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Brian Kelly

  • Posted on: 11/03/2017

    Was Amazon scamming or searching for its HQ2 location?

    Ever pitch the IOC for the Olympics? This is very similar. It can be a very compelling exercise in civic pride and of course there is the risk of let down. However, the self awareness a city gains from the experience is also rewarding. So I am a fan.Bezos is a master brand builder. He fully understands paid, earned and owned media. At this time, Amazon is a hot brand. Once upon a time, Sears was too. When we created the Sears Collegiate Champions program (think: crystal trophies), USA Today requested that we tone down our investment so as to placate other advertisers. We reduced paid but kept rolling with earned and owned. That lasted a couple of years.Yes, it remains true today, "Retail ain't for sissies!"(PT Barnum did not coin this slogan.)
  • Posted on: 10/24/2017

    Apple opens invisible hangout in Chicago

    My experience is the same. Stores are not set up for the mobile market share.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2017

    Target has a plan to end the Christmas sales madness

    Its not the promotions, it's the lack of traffic which comes from a brand that has lost its relevance. If the goods offered were right, the promoted price would not matter.To me, Target remains stuck over target audience definition and that is an existential issue. In the coverage of the press conference, they said they would return to a focus on young families and then ticked off multiple other segments they intend to target.Like Shep said, "a confused buyer doesn't buy."In the absence of clarity around target definition, the entire selling model is at risk. Product, promo, place, service and yes price are all challenged and, like last year, less intuitively relevant. Sale is just one message in the mix.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2017

    Should the holiday selling season be retired?

    Holiday is important because consumers buy stuff. (I can't believe I am writing this.) Consumers buy stuff because the US is primarily a Christian nation. Not to say other faiths or non-believers do not celebrate the time of year. It is the gift giving time of year. For those of you who don't remember, in most US homes, Christmas trees are bought and decorated, and gifts for all members of the family are placed beneath to be opened sometime between 12/24-25. Mother's Day + Father's Day do not equal Christmas sales volume because gifts are bought for the entire family.For most Americans with a HHI beneath $75K, living paycheck to paycheck is very real. The reason why Black Friday matters is retailers use the event to kick off the selling season. It never has been the biggest day of the year. Typically that day is the Saturday (Sunday, with fewer selling hours can be even more productive) before Christmas, when folks have time off, no religious obligations and have an open to spend because they were recently paid or can float on checks or credit cards. Stores decorate the space in recognition of the cultural reality. The first Sunday of Advent occurs simultaneously. As a nation, we are in the mood.Jewelry, sleepwear, fragrances/beauty all are highly dependent upon Holiday. Some categories make their YEAR the last 10 shopping days. This is primarily due to the fact that men shop closer to the event than women.Please, with all the change let's not forget the customer and the realities of an American life. Christmas matters (not for the bumper sticker reason). Holiday gift giving matters. Retail matters.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2017

    Have retailers killed off Black Friday?

    It was never the busiest shopping day of the year. The Saturday before Christmas is and remains the busiest shopping day of the year. people shop closer to the event, when they have the most open to spend.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2017

    Have retailers killed off Black Friday?

    Retailers should listen to their target audience and behave accordingly. Last year, REI proved there was a successful alternative to "stack 'em high and watch 'em fly" and they enjoy a unique clientele.For middle-tier retailers, price remains the most compelling content. Therefore a bargain-rich Black Friday is important. Of course that message is within a mix of counterbalancing messages to ensure achievement of business objectives. Relevance is always key. Relevance in value, optimizing the balance between price and quality (product plus people plus place).I think holiday equity is made in the 11 other months of the year. If a retailer hasn't established itself as a gift-worthy outlet, then the outlet is not very high in her consideration set when she commences shopping. Retailers earn that spot under the tree.Yep, Scrooge said it too, "retail ain't for sissies!"
  • Posted on: 09/20/2017

    Kohl’s to accept product returns for Amazon

    Traffic. Prime members who typically do not shop at Kohl's. It is customer acquisition to build Kohl's base. I suspect that Kohl's recent customer loyalty program has provided insights that it now is attempting to capitalize upon. My sense is that Prime members (higher HHIs) are under-represented among Kohl's shoppers. If this is the case, and IF Kohl's can flawlessly execute the strategy without any negative impact upon its selling model/store experience (people plus place), then Kohl's should be able to build its database. It then will have to convert those consumers into Kohl's shoppers.This is way early days. We really don't know Amazon's apparel play as it seems to be a work in progress. Kohl's shoppers (lower HHIs) are attractive to Amazon for building its database and then altering its selling model. Therein lies the rub."If you can't beat them join them" seems to be catching on. Shrewd retailers need to test their way in with eyes wide open and a firm hand on the KPIs. Too far? Well I guess that would be a "retail eclipse" where Amazon overshadows Kohl's in the mind of the shopper.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Gap Inc. leans more heavily on Old Navy and Athleta

    Gap is a reflection of the current state of retail. Some malls are closing, but not all. Some Gap and Banana Republic locations under-perform, but not all. In the bubble, folks just don't understand the economic reality away from urban centers where malls, with Gap and Banana Republic continue to operate.Trump or the opiod crisis ought to provide clues to a challenged nation. Rural economies are in the tank. Middle America is struggling. Stores that rely upon those constituencies either change, go out of business or enter the market as a fresh relevant alternative.Old Navy delivers value to these folks. Athleta is a response to the new dress code. Comfort, ease of use, casual first. Gap and Banana Republic will shrink until the portfolio no longer remains a viable business.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Nordstrom tries a no-merchandise store

    Nordstrom goes Seinfeld. It is a show about nothing.No this isn't a store about nothing; it is a showroom. Some might call it Bonobos. Back in the day it was Service Merchandise. It is a living catalog.When did "retail experience" become reduced to just "place?" Not fulfilling the transaction at the point of sale is fine for some shopping goals, but not all. What shopper goals these stores will fulfill and how to retain or grow share of wallet needs to be sorted out. We are in an amazing place. On one hand there are showrooms and on the other there is same-day delivery. We are plumbing the long tail of shopper expectations.Seems to be more true than ever, "retail ain't for sissies!"
  • Posted on: 09/07/2017

    Is Kohl’s giving away the store to Amazon?

    a 10-store test. What's the downside to Kohl's? Kohl's, a national chain of mid-price fashion with an aggressive high/low pricing strategy, is at risk of extinction. Stores of this ilk, a cousin of department stores, are fading fast. Kohl's was an early "disintermediator" of mall stores. It was mall apparel without the hassle of the mall. It was always about taking the friction out of outfitting a family. Kohl's has to prove relevance to the surge of digital natives entering family/home formation years. This is an extension of its brand legacy.So Amazon, as an ingredient brand, is a test for the host brand Kohl's. What brand is more relevant to these moms than Amazon? Amazon looks at the retail industry as if it's a roulette table. Kohl's is yet another bet. And a smart one. Kohl's has some overlap with Whole Foods, and lots of opportunity.Net-net this is a great decision for Kohl's. Roo bad none of the mall anchors thought of it.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2017

    Is thrifting going mainstream?

    No, large chains should not install a "thrift section." No not even in the basement.Yes, thrift stores will continue to grow as they are relevant to an emerging segment of new family-/new home-formers. It's not a "could," it is happening! Do you see the Salvation Army ads in your market? Any Millennials moving out of your home?Look at thredUP or swap or even eBay if there is any doubt that used items will find a home for those growing up in the "shared economy."
  • Posted on: 08/29/2017

    Are Whole Foods’ price cuts game-changing for food retailing?

    Amazon is an awesome brand manager. "Whole Paycheck" was a BIG problem. Amazon went after it first thing, at least via IR/PR. It seems like high purchase frequency items aka traffic items got the haircut. Bananas for 79 cents was dumb even in Chicago, you are right, Paula.I doubt if Bezos wants to race to the bottom. He certainly isn't doing that on Amazon, so Whole Foods won't either. That's price. For the balance of the selling model, product assortment/distribution and place/space rationalization will probably be run through AWS. That's what newer versions of the bookstores seem to show.This is exciting and we all get to watch when we visit our Whole Foods. Or at least those of us in Seattle or Manhattan.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2017

    Does Best Buy now have its own summer Black Friday?

    Retailers create their own retail holidays all year long. Store-wide, category and item promotions fill the calendar. Promotions are positioned on the calendar to drive traffic at troughs or spikes, it all depends upon how it fits annual and seasonal flow and it started with the first "tent sale."Best Buy choosing mid-August fits into the back-to-school selling season. Best Buy hopes to be the preferred destination when dorms are being outfitted and all sorts of electrical items are needed. It wants to get more than its fair share. Positioning it as an anniversary sale sends the signal there are special reductions to incent shoppers to visit a store.Even newcomers like Alibaba and Amazon saw the value of a "sale" with Singles Day and Prime Day.But these promotions become a curse when the need to "beat last year" is expected by The Street. Markdowns get deeper, another event goes on the calendar and the promo needle goes in deeper. Before the brand knows it; price integrity is eroded.Yes, retail ain't for sissies!
  • Posted on: 08/23/2017

    Do retailers need to buy the loyalty of consumers?

    Value = price + quality. The components of quality are product, place and people. Lots of variability.In a time of austerity, price takes on a higher priority based upon need and category. For a generation entering into the key spending life stages, price is very important. Think of those who came of age during the Great Depression or recent Great Recession. Their "value proposition" varies from Boomers.Retailers need to clearly identify their target audience and understand the role of price in the purchase decision and factor that into how they build that into the brand's value proposition.Retail brand experience is the value proposition is the selling model, which is the "five Ps." Yep it's complicated and many get confused. And it is why we like to say, "retail ain't for sissies."
  • Posted on: 08/22/2017

    Will a former eBay and Home Depot exec help Macy’s get turned around?

    Mr. Lawton was at Home Depot for the successful transition from Nardelli to Blake. So he should be uniquely qualified to participate and lead the Macy's repositioning. All of Macy's is fair game for meaningful change. Macy's has plenty of issues and they all start with a clear understanding of their customer.A national department store chain is a concept never proven and now Millennials moving into the key life stages no longer live a departmentalized life. Macy's credibility in fashion is suspect. And so are Ralph/Tommy/Calvin/et al. There is no more one-brand-fits-all. The rules for mass "lifestyle" branding are no longer relevant in an age of personalization. So 40 percent seems like a stretch.The biggest challenge will be to rationalize the store portfolio and then all that selling space.
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