PROFILE

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: 06/22/2017

    Does Costco need to significantly undercut Amazon’s prices?

    The Kirkland brand's discounted gasoline pumps and discount liquor are some of Costco’s largest assets. As long as they keep focusing on those experiences, Costco’s warehouse traffic will remain steady. However, to plan for a successful future, Costco definitely has to gear up their online growth. Choosing one over the other would be a mistake. Costco’s online prices don’t need to be significantly lower than Amazon, but keeping them so low definitely doesn’t go unnoticed.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Will UPS’s Black Friday delivery surcharge have retailers seeing red?

    I think retailers should push sales for those first two weeks of December when there is no surcharge. Otherwise requiring an order minimum for free shipping or charging a small delivery fee won’t be the end of the world. That time of year shoppers are less concerned about shipping costs and more concerned with getting the right item at the right time. It makes sense for UPS to charge a little extra for the massive strain holiday retail puts on their system.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Can humanizing self-checkouts reduce theft?

    Humanizing self-checkout might help incrementally. But for people who steal for financial reasons or those who just want to see what they can get away with, I doubt a friendlier greeting on the screen will make a difference. As for outright telling customers that a “wide majority of customers buying red onions ‘actually swiped them as red ones, not the cheaper brown onions,’” wouldn’t that just put ideas in people’s heads? If only one-third of shoppers were already thinking of scanning the cheaper onions, why even let the other two-thirds know it’s an option?The most effective way to combat shoplifters is letting them know they are watched. Whether it’s more employees or cameras, fear of getting caught is the only thing that will change this behavior.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    What happens now that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods?

    I think Whole Foods will eventually turn into an Amazon Fresh/Amazon Go hybrid. The brick-and-mortar stores will continue to operate as regular grocery stores. But Amazon will also be able to offer faster grocery delivery, BOPIS and eventually implement nationwide “just walk out” technology. Whole Foods is also widely popular for their prepared hot foods and café, which plays into the Amazon Go concept of stopping in for a quick breakfast or lunch on the go. Amazon recently advertised Amazon Go job postings, hinting that they are already planning to expand the concept out of the flagship Seattle store.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    Can fitness centers save malls?

    Absolutely. Gyms and fitness centers are anchors for many strip malls. Why wouldn’t they work as anchors in traditional malls? I wouldn’t expect a gym to drive traffic to other retailers, but I think the concept of the mall, as we know it will soon be replaced altogether. Mall operators need to find new tenants outside of their traditional spectrum. Gyms, grocery and health stores, and spas are all successful categories still bringing in customers. Within the coming years, malls will not be exclusively retail destinations, but “lifestyle” destinations.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Can retailers escape the scourge of free shipping?

    In short, you can’t reduce consumer expectations. In that sense, retailers are stuck with free shipping. As long as one or two retailers continue to offer free shipping, everyone will have to. Incentives for store pick-up could help. Amazon has offered incentives for slower free shipping to Prime members for a while, which I know personally I’ve never taken advantage of. Encouraging subscription or auto-renew orders could help save costs for retailers. Even if the shipping is still “free,” subscription orders can at least be planned for ahead of time and fulfilled using slower and cheaper shipping. Essentially, retailers will have to get creative to find cheaper solutions that still provide a great value to the customer.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2017

    Is it time for stores to ditch the free Wi-Fi?

    Free Wi-Fi isn’t bringing shoppers into your store, but it’s certainly something they expect once they’re inside. If free Wi-Fi is available, most people will connect to it. For retailers, any ability to capture shopper data is absolutely worth the cost of providing Wi-Fi.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2017

    What does it take for retailers to thrive amid shifting consumer preferences?

    Agreed. Retail is fragmenting, partially because the barrier to entry is lower than ever. In order to be successful, you have to be an expert or leader in a particular category.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2017

    What does it take for retailers to thrive amid shifting consumer preferences?

    I think “Go Where Others Aren’t” and “Act Early” are the most important takeaways for retailers, yet are the hardest to achieve. As the article says, ”Go Where Others Aren’t” used to mean a geographical location. Now, it’s coming up with innovative touchpoints, products, and services that other retailers aren’t offering. Now more than ever, time is also of the essence. Even if you have a truly innovative idea to “Go Where Others Aren’t,” if you don’t act now, someone else will.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2017

    Are ‘free’ product days worth retailers’ efforts?

    Yes, national days are absolutely an effective marketing strategy as long as they have significant social media traction. In my opinion, Dunkin' Donuts was very successful with their national donut day promotion. Many people took advantage of the Dunkin’s offer. I know this because my friends posted their donuts on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. I couldn’t find time to participate in the promotion, and the FOMO was real.Dunkin' also did a great job of offering a deal that was both attractive to customers, yet not horrible on their margins. Free donut with a medium beverage? I bet they sold more coffee than usual that day, which makes up for the free donuts.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2017

    What will happen to J.Crew without Mickey Drexler as CEO?

    Agreed. This is a very positive move for J.Crew that should have happened years ago. Now, Brett will be playing catch-up.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2017

    Can Walmart workers deliver better last mile results on their way home from work?

    It’s great to see Walmart continue to experiment, test and try new things. But right now this idea leaves us with more questions than answers. Will workers be required to have their own car and have insurance to participate? What about the many employees who don’t meet those criteria? How will pay be calculated for this? Who is liable if someone is injured or a package is damaged? Overall I like Walmart’s willingness to try and potentially fail, I just hope the employees are not the ones who suffer.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2017

    Should Amazon buy Macy’s?

    This purchase would not make business sense. Other than grim, symbolic, satisfaction from replacing the Macy’s storefront sign with the Amazon name, Amazon would not gain anything from this acquisition that they couldn’t get elsewhere and for less of a headache.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2017

    Are off-pricers immune to apparel’s challenges?

    No one is immune. But off-pricers are in a much better position right now than many traditional retailers. Oversaturation and lack of available inventory are the biggest threats to off-price in the future. But I think we have at least a few years before we reach that point -- there's plenty of time for TJX, Ross, etc. to plan ahead.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2017

    How should self-checkout be incentivized?

    Preferences for self-checkout and regular checkout seem to be pretty divided. I think the key for retailers is to provide both options so shoppers have a choice. I’m not sure self-checkouts should be incentivized. Speed and control are enough incentives for many customers to choose self-checkout. The other half of the population that prefers regular checkout values the human interaction. They shouldn’t feel like they are being punished for having that preference.

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