October 20, 2013

For the last year or so, many of the articles about retail featured in this newsletter mentioned the perceived scourge of showrooming. This thoroughly modern phenomenon occurs when shoppers visit a brick-and-mortar business solely to browse before they ultimately buy a product for cheaper online. Fear over showrooming has gripped much of the retail world, leading at least one company to start charging people to look around their stores.

According to a recent Harvard study, however, the threat of showrooming Continue reading

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October 17, 2013

For many of today’s conscientious consumers, it’s not enough for a product to be simply affordable and effective. Environmentally minded diners, for instance, prefer to know as much about the origins of their food as possible. That’s why so many modern restaurants make sure the names of their organic and artisanal suppliers appear as prominently on menus as the dishes. Now the trend is expanding out of the culinary world and into retail as more and more clothing companies use Continue reading

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October 15, 2013

Wal-Mart became the world’s largest retailer by keeping margins low on everything, including employee compensation. For the Florida-based grocer Publix, however, keeping staff motivated through strong financial incentives is a recipe for success rather than instability. Publix’s net margins of 5.6 percent trounce Wal-Mart’s 3.8 percent, making it the most profitable grocery chain in the nation. With $27.5 billion in sales, it’s also the largest employee-owned company in America. Staffers control 80 percent of the company thanks to a policy Continue reading

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July 17, 2013

China’s surging economy has provided its citizens with a constellation of benefits that would have been scarcely imaginable even a decade ago. But of all China’s consumer-enabled freedoms, the opportunity for worldwide travel perhaps represents the nation’s biggest leap into modernity. After all, Chinese tour groups were forbidden from traveling to the U.S. until 2007. The following year, 493,000 Chinese tourists flooded America. That number has since grown to more than a million visitors annually. But that’s nothing compared to Continue reading

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April 25, 2013

manniIf you’ve ever walked into a store and instantly had the feeling like you’re being watched, it’s because you usually are. Between all-seeing security cameras and roving secret shoppers, retailers are busy keeping tabs on customers. Granted, brick-and-mortar stores have every right to be suspicious: inventory loss due to stealing takes a big chunk out of every retailer’s profits. But some customer-tracking techniques have nothing to do with shoplifting; it’s the customer’s shopping habits the businesses are interested in.

While Continue reading

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April 19, 2013

 

priceInformation moves so fast in today’s Internet-enabled world that it can be difficult for companies to keep up. In the case of online retail, demand for a product can shift minute-by-minute, making accurate pricing an extremely difficult task. That’s why many businesses are opting to price their goods “dynamically” rather than relying on a single concrete number.

Although new to some retailers, dynamic pricing has been common in the airline industry for years. In order to lessen the likelihood Continue reading

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April 15, 2013

zaraThe years following the start of the recession have not been kind for much of the retail industry. For the clothing company Zara, however, the downturn has been something of a blessing. The Spanish brand came to global prominence in the 1990s as its affordable but fashionable looks started to arrive at stores on foreign shores. Today the company brings in more than $9 billion annually from 1,600 locations as shoppers the world over turn to Zara’s lower price tags Continue reading

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