“What Pandemic? Physical Real Estate is Having a Moment” by Andrew Flint via Total Retail

“What Pandemic? Physical Real Estate is Having a Moment” by Andrew Flint via Total Retail

Credit: iStock.com by dragana991 Online shopping might be easy, convenient and prolific, yet it hasn’t erased the need for flagship brick-and-mortar retail establishments. In fact, retail real estate is undergoing a phenomenal — and some might say surprising — comeback. As REJournals reported, roughly 60 percent of businesses with physical retail assets plan to expand their footprints in 2022. What’s driving the momentum? Retail stores offer the personalization and community that virtual shopping lacks. Plus, those stores can serve as locations to test concepts, continue customer journeys, and forge deeper bonds with patrons. Even brands with wildly successful online presences are bumping up their in-person shops. Take Warby Parker, for instance. As CNBC reported in late 2021, the eyewear giant, known primarily as an e-commerce destination, brought in 40 percent of its revenue from retail locations in 2020. Physical stores were essential for providing customers with full-service experiences. This isn’t to suggest that online buying isn’t increasing. It is. Instead of usurping physical browsing and shopping, however, e-commerce is augmenting physical shopping and fostering the growth of omnichannel retail. Omnichannel retail has been around for a while, of course, but McKinsey research shows that the e-commerce element soared in 2020 amid the pandemic. And it’s true that physical retail took hits during mandatory shutdowns. Consumers opted to stay at home and order items for delivery. Developers had trouble getting construction permits. Property managers lost tenants as they forced retailers to reduce payroll. But now, brick-and-mortar is springing back to life, thanks in part to the benefits of omnichannel retail experiences. Case in point: In-person shopping allows brands to develop deeper relationships with consumers. Even if consumers begin their journeys online, they frequently jump from...
“Why Have Customers Become so Aggressive and Belligerent?” by Bob Phibbs via The Retail Doctor blog

“Why Have Customers Become so Aggressive and Belligerent?” by Bob Phibbs via The Retail Doctor blog

We’ve all seen videos of customers being abusive to airline personnel, in grocery stores, in banks, and … also, bad customer service examples are everywhere. Stories have been written about the abuse and there is an abundance of signs imploring people to not mistreat staff. But frankly, posting a sign does little to keep it from happening. In these times especially, we should be treating each other kindly… All of us are under an enormous strain of non-stop bad news everywhere we turn which runs the gamut from “THERE’S A NEW VIRUS COMING” and “THERE’S A SHIP STUCK IN THE CANAL” to “THERE’S A CAT STUCK UP IN A TREE.” Why? Everyone everywhere is looking to catch eyeballs and let’s face it…fear sells. You see it in politics of course. But also, social media. And many well-meaning friends lead with fear as conversation starters. We have adopted a language of disappointment and fear. The constant fear we’ve endured over the past two years has decreased our capacity for empathy. Instead of going from zero to 10 on a gradual scale and escalating to out-of-control when something is more warranted, we now go directly from zero to 10; we’re either on or off. This is a vicious circle only you can break. We must teach empathy with employees, or they will be unconsciously tripping that on/off switch in customers. An example of a bad customer service interaction This past December, I drove to Newark airport to leave for a scheduled business trip to Dubai, got the Covid test United had recommended, waited, and got my negative result. It was 5:45 pm. We...
“Five Takeaways for Retailers from CES 2022” by Arick Wierson via The Robin report

“Five Takeaways for Retailers from CES 2022” by Arick Wierson via The Robin report

Well, that was interesting. When CES 2022 came to a close, one day ahead of schedule; attendees were dismissed early as “an additional safety measure” for minimizing the risks of Covid-19. (Apparently the brain trust at the Consumer Technology Association – the entity which produces the annual Las Vegas extravaganza – didn’t think that the risks of Covid-19 would be all that high on the first few days of the show.) The Show Must Go On Granted, show organizers were pretty much in a no-win situation. The pandemic had already forced the 2021 show to go completely online – an endeavor that was generally viewed by most long-term showgoers as something of a dud. I completely agree as I was involved in the production of several exhibitors’ “virtual CES showrooms” which amounted to producing a slickly produced half-hour magazine show that highlighted brands’ new products. It looked great, but CES is really the place you go because you want to touch and see the new tech up close. Retail executives as well as leaders at consumer brands should really be thinking now about how AR/VR can be leveraged to help position themselves for the day when the tech eventually matures, and adoption reaches the tipping point. But this year event organizers seemingly made a suicide pact and vowed to make sure the show would go on no matter how much incoming fire they took on– and boy was there pressure to cancel. It was undoubtedly all this pressure of high profile dropouts that compelled Consumer Technology Association president Gary Shapiro to post a lengthy Christmas Eve rant/missive/justification for why the show was still...
“With omicron landing in the US, do retailers actually need the vaccine mandate?” by Daphne Howland via Retail Dive

“With omicron landing in the US, do retailers actually need the vaccine mandate?” by Daphne Howland via Retail Dive

andreswd via Getty Images The National Retail Federation won a stay against the government’s plan to have big companies immunize or test their employees. That squanders a chance to thwart the pandemic, experts say. As the omicron variant of COVID-19 made headlines over the Thanksgiving-Black Friday weekend, President Joe Biden instituted new travel restrictions from eight countries and urged people to get immunized. A week later, as the new strain was discovered in the U.S., he announced a multi-faceted plan to get a better grip on the pandemic. The initiatives include, among other steps, encouraging immunization boosters for adults and vaccinations for children; developing vaccines for kids under five; expanding testing; strategizing best practices to keep schools and businesses open; developing new vaccines if omicron proves resistant; and calling on companies to ensure their workforces are vaccinated. The last reflects the recognition of the workplace as a vector for the disease. Notably absent, however, was Biden’s attempted mandate for companies of 100 or more to either check their employees’ vaccination status or test them weekly if they’re unvaccinated — a requirement blocked in recent weeks after the National Retail Federation and other groups challenged it in court. According to the CDC, nearly 60% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, though community transmission remains high. Reported cases were already resurging before the news of another mutation. Omicron, which by Sunday had been reported in a third of the states in the U.S., is a variant that appears to carry “an increased risk of reinfection” and “may have a growth advantage,” according to the World Health Organization. On Friday, as first reported by the New York Times, a group of scientists, noting that their data is very early, said that omicron in South Africa...
“Concerns over omicron could shift spending away from experiences, retail trade group says” by Melissa Repko via CNBC

“Concerns over omicron could shift spending away from experiences, retail trade group says” by Melissa Repko via CNBC

A person with a hand full of shopping bags walks by as Black Friday sales begin at The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass in Simpsonville, Kentucky, November 26, 2021.Jon Cherry | Reuters KEY POINTS National Retail Federation CEO Matt Shay said Tuesday that the new coronavirus variant could direct more dollars toward electronics, toys, apparel and other items instead of vacations and movie tickets.News of the omicron strain came during a key time for holiday shopping.The trade group reiterated its forecast of between $843.4 billion and $859 billion of sales in November and December, which would represent an all-time high in holiday spending. As Americans bought gifts during the peak Thanksgiving shopping weekend, the discovery of the omicron variant made headlines and prompted action by public health officials. National Retail Federation CEO Matt Shay said Tuesday that the coronavirus strain could shake up spending patterns this holiday season and direct more dollars toward electronics, toys, apparel and other items instead of vacations and movie tickets. “We know, unfortunately, that when the variants have had a real impact on the economy, the goods side of the economy has actually benefited from that because people change behavior away from the experience side of the economy and spend more time and more dollars engaged in the goods side of the economy,” he said on a call with reporters. Holiday sales are expected to grow to an all-time high of between $843.4 billion and $859 billion of sales in November and December, which represents growth of 8.5% to 10.5% this year, according to the National Retail Federation. The trade group reiterated its rosy forecast for the holiday season on...
“How Retailers Can Teach Empathy for De-Escalation” by Derek Belch via Total Retail

“How Retailers Can Teach Empathy for De-Escalation” by Derek Belch via Total Retail

Retailers and consumers alike had just started to feel hopeful about a post-pandemic future a mere few weeks ago. However, with the COVID-19 Delta variant quickly becoming a concern, retailers across the country have made the move to reinstate mask mandates indoors. Unsurprisingly, this latest round of mask mandates has come with mounting tensions. Many store associates have found themselves in very uncomfortable, and sometimes violent encounters with disgruntled customers, with facemasks continuing to pose a controversial debate. As such, with the onus sitting squarely on the shoulders of front-line employees to outline and enforce these mask mandates, many businesses are looking at proactive measures to help train and prepare workers for potentially highly charged customer encounters. Preparing Our People With Empathy Training During these challenging times, customer-facing employees will be looking for guidance on best practices and reassurance on how to handle potentially tense situations with customers. Signals must come from the top, emphasizing the importance of being confident and prepared with the skills needed to de-escalate stressful interactions. It often comes down to the ability to show empathy to those experiencing stress or anxiety. However, this typically doesn’t come naturally and requires proper training. This is why empathy training is key for giving front-line associates the tools to prepare for what they’re likely to face, such as what Walmart is doing with its beKIND program meant for teaching and measuring empathy in customer service. Customer-facing employees can benefit immensely by being able to embody the feelings of an anxious guest or customer. Through realistic, immersive training modalities, learners can better understand a customer’s point of view, whether or not they agree, in order...