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: 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!
  • Posted on: 05/31/2018

    Retailers ready to battle card companies over one-click payments

    I would like to have seamless or frictionless commerce but, the truth is, as a consumer and an industry expert, the data leaks in the world abound and I'm far more concerned about any more initiatives to consolidate my data. I think what I'd like to see is a simple consistent format for which I can process payment regardless of what I choose to use. Right now, Visa Checkout, Paypal, Apple Pay and Android Pay all have different sign-ins, different password requirements etc. that make it difficult for me to pay. Perhaps I'm wandering into block chain territory, but if these parties could get together and simply agree on a consistent user format for online purchases, that would make my life a lot easier as a consumer, and it would allow these companies to compete on the same level for my transactional business.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2018

    MealPal brings subscription savings to lunch

    The MealPal subscription plan has potential. In many cities, pre-ordering of meals and meal pickups are a legitimate business. If you're wondering about this, have a look at someone like Ritual who is doing an amazing job at this already. The risk to me is the subscription portion -- how to make the meal selection look unlimited. We all know that consumers are funny that way -- they crave choice until there's too much ... and then there's just enough. A subscription puts a "box" around all the wonderful restaurants that MealPal has gathered so keeping consumers away from a limited menu perception will be key.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2018

    BJ’s Wholesale Club is going back to Wall Street

    It's hard to fault them for trying to cash in on their investment. I wouldn't buy this stock though, it's hard to see how BJ's is going to continue to compete with Costco and fend off Amazon (from a price/value perspective). If you add on that membership-based businesses are going to grow and not shrink, I don't see an upside for shareholders.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2018

    Will Target Restock undercut Amazon’s Prime Pantry?

    This helps Target keep up with everyone else. I don't see this as a game changer. I would love to see Target incorporate their unique pop-up philosophy in their boxes. That would help them distinguish themselves from both Amazon and Walmart. At some point, Target needs to find economical ways to surprise and delight the customer. With dollar stores stepping up to the game, that space is awfully crowded.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2018

    Etsy succeeds with its Amazon-opposite approach

    Etsy is only "Amazon Proof" because their model doesn't fit the current Amazon model for sales velocity. If there's anything that we've learned in the last 18 months, is nobody is "anything proof." The onus on Etsy to keep iterating is really key -- the artisan experience they bring is something the market loves. Ergo, someone else will come along and try and do what they do. It could be Amazon, it could be someone else.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2018

    Walmart associates check out customers on the floor in pilot program

    I'm curious about the Walmart insights that drive this one. I understand it for Macy's and Kroger from a convenience perspective, and I think that at both of those chains it can be experiential and rewarding for the convenience. Is Walmart after the same thing? If my average shopping basket is $200, how convenient is it to get checked out in an aisle? I think I'd rather have someone bring my $200 of groceries to my car for me. Having said that, I'm applauding the pursuit of using data and analytics to create experiential moments. As retailers head down this path, it'll be nothing but upside for consumers.

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