PROFILE

Joanna Rutter

Marketing, Dor
I run content marketing for Dor, an analytics solution for physical locations that collects foot traffic data using thermal people sensors and visualizes those trends on an easy-to-use, cloud-based platform. I'm driven by a belief that people who manage retail spaces should be empowered to focus on what really matters: Designing and operating intentional, efficient stores where meaningful connections happen.
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  • Posted on: 02/07/2019

    Will AR change how people buy products from eyeglasses to wedding rings?

    I think home try-on is the most logical and immediate AR use case in retail, and I don't think apparel is where it works best. My favorite AR applications are Sephora's (just used it last week!) and Warby Parker's, and know this type of experience also works well for furniture e-commerce brands like Wayfair. Sephora and Warby Parker benefit from the normalization of face filters used in Snapchat and Instagram -- it's not a huge leap to ask a consumer to smile for the camera -- and all three of these brands have a few important things in common: a higher price point, good customer service, and an already-strong physical try-on experience and/or good return policies. It's easier to trust a brand in an augmented reality when you already trust them in your current reality.
  • Posted on: 02/05/2019

    Are malls better off as fulfillment centers?

    Alas, in the end, Victor Gruen could not save us from his worst invention, and now we must save ourselves from his monstrous creation. Malls are incredibly specific types of properties designed for now-frustratingly-specific purposes. Now that we want to revamp and repurpose them, all of their design problems (So much dead parking lot space! Bad public transit access! Have you ever tried air conditioning one of these things?) are going to be quite hard to fix at a physical level as well as successfully rezoning these for industrial or housing purposes. I want to believe every dead mall can become a mixed-use farmers market slash housing complex slash childcare center, like Victor originally did back in the day, but it seems like the process of rehabbing the old space is more work than it's worth. Perhaps these dead malls were in the wrong place to begin with -- constructed on census data and the assumption that people wanted to engage with space in the suburbs in a certain way. Maybe there's nothing holy we need to save from the husk of a mall, and that's okay.
  • Posted on: 01/30/2019

    Is experiential retail overhyped and misunderstood?

    My favorite writer on this topic, Elizabeth Segran at Fast Company, says it better than I could here: "All these Instagrammable stores are blending into one another, and consumers are getting bored with the concept. In 2019, brands will need to think of other ways to get consumers into stores. Like, you know, developing great products, or having great customer service." Consumers are both wary and weary of retail stunts. Hire and pay great people, invest in better back-end tech so you can tell the truth when your website says something's in stock, and you'd be surprised how much more profitable your marketing spend can become!
  • Posted on: 01/04/2019

    E-commerce forces CPG brands to think differently

    The entire retail world has a distribution waste and emissions problem, all the way down, from manufacturing to packaging to delivery. CPG. FMCG. Fashion. Beauty. It's everywhere. We now know more than ever that it's the responsibility of corporations to adjust these practices now or create drought, widespread poverty and rising coastlines, and the responsibility of the consumer to fervently demand them as if their lives depended on it, because it does. I am Team Anything that reduces this waste. If it looks like boxed wine and becomes a meme, so be it.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2019

    Can David’s Bridal appeal to ‘every type of bride’ with its new campaign?

    I agree with the Doc -- the times are changing, both in consumer preference and amount of consumers. (Haven't you heard? Millennials killed marriage alongside all their other casualties like books and home ownership.) Of course the inclusion is encouraging, but David's Bridal may be speaking to a waning base, or if anyone's getting married, they're shopping on Etsy and buying from makers or shopping at boutiques for something less cookie-cutter for the 'gram. However, I like cheering on a brand willing to take creative risks even when it's late -- wouldn't want any retailer to get eaten by debt without at least giving a good fight.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2019

    Why are retailers publishing paid-subscription magazines?

    Testing is key. Putting out paid content says: "We're betting we understand what you want." If you're wrong, you break that trust.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2019

    Why are retailers publishing paid-subscription magazines?

    "Some people like analog things" is not content strategy. Centering your customer's needs in all things is a better start -- for example, Away's customer is buying a suitcase or bag as a means to a lifestyle end, and their content is also aligned with that end, hence, a travel magazine. I don't think the distribution method or price is as important (in Here's case, the magazine is available online and in print, and the online content is free) as the content itself, which equips their customer to accomplish their goals.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2018

    Joann invests to bring 3D-laser cutting to stores

    Joann is totally setting the standard for what a craft retailer can be. Hope these services and close-to-home innovation happening near their HQ can effectively roll out to all their locations, selfishly including the humdrum locations I shop at here in NC.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2018

    Have retail store associates fallen into a hypnotic state?

    Couldn't agree more! Retail's issue is the insane amount of data (sales! foot traffic! staff schedules! weather!) that are captured in-store and have to be stored, analyzed and distributed to and from those stores. Retail's pivot to the cloud is slow and clunky, which I'd say is the main reason this isn't already happening.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2018

    Can customer lifetime value scores work against retailers?

    I passionately believe that the future of marketing, especially in retail, lies in an equal exchange of data for value, where customers willingly share pieces of information in exchange for an experience that is truly valuable to them, and in which none of it feels like a weird ask at all, so much so that those exchanges are imperceptible (and protected by real, real good security). That's my dream, anyway. Standardization helps make this easier for everybody, transparency makes it less creepy, so I'm into it.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2018

    Visually rich social content produces ‘shoppable’ experiences for retailers

    The media-ism "[Platform] killed [thing]" cited here is so fascinating. It places a knife in one party's hand and another party on the ground. What if we're framing it all wrong? (Also, why must everything be a murder metaphor?) What if the story of new platforms replacing old platforms isn't as deadly as we tell it? Think reincarnation, rebirth...This Burberry campaign is gorgeous. Very thoughtfully cast and speaks to the heart of what their customer wants. Instagram just happens to be the most effective vehicle at hand for them. To answer the question, it's the future for now, and as always, brands that capture and nurture creators will come out on top.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2018

    Will right-sized stores drive bigger returns for Macy’s?

    So interesting! I've been thinking a lot lately about the legacy of our suburban mall patron saint, Victor Gruen, and the effects of overstoring on urban and suburban communities in the U.S. It's high time to reel in the wild retail square footage per capita (26 square feet per person, more than double any other country!) and ask brands to rethink the "why" behind their stores' footprints and locations. Good, tough questions. Nice to see Macy's and Kohl's ask them.
  • Posted on: 11/02/2018

    Walmart reimagines its big boxes as town centers

    I agree Dave, one format pasted onto every store won't be as successful as adaptive concepts that reflect the customer. And making sure their core shopper is delighted by new amenities or spaces (vs. feeling whiplashed and betrayed) is key.
  • Posted on: 11/02/2018

    Walmart reimagines its big boxes as town centers

    Why not? With inexpensive, modular pieces (picnic tables and string lights, kiosks, etc.) and rigorous testing, I bet Walmart is uniquely positioned to strike some sort of customer sweet spot, especially in more rural areas where options for community gathering in a third place may be more limited. The key is using adaptive pieces and experimenting religiously.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2018

    Is there a failure to communicate between retail HQs and stores?

    An easy yes and yes to the first two questions, which fellow BrainTrusters have spoken well to -- store visits for increasing empathy being one of my favorites! -- and as for the solution, I'll pull a direct quote from the TouchPoints take: "Giving district and store-level managers the tools and knowledge they need to mold companywide initiatives into local tactics is the first step in providing a strong customer experience." Tools and knowledge. Democratizing access to information. Great retail C-suite folks ask, "how can I empower my store-level team to outperform themselves last year?" Those motivated by fear may not ask that question first. The difference of these approaches can be felt by the customer and can be seen in quarterly reports. Using cloud-based tech that collects and visualizes store performance trends (and making a habit of sharing those trends with store-level teams) is a great place to start moving toward that better approach.

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