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: 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.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2018

    New Brookstone concept brings makers to the mall

    Good points Neil. I have similar thoughts, but you're definitely more coherent than me. Not all retailers are equipped to do this, but Brookstone could be in a unique spot to help drive partial traffic to the mall. As you've said, in the past they've been reliant on others to do this, but I wonder if they couldn't expand the things that draw transient traffic into their store as a means to drive transient traffic into the mall. An area for teaching people how to fly drones? A massage expert to help people select some of their massage gadgetry (and heaven forbid buy a chair or two!)? Malls are in desperate need of reinvention ... maybe, just maybe, Brookstone could help with that.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2018

    Will shoppers go to Walmart to buy a car?

    This one actually interests me. As a former sales guy, I loathe going to dealerships, and I don't look forward to trying to make a deal on a car. It's my perception that buying a car is a world is full of hidden expenses, hidden rebates and nothing seems straightforward. If Walmart were to bring its EDLP strategy to car buying, I'd do my research online and I'd even pay for a demo drive for the cars that I was really serious about buying. Then I'd head to Walmart to buy the car knowing that I was getting a straightforward, hassle-free deal. This is one place that I think Walmart has a better brand than anybody else. Amazon can't do this because they're not known for the lowest price, and I don't need my car delivered to me in three hours. But the lowest price for a car? that's a proposition I think most would buy into.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2018

    Apocalypse? No. Retail faces a reset

    Amen!
  • Posted on: 04/23/2018

    Apocalypse? No. Retail faces a reset

    Yes please! We're heading into an era where the consumer is at the center of commerce. That means that retail has to stop telling consumers what they want, and find a way to give them what they're searching for (hence the list of seven things). My only objection to the list above is that I don't love the term "omnichannel," but right now very few retailers understand how to make their business seamless. I would love to see an alteration to point number seven to say; make it easy for the consumer to buy your product regardless of where they are -- online, social media or brick and mortar. The experience should be seamless.
  • 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.

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