PROFILE

Phil Chang

Retail Influencer, Speaker and Consultant
As a Retail Industry Expert, Phil is responsible for uncovering both emerging trends and insights that may impact businesses engaged in commerce. With 20 years of experience under his belt, Phil helps brands and retailers adapt to the the new realities of retail and the next generation of commerce. Phil is a frequent speaker at industry events in Canada and the US, across multiple verticals, and is a featured writer in trade publications such Retail TouchPoints, Pet Product News, BikeBiz, and more.
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  • Posted on: 09/10/2018

    Should the outdoor industry welcome selling on walmart.com?

    This might be one of the last industries to recognize the new age of retail. The outdoor industry needs to show agility and be open to selling on the Premium Outdoor Store. Outdoor brands and sports brands haven't really adjusted well to the new retail world -- closures of sports retailers have been well documented. The Premium Outdoor Store is just a punctuation for the outdoor/sports industry that big, fat, margins are a thing of the past. Lamenting that those are gone/lashing out at new retailer options aren't going to change that. They need to get with the program -- build experiential, cater to the evolving consumer and be agile enough to sell things that you can be competitive with on the Premium Outdoor Store.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2018

    Is Victoria’s Secret’s ‘buy 2, get 1 free’ promo the beginning of the end?

    If Victoria's Secret folks don't know they're out of touch, and if they're reading this; note that the first few commenters are men who know that Victoria's Secret is out of touch. The definition of beauty has changed and what women want has changed. A BOGO is a great idea to get rid of the old stuff you have that nobody else wants. But hopefully Victoria's Secret has something better in store once the old stuff is out the door.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Can retail compete for computer science graduates?

    I think it's difficult to recruit computer science graduates. In the same way that the best and brightest marketing minds are going to tech companies, the best computer science graduates are going to startups and tech companies. Bridging my experiences between a startup and my retail background, it's difficult to find legitimate reasons why a tech graduate would head to a retailer. We've often talked about retailers staying focused on retail, and using technology to move their business of retail forward, but that isn't going to be compelling for a motivated computer science graduate. I think that partnerships and accelerators are where retailers can really make up the difference. If they can either partner with an accelerator that allows them to tap into the technical resources or build an accelerator (partnering is better), that allows them to have access to some of the most eager minds in tech without having to own the resource.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2018

    Retail’s new cobbling economy

    Well written, Carol. Gigging and cobbling are different ends of the same means. There's no shame in cobbling, quite the opposite actually, it's a creative (if sometimes desperate) way to make ends meet. Where gigging and cobbling are different is gigging has vision, and involves upside. Cobbling is maintenance and holding one's head above water. Cobbling comes before gigging (in my opinion). I think if a retailer has vision, and a "head cobbler" then they're headed in the right direction.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2018

    How should specialty retail respond to Amazon’s apparel push?

    Amazon knows what the fast fashion consumer wants, this is true. Amazon doesn't have data on consumers that aren't shopping fast fashion. For example, if you were looking for Crossfit gear in L.A., Superfit Hero isn't on Amazon and probably never will be. She's a locally sourced Crossfit apparel maker inspired by her customers. She's one example of many. Fast fashion is a commodity game. The more you make, the cheaper it is. Consumers know this too, and will buy it for the cheapest they can find it. We shouldn't be worried about who owns this title, except to stop the waste factor that comes with such commodity items. For the rest of the apparel world, get online and digital and tell the masses about your product. Consumers are looking for unique stories and wonderful products. If you're a retailer, *gulp* dare I say it? Take a page out of Macy's book and find local fashion to partner with. You'll be better for it.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2018

    Retailers and brands collide

    Brands and retailers should both be in the space of selling their products to consumers. That isn't the same thing as competing with one another. In a fireside chat I had with Arc’teryx General Manager Jon Hoerauf, he shared that while Arc'teryx has their own stores, the intel they gained from consumers helped them be better partners with the retailers that they sell to as well. He also indicated that with the retailers that understood how symbiotic the relationship was, the sharing of information back to Arc'teryx helped them be better at retailing too. Brands and retailers can share space. It means a more thoughtful sales strategy on both sides, but there is room to grow.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2018

    Petco pilots experiential store concept for fur babies


    Pets have moved from being something "owned" to something loved. Some of the most successful pet retailers that I know doing this sort of thing, have their ear to the ground and incorporate customer feedback very quickly. For Petco to be successful, they're going to have to move quickly and adopt quickly. If you're going to jump into a highly competitive, competent space like boutique pet care, you'll have to play with the big dogs (pun intended).
  • Posted on: 07/09/2018

    Amazon lowballs CVS and Walgreens on OTC med prices

    Hopefully Amazon is doing this in a thoughtful and methodical manner. Their carefree attitude of allowing third-party sellers to sell whatever they want is well documented in apparel and just about all other areas of their business. Drugs are a whole different matter -- sourcing and tracking product is part and parcel to being in the industry. Is Amazon simply taking a hit on margin here or are they looking to unproven/unreliable sources for sourcing their product? If I'm CVS or Walgreens, that's the first question I'm asking. The second thing I'm doing is to ensure that I have the quality of care needed to convince people to come into a pharmacy and learn about the drugs they are taking.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2018

    Abercrombie & Fitch goes to college with a new store concept


    Abercrombie & Fitch is stuck in the middle. Literally in the middle. That is the one place that BrainTrust folks have been advocating not to be. They have non-descript, non-unique product with a high price point. While they're doing good things to learn, Abercrombie & Fitch probably needs to go back and figure out what is unique about the brand and re-do their branding and their product line. Easier said than done, I know, but we know what happens to boring retail ...
  • Posted on: 06/25/2018

    Dollar General pilots scan & go tech

    Real life sometimes gets in the way of a great idea. While *most* of the product in Dollar General has bar codes, there are a fair number of items in general/home merchandise that generally lack scan codes. I'm also shopping for smaller items that fit in a handheld basket (subtract one hand) while the other hand is grabbing the items I need (subtract a second hand). If Walmart, with enormous shopping carts and two free shoppers' hands, can't make this work how would a Dollar General customer have a third hand?
  • Posted on: 06/19/2018

    To catch a Walmart return thief

    During the BrainTrust Live discussion last week, Ken and I talked about RFID and some of the wider impacts it could have. Is this one of those places? I agree with those who posted before me that employees are your primary asset to catching these sorts of rare thieves, but could RFID be another tool that could help these employees catch more fraudsters?
  • Posted on: 06/15/2018

    Sam’s to open small concept focused on tech, fresh and grab-and-go foods

    Good on Sam's for testing a new model. I have to wonder what the plan is -- Sam's Club is holding its own (for now) against Costco. Perhaps they don't know either? There's value in having a captivated club member who is willing to pay for a yearly subscription. Perhaps it's time for Sam's to be something else that their membership wants them to be besides more "club?" (less "club?")
  • Posted on: 06/13/2018

    Macy’s takes stake in retail-as-a-service tech firm

    I'll admit it. I was a doubter. I hoped that Macy's wouldn't ruin STORY. With b8ta the possibility of success and retail joy increases signficantly. Having a nimble technology partner to compliment a nimble retail experience (STORY) makes sense. Macy's is working hard at being in the experience business. High five from here -- I can't wait to see what comes out of this partnership!
  • Posted on: 06/05/2018

    Is data-driven marketing holding back storytelling?

    Storytelling is an art. Data is the framework and the road signs by which a storyteller is guided. The missing piece in the middle is the insight derived from data to create the proper story. Data scientists are doing just fine. In my opinion, the art of insight and storytelling is a marketing skill that needs to be refined. I think companies need to create environments where marketers can take the data they have and connect it to practical experiences outside of the office environment to find the insights they need to tell a story.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2018

    Can department stores be reinvented with a pop-up approach?

    I love the experiential element in this. The caution I have is that experiential must be targeted and authentic. Macy's has done a pretty good job with this, and what Neighborhood Goods is doing warms my retailer heart. However, two concerns:
    1. if you're going experiential, it must be catered to your audience and curated in such a way that makes sense. Throwing an espresso machine in the middle of a store doesn't make it experiential, nor does adding products that don't inspire your consumer's trust.
    2. If you're a department store and you're going experiential, how much do you need to sell to scale? Most struggling department stores can't afford to scale back without some sort of space rationalization. Macy's will have the very same problem. The pop-ups they are doing are great, but do they move the merchandise in the rest of the store? Only time will tell.
    Experiential selling isn't a tactic. It needs to be an organizational mindset. Buyers beware!

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