The Convergent Group
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Retailing Trends

Being a baby boomer, I’ve long been fascinated with retailing trends probably going as far back as shopping malls in their heyday.

Online shopping is certainly here to stay. I’m certainly a big user preferring delivery of selected material goods to my doorstep rather than go to the store (s). Frankly, the personal engagement piece and pure joy of the retail shopping experience has long been missing from my arsenal. I prefer other pursuits with my time.

As brick-n-mortar retailers try to stave off their extinction, I find it refreshing to highlight some notable exceptions as recently reported in the WSJ. For example, take Home Depot and WalMart.

WalMart, the world’s largest retailer, saw same store sales increases (the barometer for success as defined by brick-n-mortar retailing) year-over year of 1.8%–the 10th consecutive quarter of gains. However, profits were off 18%. Recall from previous blogs that WalMart is investing billions in raising US store wages. In addition, they’ve lowered prices and are investing heavily in their WalMart.com website to compete with Amazon.

Over at Home Depot, sales rose 5.8% in the most recent quarter. Analysts attribute this recent surge to a robust holiday shopping season with week-end warriors replenishing tool boxes and a stronger housing market ahead. A very interesting trend—more than half of Home Depot’s online sales were fulfilled through in store pick-up. Frankly, this makes sense to me. a.) a lot of this stuff is big and bulky; when it arrives on your doorstep what to do? b.) if you order the wrong size sight unseen assuming that it is one thing not another, this often times evolves into a circular return cycle, c.) Let’s face it, when something breaks at your residence, you NEED IT NOW.  It is largely baked in our culture, passed down generation to generation to go the hardware store (I still shudder at the thought of my Dad going in a white t-shirt; never understood that).

On the flip side, Target and Macy’s continue to suffer complacency and perception concerns. This prompts a question to my largely entrepreneurial audience. If YOU were given the keys to the car at either Macy’s or Target, what might you do to revive these once proud franchises? Think about it as it will sharpen both your analytical and strategic planning skills.

The conversation is the relationship—changing our world by changing ourselves—what are you thinking?