Joanna Rutter

Marketing, Dor
I run marketing point for Dor, a foot traffic counter changing the in-store analytics game for retailers of all sizes. My take on the so-called apocalypse? Retail is going through the painful but necessary process of shedding terrible practices and boring brands to make room for in-store experiences that are actually compelling. I say bring it on.

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  • Posted on: 09/22/2017

    Walmart’s Christmas plans do not include seasonal hires

    It's efficient from an economic standpoint and is good news for employees who have the flexibility and energy to pick up extra hours. When your pour time and money into training your team, retention is key, and having this incentive to look forward to each holiday season is smart. That being said, it'd be nice to see this initiative paired with some sort of program with other merit-based bonuses for workers who balance two or three jobs to pay rent and can't afford to take on more hours. Incentivize everyone!
  • Posted on: 09/20/2017

    Will others follow Neiman Marcus’ return to a full-price focus?

    Out of curiosity, I just did some research on Neiman Marcus Group's code of ethics -- so often we see apparel retailers like Gap Inc. who can afford to play with margins because their clothing is made using low-paid labor. Neiman Marcus refuses to work with manufacturers and brands who employ child labor, forced labor or who pay less than minimum wage. (Nordstrom has a similar statement.) If Neiman Marcus is confident in their due diligence, they should proudly stand by this code of conduct. It'd certainly refresh their ho-hum branding. Luxury apparel made ethically always has a place at the retail table, even though its portions may be a bit smaller.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2017

    Did this startup make a big mistake calling itself Bodega?

    It's incredibly out-of-touch -- and I'm glad to see it's a discussion topic. We've talked about vending machine concepts here before. However, this is not a neutral candy dispenser or a helpful kiosk for buying earplugs in an airport, because of how it's named. This is reappropriating a type of business that is traditionally owned by or operated by people of color and/or immigrants in neighborhoods where large supermarkets or other businesses choose not to plant roots. To lift that name and slap it onto an otherwise-nondescript vending machine concept is to mock the role bodegas play in the communities they serve. The fact that these vending machines will largely be placed in wealthier neighborhoods or apartment complexes who don't frequent actual bodegas adds to my disgust. What's in a name? Everything, in this case. Cultural context matters. Do your homework, "Bodega."
  • Posted on: 09/14/2017

    Millennials, not Boomers, say associates are key to shopping experiences

    Coming from a clicks-to-bricks perspective: When you create a compelling retail brand online and then open pop-ups or flagship stores, of course Millennial shoppers will want to engage with you in a physical space -- with store associates who are heavily vetted for brand loyalty and well-versed in the products their fans are obsessed with -- enjoying the thrill of getting to touch and try on the items they’ve seen on Instagram for months.I believe this very evening Everlane is hosting a happy hour mingle to hire associates for their first permanent store (it was announced on Instagram Stories). For these clicks-to-bricks brands, recruiting happens on social media, not on Indeed listings. They're hiring devotees from their cliques.With that much investment in the company at the get-go, those associates are guaranteed to make the shopping experience engaging and informative. Millennials are beginning to adjust their expectations accordingly and want to have conversations about a brand's products with someone as invested as they are.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Gap Inc. leans more heavily on Old Navy and Athleta

    Wholeheartedly agree! Gap and Banana Republic don't stand out and I honestly can't remember a time when they did. They make wardrobe essentials, but they don't have an interesting angle that's compelling to consumers (ethical standards and transparency at Everlane, low prices/diverse sizing at Old Navy or Uniqlo, funky Millennial branding and trendy pieces at Athleta or Outdoor Voices, etc). They're yawn-worthy. They're done. RIP The Gap, long live Gap Inc., which is making a smart move in pouring their resources into their more compelling brands.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2017

    Will CVS’ sales take off in airports?

    Considering the exorbitant prices for regular drugstore items sold in college bookstores and airport shops, CVS could do quite well if these vending units offer more affordable options via their private label. (Because it's just silly to pay $6 for two allergy pills.) That's a good look for CVS, driven by meeting real customer needs.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2017

    Does Amazon Books need coffee?

    I'm not sure what delights me about the phrase, "Coffee and books go together like peanut butter and jelly" being used by an Amazon exec. Perhaps because it sounds like a recipe for something kind of obvious? Stumptown's delicious and buzzy. It's a logical move. But the recipe for a great bookstore is much more nuanced. I'd never say stop watching and learning from Amazon, but putting two products in one space does not a bookstore make, nor can the smell of (very, very good) coffee generate the emotional buy-in or place-making power of an indie bookshop.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2017

    Are fashion trends moving too fast for retail?

    Yes! Retail is no longer the influencer in this process. (If anyone in retail is still able to influence, it's the store associates who embody the lifestyle the customer aspires to, and can sell it well.) Shoe retailer M. Gemi has mastered the careful balance of slow, ethical fashion delivered conveniently -- their tagline is "made in Italy the old way and sold online the new way" -- with new limited editions dropped once a week. When they're gone, they're gone. Larger brands ought to take notes on the small batch approach to reduce waste and retain their customers' attention.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2017

    Why don’t more retailers ‘get’ curation?

    This question immediately made me think of Edward Bernays' 1928 book Propaganda. (Great read for anyone selling anything.) The quote that came to mind: "In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered him on the market. In practice, if every one went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed. To avoid such confusion, society consents to have its choice narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention through propaganda of all kinds."Modern life necessitates curation in the first place. The way we identify authority has changed. If a retailer isn't a curator, are they really selling anything at all?
  • Posted on: 08/24/2017

    Will chatbots lead consumers to more purchases?

    A strong, customer-oriented automation solution to problem-solving can be powerful when, key part of the question here, it's "used correctly." Simply deploying a chatbot in order to save money on labor costs is short-sighted, but using AI to learn from those conversations gives retailers data they couldn't sort or analyze that powerfully before and allows them to serve their customers better in the long run.
  • Posted on: 08/22/2017

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

    Well said. Private labels should offer a brand more control over the customer's experience and more agility responding to changing demand, and I'd never attribute either of those traits to Style & Co or Karen Scott. Macy's has stagnated for the same reasons a lot of its peers have, and just one more head at the top will not change that unless they're ready to take some risks.
  • Posted on: 08/21/2017

    Should all retailers offer subscription services?

    The successful implementation of a subscription service depends so much on the brand. Do customers already trust your products? Do you have a loyal group of repeat customers who would find this service valuable and who would be willing to be a trial group? Do you have the in-house marketing, operations and customer service capabilities to design a start-to-finish online/BOPIS experience that increases customer loyalty instead of hurting it in the long run? I'd say build those internal capabilities before taking the leap.
  • Posted on: 08/21/2017

    Why are Target’s small stores much more productive than its big boxes?

    A samples-only store? That's a fascinating prediction, one I haven't heard before.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2017

    What will more electric cars mean for convenience stores?

    Agreed! One can only eat so many Clif bars before driving off said Clif.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2017

    What will more electric cars mean for convenience stores?

    This is a great opportunity for convenience stores! Gas stations can adapt by offering a comfortable indoor waiting area, reliable free Wi-Fi and more fresh, ready-made food for electric car drivers so they feel welcome to kill time in their retail space. I can envision Sheetz and Wawa making the pivot very easily. Perhaps an app for electric car drivers along the lines of GasBuddy could show a map of all electric car charging stations and offer location-based discounts to encourage in-store conversion.Eventually I hope that electric charging becomes the norm but, until then, capitalizing on electric car drivers' needs gives convenience store owners a chance to engage a lingering customer by offering them an experience they can't get somewhere else.

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