PROFILE

Melissa Minkow

Retail Industry Lead, 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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  • Posted on: 08/04/2021

    What does the recent sales rebound mean for mask makers and retailers?

    Exactly. Unfortunately, we can expect the virus to mutate at least a few more times in the future. We certainly won’t be able to ditch masks before the end of 2021. This is yet another example of how variable demand forecasting is and how retailers need to refine their predictive methods to include a range of product types.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2021

    Amazon still playing COVID catch-up on fulfillment centers and staff

    Agree! It will take time given the current labor market and continued logistical issues across the industry, but Amazon will surely work this out, as its strength is in operational efficiency. Amazon's rivals are all dealing with these challenges as well, but our bar is higher for Amazon because it's best known for setting the industry standard on delivery timing.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2021

    Why has Shein become a breakout hit with America’s teens?

    Gen Z repeatedly claims that sustainability and transparency matter, but the cohort is still extremely motivated by price-sensitivity and trendiness. This past year has been a challenge for speedy delivery, yet that isn't an issue for Shein, making it an appealing brand able to cater to overnight trend shifts. There will always be low-priced, convenience-driven brands that succeed, but as Gen Z gains spending power, the fast fashion model will likely erode in popularity considering how important young consumers find environmentally-friendly practices.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2021

    Should food be an afterthought for Target?

    Grocery was always intended to simply drive more frequent traffic to Target, but it's inconsistent with the brand to have any category experience be sub-par for consumers. In order to create a fully uniform brand that aligns with Target's positioning, every vertical within the retailer should be innovative and exciting to shop. I hope to see some revitalization here in the future, of course in a way that will actually drive profit for the retailer, since grocery is such a low-margin space.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2021

    Dollar General tests combo DG Market/pOpshelf format

    I find this move confusing from branding and merchandising perspectives. Store-within-a-store concepts are typically a smart way to combine forces while still maintaining distinct, separate brands. If the goal here is to further the DG brand, consumers may not recognize that pOpshelf is still their brand.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2021

    Amazon forecasts slower growth as it laps last year’s insane online sales gains

    The fact is that overall, Amazon is still continuing to experience growth. It’s unrealistic to expect that sales would be sustained at the levels they were during the height of the pandemic. However, the fact that third party sellers are such a fundamental part of its continued growth is a red flag considering how many other retailers are ramping up marketplace models. Additionally, more and more retailers are increasing the speed at which shoppers can get product in their hands much faster, further heightening the competition between them and Amazon’s core differentiator.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2021

    What’s holding consumers back from adopting AR/VR shopping tech?

    It's on retailers to clearly demonstrate the value in AR and VR for e-commerce. Many brands have announced their use of it, but not explained how it works and how close to in-person trial it actually is. There's too much mystery still surrounding AR and VR for consumers to excitedly adopt it. I would also point to how long it took consumers to embrace omnichannel services such as BOPIS, curbside, and QR codes to argue that adoption will take time. Consumers are quite slow at shifting their shopping behaviors. They're very set in their ways and only leverage new tools when a strong use case for them is made. So, if retailers make that strong use case, then I'm confident AR/VR will end up widely used for online shopping.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2021

    Will a new digital platform create a must-join safe space for Athleta’s customers?

    This is a great move on Athleta’s part. Fostering an online community works very well for brands that already have a strong following, and Athleta is one of those. The key will be for Athleta to provide a voice of expertise in this community. Hopefully, consumers will be able to come to this space and ask wellness-related questions, and the brand can responsibly answer or find the right professionals to answer those questions. In addition to Nike and Lululemon, Sephora has built a strong online community that solidifies the brand as a resource in the beauty world. This approach does work well for strong brands.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2021

    Weather forecast predicts retailers will face more record-setting heat waves and storms

    Climate change is absolutely a significant threat to all of retailers' interests -- short, mid, and long-term. In addition to concerns regarding how sustainable the business is and how well it can adapt to drastic change, demand forecasting models need to be considering weather variations more seriously than ever before. There are many variables to be concerned with in this equation -- changing staff needs, improvements to sustainability efforts, and changing consumers' needs.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2021

    Will ‘sound commerce’ make some noise?

    Very creative way to simulate trial of a product without being in a physical store. Shoppers being able to actually hear the instruments in action demonstrates a new avenue of try before you buy in the virtual world. I'd encourage retailers in other categories to think outside the box to find ways to simulate trial virtually like this.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Should retailers continue the chatbot deception?

    Consumers would be happier with getting a chatbot if chatbots were better able to serve their needs. Retailers should always be transparent with shoppers as to who they're communicating with, but the root of this issue is about improving chatbots' ability to solve shopper problems. As chatbots become more helpful, the transparency will actually benefit chatbot use because shoppers will realize they can actually get their needs met that way.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2021

    Will an enhanced rewards program turn Gap’s customers into ‘lifelong loyalists’?

    It's a smart move to allow flexibility across brands in a loyalty program - we haven't seen many retailers attempt something like this before. Given the cult followings Athleta and Old Navy have, the Gap brand, which is in need of a revival, can hopefully benefit. The timing of this loyalty reboot is perfectly aligned with the upcoming operational and product assortment upgrades on the agenda for the Gap brand. That said, the brand must be careful. Gap has a history of over-discounting and slashing margins for a long time to drive sales, which isn't a sustainable strategy. So, the new points scheme needs to avoid any continuation of that approach. This really needs to be a brand play and not a promotional plan.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2021

    Beauty shop-in-shops are trending

    When successfully executed, shop-in-shop relationships make the brick-and-mortar store even more of a destination. These should be thoroughly thought through so that there's something unique about the partnership, whether that's exclusive product ranges or unique services. If done in a way that signals to shoppers that this setup is significant to both brands, there is incremental excitement for consumers. Now that retailers are seriously re-considering how much real estate to occupy, shop-in-shop will become a more common industry practice.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2021

    What will a new CEO’s Facebook experience bring to Instacart?

    Simo will likely bring an advocacy for data strategy and user experience. Instacart, like Facebook, is collecting key data on consumers, and the continued success of the brand depends on how that data is leveraged. Considering how good grocers' proprietary apps have become at achieving a premium user experience, it's imperative that the Instacart platform is optimized for convenience. I do agree though that advertising will be critical, as competition in this space has reached peak intensity due to the pandemic.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2021

    Victoria’s Secret is moving out of the mall

    Choosing new locations based on the ability to accommodate BOPIS and curbside pickup is interesting for an apparel retailer. Victoria's Secret products typically require trial and fit tests, so I hope these decisions are being made knowing confidently that their shoppers want to order online and pickup in person. If there's great potential for the brand with omnichannel, stores will need to dedicate more space to BOPIS arrivals so that the pickup is efficient. Right now, a lot of product is housed on the floor. If stores are going to be more of a pickup destination than a shopping space, the backroom will need to become more spacious and organized. Store floors should be dedicated to guiding up and cross-sell decisions, and sales associates will need to be available for fulfilling and handing off orders to shoppers. This will be a very different model from how the brand has been operating.

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