PROFILE

Melissa Minkow

Director, Retail Strategy, CI&T

Retail strategist and spectator for CI&T — a customized digital solutions provider for some of the largest global retailers. Passionate about drawing from consumer insights, pop culture phenomenon, and outside-of-industry best practices to improve the retail landscape.

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Melissa has overseen CI&T's retail strategy and industry perspective for a year now, after 2 years in merchandising strategy at Target, 6 years covering omni-channel, e-commerce, and social media retail at Gartner, a stint in pharmaceutical market research, and the completion of a Kellogg MBA. She is a retail futurist whose methodology is rooted in cross-industry consumer insights and innovation.
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  • Posted on: 12/03/2021

    Kroger makes sense of consumer contradictions

    Self-reported data is often contradictory or not accurately reflective of actual behaviors. It’s great Kroger cares so much about consumer insights, but receipts and search data will often be more useful than self-reported numbers. Grocery shoppers value fair prices, consistent supply, and convenient fulfillment methods. Winning strategy in grocery keeps the experience as easy, reliable, and affordable in the face of supply chain struggles, labor shortages, and inflation.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2021

    Rising food prices hit grocery workers hard

    This is unacceptable. Every industry has a responsibility to take care of its workers. Just like there are credits given to retail employees in other stores, grocery workers should have discounts on items as well.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2021

    Lush exits social media over risks to teens

    Exiting social media doesn't help fix the problem. Creating content that is safe to consume and sending messaging that is uplifting and counter to the typical beauty messaging would be a more productive move. The sentiment is nice, but the drastic action feels more like a publicity stunt than it does a motion for change.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2021

    What caused the thin Black Friday traffic?

    Seasonal and holiday spending occasions are becoming less and less relevant as retailers are discounting at other times throughout the year that work better for them. Consumers have wisened up to the fact that they can shop for any occasion whenever they want versus at one designated time during the year. Retailers have to promote along a timeline that can actually be supported with all the supply chain and staffing shortages, so this will likely set the tone for the future of holiday shopping.
  • Posted on: 11/24/2021

    Glossier puts the experience first expecting sales to follow

    Beauty brands will have to approach experiential differently as long as we’re wearing masks and can’t sample products in stores. It’s smart to focus on brand building during this time for that reason. Glossier is a trend-driven brand that does well merely by fostering its connection with consumers, so I think this will be a successful endeavor and pandemic work-around.
  • Posted on: 11/24/2021

    Will fans visit Nike in the metaverse?

    If brands create seamless, in-platform ways to purchase products, I don’t see why these wouldn’t be sales opportunities. The key is making consumers feel confident that how they’re experiencing the products virtually is exactly how they would in real life. The insights potential here is great, though. This is an inspirational space to understand what consumers want.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2021

    Walmart is going livestreaming for the holidays

    Social commerce is absolutely the future of retail, as young consumers are tuned into social networks 24/7 and are getting inspired there. Walmart is smart to host livestreaming via existing social networks, where its shoppers already are, versus requiring consumers to download and learn a new platform just to buy.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2021

    Can loyalty programs ease supply chain blues this holiday season?

    Live lists where shoppers share their wishlists in advance and are alerted when items are in stock is a great idea. Most of these suggestions highlight the need for a flexible, real-time demand forecasting model. The better retailers get at understanding the timing of consumer needs, the less of a problem these stockout issues will be. Leveraging loyalty programs as a way into shopping patterns and rewarding those members with reliable inventory levels is smart. I would also like to see shoppers opt in to receiving items in certain longer term windows. Letting shoppers know in advance that they could be waiting a long time is a transparent way to manage expectations and avoid disappointment.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2021

    Vietnam’s factory closures will hit apparel and footwear supplies in 2022

    This will be majorly impactful. Supply chain issues are a long-term problem - just because these issues won't be urgent this quarter doesn't mean we won't see the ramifications ever. Retailers should be diversifying their production networks and considering as much local sourcing and vertical integration as possible to overcome this.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2021

    Starbucks and Amazon open first joint concept store with more to come

    I don't see how this is any different than current Amazon Go stores and many Starbucks locations - just they're under the same roof. While these two brands have very similar positioning and make sense together, I would have liked to see a uniquely different experience for either brand in this partnered scenario. When brands partner, they need to provide a uniquely new and differentiated experience from what they currently offer. This doesn't seem to do that.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2021

    Will new curbside-recyclable insulated packaging give Amazon a sustainable grocery edge?

    Consumers don’t have strong feelings either way about packaging, so Amazon is smart to take measures that improve its environmental impact in such an unremarkable way. These types of efforts are wins for everyone. We will need brands to take sustainability strides that do cause changes in consumers’ behaviors, but moves like this are great first steps for companies to start walking their ESG talk.
  • Posted on: 11/17/2021

    Is mobile enhancing the in-store shopping experience?

    Consumers already spend so much of their days on their phones - if retailers don’t leverage that knowledge to augment the store experience, they’re missing out. Right now, the primary uses for smartphones while in stores are transactional, but we can expect the phone to also become more of an emotional tool in the future. Mobile has great potential to elevate the store experience when done right.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2021

    Can a Supreme collaboration give Tiffany street cred?

    There were collaborative partners they could have chosen that would have been disruptive, yet aligned with both past and future branding strategy. This choice feels like too much of a risk considering that in order to retain the new consumer base they may have won, they’ll have to keep up the association with streetwear. Streetwear is cool and relevant to young, trendy consumers, but now Tiffany has to continue to pursue edgy partners to maintain respect with this target audience.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2021

    Instacart wants ‘to make online grocery shopping more affordable’

    It’s great to see that these online changes are inspired by what works offline and are missing from the digital experience. Online grocery shopping tends to be more common among higher income groups, so this could help other income levels try it out. Grocers and delivery services will have to be careful though - a lot of the disruptive moves they're making (15-minute delivery, aggressive promotional strategies) are margin-eroding, so hopefully Instacart can offer this long-term.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2021

    What online tools best prevent returns?

    I’m ready to see standardized sizing across brands. As of right now, a medium at one retailer could be an extra small at another. Until sizing is standardized, comparing sizes across brands to inform sizing decisions will be unhelpful. AR will also eventually play a larger role in return reductions, but it has to be implemented in a convenient and easy to understand way for shoppers. Retailers need to introduce AR versus launching it without explanation. Lowe’s just announced the incorporation of AR in its app to aid in home improvement projects that require dimensions, and they’ve made it intuitive for users to leverage. “Spatial commerce” certainly applies to the challenges with apparel trial as well. The overlooked problem with apparel when it comes to sizing is that just because something technically fits, doesn’t mean it’s flattering or falls the way the shopper wants. The more accurate the shopper’s tools are in portraying the way the item will sit on them, the more helpful they actually are. There’s a lot that’s subjective when it comes to fit that tools in this space need to take into account.

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