NYC Retail

NYC Retail Hits and Misses

Greetings from America’s shopping capital! Okay, no one actually calls it that but maybe they should. As a reminder, I recently moved to NYC and while Ketner Group always lived and breathed retail, I’m now drowning in all things retail on a daily basis. As a consumer, wherever I go, whatever I do, I’m surrounded; I can’t escape the world of retail!

My ever-growing list of NYC retail experiences has been full of ups and downs. With that in mind, consider this Edition 1, Volume 1 of a little series I call, “NYC Retail Hits and Misses.”

Hit: Happy Returns

Pretty soon after I moved, I realized I needed another sturdy pair of work flats. I’d been toying with the idea of investing in a pair of Rothy’s for a solid year. After a friend posted a review and discount code, I sucked it up and made the investment. One problem. I wasn’t sure what size to buy. I range anywhere between a women’s 8.5 and 10 depending on the brand and style. After some back and forth, I settled on a size 9. I was wrong. I loved the shoes but sadly, they were too small. Given that Rothy’s doesn’t have an NYC store, I expected the exchange process to be a hassle.

Enter Happy Returns. Despite my daily consumption of retail news, Happy Returns was not on my radar (as I was writing this blog, PayPal Ventures announced an $11 million investment in the company). Happy Returns enables “‘buy online, return to store’ for retailers without stores.” Using Happy Returns, the exchange process was, well, happy. I simply walked a few blocks to the nearest Happy Returns partner location, Paper Source. My exchange was processed by a store associate and I was on my way, but not before picking up a birthday card.

The beauty of Happy Returns is three-fold, benefitting the customer, retailer and location partner. Happy Returns processed the exchange instantly and Rothy’s didn’t wait to receive the return before shipping the larger size. Meaning I ended up with my news shoes faster than with a traditional online return. Happy Customer. The ease of the experience (not to mention the actual shoes) means that I will be a return customer. Happy Retailer. And I didn’t leave empty handed; I made a purchase at Paper Source. Happy Location Partner. All around, Happy Returns!

Miss: Whole Foods and Amazon Prime Now

As I mentioned in my Q&A, grocery shopping has been a bit of an adjustment. Since I moved into my own apartment and my pup Mackey has joined me in the city, I find my time even more limited. With this in mind, I gave in and decided to try Whole Foods “Two-Hour Delivery” through Amazon Prime Now. As Greg mentioned in a previous blog, the free two-hour delivery promotion is kind of a joke. It’s a two-hour delivery window, not delivery within two hours. Nonetheless, I ordered my groceries on a Saturday and scheduled a delivery for the following evening when I knew I’d be home.

The following afternoon around 5 p.m., I was notified that a shopper was picking my order and selected a few replacement items. My order was picked and placed in the cooler to await drive pickup. Next thing I know, it’s 8:30 p.m. on Sunday evening, 30 minutes after my scheduled delivery window and no groceries. My groceries were still sitting at a Whole Foods in…wait for it…YONKERS!

Now if you know anything about geography and getting in and out of NYC, you’re probably, like me, thinking, “That’s BONKERS!” Well after 45 minutes on the phone with Prime Now customer service, I was left with “this seems to happen a lot in NYC” (well, duh, you’re trying to get someone to deliver groceries an hour away for a minimal tip), a $30 credit in my Amazon account and no groceries.

NYC retail FAIL.

More NYC Retail Hits and Misses to Come

With almost four months of living in NYC under my belt, I have a few additional NYC retail tales stored up to tell and many more to come. Stay tuned for the next edition of NYC Retail Hits and Misses to learn more about what the retail industry is getting right and where there’s room for improvement.

Adrienne Newcomb, Account Supervisor, Ketner Group

Employee Spotlight: A Q&A with Adrienne Newcomb

Ketner Group has officially opened an office in New York City, and we sent Account Supervisor Adrienne Newcomb up to the Big Apple to take the lead on the new location. As one of our most talented and hard-working team members, we know the New York office is going to be in good hands. That being said, moving to a new state and opening a new office can be a huge undertaking. We sat down with Adrienne to ask her about her thoughts on the big move.

KG: What sparked your decision to move to NYC and open up a new KG office?

Adrienne: Growing up, I always thought I’d live in NYC one day – I think this began with The Baby-Sitters Club (a quick refresher: Stacey was from NYC and lived there until she moved to Stoneybrook; in book #18, the BSC members visit the city); however, I never actually visited until I joined Ketner Group and came to NRF in 2016. Since that first trip, I’ve been dropping comments around the office such as, “Whenever you’re ready to open an NYC office, just let me know.”

Last year after NRF, Jeff and Catherine called my bluff! They asked if I’d seriously want to move to NYC and open an office. I was in shock, but game for a new adventure. I’d been in Austin since I started at UT in 2006 and was ready for a change. NYC seemed like the perfect next step for both Ketner Group and me.

KG: What new opportunities are available to you and KG now that you’re in New York?

Adrienne: It might sound cliché, but the opportunities are truly endless in NYC. From networking to new business to talent and building stronger media relationships, NYC is the perfect place for KG’s own HQ2. In a few short weeks, I’ve already found myself at several networking events and new business prospects are quickly flowing in. I’m particularly excited about building a team here in NYC; the talent pool is huge, especially for PR.

KG: What has the transition to New York been like? What’s been the biggest difference working in NYC versus Austin?

Adrienne: On a personal level, it’s still a bit surreal. I’m currently subletting, and my dog is still in Texas with my parents, so it feels like an extended vacation without all of my normal day-to-day responsibilities.

Transportation. That’s the biggest difference. I LOVE not needing to drive (I don’t love losing my MetroCard…can’t wait until they get everything switched over to digital). Austin really needs to get on board with the whole rail system thing. The one caveat is that you have to be more thoughtful and intentional about your tasks and errands; I can’t just hop in the car and drive to the store every time I need something. Laundry is probably a close second; I used to do laundry daily. Now, I find myself trying to see how long I can go between washes.

KG: How’s your new office? 

Adrienne: Jeff and Catherine gave me the freedom to choose our office. Knowing that I wanted to live uptown and definitely didn’t want to work in midtown, my options were a bit more limited. But I found a great place at The Yard: Lincoln Square. More than any of the other co-working spaces I visited, I felt like it best matched Ketner Group’s vibe. I’m currently in a shared office with a dedicated desk, but will be moving into a private office once we begin expanding our team. And there’s dogs! And espresso! What more could you need?

Adrienne’s view from the office window

KG: What is your favorite part about living in New York so far?  

Adrienne: Right now, everything is new and exciting so it’s hard to choose one favorite part. I love checking out new restaurants and stores, exploring new neighborhoods, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. In case you were wondering, my least favorite part is grocery shopping, which is disappointing because I actually love going to the grocery store! And it’s not the prices, as you might expect. The problem is the crowds. It seems no matter when you go, it’s a madhouse and the shelves are half empty (maybe a few of our clients can help with that?). I might become a grocery delivery convert, after all.

KG: What are you looking forward to most about living (and/or working) in New York?

Adrienne: Personally, I’m looking forward to finding an apartment! Currently, there are very few listings for March, so I haven’t been able to see many places. As far as work goes, I’m really looking forward to building our team here in NYC and having the ability to regularly connect with our long-time media contacts in person.

Ketner Group Takes On The Big Apple

Amazon’s HQ2 expansion to New York was the biggest news in corporate expansions for 2018. But let me set the record straight. Ketner Group thought of it first.

This time last year we started laying the groundwork for expanding to the Big Apple. And we’re thrilled to say, it’s now a reality. Ketner Group Communications has just opened an office in New York City, led by our fearless team member Adrienne Newcomb. It’s a dream come true for all of us at Ketner Group, and it underscores our commitment to growth, innovation and client service. Check out our recent Q&A with Adrienne to find out how this native Texan is adapting to New York. (If you know Adrienne, you won’t be surprised to learn that she’s embracing it 100%.)

Besides the world’s best pizza and bagels, New York is a strategic move for Ketner Group. We’re excited about it, and it makes sense for a number of reasons, including the following:

The Center of the Media Universe

First and foremost, New York is the undisputed center of the media universe. Where else can you hold high-value, in-person press meetings with The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Bloomberg and WWD in a single day? We’ve managed dozens of press tours and press meetings for our clients in New York, from top-tier to relevant trade media. Our interactions with New York media will pick up dramatically, now that Ketner Group has on-the-ground representation.

A Focal Point for Technology Innovation

New York is also the #1 area for retail, fashion, advertising and CPG innovation, and this will only accelerate with HQ2. The Retail Innovation Conference, hosted by our friends at Retail TouchPoints, is a prime example. Our client RevTech Ventures will participate in the May conference, focusing on the impact of disruptive, venture-backed companies in retail. New York is also home to XRC Labs, widely recognized as one of the top accelerators for disruptive retail and CPG companies. Moreover, in our first few weeks on the ground, we’re already talking to early-stage companies that will have a big impact in their markets. You may not have heard of them yet, but you will; we’ll make darn sure of that.

New Opportunities for Growth

Finally, our New York expansion is a sign of Ketner Group’s remarkable growth. We experienced a nearly 40% YOY growth rate in 2018, adding six new clients and increasing our team by over 50%. We’ve already added two major clients in 2019, and we’re not slowing down. We’re proud to say that our former KG’er Kirsty Goodlett has returned to Ketner Group as a senior team member; check out her intro blog to learn more about Kirsty’s recent re-entry to our team as an Account Supervisor.

None of this would be possible without our amazing team here at Ketner Group, as well as the best, most supportive clients in the business. We’re privileged to work with so many innovative companies that are shaping the future of how we work, shop, play and live. They trust us to tell their stories, and we work like crazy to exceed their expectations every day. Our New York office will only make it that much easier.

For more information, check out our press release announcing our NYC office.

NRF 2019

NRF 2019 Gives Retail Stores the Old “Razzle Dazzle”

Please excuse the musical reference in my headline, but it just seems to fit!  The Ketner Group team is still on a high after wrapping up another successful NRF Big Show. We also saw the musical “Chicago” (starring Cuba Gooding Jr.) on Broadway. In the musical, the song “Razzle Dazzle” is about a lawyer who wins all of his cases by putting on a good show in the courtroom. He always stretches the truth since most of his clients are actually guilty!  The “razzle dazzle” I’m referring to, however, is the hundreds of new retail technologies that were on display last week at the Javits Center.

I think Joe Skorupa, editorial director of RIS News, summed it up best: The 2019 NRF Big Show was big, big, big! As usual, frenzied herds of attendees funneled into sessions and booths that were often too crowded to accommodate them. But this year’s NRF took bigness to a new level. Aisles were clogged with attendees, innovative exhibitors were jam packed and traditional exhibitors were jam packed. The lower level of the Javits Center, usually an outpost for the forlorn and lonely, was a hotbed of engaging technology and crowded activity.”

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em, Give ‘Em A Show That’s So Splendiferous

This year, NRF exhibitors and sponsors truly outdid themselves. The renewed interest in the brick and mortar store is everywhere, and the excitement is brewing. The industry “talked the talk” about the store in 2018, but at NRF, everyone seemed to really “walk the walk” when it comes to store investments! Even Target CEO Brian Cornell acknowledged the value of his stores. According to Cornell, Target stores fulfilled 3 out of every 4 orders. This included items picked up in the store, delivered to customers in the parking lot, or picked and packed by store associates and shipped to customers. Cornell considers his stores his single biggest competitive advantage.

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em, And They’ll Beg You For More!

You’ve heard the phrase “location, location, location,” but it seems in 2019, the chant for retailers will be “the store, the store, the store!” Just take a look at some of the store-focused announcements from Ketner Group clients:

  • California Closets demonstrated their use of Elo’s smart table technology, which incorporates use of endless aisle/endless design app on the Elo touchscreen platform.
  • C-store retailer Pilot Flying J announced that it is deploying a new store architecture solution with NCR Software Defined Store, enabled by Zynstra. The architecture creates an agile infrastructure across the entire store, reducing costs and optimizing operations for faster innovation.
  • Theatro announced the launch of its new data analytics suite, a proprietary method to track, aggregate, and analyze in-store employee key performance indicators.

These and many other new store technology deployments tell us two things. First, retailers want to do all they can to make the store a destination for fun, in-store shopper engagement.  Second, they can (and should) utilize the store to power their omnichannel efforts. Note: I have a feeling that we will have another word to replace omnichannel in 2019. Stay tuned on that!

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em, And They’ll Make You A Star!

The Ketner Group team believes the old “razzle dazzle” has new meaning for the retail industry in 2019. Gone are the days of trying to impress retailers with a three-ring circus of ineffective and expensive technologies. Solutions demonstrated at NRF 2019 have invigorated the industry with a breath of fresh air. The Ketner Group team is excited to play our part to push that momentum forward in 2019.

As notable author and speaker Steve Dennis recently tweeted, “Physical retail isn’t dead. Boring retail is.”

Don’t be boring. Go after the razzle dazzle!

NRF 2019

Ketner Group Takes on the NRF Big Show 2019

In retail, we know that the holiday madness doesn’t end once the ball drops in Times Square. Even those of you who identify with “A December to Remember” more than “Ford Truck Month” – and are still reconciling the fact that no one in your family loves you enough to shell out a year’s salary on a front-wheel-drive convertible parked in a snowy driveway – know it’s time to take one more deep breath from the bottom of your newly built Saint Nick belly and get ready for NRF 2019 in New York.

Although Austin isn’t exactly the North Pole, we’ve been hard at work the past few months getting everything ready to knock it out of the park for a major mid-winter event. And this year, building on years of experience our team’s had at the event and given that our agency experienced pretty incredible growth in 2018, we’re collaborating with our largest cohort of retail technology innovators to date – representing 18 clients in total. Therefore, we’ve coordinated meetings with media and analysts, promoted their presence via social media, overseen email campaigns and used every other conceivable medium to get us ready to take on the Big Apple with the enthusiasm of Buddy the Elf.

What’s In Store

We’re excited to feel the energy in the expo hall as we move another year away from the doomsday ramblings about the ‘retail apocalypse’. We’ve seen firsthand how innovative retailers partnering with innovative vendors have established a bulwark against Amazon’s encroachment. We’ve seen how enigmatic executives have rallied an industry in need of optimism and vision to become a catalyst for even greater change. We’re excited to hear stories of recent successes and learn about what the future holds for the industry and for the everyday consumer.

Although NRF stands firm as the last hurrah before we can officially call the holiday season quits, I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t be excited about having more time than anyone else experiencing The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

Meet Us at NRF!

So, if you’ll be at NRF and would like to meet us to learn about our agency, our services or our clients – or would like to meet with any of them – please don’t hesitate to reach out! You can find us at [email protected] or feel free to find us helping our clients at their booths, including:

  • Columbus Consulting – Booth #3083
  • DisplayData – Booth #1910
  • DynamicAction
  • Elo – Booth #3655 (with partner and Ketner Group client, Shoptelligence)
  • GK Software – Booth #3267
  • GroupBy
  • Kibo – Booth #4419
  • Mercatus – Booth $4560
  • Mirakl – Booth #206
  • NGC Software – Booth #4523
  • Opterus – Booth #4911
  • OrderDynamics – Booth #240
  • PlumSlice – Booth #1200
  • Shopgate – Booth #551
  • Symphony RetailAI – Booth #3036
  • Theatro – Booth #1517
  • Zynstra – Booth #230

Until Next Year NRF

NRF’s Big Show is officially over and we are back in Austin! After several cups of coffee consumed as well as analyst and media meetings coordinated for 13 clients, I think it’s safe to say this year’s show was one for the books. Check out what the Ketner Group team was up to while in the Big Apple.

nrfinfographic17

NRF 2017, Here We Come

In most industries, the holidays are a time to disengage from the hustle and bustle of work, plan for 2017 and clean out the junk folders to start the New Year feeling refreshed. But as we all know, quite the opposite is true in retail. And once a new calendar gets pinned to the wall, the heat really starts to turn up as we make final preparations for the biggest conference of our year, NRF’s BIG Show.

This year, the Ketner Group team has been as busy as ever, meticulously preparing, pitching, coordinating and managing all sorts of client announcements and on-site briefings. As the newest member of the KG team and a rookie to the realities of NRF life, I have to admit it’s been impressive watching our team stay (mostly) stress-free, while securing some truly terrific opportunities for publicity next week, without losing sight of client needs in the now.

As our entire office goes wheels up this weekend, heading from sunny and warm Austin, Texas to the hopefully not-so-cold and not-so-gray Big Apple, I expect to feel the same excitement and confidence in our client outcomes as our veterans who have been mastering the NRF process for over ten years.

We look forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces, connecting with new clients and having NRF ’17 mark the start of another great year at Ketner Group, for our clients, and for the retail industry in general. Good luck everyone!

Ketner Group clients at NRF, and where to find them:

 

Retail’s BIG Show: #NRF16 Client Recap, Part Two

If there is any indication that this year’s NRF show was the most exciting yet, it’s that we need two whole blog posts to recap just how great it was. Our clients were among the best and brightest out on that show floor, demonstrating cutting-edge retail technology and hosting thought-provoking BIG !dea sessions. They were invaluable additions to the educational atmosphere of one of the industry’s longest-running events, but don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself:

Photo courtesy of Kathleen See
Photo courtesy of Kathleen See

Predictix

Continuing to stay “one step ahead of the competition,” as observed in PYMNTS, Predictix announced during the show that it has entered a strategic partnership with Infor to resell Predictix applications to its customers as a part of Infor CloudSuite Retail. This announcement, along with Predictix’s impressive 40% YOY SaaS growth, generated buzz for the predictive analytics company. Adding to the excitement, Aaron Surasky, Senior Director, Assortment Planning and Analysis for The Home Depot, led an NRF BIG !deas session where he discussed how retailers are working with Predictix to create differentiated, locally relevant assortments while operating multiple channels and stores to an audience of more than 200.

Check out some additional awesome coverage of Predictix from the show by Apparel, Retail TouchPoints, B2Becommerceworld and Just-Style.

Shopatron

The week was an exciting one for Shopatron as well, which announced that “it is now part of a unified omnichannel commerce solutions company called Kibo,” by merging with MarketLive and Fiverun according to RIS News . In a MultiChannel Merchant recap of the companies’ merge, Shopatron founder Ed Stevens (now COO of Kibo) and MarketLive founder Ken Burke “talk about how the responsive redesign and the enhanced back-end capabilities helped Modell’s {Sporting Goods] become an omnichannel success story this holiday season.”

Starmount

In the world of omnichannel, just-style was impressed with Starmount’s newly-unveiled Store Inventory application, which helps retailers maintain more accurate store inventory and allows store associates “to engage customers and process transactions.” Starmount used its time at NRF to demonstrate how this addition to its Customer Engagement Suite is an asset to retailers.

Thoughtworks

Included as a “Top 10 Takeaway” by RIS News, Thoughtworks took the opportunity at NF to highlight the new e-commerce engine it built for Mitchells‘ website. In addition to putting a spotlight on its latest project, Thoughtworks also connected with many retail industry professionals to learn from and share with the behind-the-scenes retail software experts.

Unata

In addition to meeting and networking with other members of the retail community, this year’s NRF for Unata also highlighted a major endeavor that is in-progress between the digital grocery solutions company and regional grocery chain, Lowes Foods. In a video interview with Retail Touchpoints, Michael Moore, CMO for Lowes Foods, spoke on how the partnership is “bringing to life a whole new customer experience” known as “retail-tainment” with the help of Unata.