woman shopping for clothes in a store

Sensory Marketing: A Retailer’s Friend or Foe?

It’s a no brainer that emotions influence buying behavior. Advertisers use tactics daily to grab our attention and drive brand awareness. Similarly, our five senses can also be used to influence our behavior, whether it’s through the attractive color of a sweater or the smells in a candle store. But there’s one sense that online and brick and mortar retailers are realizing can be their biggest weapon or biggest downfall: touch.

What is sensory marketing?

Haptic perception is the process of recognizing objects through touch, and haptic marketing, or sensory marketing, can help retailers sell products through the sensory effect a product can have on a shopper.

Sensory marketing takes place when a shopper squeezes an avocado to see if it’s ripe, samples a lip gloss or lifts their arms to see if a new shirt fits. While this is not a new concept, these examples of sensory marketing are done in physical settings.

E-commerce’s role with sensory marketing

Before COVID-19, a Retail Dive survey found that more than half of shoppers visit a brick and mortar store to touch or see a product they may end up buying online. So while e-commerce may be touted as a more convenient option, it often fails to mimic the in-store experience due to the lack of physical touch and ability to test out or try on products.

The letdown of making a major purchase online and have it not meet expectations when it arrives – not to mention the hassle of returns – can be a main deterrent and reason why shoppers still visit brick and mortar stores. The act of touching or testing out a product reassures the shopper that their choice is the correct one.

Sensory experiential marketing

The pandemic has created an unprecedented opportunity for savvy e-commerce retailers to use technology to continue taking market share from stores. But it’s important to consider if online retail can ever fully match the same experience that physical stores offer.

Traditionally, online retailers have worked to alleviate haptic marketing growing pains by offering trial periods or samples of products. And now if you shop online, retailers have detailed product information and high-quality images, so consumers know when they’re buying a cotton or rayon top.

Now, with artificial intelligence and virtual or augmented reality, consumers can even visualize larger items in their own space – such as a new couch or a Christmas tree right in their living room. When done through a device, haptic marketing has also taken an experiential turn.

Common in the gaming world, a viewer’s phone can buzz or vibrate when watching a video. Imagine watching an ad for running shoes, and every time the runner jumps, you feel the impact on your phone. While it may not be effective in conveying how the shoes fit on your own feet, this new form of marketing can definitely increase brand awareness.

Retail’s relationship to emotion

The use of sensory marketing can be very nostalgic as the five senses are tied to emotions. When you’re sitting in a store, debating which couch to buy, you imagine yourself sitting on it in your own home. This is harder to imagine behind a screen. Luckily, when there’s a barrier between the shopper and product, e-commerce retailers are getting smarter about how they market these products.

Grocery shelves full of eggs

UK Guest Blog: Will retail really be different after the crisis?

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact every aspect of life and the economy, our friend Chris Field, principal at UK-based FieldWorks Marketing, offers a look at some of the most influential trends that the crisis is accelerating, how retail will be affected by the crisis, and what the future of retail may look like as we emerge from it. We hope you enjoy.

As UK consumers discover that there are almost no home delivery slots available from any of the grocers, it is a timely reminder that only 8% of food is delivered online. And the grocers have defended themselves by saying that they cannot simply add huge capacity overnight, or possibly at all, given the controversy over staff working side by side in warehouses at the moment.

And it is also worth remembering, as so many people are calling the end of the store, that 85% of goods are still bought in stores, and that, while the stores landscape will look different after the pandemic ends and while retailers continue to explore just how many stores they need in a digital world, stores will not disappear, they will simply evolve, along the lines of the conversation we were all having before the pandemic.

Let’s put online shopping growth in perspective

Add to this that, albeit based on US research by Paymnts , only 25.4% of consumers surveyed said they were shopping online, and 16.3% were doing so on mobile more than they were before the coronavirus made its presence felt on these shores.

That’s only a slight uptick from the 22.1% and 16.7%, respectively, who reported similar sentiment in the survey at the beginning of March. So the idea that consumers alone will drive online growth and a further decline in store numbers may apply to certain types of goods that are already substantially bought online, ignores the fact that huge numbers do not shop online at all.

Rents are realigning

Consider also that, in the UK, there is growing flexibility among landlords to consider new types of rent agreements and the government is reviewing the rates system, so there should be a more benign environment for the store after the current crisis. This will, in turn, enable retailers to explore the right balance of on-to-offline and also to continue their journey to digitise stores to enable click and collect, browse digitally in store and buy online, store as warehouse and so on.

Consider also the role that retail stores play in the lives of consumers. Morrisons has recently reopened all of its cafes, not to serve tea and cake, but to provide a mini-warehouse for people to donate food to food banks.

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

And it is important to recognise that shopping in stores for most of us is a leisure activity that everyone would miss if it went away. A more useful debate to continue is the one about what people do when they go shopping in stores; they buy but they also chat, they drink coffee, they go to the cinema, they go on from there to the park and so on; so many different types of journeys that may be all shopping or just some shopping.

Remove stores entirely from that scenario and there are no more towns. So, listening to Silicon Valley tech investors and their hatred of stores, simply tells me that these are people who do not shop anyway; most of them are still men, so I probably don’t want to believe what they have to say about the future of the store.

So what I am concluding is that the reinvention that has been going on in retail for more than five years will continue after the crisis, even though in some areas, the velocity will increase.

If the pandemic is an existential crisis, it is one that has been going on for years.


Fieldworks is a UK-based agency that helps retail technology brands build visibility and reach prospects with award-winning digital marketing, content and PR.

Old time general store representing the basic retail model built on relationships

Coronavirus Puts the Focus Back on the Basics

Like nearly anyone offering a few words of reflection on the Coronavirus phenomenon, I’m far from an expert on the matter. I have tried for weeks to write this blog, and every two days the situation has changed so rapidly that I’ve had to essentially start over.

While I can’t offer any advice on how to assuage the public health, mental health, or economic threat this pandemic has affected, the process of learning, acknowledging, adapting and persevering that these few months have mandated from all of us is something I believe we should all take a moment to consider and to find great value in.

Like many, my first connection to Covid-19 was watching the virus take grip of China from the (physically) safe haven of Twitter, wondering along with everyone else whether what we were seeing was an authoritarian overreaction to assert political power or a global crisis exploding before our eyes.

When it burst through the border and put Italy under lockdown, I felt the emotional stress of being limited to FaceTime updates from my brother living 45 minutes from the country’s outbreak center with his wife and two kids – who as of this writing, we still understand to be healthy and safe.

When SXSW along with the City of Austin – where I live – canceled the event last minute, it felt like the most significant public acknowledgment that this crisis wasn’t just a blip on the radar or concern of only a foreign ‘other’.

Now, as we hunker down with our frozen pizzas, 1000-piece puzzles and the most organized junk drawers the world has ever seen, it’s provided the time to contextualize the moment and think about where we go from here and the lessons we should take with us.  

The benefit of being proactive

While I’m bummed that SXSW was canceled, it has proven to already be the right decision. The same goes for our clients who have had to cancel or postpone their customer events at their own expense.

Some things are just bigger than the bottom line, and I applaud the companies and executives being proactive about their broader long-term role in society even when they do so to their own short-term detriment. Their foresight and compassion had a massive effect on our ability to dampen the barrage.

It’s not always about being first to market with a new gadget or service. It’s not about being a fast follower. It’s not about taking credit as a pioneer in your field. The value comes from being quick to adapt and change to new conditions, for the betterment of all.

Flash vs substance

Having worked so closely with retail technology vendors for the past four years, it’s been very clear that most of the emphasis for building a modern retail business has been on customer engagement. When engaged, shoppers are likely to take desired actions.

We think about personalized marketing, same-day shipping, on-demand merchandise and endless aisle assortments. We talk about hyper-localization within a global economy and dynamic pricing in stores. It all sounds pretty wonderful, and it is.

But engagement doesn’t come from an innovation lab alone. It comes from personal understanding and connection to shoppers. For example, personalized marketing can only be done once you build real relationships with customers and learn enough about them to know what they want, when they want it.

If you can’t deliver on a shopper’s fundamental needs, all the work you’ve done to create new conveniences and ‘engagement’ is for naught.

Relationships and values are everything

What we’ve seen in recent weeks emphasizes this point. Families are paying more attention to grandparents than ever before. Businesses are finding ways to create more flexible, human-centric employee schedules. Dogs are getting more walks and parents are spending more playtime with their kids.

In times of crisis, we gravitate towards comfort and connection. We are drawn towards truth and fulfilling our fundamental needs. We realize more clearly what matters to us and what has been a distraction. And we see that much of our time and attention is dominated by clutter.

But who we are and what we mean to others is eternal.

When considering the future of business – all other considerations of financial management, product value, and bailouts aside – I’m sure that the companies who fare best and emerge from this with momentum will be those that have always emphasized building a brand and a culture of authenticity and responsibility, and actively cultivated customer and employee loyalty above all else.

Because when everything else gets called into question, our identity, our values – and what others know of them – are all you can rely on. It’s not only in times of stress that they matter, but it’s as good a time as any to realize the depth of their impact.

A most helpful Covid-19 legal resource:

Our client, national law firm Foley & Lardner, is offering a terrific library of support for companies navigating the complex legal ramifications of business disruption. If you’d like to get in touch with them, let us know!

Stack of newspapers that you will earn coverage in by following the advice in this blog.

How to Build a Great Retail Tech PR Program

Done right, a great retail tech PR program can have as strong an impact on a vendor’s success as their solutions have for the retailers they serve. As retailers look to innovate alongside Amazon and avoid being next years’ Sears, they’re turning to emergent technologies such as AI, machine learning, robotics, machine vision, and IoT.

But in an ecosystem full of marketing hype and hyperbole, retailers aren’t ready to trust an unknown commodity. In other words, they won’t just take your word for it. Innovation, without broad recognition, holds surprisingly little value. That’s where the influence you gain with a retail tech PR program comes in.

Retailers trust the media to be the gatekeepers of truth. Not just about the news stories, but trends and the impact and value of those trends.

Our clients at Ketner Group have been taking advantage of this to place themselves at the forefront of retail trend conversations for nearly three decades. By building close media relationships, they have earned coverage in publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Bloomberg and Forbes, to influential retail, grocery and CPG trade media.

How can your company create the best retail tech PR program? Keep these four principles in mind to increase your market visibility and attract new customers, partners and investors.

1. Define your unique story.

Does your company have a promising new solution for retailers? That’s great, but how can you stand out to decision-makers from the hundreds of other technology companies that are vying for attention?

It begins by creating concise, easily understood messaging that answers fundamental questions:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What specific challenges do they face?
  • How does your solution answer those challenges?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What do your customers say about you?
  • Do you have data and performance metrics to back up your claims?

Answering these questions isn’t an easy exercise. But it’s fundamental to creating a unique brand story that differentiates your company from your competitors in the market.

2. Consider the broader context.

Every problem/solution must fit into a larger context in order to find market acceptance. If your PR program is focused only on you, you’ll never get the results you want.

For example, one of the biggest disruptions in grocery retailing is the rapid rise of e-commerce, especially from Amazon and Instacart; grocers are moving quickly to deploy their own e-commerce and delivery solutions in order to retain customers and protect market share. It’s a trend that one of our clients directly addresses.

Other clients have introduced technology for fully automated, cashierless stores; solutions to help companies navigate major supply chain disruptions; AI technology that can identify new opportunities for profit while helping retailers cut their losses.

All these are just a few of the market dynamics that are reshaping retail. And to be successful in retail technology PR, it’s imperative to frame the context for your solution and show how it addresses significant business trends.

3. Know what to say, when to say it and who to say it to.

The life of a typical editor or reporter isn’t easy. Typically, it’s marked by tight deadlines, heavy workloads and information overload. Our job as PR professionals, in partnership with our clients, is to make their jobs easier with newsworthy, timely and relevant information.

What do editors want?

For starters, editors always welcome unique, compelling data that are unavailable from anyone else. The data should add a fresh dimension to an ongoing story or reveal a new conversation the industry should consider.

Editors also appreciate commentary from thought leaders on fast-breaking industry trends, as this can support their story development with an expert perspective. If you can provide a customer that’s willing to speak, so much the better; nothing adds to a story like the real-world perspective of a retailer.

4. Create a well-rounded retail tech PR program.

Much of this blog has dealt with media relations, and it’s typically a primary focus when companies decide to hire a PR agency. However, earned media is only one facet of a well-rounded PR program. As Ketner Group president Catherine Seeds made clear in her recent blog about what to do after NRF, an effective PR program also includes:

  • Analyst relations
  • Social media
  • Digital marketing
  • Speaking engagements
  • Event participation

Together with all forms of original content—ranging from blogs to thought leadership articles, case studies, e-books, white papers and more—these are the fundamental elements of a comprehensive PR program for retail technology companies and other businesses as well.

Companies that create comprehensive programs like this, usually in partnership with a PR agency, will reap a number of benefits. Charles Dimov, VP Marketing at our client ContractPodAI, underscored this point in a blog on the connection between PR and lead generation.

At Dimov’s former company (also a Ketner Group client and retail technology company), he implemented a disciplined method of tracking qualified leads. The company traced a third of the company’s leads to PR—a result that can make a significant difference in the bottom line.

So can a robust PR program pay dividends? The answer is “yes,” and hopefully these tips can help point you in the right direction, whether you’re a retail technology company or other B2B business. Now go out and build a great PR program (and contact us if you need help along the way)!

Skeleton Excited for Halloween

Halloween Retail Is Expecting Another Graveyard Smash This Year

Do you feel that chill in the air? Have you felt uneasy, constantly looking over your shoulder feeling a presence that just might be outright supernatural? You’re not the only one – at Ketner Group, we too feel the increased paranormal retail activity that comes along with the spookiest day of the year. As such, allow me to relay some SCARY statistics with you around what to expect from Halloween retail this year.

Halloween Spending

Halloween is really a story of community. Running around the neighborhood trick or treating, attending parties and dressing up as our heroes brings us all closer together. It offers the world the opportunity to come together, rise up and declare in one strong voice: BOO!

According to the NRF’s annual Halloween survey, 172 million people plan to celebrate Halloween. “Among those celebrating, 69% plan to hand out candy, 49 percent plan to decorate their home or yard, 47% will dress in costume, 44% will carve a pumpkin, 32% will throw or attend a party, 29% will take their children trick-or-treating, 22% will visit a haunted house and 17% will dress their pets in costume.” (If you are reading this and have any pictures of pets in costumes please share to [email protected])

The Ketner Group Communications  team dressed up as our fearless leader, Jeff Ketner on Halloween 2018.
Ketner Group Communications dressed up as our fearless leader, Jeff Ketner on Halloween 2018.

Shoppers will spend around $86.27 for $8.8 billion in total spending, down slightly from last year’s $9 billion. This $8.8 billion projection will total the third-highest in the survey’s 15-year history (the record being $9.1 billion in 2017).  

Finding Costume Inspiration

Now we get to the hardest part of any Halloween: figuring out what to be. Online search is the top source for ideas (35% of consumers), followed by searching in-store (28%) and brainstorming with friends and family at 20%. Social media has grown to be an essential resource for many. This is especially unsurprising when you consider how celebrities have taken social media by storm with their intricate designs and high production value. Pinterest was cited by 18% of NRF respondents, a 13% increase since 2015; 14% mentioned both YouTube (up from 8%) and Instagram (increase from 7%).

Looking Ahead to Christmas

By November 1st we will have crossed over into a new month, a new holiday season. And as November gobble gobbles away your great fears, a new breed of terror awaits. While the weak-hearted lay in bed, counting their candy with a glimmering eye towards the dry, poorly cooked birds of tomorrow, our cauldron boils with something far sweeter: THE HOLIDAY SEASON.

According to a report from The International Council of Shopping Centers, holiday spending will increase 4.9% over last year, totaling $832.3 billion. The report also projects that 90% of holiday shoppers expect to make purchases in-store and 97% of them will buy goods online from retailers with physical stores.

Meanwhile, the upcoming holiday shopping season is expected to break records in online spending, according to a study by Adobe Analytics with holiday shoppers projected to spend $143.7B online. Amazon will, of course, continue to be a huge part of consumers’ shopping plans. A recent Episerver report states that 32% of online shoppers begin their holiday shopping on Amazon and 68% of online shoppers compare products on other retailers’ websites to products on Amazon. 

You might have thought last year was scary… but with Halloween 2019 upon us, retail frights (the friendly ghost kind) are in the air and we’re one step closer to the holiday retail season. Although the sweet sounds of the holidays are soon to be upon us… the terrors of All Hollow’s Eve still sends shivers down my spine. It’s Much Too Spooky for Me….

Advertising Week New York

Advertising Week New York: A Ketner Group Preview

With clients like Adlucent and PMG on our roster, Ketner Group understands advertising’s role in today’s retail market. For that reason, I was excited to see the retail-heavy agenda unfold for Advertising Week New York. As an added bonus, Advertising Week is located just steps away from the Ketner Group NYC headquarters in Lincoln Square.

On Monday, Sept. 23, there will be eight retail-focused sessions with smattering of related content throughout the four-day event. Curious what’s on my agenda for the week? If so, here’s a preview for you!

Retail at Advertising Week

Monday’s retail lineup will be held on the Culture Builders Stage.

A.M. Lineup

“Passion & Performance Marketing: Driving Growth & Demand While Honoring The Spirit Of Your Brand” kicks off the retail sessions at 9:45 a.m. Google, Cardlytics and Tinulti will discuss marrying passion and performance in online and local to generate happy customers.

Next, the focus shifts to data. Experian, PlaceIQ, IRI Worldwide and TrueData explore how brands can extract more from their data. Check out “So Much Data…So Little Time” at 10:45 a.m. to learn how to manage mass amounts of data and make smarter advertising decisions.

If retail is the topic of conversation, Amazon is sure to come up. At 11:45 a.m. Catalyst, Xaxis, Georgia-Pacific and Pacvue look at how Amazon is reshaping shopper marketing. “Seismic Shifts: How Amazon is Reshaping Shopper Marketing” will help retailers and and brands better understand this changing dynamic.

P.M. Lineup

One of the hottest topics in retail is direct-to-consumer brands. During “Reinventing Retail – How to Think Like DTC Startups” at 12:45 p.m., Rhone, Koio, Bombas and Dagne Dover join Digiday‘s Shareen Pathak to explore how “DTC brands are reinventing the consumer journey, [and] experimenting with customer service and retail concepts.”

Afterward, stay in your seats for the 1:45 session, “Hello to Good-Buy: Marketing Approaches to Drive the Evolving Consumer Journey.” Valassis, GSK and Universal McCann chat reimagining marketing approaches to effectively engage evolving shopper preferences.

Then, for some holiday talk. At 2:45 p.m., Open X and Essence Global take the stage for “Reaching Holiday Shoppers in the Age of Digital.” Attendees will leave with a better understanding of today’s holiday shopper and an overview of 2019 holiday consumer spending habits.

At 3:45 p.m. Constellation Brands, AT&T and CAA discuss “Beyond Digital Retail: The Future of Retail, Moving Well Past Omnichannel.” Panelists will discuss the consumer demand for customization, on-demand services, and the impact of mobile and technology.

The retail track wraps at 4:45 p.m. with “Flipping the Script: The Rise of Shape-Shifting Experience Platforms.” VMLY&R and SHOWFIELDS, the new store concept from Shopify, explore today’s top marketing strategies.

Monday wraps with a networking happy hour. Stick around for cocktails and conversation with fellow attendees.

What to Check Out After Monday

While the official retail track takes place on Monday, there are plenty of related topics to check out throughout the four-day event. So, let’s see what other sessions are worth checking out.

Tuesday largely focuses on AdTech and brand innovation. Throughout the day, hear from Burger King, brands like The Knot, LG and OceanSpray, and Verizon and Anheuser Busch.

On Wednesday, DTC, retail and the customer experience continue to be key themes. Sessions include:

On Thursday, Advertising Week will focus on female leaders in advertising and marketing at retailers and brands in a series of “Future is Female” sessions.

Meet Ketner Group at Advertising Week

Attending Advertising Week? Want to chat about the state of advertising and retail? In that case, I’d love to connect and grab a cup of coffee during the events. Send me an email and we’ll find a time to meet up.

Colorful school supplies for back-to-school

Going Back to School In Style

Kids are starting to swap swimming goggles for backpacks and flip-flops for sneakers, which can only mean one thing – it’s the end of the summer and it’s time to go back to school.

There’s always a buzz of excitement among students, parents and teachers alike as shoppers flock the stores looking for the most colorful pencil cases and the coolest fall wardrobe. To cater to these preferences, we see retailers doing new and innovative things for the back-to-school season. Take a look at these consumer and retailer trends to discover what’s cool for school in 2019.

Trend #1: The Bell is Ringing for Record Back-to-School Spending

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average spending per household for back-to-school shoppers is $696.70 – the highest ever recorded. And that’s not all – the average spending per household for back-to-school college shoppers is $976.78. In total, that’s a projected $80.7B combined spending for clothing, supplies, laptops and other items for the next school year.

NRF also predicts that clothing and accessories will top K-12 families’ expenses at an average of $239.82, followed by electronics, shoes and school supplies. College shoppers plan to spend the most on electronics, followed by clothing, dorm and apartment furnishings and food items.

With a strong economy and high spending all around, retailers are prepping for an increase in sales this year, but only if they continue to innovate and keep ahead of the competition.

Trend #2: In-Store Shopping Gets an A+

Despite the growth in online shopping overall, Deloitte found that most back-to-school spending will continue to occur in-store, especially for school supplies and clothing. In fact, households plan to spend 56% of their budget in stores and 29% online, with the remaining 15% up for grabs with undecided shoppers.

With kids constantly growing and having their fair share of opinions on which notebook is their favorite, it’s no wonder that in-store shopping is still the channel of choice. Students want to be able to touch, feel and see all the options in-person. Still, Coresight Research estimates that approximately 28.3% of total US back-to-school spend will be online this year, up from 26.1% in 2018. This number will likely continue to grow as online becomes a popular channel for families looking for ways to save time and beat the back-to-school rush in an increasingly popular category.

Trend #3: Retailers Help Shoppers Beat the Back-to-School Blues

It’s always fun to see retailers come up with creative ways to make back-to-school a lot more exciting, whether through fun festivities or memorable shopping events.   

For example, Walmart is hosting events such as STEM Day of Play, with DIY fun for kids. Meijer is treating incoming college freshmen to a party that includes a DJ, photo booth and interactive contests.

Retailers are also doing what they can to give back and get the community involved. Amazon is giving customers an easy way to donate a backpack full of school supplies to a student in need with Alexa. Food City hosted a back-to-school fair which gives away backpacks and school supplies to children in need.

Going the extra mile to create these experiences and campaigns will build a positive brand association in the minds of the consumers and keep them coming back beyond the back-to-school season.

Trend #4: Focus on Social Media

Of course, we can’t forget the power of social media. Students are invested in their social platforms, and it’s a great place for retailers to build up brand recognition and keep them top-of-mind.

Let’s take a look at Macy’s, who launched a back-to-school promotion that includes shoppable commercials on Snapchat and a video-sharing challenge on TikTok. By catering to U.S. teens, Macy’s is urging mobile users to record videos and inspire others to share their style. With mobile usage set to grow to 60% of back-to-school shoppers this year, it’s a great way for the brand to interact with their audience and find creative ways to meet customers where they’re at.

These four trends highlight the evolving changes that are happening around one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year. Retailers are gearing up for back-to-school sales by meeting consumers’ changing demands and getting ahead of the competition. With dedicated studying and strong execution, innovative retailers will surely ace the test!

NYC retail scene

NYC Retail Hits and Misses: Edition 1, Volume 2

A better title for this edition of “NYC Retail Hits and Misses” is “NYC Retail Hits and a Fix.” Or, a la “Friends,” in honor of its 25th Anniversary, “The One Where Whole Foods and Amazon Prime Now Redeem Themselves.” But this did not come without one last blunder.

Before we dive into my ongoing NYC grocery saga, let’s talk about some happier retail happenings.

Hit: The Lead

No, don’t worry, “The Lead” isn’t a hip new retail store or direct-to-consumer brand that you’ve missed out on. But it might be one of the hottest new retail innovation events.

Launched last year, The Lead “bridges the fashion & retail industry with the global Silicon Valley, empowering the industry’s transition to digital centricity.” With more than 1,300 attendees at this year’s Innovation Summit, The Lead is quickly capturing the attention of retailers, brands, solution providers and influencers, alike.

Last month, Catherine made the trip to NYC and joined me in Brooklyn for the summit. Over two days, we heard from innovative solution providers like NewStore, Yotpo and Afterpay. Speakers also included executives from some of the hottest young brands and retailers in the industry, including Bombas, Shinola and AYR. We heard how Bombas is creating a culture for today’s workforce, how Shinola is reinvigorating Detroit, and how AYR is reaching millennials and Gen Z.

After two days of great speakers and conversations, I’m excited to see where next year leads (pun intended) the event.

Miss Fix: Whole Foods and Amazon Prime Now

Okay, now back to the grocery drama.

As you might recall, after my last experience with Amazon Prime Now and Whole Foods, I was left without groceries. Soon after I wrote that blog, I learned the Whole Foods on the Upper West Side allows customers to shop in the store and pay for delivery anywhere in Manhattan. For a small fee of $4, my LaCroix, watermelon and other heavy items were delivered to my doorstep. Problem solved.

But not for long. On June 6, Amazon and Whole Foods ended their relationship with Instacart and moved all of their delivery in house. Long story short, when I went grocery shopping on June 11 and asked for delivery, I was out of luck. Whole Foods now only delivers to customers within 10 blocks. My nearest Whole Foods is 20 blocks away.

After a lot of back and forth, I was once again left without groceries. I was told my only option for delivery was to order through Prime Now. <Insert face-palm emoji>

After explaining my ongoing saga to the store managers, I was told to call corporate customer service. I then received a call from regional headquarters and was told to email the details and share the blog I’d previously written. This was the last I heard in mid-June.

Fast forward to early July. I see a courier delivering what appears to be a Whole Foods order from Prime Now in my neighborhood. I gave it another go. It was July 4 weekend and I had time to go to the grocery store if needed. But wah lah! Later that day, I had a fridge full of Waterloo sparkling water!

Two orders later, and the Whole Foods-Prime Now drama appear to be solved.

The NYC Retail Adventures Continue

With a Friends-themed pop up on the way and the opening of ThirdLove’s first brick-and-mortar concept, the adventures continue. If you’re in NYC, let’s grab coffee and discuss all things retail.

one-day shipping

One-Day Shipping and More: Retail News From Q2

As July begins, summer shopping continues with vacations and parties on the agenda. But has the retail news that broke in Q2 affected our habits? Will it affect the winter holidays, as well? A few trends have piggybacked after announcements earlier in the year, but here’s what’s new in payments, sustainability and shipping.

Paper or Plastic

For those that still like to pay with paper, fear not; Amazon announced their Amazon Go stores would start accepting cash. This was in response to growing backlash, as critics say it’s discriminatory against those who don’t have bank accounts. Amazon’s vice president for physical stores told Business Insider that adding more payment methods allows more customers to shop in the store. This decision feels reminiscent to when they backed out of HQ2 plans as a result of pushback from the community.

The Sustainability Bandwagon

This quarter, more brands and retailers came forward with their efforts to implement sustainable practices. PVH’s “Forward Fashion” corporate responsibility strategy is to increase transparency and sustainable practices. They’ve set a hefty goal to eliminate carbon emissions, reduce landfill waste and eradicate single-use plastics by 2030. In addition, H&M announced in April that it launched product transparency across all garments on its website.

These announcements are great examples of consumers’ growing interest in corporate responsibility. However, the bandwagon-like effect can cause a problem. Unilever’s CEO warns about “woke-washing“, or marketing campaigns that promise to improve the world but fail to take real action.

One-Day Shipping

In what USA Today described as a “drop-the-mic move,” Amazon announced its plan to upgrade Prime members to one-day delivery. Then, Walmart and Target responded with similar announcements. According to Business Insider, Walmart and Target have a “huge advantage” over Amazon because of their thousands of stores. This provides quick and efficient access to most of the U.S. population. Target has even been able to cut costs by 40% through store fulfillment. Recently, Amanda wrote a blog on the implications of “free” shipping, and now we can add one-day shipping to the mix. As retailers look to cut costs, they should also make an effort to reduce waste as they execute one-day shipping.

The breaking news that occurred in April, May and June of this year will no doubt impact our summer and beyond. There’s no going back now that we can buy sandals made out of recycled plastic, or birthday gifts online just days in advance.

4 Weddings and a Bridal Shower: A Look at How the Wedding Registry Has Changed

4 Weddings and a Shower: A Look at the Wedding Registry

It’s been a month since our very own Stacy became a Mrs. As all good coworkers do, we threw her a surprise shower before the big day. Scanning her wedding registry to pick out the best gift got me thinking. Four women from the Ketner crew in Austin have now tied the knot. So, as the retail industry has evolved, how have our registry experiences differed?

From Catherine’s nuptials in 2003 to the Tung wedding over Memorial Day weekend, a number of things have changed.

Quick facts:

  • Wedding years represented – 2003, 2012, 2015, 2019 
  • Retailers represented for wedding registries – Target, Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate and Barrel, Pier 1
  • What were the biggest differences? A shift away from formal wedding china to post-wedding travel funds. 
  • And where did we find common ground? Come on, who doesn’t like getting gifts?

Going to the Chapel…and the Store…and Online

The argument in the industry is that despite the rise of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retail isn’t dead. That trend can be seen in our wedding registry experiences too. Almost 17 years ago, Catherine and her husband did their registering in-store. This meant they didn’t have online access to make changes or sneak peeks to see what was purchased. Fast forward to my wedding in 2012, and Stacy’s this year. You’ll see that the store still has an important role. We enjoyed going in-person to kick off the act of registering, but found the digital experience helpful for reading product reviews and managing our lists.

In the movies, you’ll see couples buzzing excitedly through the store, using a barcode scanner to add to their wishlist. Stacy and her now-husband Alvin found that aspect of registering fun! My husband Thomas and I enjoyed the private event Crate and Barrel hosted (and still offers today). Engaged couples are allowed into the store early Sunday mornings for undistracted registering. Plus, there’s wedding vendor promos and free samples. Cake before lunch? Yes, please!

Love and Marriage, But Don’t Forget the Honeymoon!

Mariana and her husband Richie shared a home before their big day, which influenced their decision for how and where to register. Their two-bedroom apartment was pretty cozy, so they signed up for a Honeyfund account instead of a traditional wedding registry. What they wanted more than bedding or kitchen gadgets was to share experiences together. Through Honeyfund, family and friends could gift the travel-loving Fischbachs a surf lesson or a snorkeling excursion for their Hawaiian honeymoon. Although Mariana did say they received several Home Depot gift cards, which were spent pretty quick!

While Stacy and I share some similarities in our registry experience, Mariana and Catherine also have some parallels. Where they overlap is specific to their housing’s influence on wedding gift requests. While the Fishbachs opted for experiences over “things” because they were saving for a down payment, the Seeds were building a home. For this reason, Catherine needed practical things like end tables and a coffee table for their living room. She was also excited to pick out China settings. While she doesn’t use it often now, Catherine loves having something she will pass down to her kids. 

I Do…Love Wedding Gifts

Wedding season is underway, and we’re not the only ones contemplating the evolution of registries. Just last week, Retail Dive reflected on the history of the traditional registry, and Honeyfund’s founder gives her perspective there also. Here’s a stat we found interesting. Despite emerging trends around experiential requests and cash gifts, The Knot found that 97% of couples this year say they registered for retail products. 

Since we obsess over retail data for clients during the week, it’s fun when we get to discuss the overlap into our lives as consumers. Our conclusion is that retailers who will find relevance with the brides and grooms of tomorrow will be the ones that mirror broader retail trends. These retailers will provide options for both the thrill of in-store memory making, plus convenience and practicality too. Retailers should see wedding registries as a way to build brand loyalty, as couples associate a retailer with a joyful time in their lives.