employer if it weren't for the type of chairs he mentioned: Eames chairs, the beautiful products of mid-20th century Modernists Charles Eames and his wife Ray. To this day their eponymous chairs command top prices in upscale showrooms. The fact that this car designer was saying he was a fan of the Eames chair was a sign of his sophistication. Car buffs immediately were curious as to what his designs would look like on four wheels.
Continue reading "Retail's Exploratory, Disruptive Design Thinking" »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:53 AM
Will Fashion Fall for Apple Watch?
If there's one thing the great Modernist movement of the mid-20th century taught us, it's that form follows function. We live in world pretty much defined by that mantra. As the technology around us becomes more sophisticated, it's clear that what we focus on as consumers is how the technology can liberate us. The styling or the packaging comes in a distant second.
Or does it? I have been fascinated by various reports that Apple, anticipating the launch of its long awaited Apple Watch, is training its sales associates to emphasize the styling of the Watch. Training its sales staff to discuss fashion is incredibly new territory for a technology company like Apple. So much so that a prominent Apple follower recently wrote that many of the company's newest hires come not from engineering firms but from the likes of luxury fashion retailers such as Burberry, Yves St. Laurent, Tag Heuer, and Louis Vuitton. Sales associates are being given crash courses in how to deal with would-be buyers of the watch by using age-old luxury retailing tactics - not something a technology company and computer maker has typically had to think about.
Continue reading "Can Style Trump Technology?" »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:12 AM
Bots are incredibly convenient ways to publicize a brand or organization to people who depend on social media for a lot of their day
Have you ever heard the story of Lajello? We all have our 15 seconds of fame, and for a while, he was one of the most popular characters on the Internet. Why? Because he was a prominent and well respected member in a social media network for book lovers. Very high brow stuff. He was known to recommend books that he had read and for a time became the second-most "liked" person in that online group.
The problem was that Lajello was nothing more than an algorithm. Many book lovers had sustained long online conversations with Lajello and some even shared their innermost thoughts and emotions. Turns out they were speaking to a "bot." There's a startling new study that finds one in five of us accepts "bots" unknowingly into our online worlds. We befriend them, talk with them, and treat them like a member of the family.
Continue reading "Rise (or Descent) of the Bots" »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:06 AM
Carl Walderkranz talks about Tictail [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG9gftpfHV4]
You've all read the articles about companies like Amazon.com and Alibaba becoming so large and vast that their retailing tentacles will encircle the earth. No other retailer will be able to challenge their market supremacy because websites like these will grow ever larger. And you remember what your economics professor told you about economies of scale.
Well, I think that one of the advantages of the Internet has been its ability to level the playing field as well as serve as a global platform for enormous retailers. That means smaller retailers with innovative ideas can get those innovations out to the public digitally. What I find particularly interesting is that mobile apps are now the tool of choice for retail innovators who want to grow on a national or global scale and even strike alliances with the huge players like Amazon.
Continue reading "Can Non-Giants Dominate Digital Retailing?" »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:25 AM
Can online grocery shopping really save you money? [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEtreaNHrg8]
If there is a poster child for the advantage of having a robust bricks-and-mortar infrastructure in the competitive world of online commerce, it's the grocery store.
Just ask anyone at this week's annual meeting of the best and brightest in the retail world, the Big Show. That's what the National Retail Federation calls its terrific gathering of speakers, exhibitors, entrepreneurs, and, of course, the globe's leading retailers.
Continue reading "Online Retailers Take On Groceries" »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:59 AM
Retail conversations at National Retail Federation Big Show 2015 [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3kitsczNO0]
This week we're in New York City, in the midst of a mind-boggling trade show with thousands of sponsors, products, ideas, and exhibitors on display: the National Retail Federation's Big Show. I wish one of their stores would sell a device that tracked how many digital devices ever see the light of day! Chances are that it would be a very low number.
Truth is, the market for good, useful and seamless digital devices in the retail industry is a brutally tough one. Especially when you're the retailer that has competitors on all fronts - clicks and bricks. The product you need to be selling must have more than just a shiny exterior. That's why Samsung's curved TV set is making everyone take notice. Anyone who passes by the electronics retailer can immediately picture the curved set in his/her living room. That's always a good sign that the market is pining for the latest invention and flocking to your stores.
Continue reading "Are Wearables There Yet? " »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:21 AM
Sandeep Dadlani, Executive Vice President, Head, Retail, CPG and Logistics & Head of Americas talks about predictive analytics, which is transforming the retail industry
Buoyed by digital convergence, social media, Big Data and new technologies, the fast-changing retail landscape is at the cusp of an important transformation. Retailers, who were known as 'artists' for selling their merchandise on creativity and experience instead of math and science, now must cater to a new generation of buyers who hardly enter a store! To stay ahead of the game, it is imperative for retailers to not only accept the ways of digital shopping but also adopt new business models to attract and retain customers.
Up until few years ago, most company websites displayed a toll-free contact number at the bottom of the web page as the point of contact for customers. Should anything go wrong post purchase, it was pretty much the only way (apart from writing in) to contact the company. Today, thanks to social media, the avenues of communication have increased manifold.
Continue reading "Predicting a Retail Transformation" »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:04 AM
Fast food apps growing in popularity
Call it the hyper-consumerization of the enterprise.
If you don't think we're in the midst of a consumer-focused boom, then consider what the fast food giant McDonald's is reported to be testing in certain markets. No, it's not a new sandwich - it's a new app.
If Mickey Dee's does indeed roll out this app after its initial test phase, I think we could be entering an entirely new era in which fast and consumer-friendly apps radically transform the customer experience. I am completely fascinated by a McDonald's app because we're not talking about a staid and conservative department store that is using apps to attract a new generation of customers. It's a global fast food enterprise that already excels in the marketing, distribution, and sales of its fast food products.
Continue reading "How Fast Food Is Learning About Billions of Customers" »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:09 AM
Hackers in Russia have stolen 1.2 billion passwords from websites [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1czXdU5cfRM]
In one of his first moves as newly named CEO of the retail giant Target, Brian Cornell wrote a blog on the company website in which he expressed his "deep respect for the challenging retail environment."
Challenging indeed. Those words were written just a few weeks before the world learned that hackers in Russia had stolen 1.2 billion (yes, that's billion, not million) passwords from websites across the globe. Target itself also was (please excuse the pun) a target of a huge data breach during the busy holiday shopping season last year.
Continue reading "Global E-Commerce Tools Know No Boundaries" »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:29 AM
Biz Stone: Twitter's Lessons Help Spread Jelly [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OXQXJ_UulE]
Twitter's co-founder Biz Stone is working on a new project - a search engine called Jelly. Part of Stone's reasoning is that the basic way we get answers to our online queries hasn't changed that much in the past 15 years or so. You type something into the search engine, hit return, and view the list of suggested matches. That's an eternity in digital time.
So what will be different about Jelly? Well, Stone says that he's envisioning what the world has become - a very tight conglomeration of digital consumers who are in close contact with each other. Now imagine taking all the 'stuff' from all of your social media networking - the photos and the maps and the messages and the locations - and combining it all to create a mega-social network.
Continue reading "Connecting Digitally: Let Us Count The (New) Ways" »
Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:27 AM
The Alibaba I.P.O., Explained | The New York Times [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2c1od68RiDU]
Why the sudden rush to buy The Everything Store - a great new book about one of the master innovators of our age, Jeff Bezos - the founder of Amazon.com? Well, it seems that the new CEO of another mega-retailer, Wal-Mart, is urging every top executive at his company to read the book about the founding of Amazon.com. Doug McMillon wants his colleagues to learn about the brilliant mind and business strategies of Bezos. The 47-year-old McMillon is on a one-man mission to reinvigorate Wal-Mart amidst a rapidly evolving retail industry.
When enormous, established players like Wal-Mart begin studying Web retailers like Amazon.com, it's safe to say that the retail sector is in flux. Wal-Mart had been accustomed to being so big and so influential that it moved markets. Now, with new entrants beginning to disrupt the retail space with an array of digital innovations, it seems that even Wal-Mart is back at the drawing board.
Continue reading "A Brush With Evolving Retailers" »