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.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2018

    Brands find unexpected opportunities to reach next-gen customers

    I think in retail, large brands don't play the role of finding new trends. I think they take micro or niche trends and bring them mainstream. The truth is, finding a trend, creating, sourcing and building a product for big brands involves a lot of people, moving pieces and structure. Big brands need to work on identifying micro trends that they can turn into a mainstream trend. Two brands that have done this — Limecrime (now moved to mainstream) started their business on Instagram, and Allbirds is the other one.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2018

    Walmart slows push to add third-party sellers to its online marketplace

    It's too many SKUs in a retail environment. Think of it this way. In a real, marketplace -- one that you would physically walk -- how many aisles do you go through until everything looks the same? Endless aisles are exactly that -- endless. When does a consumer stop looking? With so many products, consumers need curation. They need recommendations, product information and trusted people to guide them. I like this strategy. Adding SKUs isn't going to make more sales. At some point, marketplaces like Walmart's or Amazon (or any other for that matter) are going to need some support and guidance so consumers aren't mindlessly sifting through SKUs.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2018

    Will micro-designers disrupt fast-fashion giants?

    It's no secret. I love local brands and experiential retail, so naturally, I want this to be true. I'd like to see micro-designers in all verticals take a run at fast fashion for a whole series of reasons. Having said that, there's a lot of work to be done as a micro-designer to ensure that they inspire trust for the consumer. Etsy artists sell limited quantities because that's what consumers are willing to risk -- small purchases of artisan crafts where the expectations of product quality are modest. If the micro-designer can break through and inspire trust and convey craftsmanship, they'll be able crack more serious price-ranging categories like jewelry or shoes. Just a thought ... if I were a big manufacturer, I'd be partnering with some of these micro-designers to build fantastic pop-up opportunities.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2018

    What would an acquisition of Humana mean for Walmart and its rivals?

    The move by retail into healthcare makes a lot of sense. We've talked about this before here with CVS acquiring Aetna. So I see a lot of upside for pharmacies to be connected to healthcare. I think the real question is, how much do we as consumers want these two connected? On one hand, it might make for less confusing script fills and refills. On the other hand, how much privacy does this afford the consumer? Will the healthcare portion of the retailer be able to see everything I've bought? Let's take this to the extreme. If my Walmart shopping history contains a high content of sugar and sodium rich products -- sodas, confections, etc., and I get diabetes, does Walmart, my healthcare provider, now say that I don't qualify for Medicare because of my lifestyle choices?
  • Posted on: 03/30/2018

    Former Walmart U.S. CEO raises prospect of breaking up Amazon

    I don't agree with this at all. Amazon has been instrumental in helping retail break free and drive towards being a consumer-focused industry again. The last 30 years weren't consumer focused -- it was a series of Fortune 100 businesses working together to maximize profit. Mr. Simon just probably isn't used to seeing what real consumer-focused activity looks like. When I look around the marketplace, I see exciting digitally native brands and new retailers that are thriving. Yes, there's always someone like Amazon or Walmart that is lurking around trying to own every corner of the market, but businesses have figured out how to manage around them. If we're really looking at this -- the one that needs to get broken up is Facebook. Between Instagram and Facebook, they own almost all of the digital media outlets and seem to have no regard for our digital identities.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2018

    Are Amazon lockers turning Whole Foods into a quick shop destination?

    If I were a shopping mall, (strip mall or full shopping mall) I'd want to partner with Amazon and any other retailer that has lockers. Driving traffic to a physical location is key to the purchase. (if they're not there ... They can't buy!) In theory, the lockers at Whole Foods should benefit both Amazon and Whole Foods, but Amazon has other issues right now ... Like out-of-stocks at Whole Foods and keeping suppliers happy.
  • Posted on: 03/26/2018

    Should retailers emulate or differentiate from Amazon?

    The overriding lesson that Amazon teaches that we forget from time to time is that retail is always changing, and we must keep adapting. To me, that's the only thing that you really emulate from Amazon. After that, Mark and Art are right -- follow your customer. Be laser-focused on what they want, what they need and be sure to know why you're in business. After that, "copy," "emulate" and "differentiate" are all just implementation terms for making your customer happy.
  • Posted on: 03/21/2018

    Albertsons launches an online marketplace for small CPG brands

    If you aren't going to make the effort to put these products in store, what makes you think I'm coming to buy them in your endless aisles? I don't think today's consumer is going to find this compelling at all. If I were a small CPG, I'd probably do this to help with search, but I wouldn't be holding my breath that this is going to net into anything but an occasional, accidental sale. Today's consumer has multiple choices for purchasing product. They're not choosing any old place to buy things -- they need peer feedback, reviews, an expert to talk to and friends and family to chime in for them to purchase items. Sorry Albertsons -- this doesn't cut it.
  • Posted on: 03/13/2018

    Will department stores regret their off-price push?

    There are some retailers that have made their success based on an off-price treasure hunt system. TJX, the parent company for Winners and Marshalls has posted strong growth year over year and continues to show success. Having said that, TJX's entire strategy is an off-price treasure hunt. Consumers go there deliberately for "the hunt" and to flex those shopping muscles and get euphoric on finding a deal. These off-price offshoots feel off. I've also seen poor merchandising and, frankly, when I'm in a Backstage I feel like a second class citizen that can't afford to shop in the regular Macy's. I think that's the crux of it. Just because you're discounting it doesn't mean the consumer has to accept an inferior experience.
  • Posted on: 03/12/2018

    Will acquiring tech startups help Nordstrom boost its digital ops?

    I'm not a big fan of either of these transactions. I applaud Nordstrom's efforts to stay current and to use new technology to reach its consumers and be more relevant. My problem with this is these are finite technologies that were better off being partners. If BevyUp and MessageYes were independents partnering with Nordstrom, they would be required to keep up with the industry and continue innovating. That means Nordstrom benefits from forward-looking companies that will keep them up-to-date. By buying these, did Nordstrom just become a technology company? If the answer is no, then both of these platforms immediately start aging. It's not an easy path to figure out what's the right thing to buy and what's not ... but that's why it's critical to know your "why."
  • Posted on: 03/07/2018

    Retailers finding answers in-house, through partnerships and acquisitions

    I think that having a three pronged approach allows retailers to remain agile. The most critical part of success in today's retail environment is being able to recognize opportunities and being able to scale them quickly. I think that anything that doesn't fit as a core capability for a retailer needs to be a buy or a bridge. Building should only be reserved for core capabilities that are inherent to the retailer's brand footprint.
  • Posted on: 03/06/2018

    Will all retailers soon go cashier-less?

    This is an interesting way to keep your store staff in places that matter most. If the technology is available and affordable, moving the human cashier away from the till and to the floor where they can interact with consumers is better for the retailer, the staff member and the consumer. The key is "affordable." Large retailers *may* be able to afford this, but small/medium retailers will struggle with implementing this. To add to this challenge, companies like Square, Lightspeed etc., are already creating a great cash-out experience, meaning that cashier-less is going to have to be very competitive for retailers to switch.
  • Posted on: 03/05/2018

    H-E-B’s reusable bag causes fashion frenzy

    Hey Trevor, I think you misunderstand me. I really like this. I want retailers to take away from this that they shouldn't be building infrastructure now to make a new bag every 3 months. I want them to realize that there are more "other" moments like this that surprise and delight an audience. I'm after creating a million little moments just like this one that creates lines around the block, that sell out and hit with the press. That's what scales.
  • Posted on: 03/05/2018

    H-E-B’s reusable bag causes fashion frenzy

    Disclaimer : I am a fan of H-E-B. I really like those guys. So naturally, I'll drone on and on about how cool they are, or what a cool idea this is. It IS pretty cool, but not because it's a really well-designed bag, or because I collect reuseable grocery bags or any other reason someone might get excited about grocery bags. Having said that, the tiny insight behind this action is a great example of the small pieces of data floating around organizations that could be something bigger. Someone at H-E-B figured out that this one little thing could create a moment that consumers would love. So here's the thing. Don't expand on this (unless the data shows you should). Find more little data points like this that consumers love and do a lot of little things. That's how organizations are going to win. Build infrastructure that allows you to recognize the "little" data bits that turn into these moments.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2018

    Are Millennials more eco-driven than their elders?

    I don't think it's this simple. Millennials are probably the first generation that grew up with recycling and knowing that consumerism harms the environment. They are also the first digitally native generation, so movements and tribes come naturally to them. All of this being said, I think that Millennials don't seek to be part of the environmental movement. I think they seek to find tribes, socially and commercially, that match their way of life. The time for environmental marketing is over. If a company wants a Millennial as a customer, they need to be sure that their commercial practices match the Millennial's lifestyle.

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