PROFILE

Chuck Palmer

Principal Strategist, ConsumerX Retail
Chuck is a retail strategist with a consumer behavior bias. He focuses on the nexus of consumer behavior, technology and creativity. With more than 25 years experience across the worlds of online and offline retail, retail strategy, operations, consumer behavior and in-store digital visual merchandising (digital signage networks). You can read his blog at www.ConsumerXretail.com.
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  • Posted on: 12/05/2017

    Can brands hit a hole-in-one with urban golf apparel?

    I don't get golf.Never have.It's so weird to me.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2017

    Subscription services are moving beyond just being surprise boxes

    This category seems to be reaching a plateau. I expect to see consolidation, re-positioning and some retailers simply going away. I think this may be a good example of data mis-use.When data is created, rather than crunched or mined, a company can gain more bankable insight. I can see those companies that are aggressively engaging individual consumers backed up by focused data-driven experience and merchandising strategy as the big winners in the next phase.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2017

    Which off-price retailers will withstand the test of time?

    I think the idea of "off-price" is more of a retail idea than it is a consumer one. While many consumers are motivated by a bargain or a value, more sophisticated merchandising systems result in less supply for this category. So we see a saturation of goods made specifically for off-price and consumers understand that.With the exception of TJX, most companies are falling flat on the in-store experience, which should be about authentically good products at deep discounts.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2017

    Customer data is grocery’s new battleground

    "Customer data" is a broad and deep term. For the most part it has meant transactional data -- loyalty and POS data are driven by the decision to buy. The real frontier is learning about consumer behavior that is the antecedent of the purchase, both online and in-line.The potential is enormous and don't think for a moment Amazon and Kroger and Walmart are trying to make better apps. This is about proactively creating data not just mining what already exists. It is about measuring and understanding at an unprecedented scale.The transformation will be enormous and if handled properly, almost transparent to consumers. Stores (both online and in-line as borders blur) will become more relevant to individuals and communities.Artificial intelligence holds to potential to scale across the fleet of stores what a good store manager does -- know your customers and your product and your people and your pricing and act to make your business as good as it can be.I expect we cannot even imagine what grocery will be like when we can arm our stores with validated empirical data about the value of soft emotional drivers such as the appeal of smell, the need to nourish your family, or what food is healthy for me to eat.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2017

    How would the end of net neutrality impact retail?

    Everyone should be working to protest the proposed repeal of net neutrality. Everyone.As for retail, I worry this polarizes e-commerce and squeezes out mid-sized and smaller brands and retailers. I can only see this as limiting choice and innovation.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2017

    Amazon launches exclusive with Calvin Klein

    Amazon Fashion + Calvin Klein.Yawn.This feels more like a desperation play for both. If Amazon is seeking fashion credibility, I'm not sure Calvin Klein is going to deliver that. This feels like PVH and Amazon convincing themselves this is a good idea; it seems like it is much more about marketing (by throwing mud against a wall to see what sticks) than it is about consumer relevance.Regardless, the data will be assimilated and resistance is futile.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2017

    Does it matter if social media is getting a bad rep?

    I think the use of social media as a tool for retailers and brands is nuanced and must be considered in the context of each consumer's path. Sometimes it works for your objectives and sometimes it doesn't. But thinking of it in isolation from other marketing techniques ignores the very behavior we're trying to influence.It is just one thing that influences and activates a consumer. Just like it is just one thing in a consumer's life.Ultimately, this comes down to strategy and content: why your customers engage and how they want to do that.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Are data sharing concerns still holding back true personalization?

    Do we need to give up privacy to feel like a retailer is listening to us and making our experience personal? I don't think so.But I do think retailers and data scientists and opportunists have turned this into an execution of technology rather than a way to more deeply engage a person's reason for buying.Whenever asked about this discussion I go back to my department store days and think about the trust one must build with a customer in order to sell them something. I use purchases such as a men's suit or a wedding gift as an example.It comes down to preference. Asking and listening and bringing relevant offers to the forefront. Any good sales person will agree.I think retailers and brands should focus on their customers' preferences and the tactical data will come naturally from the relationship. And the tech can do the heavy lifting in the background.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2017

    Lowe’s and Macy’s join rivals chasing smart home opportunity

    "Alexa, which home automation products do you suggest we start with?"While retailers scramble to figure out how to sell the widgets, Google and Amazon are establishing trust and reliability in our actual homes and phones. Alexa and Google Assistant (and maybe Siri?) are becoming the go-to interfaces with home automation. It is more likely Kohl's and Whole Foods are the places that will really win in this category.Staying within the context of the hardware, Lowe's seems to hold the best brand authority given it's place in consumers' minds for home improvement projects. The key is the "b8ta testers" that will act as Sherpas, and the in-home services others are offering.Making these things actually work in a simple, low friction way is the key to success in this category.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2017

    Will acquisition of a mom and pop shop pay off big for Kroger?

    When Kroger introduced Murray's Cheese it really stood out. Like an island. As they have moved their healthy/organic category into a more sophisticated space we have more choice, but not in every category.I believe Kroger needs to do this sort of thing -- whether partnering with local companies, small ones, or being creative within their own walls -- to keep the experience fresh.
  • Posted on: 02/14/2017

    Will Neiman Marcus find gold with its women’s plus-size pilot?

    As someone who has had to navigate this issue all my life -- husky and portly were actual size categories when I was a kid -- I have to bring up the trust issue. Trust in sizing.If Neiman's really wanted to woo customers, they would study their customers and work with their designers and vendors to come up with an approach to sizing that their customers can trust under the Curvy Chic label. I know XXL's aren't what they used to be. I have Gap shirts from the '90s to prove it. (They are "Icons" according to the current Gap offering.)Fact is, those of out of the normal size ranges need to know hunting sizes is worth it, so I can see why they come up with stuff like "Curvy Chic" (but anyone with an ounce of brand strategy knows they could call it anything just as long as their customers know what it means) which signals "your size is right here, feel free to focus on style."It seems to me that NM is way behind on this and the thing that makes it newsworthy is that a luxury retailer is doing it.
  • Posted on: 02/14/2017

    Will Neiman Marcus find gold with its women’s plus-size pilot?

    I'd take burly over portly or husky. Those are still being used in some quarters.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2017

    Should L.L.Bean ditch its legendary return policy?

    L.L.Bean's return policy feels part of the overall culture and enjoys a position similar to their boots, Nordstrom's customer service and Target's bullseye. It feels like more of a brand asset than an operational one. They can tweak it, but they should keep quiet about it. Things like this signal differentiation in the market. Heritage is tough to fake. They shouldn't mess with it.Shipping is more malleable. They were shipping way before the new kids on the digital block, so they can play with minimums, or seasonal offers. There's probably an opportunity to build a loyalty group of good customers that have special perks, but they may run the risk of of making it too complicated for their best, longtime customers.As we move through this time of retail flux, we need to be very careful about squandering assets like heritage, authenticity and culture. There is something untouchable about a return policy that has been in place for over 100 years. I hope they'll be able to say that at the 120 and beyond marks.
  • Posted on: 02/09/2017

    What makes Americans such fans of IKEA?

    When it comes to IKEA, my strategy hat goes out the window. I have trouble analyzing it because it's so damn good.For my family it has always been about aspiration and inspiration. When we were young, we saved up for the large bank of family room storage that filled a wall. When our TV got super thin and our kids didn't play with all the toys in the baskets that fit in the lower cubbies, it was sad to see that stuff go.As we helped our parents downsize, those inexpensive, infinitely re-configurable shelves were our go-to for efficient storage.It's hard to imagine IKEA being disrupted. The scale and vertical integration prevents that, I think. If anything, they need to focus on their digital layer and how consumers now are blending information, creativity and their products to make their homes and offices unique.
  • Posted on: 02/09/2017

    Did President Trump go too far with his Nordstrom tweet?

    Given that retail is, I don't know, a hugely big thing (sorry, I'm still working on my Trump-speak) to our economy and this guy claims to be a business man, this is nothing more than another example of who he is.It is not about his being a "dad." That's just communications office back-fill BS.I would hope the NRF and Retail Industry Leaders Association make public statements and apply their lobbying muscle to push back. This won't be the last time and they need to leverage their stance.Retail and consumer spending are critical to our economy and if there is any force that can remain steadfast and even push back, it's retail.

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