Retail Apocalypse

Retail Apocalypse

In light of Forever 21 filing for bankruptcy, we did some digging into the biggest players in the game with years of experience on their belts. Apart from Forever 21, Abercrombie & Fitch, Barney’s New York, Bebe, Gap, GUESS, J. Crew, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, even Nike’s (plans to shift to e-commerce) are some of the biggest names that are affected by the retail apocalypse.

A worker removing sale banners inside a closed Sears department store one day after it closed in January.
A worker removing sale banners inside a closed Sears department store one day after it closed in January. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The rise of e-commerce and a prominent cultural shift are among the biggest causes of the retail downfall and UBS predicted that clothing stores would take the biggest hit*. “The retail apocalypse is raging on with almost 6,000 store closings announced so far in 2019 – more than the entirety of last year.

For efforts trying to minimise job losses and on how to avoid being victimised by the apocalypse, some folks on the Internet has some things to share.

  1. Enhance the retail experience with technology
    If you can’t beat it, join it and leverage it. Offering online shopping options or online consultation can help greatly.
  2. Be the right size for your market
    “Bigger isn’t necessarily better. Kohl’s has decided to shrink some of its department stores to provide a more streamlined shopping experience, going from 90,000 square feet to 60,000 or even 35,000 square feet locations. This lowers operating and supply chain costs, while enabling a more personalized approach to customer service.”
  3. Investing and Researching
    American Eagle Outfitters has done some great work by making the effort to actually understand their customers.

“Back in the heyday, it was all about Abercrombie and American Eagle telling people what they should look like, what’s cool, and what you need to dress like,” she said.

“Now we’re really taking very different tactics … our advantage is we’ve gotten so good at understanding our customer. We built a really strong database. We mine for information day in and day out.”

When it comes to innovation, however, she cautioned against rushing to integrate technology into physical stores merely for the sake of trying to appear modern. “The digital piece has to enable the experiences you’re trying to create versus digital being the ‘thing,” she said.

“A lot of [retailers] fall into that trap of, ‘Let’s just put some technology and screens up.’ It doesn’t work that way.” Kambiz Hemati – vice president of global store design at Foot Locker, who also spoke at the UBS event -echoed Andrew’s sentiments.

“Every time we tried to incorporate digital in stores that turned into just a giant iPad on the wall it was a failure,” he said.

how brick and mortar and benefit from e-commerce
how to avoid being victim to the retail apocalypse
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