30 May 2017

Winners and Losers in Retail

You have probably heard the news and it isn’t good. Sports Authority is gone. The Limited is gone. Shoes.com – gone. Payless Shoes – gone. Wet seal – gone.

JC Penney, Macy’s, Nordstrom have all reported declining sales. Even Kohl’s is hurting. The latest report was Target—also down—for the fourth straight quarter. 

The News Isn’t All Bad…

Meanwhile, there was an 11% increase in online and non-store retailers and an increase among restaurants and bars. I guess folks get hungry while shopping online and then go out to eat.
At the same time, Wal-mart revenue is up. And, of course, Amazon is up and prepping for another “Prime Day” in a couple of months.

We can surmise why some of these retailers are not doing well and why others are cleaning up. But let’s take a look at what the analysts say.


Wal-mart Shows Behemoths Can Innovate!

Wal-mart has cut prices and improved in-store traffic, while Target has less foot traffic. Wal-mart is also improving its e-commerce performance, which the company says rose more than 60% in Q1 2017 and are the highest ever. Wal-mart’s growth surpassed even that of Amazon and was attributed mostly to Wal-mart, not its recent acquisitions of Jet.com, and Moosejaw, which provide access to a more affluent and sophisticated shopper.

Wal-mart has expanded its online catalog to more than 50 million products up from just 10 million one year ago. The company also now offers free two-day shipping on orders that total more than $35 and a discount to shoppers who order online but elect to pick up select products in-store. Wal-mart is capitalizing on its close proximity to a large percentage of the US population—something that Amazon cannot easily counter.

Other innovations include investing in online grocery ordering that provides curb-side pickup services by busy moms and dads. Wal-mart also is investing in new technologies to speed shelf stocking to ensure that products are there where and when consumers need them.

Amazon Continues to Experiment 

In turn, Amazon has turned their popular Alexa device into your own personal style consultant with Echo Look. The device sits quietly in your closet and takes full-length photos and short videos upon command with a built-in camera to help you see yourself from every angle. This complements Amazon’s efforts to become a bigger player in fashion—introducing several private label apparel lines and hiring hundreds of personnel to manage the category.

Join inRiver at IRCE

These are only a few of the interesting trends that we are seeing in the retail industry. We hope to hear and see more at IRCE on June 6-9 in Chicago. Stop by our booth (#739) or sign up for a meeting in our private room (#W472) to discuss how inRiver PIM can help you address these, and other, disruptive trends in retail.

Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager, inRiver Inc

16 May 2017

Don’t Miss Virtual PIMpoint – North America 2017

Earlier this Spring, inRiver hosted our largest and most exciting PIMpoint Summit ever—in Copehagen, Denmark. I was fortunate to be able to attend this fun and insightful event, along with 600 partners, customers, and fellow inRiver employees.
What is equally as exciting is the fact that inRiver US is hosting our first Virtual PIMpoint – North America conference. This is our inaugural inRiver-hosted event in the Americas and we are delighted to invite you to join us on May 25, 2017 from 11AM EDT to 5PM EDT. You can easily access the event online from the comfort of your laptop or mobile device.
All you need to do is Register Now for this complimentary online conference.

We have a full agenda planned, including keynote speakers, real-world case studies, and product updates and information about our new Product Marketing Cloud solution.

World-class Keynote Speakers
“Great speaker, relevant and new, best speaker for the whole event.” That was the feedback we received about Pixie Sartang, Co-Founder and Senior Strategist at House of Harvey, when she spoke at PIMpoint Summit 2017. She will be joining us at Virtual PIMpoint to discuss customer behavior and how to “own” your brand. Don’t miss it!
Similarly, Daniel Levine who is a Global Trends Expert received kudos at PIMpoint Summit. “Really, really interesting, would give it more than 5... :),” said one PIMpoint Summit attendee. As one of the world's best-known trends experts, Levine tracks ideas and experiences from around the world.  and his presentation will give us a glimpse of “the future of everything.”  At Virtual PIMpoint, he will serve up a playful presentation of trends that are transforming business and life with fun examples to give us a glimpse of “the future of everything.”
You won’t want to miss the session with Johan Bostrom, inRiver’s Co-founder and Evangelist, who will discuss disintermediation—a phenomenon that all players in the e-commerce channel must be aware of and address.

The Inside Scoop on Product Marketing Cloud

Other featured presenters include Niclas Mollin, inRiver’s President & CEO, Jimmy Ekback, EVP Products & Services at inRiver, and David Sultan, Director of Sales Engineering. David will present a number of in-depth product sessions to introduce you to what's new in inRiver Product Marketing Cloud, while Jimmy will present how the new features enable organizations to manage product information efficiently.

Join Us!

Take a break during your hectic workweek to be inspired and hear from world-class speakers on the latest trends and e-commerce strategies and techniques.
Register now for our inaugural conference!

10 May 2017

In the Race Car Business, Speed Means Simplicity

The world of commerce is growing increasingly complex as new technologies can quickly enable disruptive business models and change how customers interact with us. Innovative products and services are introduced faster and with higher frequency in all industries. Disintermediation of supply chains causes old partners to compete and new partnerships to form. At the same time, millennials with completely different values and buying habits are starting to become a substantial part of B2C and B2B buyers.

All these are examples of complex challenges and phenomena that require constantly evolving business strategies and business models to stay competitive. Historically, most of the complex business problems have been solved with complex IT solutions that, in most cases, grow even more complex over time. Complex solutions are often monolithic in their approach and require huge budgets and a lot of time and sacrifice to get implemented in the organization. Say "big-bang ERP implementation” and most that have gone through one and survived will agree.

Complexity is the enemy of speed, flexibility, and innovation

Race cars are optimized with one single objective in mind—to be as fast as possible. If we, for a minute, consider an organization as a race car and we think about what we need to do to make it fast and competitive, most of us will not think about adding weight or designing a hard-to-use cockpit. A race car is fast because it is stripped of everything that isn't necessary to reach the goal—winning the race. A race car's cockpit only contains the controls that are needed to drive really fast and provide the driver with an unobstructed driving experience. Adding controls in the cockpit for managing a front loader, or a towbar in the rear of the car, just doesn't make any sense as it will only increase the complexity of maneuvering and add unnecessary weight that will inevitably slow things down.

Complex and bloated processes and it's ugly sibling "the enterprise model," combined with all-in-one system support, adds time-consuming process steps and tasks, whether they are needed or not. Not only does complexity make things move slowly, it also makes things hard to change and is often the cause of inflexible organizations that leave employees disengaged and unmotivated. So not only is complexity the enemy of speed, but also the enemy of flexibility and innovation.

Become a disintermediator instead of becoming disintermediated

Amazon has been growing extremely fast and is now one of the largest companies in the world. Despite that, they are still moving and innovating much more quickly than their competitors in the traditional retail space. There are, of course, many reasons for Amazon's success, but complex processes aren't one of them. In a letter to shareholders, Founder Jeff Bezos wrote: "As companies get larger and more complex, there’s a tendency to manage to proxies. Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations." When the process becomes “the thing” you end up with the all-encompassing enterprise model and its monolithic system support.

Instead, Amazon is laser-focused on what Jeff Bezos calls "True Customer Obsession." As the Amazon example shows, staying nimble and focused can help an organization move fast, grow quickly, and stay innovative. Simplicity requires a focus that encompasses everything, from organization and processes to system support. This is the opposite approach compared with yesterday's all-encompassing enterprise model, unfocused all-in-one enterprise software packages, and big-bang implementations.

Think of your organization as a race car and strip away the unnecessary weight of yesterday and focus on what's truly important. That way you can be the disintermediator instead of the disintermediated.

Johan Boström, Co-founder and Evangelist, inRiver