Forget HQ2: This Is the Big News About Amazon and the Retail Industry

Amazon and its strategies are always at the forefront of my mind. Working with retail clients operating across all sectors, I’ve seen firsthand the impact Amazon has on a thriving retail scene. On Tuesday, Amazon announced its decision to split the company’s second headquarters between Northern Virginia and New York City. So, let’s take a look at what this really means for the retail industry.

Not a Bang, But a Whimper

In almost every way, it seems Amazon’s feverishly anticipated HQ2 announcement was anti-climactic. Few other companies have the resources to add 50,000 jobs over the next few years. But as is often the case with Amazon, the eCommerce giant is doing a host of other things retailers should focus on this holiday season.

For example, Amazon is on track to drive 80% of ecommerce growth this year. This will almost certainly account for more than half of all eCommerce sales during the holiday. That’s on the heels of Amazon’s Q3 sales of $56.6 billion, an increase of 29%.

Amazon’s first-ever toy catalog arrived in mailboxes last week, signaling Amazon’s intent to duke it out with Target and Walmart for toy supremacy following the demise of Toys “R” Us (did anyone really shop there the last few years?). Amazon is also offering free shipping for all holiday orders with no minimum purchase, even for non-Prime members.  Amazon is on track to become the #1 apparel retailer in the U.S. And that’s not to mention the hundreds of brick and mortar locations gained through the Whole Foods acquisition, and Amazon’s own branded moves into physical retail with Amazon Books and Amazon Go.

So, What Does It Mean?

Does this spell doom and gloom for the rest of retail? Not at all. In the face of Amazon’s dominance, the most innovative retailers are thriving, too. Projections indicate retail sales this holiday season will increase nearly 5%, the largest gain in recent years.

Our friends at IHL Group also noted that net retail store openings are outpacing closings by a margin of two to one. Yes, retailers that failed to embrace innovation (Sears being the “prime” example) are dying. However, a new generation of dynamic, exciting retailers are more than filling the void. And stalwarts such as Walmart, Macys, Nordstrom and others have kept pace to remain relevant in a retail landscape that’s changing at the speed of Amazon.

Back to HQ2: it’s exciting news for Crystal City and New York, and congratulations on winning 2018’s biggest economic development prize. But it’s all the other cool stuff happening with Amazon and the retail industry that will be the important story in the long run.

Ketner Group Reflections on NRF 2011

Valerie, Catherine, Brittany, Caitlin & Jeff at Paramount Hotel in NYC
PHOTO: Valerie, Catherine, Brittany, Caitlin & Jeff at Paramount Hotel in NYC

Rather than one of us posting an exhaustive blog post about our experience at NRF 2011, we decided that each one of us Ketner Groupers who traveled to NYC for NRF could tell a little bit about our personal experiences and observations at the show. Please comment and let us know what you thought about the show, and whether you agree or disagree with us!

Coolest thing I saw at NRF: The crowds, enthusiasm and overall positive tone of the show was in sharp contrast to recent years. It was great to see retailers turn out in record numbers, and our clients attending NRF certainly felt upbeat after the show. Perhaps the coolest thing at NRF, though, was what happened just prior to the show: the Retail Orphan Initiative’s SuperSaturday event drew nearly 200 attendees to hear from some of the best minds in retail technology, and the event raised approximately $300,000 to help fund programs for orphans and other vulnerable children worldwide. The retail industry is rallying around RetailROI.

Best thing I did in NYC: Rock N’ Roll Retail was once again the most fun experience at NRF. The level of musicianship and camaraderie at this event was over the top, and it was a blast to be able to participate. Hats off to Dave Weinand at RIS News for having the vision to put this together. The KG gang will be there again next year!

My thoughts on retail in 2011: Mobile technology was everywhere on the show floor. Mobile has become the #1 game-changer in retail technology, and it’s only going to continue to grow in 2011. There are two facets to mobile, though, as was evident at NRF: connecting with consumers through their mobile devices and also using iPads to further extend enterprise applications inside retail organizations. So while mobile can help retailers engage with consumers, it’s also going to help them become more productive.

Coolest thing I saw at NRF: Although I didn’t get to try it out myself, the coolest thing I saw at NRF was the virtual dressing room that was set up outside the show hall. I’d heard of the virtual dressing room, but had never seen it in person.  Another cool thing I saw at NRF was a booth (the name escapes me) that had all kinds of shopping bags displayed – it definitely made me stop and look!

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