Much is written about what retailers do wrong. But a cross-section of merchants has made some pretty sound moves of late.
They reflect efforts to capture market share, tap into the phenomenal rise of social networks and exert a nimbleness to keep step with the realities of a shaky economy.
Here’s a sampling of strategic savvy among retailers:
- E-commerce pioneer Amazon.com this week inked a deal to acquire Quidsi, which operates Diapers.com, an online baby care specialty site, and Soap.com, which sells health and beauty care products.
With this move, Amazon has tapped into the new-parents market, making a bid for shoppers at the beginning of the family life cycle.
If Amazon can capture the attention of this demographic now, there’s an opportunity to secure a lifetime of shopper loyalty.
- Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus will open its second Last Call Studio store in Rockville, Maryland, this fall, what it has dubbed a discount retail concept for aspirational shoppers.
Neiman’s investment in a lower-priced subbrand is a clear nod to the affluent—rather than super-rich—shoppers who have been hit by the recession.
According to a recent study by the American Affluence Research Center, about 41 percent of the affluent say they will make a concerted effort to reduce or defer spending during the next 12 months. Their prime reason? Uncertainty as to when the economy will rebound.
Macy’s realized the days of one-size-fits-all retailing in the era of endless shopping choices (think Internet) are over. The department store is now beginning to reap the benefits of that prescience.
Two years ago, Macy’s began to test My Macy’s, an organizational structure designed to better tailor product assortments to the needs of local markets. It has since rolled out the concept so that shoppers in Florida, for example, find a layer of merchandise that suits their sunny tastes.
It has paid off. The retailer has been outperforming its department store brethren recently, and CEO Terry Lundgren repeatedly credits My Macy’s for much of that success.
- Why not reach out to shoppers where they increasingly while away the hours? On Facebook. To that end, retailers such as H&M, American Eagle and the Gap have signed on for the new Facebook Deals, which brings shoppers special offers when they check into Facebook Places on their smart phones.
These merchants realize that nowadays, ignoring the social networking site as a marketing vehicle is like leaving your display windows empty.
Barbara Thau has been covering the retail industry for 15 years, currently as a contributing writer for CNBC.com, STORES magazine and Specialty Insider Magazine.