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Cathy Hotka

Principal
Cathy Hotka & Associates

The idea of a proactive chatbot is truly scary ...

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TRedd is right — the name is a major issue. "Radio" has long been eclipsed by video and "Shack" is straight out of the beach blanket movies of the '50s. A complete re-brand would complement whatever new customer strategies the company embraces. If they're smart about it they'll do...

Keeping costs down isn't the only thing. Full-time employees are better-informed, happier and more likely to bond with regular customers. What's better — having an associate greet a customer, or having an associate greet a customer they know?

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Closing stores isn't the answer ... a new business model is. Department stores take WAY too long to shop, and customers who are used to instant gratification won't tolerate the search for departments, the paper coupons and then waiting in line. it's time for department store execs to start...

Kudos to Mr. Drexler, but it's not enough. My J.Crew has a small clearance section, and I headed there recently to check out costume jewelry. A necklace that attracted my attention was marked down to — ahem — $150. Some of the hottest trends in women's fashion these days are fast-fashion...

A certain department store just laid off hundreds of IT staff. What's the takeaway from that? That the staff was bloated? That IT is no longer a priority in the age of the Internet? That the company can't set a strategy and stick with it?

Layoffs don't affect only the...

The question here is whether companies can correctly gauge the impact of a catalog beyond mail-in sales through catalog order sheets. You could make the case that Sears began its irrevocable slide downward when it eliminated the Dream Book.

I wonder if L Brands has considered restructuring the catalog and...

Content, content, content. Yes price is important, but streaming video is all about the right mix of vintage offerings and original content. As long as Netflix has House of Cards and terrific series like Bloodline and Longmire, its devotees won't switch.

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Loads of other retailers have done this and it definitely brings the fun. Visit a Five Guys burger joint to see it in action.

That said, for Kmart, it's too little, too late. Why shop there?

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I'm sure Ms. Syngal will be a leader. Gap has a strong internal promotion strategy.

The key to moving Old Navy forward is to revamp the merchandise. Old Navy won't beat the fast-fashion pioneers by recycling designs from years back. Update the styles and watch sales move forward.

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