Meaghan Brophy

Managing Editor, Independent Retailer
Meaghan Brophy is the managing editor for Sumner Communications, parent company of Independent Retailer and The Merchandiser Group. Both magazines are written for small retailers and cover topics including marketing, sales, management, products, trade shows, and everything else related to the digital and brick and mortar independent retail industry. She serves as the principal writer and editor for both monthly publications and helps guide the editorial direction of each issue.

Outside of her time at Sumner Communications, Meaghan has held retail and business management roles. Through these positions, she’s gained ample experience in sales, employee training, human resources, customer service, and leadership.

In her free time, Meaghan enjoys tap dancing and a quiet cup of coffee. She also holds an M.S. in Publishing from Pace University.

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  • Posted on: 01/20/2017

    NRF Show attendees aren’t sure how 2017 will shake out

    I wouldn’t say I’m optimistic. However, I am willing to embrace change. Generally speaking, change is good. We know there will be a lot of change in our industry one way or the other under the new president. Hopefully, it will be for the better.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2017

    Will a movie and gourmet food combo drive crowds to the mall?

    I don’t see entertainment and retail really feeding off of each other in the way we hope. They are separate destinations that, other than physically being in the same space, don’t really interact with each other. If anything, food courts and mall restaurants serve as the connectors between shopping and entertainment.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2017

    Why does Gen Z like brick-and-mortar stores but not malls?

    The key to making the most of Generation Z’s affinity for physical stores lies in the product selection. Rather than just an errand or business transaction, Generation Z is looking at stores as destinations. Products have to be attractive and innovative. The problem with malls is that there is nothing new or exciting. It’s a very dependable experience, which is part of what other generations loved. However, Generation Z is interested in the discovery aspect of shopping. Off-price retailers, thrift stores and flea markets have that advantage. But Generation Z is also looking for the new and the now, not something recycled or last year’s model. Forever 21 and other fast-fashion stores are so successful with younger shoppers because of their ability to design and manufacture inexpensive, trendy clothing almost instantly, instead of seasonally like traditional retailers.
  • Posted on: 01/18/2017

    Is Net Promoter Score flawed?

    I think Net Promoter Score is an adequate measuring tool. However, that can’t be the only question retailers are asking customers in the survey. There needs to be other questions on sales associates, quality of the product, the atmosphere of the store, etc. If someone ranks an element low, there should be an opportunity to explain why. There are several customer experience platforms that give survey takers the ability to write a recommendation to be shared on social media when they rate a company as a "9 or 10/would recommend." The problem isn’t necessarily with NPS, it’s with how retailers are collecting the data and what they’re doing with it. Using an advanced CX platform with additional capabilities is a must.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2017

    What’s stalling the virtual reality consumer market?

    Price is still a huge hurdle, especially for a device that doesn’t have a mainstream application and is not seen as a must-have. Generally speaking most consumers don’t know what practical benefit they’ll get from virtual reality, let alone why they should spend hundreds of dollars for it. Until the technology can be affordably and elegantly integrated with items most consumers already use (iPhones), and demonstrates obvious benefits, it won’t be widely adopted.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2017

    Will 2017 be the year retailers start making their stores relevant again?

    Yes, I agree that incremental investments are not enough to keep up. The retailers that realize the importance of embracing change and that you need to spend money to make money are the ones that will be successful in the coming years. The shopper experience is completely changing and the retailers who don’t keep up with consumer expectations will have tough times ahead.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2017

    How will Walgreens benefit from its FedEx drop-off/pickup deal?

    It’s kind of a weird idea, but this partnership will probably increase sales for Walgreens. Customers may choose to pick up necessities at Walgreens over competitors out of pure convenience if they’re already at the store to pick up or drop off a package. However, I don't really see how this partnership helps FedEx.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2017

    Are reports on the death of newspapers greatly exaggerated?

    It all depends on the retailer’s target audience. If their primary shoppers are under 25, circulars are not the best way to reach those consumers. However, if the audience is older circulars are more relevant. Retailers need to make multiple impressions on consumers through several different mediums for advertising to be effective. That means a blend of print and digital. It’s all about building name recognition and staying at the forefront of the consumer’s mind, especially for independents.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2017

    What does giving up alcohol say about Starbucks?

    From personal observation and experience, most people visiting Starbucks at night are there to study or to do work, not to socialize. Starbucks should focus on creating an evening environment that is conducive to productivity. Alcohol doesn’t help that.
  • Posted on: 01/06/2017

    What would an American Apparel acquisition do for Amazon or Forever 21?

    An American Apparel acquisition would be a bigger win for Forever 21. Over the past few years Forever 21 started incorporating pieces that are mid-range in price. So a price shift in some items wouldn’t come as a huge shock to many shoppers. But by acquiring American Apparel’s California manufacturing centers, Forever 21 will be able to offer American-made goods at a time when fast fashion and overseas marketing are entering the political and consumer limelight.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2017

    Will Millennials lead a resurgence in home cooking?

    Yes, Millennials will take to cooking at home. I think meal prep and large-batch cooking for the week will play a big role in the Millennial kitchen. In 2017 we’ll also see more people use cooking as a mindful and relaxing experience. In previous years, Millennials have favored the restaurant experience, and that will still be important for many. However home cooking will see an uptick as more and more Millennials move into their own apartment or house instead of living with their parents.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2017

    Should workers have the right to disconnect?

    It’s absolutely a problem in our society. I think retail is different from office environments primarily because retail workers are hourly. If they are answering emails or texts from supervisors, they’re not getting paid for it. And that is wrong no matter how you look at it. While no one should be glued to their work phone or computer 24/7, there is a case to be made for higher-paid salary employees to be more readily available should something urgent come up. But for hourly employees, it’s downright disrespectful for managers to contact workers regularly when they are not getting paid for it.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2017

    Should Costco raise its membership fees?

    Yes, I think Costco can effectively increase their membership to $60. They will likely lose a few members to competitors, but not enough to diminish the revenue from the new rate. As long as Costco keeps providing excellent value to their shoppers, I think this is a safe move for them.A Costco membership isn’t so much about fresh foods as it is about other grocery and household staples. Most households don’t buy fresh foods in bulk. They buy paper towels, dry and canned goods, snacks and frozen foods in bulk. Costco also offers discounted wine, liquor and gas.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2017

    How can retailers make online reviews more useful?

    The easier it is for users to manipulate the data, the better. Being able to sort the reviews by photo/video, top contributors and most helpful are important features. As a consumer, I also personally find it helpful to know reviewers' age range, location and shopping frequency to see how their experience might compare to mine. For clothing, it’s super important to be able to rate the item overall, on quality and on fit.I think it would be interesting for consumers to be able to view each other’s profiles, similar to Yelp. When taking into account someone’s review, I’m always curious if that person generally leaves negative reviews, always leaves positive reviews or is somewhere in the middle. Building more of a community through their website can help retailers foster greater brand loyalty by allowing their consumers to better connect with one another.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2016

    Is Restoration Hardware’s membership program flawed?

    Yes, I think Restoration Hardware’s membership program is a great idea. The customers who only buy during promotions are likely not the same demographic who would become members. Restoration Hardware’s membership program caters to customers who probably already shop for furniture frequently and are able to spend a significant amount of money. What the membership does is increase brand loyalty and ensures those customers are almost exclusively shopping from Restoration Hardware.In general shoppers, particularly Millennials, have little sense of brand loyalty. Membership programs, if done right, are a smart way for retailers to increase shopper loyalty and maintain their prices and brand worth while still offering customers a great value.

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