Opens Its First Physical Store!

We have witnessed Amazon transform retail as we once knew it when it began selling books through its e-commerce model in 1994. Therefore, it may seem a natural fit for this giant to open its first physical store in a venue that predominately sells books: the Campus Bookstore – a concept similar to what we have increasingly seen this year as pure plays move into brick and mortar (check out our recent blog Why is Google Opening a Store Now? Google’s First Store in London, U.K. for a complete analysis).

The Amazon@Purdue Concept

What? A store with no inventory? That’s just part of this store’s value proposition. Let’s remember, the student of today has grown up digital and e-commerce is a given to meet their shopping needs.

When students visit the Amazon@Purdue store, they will not find the endless rows of textbooks. Rather, they are able to order their books using kiosks with the support of on-site staff, with the promise of one-day shipping. The store is also a convenient pick up site with the ease of the Amazon locker system. When the product arrives, a notification email or text with a barcode is sent to the student. They simply visit the store, scan the barcode and pick up the order at one of the self-service lockers or go to the pickup desk where a store staff member can provide assistance.


Photo courtesy of Purdue University

With no need for inventory and streamlined operations, the store footprint is dramatically reduced from the typical 10,000 sq. ft. campus model. This is an added bonus for campuses short on physical space. has slowly been gaining market share in the campus bookstore arena as a source for textbooks and other resource material. Similarly, Amazon’s affiliate program has become a major source of revenue for many College stores. This program has also proven to be a logical partner, extending’s vast product offering of convenience and other products not typically available on campus.

The Affiliate Program

An affiliate program is an arrangement in which an online merchant site, such as, pays affiliate websites a commission to send them traffic. Amazon Associates was one of the first online affiliate programs. The Amazon program helps website owners (such as campus stores) make money by featuring thousands of products from not carried in the store’s physical location. When website owners (who are Associates) create links and their web customers click through those links and buy products from, they earn referral fees of up to 10%.

The affiliate helps make the sale, but does everything else – take the order, collect the money and ship to the customer. This is a great proposition for campus stores, as they don’t have to have the inventory or staff to realize added revenue while providing customers with thousands of products.

“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”

Campus store operators are recognizing that customers were choosing Amazon to fill their needs where the campus store fell short. Rather than try to compete, or worse, back away from the business, together with the affiliate program the experience seems to be fulfilling the needs of all stakeholders.

Written by: Lisa Hutcheson, Senior Advisor, Non-traditional and Campus Retail at J.C. Williams Group

How Affiliate Programs Work, Tom Harris,
Photo: Purdue University

Candy is Dandy!


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I just love the competitive retail marketplace! It works on all levels.

On one hand you have the big-boys clobbering each other with ever-lower prices. The rational price-value they offer to consumers is a marvel of our 21st century economics. Most products in Costco, Amazon, Walmart and the super markets are amazing value. (How can jeans be $20 or a box of blueberries in winter be $1.99?)

And coming still is another wave of even sharper prices like Uniqlo and Primark (jeans at $10–15 and cashmere sweaters at $60―woo ha!) plus food deep discounters Aldi and Lidl. But more on these in a couple of weeks.

On the other end of this scale, for example, is the truly “awesome” array of chocolate shops in the Belgium cities of Brussels, Bruges, and Ghent. Here the literally mind-boggling “assortments battle” is on a totally different battlefield―creativity. The following photos show packaging taken to a new level. The store, fixtures, products, packaging/boxes/wrap, décor, posters, and information are in creative harmony. Each store brand has a unique niche―from super-cool to folksy, from overwhelming assortments to highly edited product ranges, from technical to hand crafted, from international brands to mom & pop shops. Many of these are exquisite! When achieved, “exquisite” is an unbeatable strategic position.

What you find here is a devotion to quality products and emotional marketing through creativity. There is not a “sale” sign around!

Why not think about this strategic direction?

The “packages” start with the facades and windows

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Windows are used as “shopper-stoppers”

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Packaging is exquisite

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Visual presentation is dramatic!

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Total impact delivers a “WOW!”

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Signage and visuals are sophisticated

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Written by: John Williams, Senior Partner, Strategy and New Concepts at J.C. Williams Group

Can Chip Wilson’s Family Create Another Retail Phenomenon?


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When Chip Wilson, the billionaire founder of Lululemon left the company, there was much speculation about what he would do. The answer to that appears to be – get back into retail. The retailer in question – Kit and Ace. While Chip Wilson’s name is nowhere to be found on the Kit and Ace website, his family, namely his wife and son, liberally use their Lululemon connection to give the company credibility.

Since it was announced that the Wilsons were opening a retail chain last year, we have been curious to see what that business would look like.  Knowing how difficult it is to find a truly unique and compelling retail strategy, our question was – could this be the next big thing? Having recently shopped at their Toronto store and spent time on their website, our answer is – not yet.

This is a new fabric in search of a store concept. The heart of the business is based on a new fabric designed by Shannon Wilson, who was a fabric designer for lululemon. The fabric is called “Technical Cashmere” — a blend of cashmere, viscose and elastane for stretch. The website makes much of the fabric and the quality of the clothing construction. The problem here is that it is very difficult to create an interesting store concept with a single fabric.

The store and website pitch the idea that everyone loves the comfort of athletic clothing and often use it for street wear. This is true. Lululemon product appears as often on the street as it does at yoga class. The challenge with technical cashmere is that it does not look unique. It has the look of high quality cotton. Therefore, the store comes across as a t-shirt store in a very muted colour palette.

Another big question is the price.  Will the average 20–30 something customer pay $75 for a t-shirt? While Lululemon proved that you can sell a yoga pant at a price that was not considered achievable, this was a product that really enhanced the wearer. The Kit and Ace product does not seem to have that same enhancing quality.

The store experience itself is also not very compelling.  It is simple, clean and bright but it really does not convey the technical cashmere story. The other big miss is the community connection. Lululemon made it a hallmark of its business to engage with its local communities. Kit and Ace talk about this on its website as the Wall, where local community artisans sell their hand made product. However, this translates in the Toronto store as a framed photograph that is for sale and a lighting fixture that was made by a local artisan.

So the opening question was – is Kit and Ace the next big thing in retail? As of right now the answer is no. However, having seen Lululemon transform from a very idealistic fringe business to a real selling machine, I do not want to give up on Kit and Ace. With pedigree of the founders and their financial resources, I am hoping that they will keep the technical cashmere but work on being compelling.

Written by: Maureen Atkinson, Senior Partner at J.C. Williams Group

Technology Meets Retail at DX3!


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During the recent DX3 tradeshow and conference, held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, March 11–12, J.C. Williams Group encountered a number of exciting product demonstrations and displays on the latest technologies that will be rocking the retail world.

Here are a few of the most notable booths we encountered at the tradeshow.

Holographic Displays

The Virtual Messenger

The Virtual Messenger provides companies with the ability to incorporate interactive visual presentations in their marketing and sales efforts. Products includes 3D holographic avatars, live windows (i.e., interactive holograms on glass or rear window of car), and virtual kiosks.


WATCH THIS VIDEO to see Virtual Messenger’s holographic avatar in action.

Virtual Messenger provides retailers and brands with an interesting and entertaining way to interact with, attract, and engage consumers, advertise products, and display or present information.

Use Virtual Messenger to:

  • Introduce a new product to customers in-store
  • Greet guests at an exclusive event
  • Grab attention while highlighting specials at a restaurant

Holographic Technologies

Holographic Technologies provides customized holographic display solutions.


The 3D holographic image is shown above centered in a prism-like display case. The 3D image rotates and can be viewed from any angle when navigating around the display. An interactive touchscreen pad allows the user to manipulate the holographic display (i.e., view different products or actions).

While the interactive touchscreen is an optional function, it does provide a fun and entertaining way for retailers to educate and entice consumers on product assortments and brand extensions while in the store.

It also reduces the need for products to be shipped out in physical format in order to showcase it. With the touch of an email you could send the necessary files to your counterparts to showcase your brand!



Augmented Reality

According to Icreon Tech and Deloitte among others, Augmented Reality (AR) has been cited as one of the top technology trends to take off in 2015.


Blippar provides a complete line of services for retailers to launch their own immersive AR campaigns. Using the camera on a smartphone, tablet, or wearable device to recognize images that are “blippable,” users are provided with a response that can range from “unlocking” videos, exclusive offers, interactive games, 3D experiences, product information, and more.


WATCH THIS VIDEO to see some of Blippar’s amazing mobile augmented reality campaigns.


Blippar displayed on product packaging for Pepsi

Regardless of the intended purpose of this technology, there is no denying that it offers new and creative ways for retailers to interact with consumers and enhance the overall customer experience. As this trend continues to grow, retailers should not only keep this on their radar, but also start thinking of creative ways to implement their own AR strategies.

Peek Augmented Reality

Peek provides retailers with the ability to “pop-up shop in consumer places and spaces.” (Peek)


Similar to the 2014 IKEA Catalog app, users can arrange, rotate, and remove objects in a photorealistic setting that takes into account the correct scale and lighting conditions.

WATCH THIS VIDEO to learn more about PEEK.


Demonstration of Peek app: A “marker” is placed on the floor, which then brings a realistic representation of the products to life on screen

Swivel by FaceCake’s Virtual Dressing Room and Beauty Bar

Virtual dressing rooms have been in the market for some time but have yet to gain full-blown adoption by retailers. However with advances in technology, the experience it provides continues to improve. Swivel by FaceCake’s virtual dressing room and Beauty Bar are the latest examples of this fun, useful, and innovative technology. It is more realistic than previous models and offers new features such as social sharing and built-in links for easy purchases.


Swivel virtual dressing room using Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect technology, featured at Microsoft’s booth


Beauty Bar – users can experiment with various types and combinations of cosmetics and accessories.

WATCH THIS VIDEO to learn more about Swivel by FaceCake’s virtual dressing room and digital beauty bar.

Will this technology replace physically trying on clothes or having a professional make-up artist apply cosmetics? No, but it provides another avenue for consumers to research products and brands.  It enables “trying on” certain merchandise like accessories (e.g., handbags, scarfs) and jewellery, as well as experimenting with different shades and combinations of cosmetics and providing assistance in finding the perfect outfit or “look.” The only downside to this technology is that at this time it cannot perfectly adjust to body shape and size, or mimic various application techniques of cosmetics.


3D Printing

In the past few years, we have seen the 3D printing revolution unfold. Though still in its early stages, as this technology continues to advance and new uses and benefits for this technology are realized, the impact of this technology could become yet another game-changer in retailing.


3DMakeable designs and develops custom 3D printed products and offers custom workshops where they teach attendees how to build, configure and calibrate their own 3D printer.


The Maker Space at DX3 – includes 3DMakeable


An example of a DIY 3D printer


3D-printed products

Is the idea of a 3D printer becoming a staple in every consumer household premature? Perhaps, but giving the rapid growth we saw in smartphone penetration or personal computers, it’s not crazy.

3D printers in general provide many benefits for entrepreneurs, R&D, product designers, manufacturers, etc., but on the consumer side, this technology introduces an alternative to current e-commerce practices – buy online, print at home. Now that’s instant gratification that even “same-day shipping” can’t compete with. With the assistance of a 3D printer, consumers would have the ability to buy the product design online directly from the retailer or supplier, and print instantaneously in the comfort of their own home. The application spans across many industries, such as hardware and toys.


In Summary

What do all of these technology tools have in common? They all work to enhance the customer experience, whether at home, online or in the store. With increasing competition and the rapid shifts in consumer behavior, technology plays a key role in differentiating brands and retailers. Brands that are out-of-sync with today’s retail technology or unaware of the massive changes coming rapidly down the road, risk being put out-of-business.


Why is Google Opening a Store Now? Google’s First Store in London, U.K.


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The digital world was abuzz Wednesday, on news of Google’s first physical store opening in London, England. The London store-in-store concept is located within Currys PC World, a U.K. electronics retailer owned by Dixons Carphone. The latter will be receiving all revenue from sales of the products.

What the Google store is not, is a typical store or store model for that matter. Touted more as a billboard, the partnership with Dixons provides an opportunity for Google to get customer face-time in real-time and in-person.

Google’s James Elias in a statement said:

“We’re incredibly excited to launch this space―the first of its kind anywhere in the world―in London with Currys PC World.

The pace of innovation of the devices we all use is incredible, yet the way we buy them has remained the same for years. With the Google shop, we want to offer people a place where they can play, experiment and learn about all of what Google has to offer; from an incredible range of devices to a totally-connected, seamless online life.

We think it’s a genuinely unique try-before-you-buy experience.”

Re-visioned Physical spaces are key to helping consumers as they research products

Omni-channel shopping is a key consumer behavior worldwide and Google has picked up on the fact that customers still want to try before they buy, touch-and-feel and certainly play!

With the fast pace of technology, many of the features and functions of new devices likely go unused by the majority of tech-owners, save the tech-savvy. Similar to the Apple Store, the Google store will “offer customers the chance to sample Google’s range of Android phones and tablets, Chromebook laptops and Chromecasts and learn about how they work together, from one device to the next, to make users’ lives as seamless as possible.”

The need for physical spaces for consumer research is an important idea and integral to the concept of omni-channel shopping and retailing. As retailers and shopping centers consider the re-visioned physical spaces of the future, we will see a greater demand for physical branded spaces. This should be a key consideration for shopping centers who are struggling to determine how they add-value to their tenants.

Branding through Flagship Locations

Some of the more theatrical features of the store that make it a real flagship for Google include an opportunity to check out:

  • An immersive surround screen installation called “Portal” where users can “fly” through any part of the planet through Google Earth;
  • A Doodle Wall where budding graffiti artists can use digital spray cans to paint their own take on Google’s iconic logo, which they can then share on social media; and
  • A Chromecast Pod where customers can enjoy Google Play Movies, YouTube and more, all cast through a Chromecast dongle that converts any TV into a smart TV.

Education of Products

Similar to Apple, the Google Store “hopes to host regular classes and events for the public. Classes will range from how to keep secure online …(to) simply learning how devices work.”

This is integral to customers understanding the value of the products they have purchased and getting optimal use.

Real-Life Example

Regardless of the category, education on products is an important aspect of selling high-end products.  My colleague and I attended a conference in Montreal last week and we had this experience firsthand when we checked out a few med-high-end apparel stores in a shopping center.  One store had a store associate who could tell us the fabric type, process, and even the difference between their products and the competitor.  His enthusiasm was contagious.  Five stores down, the competitor’s store associates, while extremely friendly, provided no added information on why their products were better.  Both my colleague and I are looking to buy a jacket from the first store.

This is where Apple has excelled.  Their store associates are educated on their products, understand the concerns and issues customers have and are part of an education process.  How many times have you heard a friend say “my birthday gift from my spouse will be the new iPhone.” Google must tap into that further in order to hold and expand its Android-based products against a slew of competitors coming out of Asia and North America.

The new Google store is a step in the right direction.  While most news will say Google is too late, we think it’s better late than never.  Consumer behavior shows the need for re-visioned physical spaces to help customers research and buy in tandem with online stores is important.  It’s the way of the future and those who don’t catch up will be closing shop.

Written by: Suthamie Poologasingham, Sr. Advisor of Digital & Omni-Channel, and Director of Research at J.C. Williams Group

Google Shop, UK:


An overview of the space

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Curved video wall (showing Google Earth), controlled by an interactive pad


Digital Graffiti wall

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Product sales area


Sources: Google Press Release, Wall Street Journal; Photos: McMillanDoolittle

Whole Foods Market — A Healthy Foodie’s Paradise…


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Whole Foods Mississauga exterior

There has been a lot of discussion about Whole Foods Market recently. This Texas-based food retailer has made headlines with strong sales growth and sweet margins, plentiful store expansions, price cuts, and much more. They certainly have made a name for themselves in a tough economic climate when other retailers are packing up and leaving town in a hurry. Even with the “whole paycheck” reputation, out there on main street, they are winning. Therefore, with all this commotion, I thought I would pay them a visit at their Mississauga Square One location (just outside Toronto).

Overall, Whole Foods is a paradise for the healthy “foodie.” There is no other way to describe them. Now don’t get me wrong, you pay a premium for what you get but wow is it ever fun! Now hold on, before I go further I must declare that I have joined the millions of North Americans who have started eating healthy recently and my affection for them may be a little biased. Here is my assessment. Take it with a grain of salt substitute!

  1. Indie Grocery shop feel – when you walk through the store you feel like you are in a local independent grocer. For Toronto-dwellers, think Bruno’s. Speckled floor tiles; folksy feel; Lots of earthy colors and fixtures make you feel like you drove outside the city and stumbled upon a great hidden farmers market.
  2. Huge differentiated assortment – they sell food, but they also sell a healthy lifestyle and do a great job assorting that way. In the produce section they have an organic tent that talks to great tasting products that just happen to be great for you. Seafood is “conscientiously caught.” Beef is from “Rain Crow Ranch.” Bread is “naturally kneaded.” Coffee is “sustainably sourced.” There is a “gluten-free” zone as well. Never before have I seen an end cap with a Key Value Item (KVI) of organic Kale Chips.Whole Foods Mississauga organic tent
  3. Wonderful branding and signage – as per point 2 above, they sell a lifestyle. Their use of in-store signage is excellent. They educate the shopper at every major category station with buyer’s guides and use graphics to give you that country farm feel. It all comes together to reinforce your thinking that drives you to make that smart and healthy purchase that day. Core values and quality standards are clearly and proudly posted near the cash.Whole Foods Mississauga core values
  4. Community – a big part of Whole Foods Market is community. It reinforces their lifestyle branding and marketing. Shoppers can sit in a large, welcoming cafe at one of many “community tables” or review local community bulletin boards. You can come in and bottle your own water here. The store acts like a healthy foodie “safe house” where all is right and everyone around them has the same philosophy about eating. A homecoming if you will.
    Whole Foods Mississauga community table
  5. Merchandising for margin – it’s not just about feeling healthy and being part of a community. These folks are very smart about making money. Their financials show it too. When you enter the store on the right, you enter a large and profitable fresh produce section which leads to an inspirational meat and seafood offering at the back. Organic is everywhere and we all know organic equals high margin. The lower profit dry goods section in the center is memorable for lots of differentiated higher-profit items. The left side of the store consists of a profit-driving bakery and a lucrative fresh ready-made section that offers high margins yet again.Whole Foods Mississauga seafoodWhole Foods Mississauga bread

In summary, Whole Foods Market does it right! They have grown and harvested a high margin market segment and “serve up” what they want, how they want it, in a way that talks to their high-value customers effectively. They are a great example to look to for success within the retail industry.

Are you doing it as well as Whole Foods Market? Let’s discuss over a healthy salad!

Bruce Winder, Senior Advisor, J.C. Williams Group, 416-705-5627

Retail Inspiration from the East — A Visit to Central World, Bangkok


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Look up Thailand and Shopping on Google, and you get 119 million results to look through. Look up Thailand alone and you get 880 million results. Why does shopping in Thailand make up 14% of its hits? Historically known for its cheap finds and bargain deals, the capital city of Bangkok has come a long way, impressing tourists and locals with more than just deals.

We visited CentralWorld in Bangkok, one of the world’s largest malls at 550,000 square meters. Upscale and well-presented retail make this a local favorite as well as a tourist hotspot for buying the most coveted brands and experiencing some exciting retail browsing.

As a way of engaging with customers during the holidays, Wall’s provides free ice cream in exchange for customers posting a photo of themselves with Snoopy.



CentralWorld’s high-end department store, ZEN, is all about customer service.  From your regular gift vouchers to providing a bag drop for tourists to enable a comfortable shopping experience.


ZEN’s displays for the holidays are unique and inspiring, giving consumers ideas for shopping and displaying products in fun and fashionable ways to make shopping an enjoyable experience.



The children’s department shows you why it’s fun to be a kid! Instead of just the regular kid mannequins, ZEN features large toy mannequins as well.



Stepping outside of ZEN department store and walking around CentralMall you will find many creative kiosks.  They are made out of glass so you can see every nook and cranny of their creativity and great displays.  Whether you want to put in a pop-up store or a kiosk or are a local vendor, this is how you do it so you get customers coming back each and every time they want to shop.






Many shopping malls are finding ways to entertain their customers beyond shopping and CentralWorld is no exception.  The Rink provides daily activities for kids so parents are able to kick back with a coffee as they relax and watch.



For those who like to enjoy a view of their next dream car as they dine, the BMW Diner caters to auto enthusiasts!


CentralWorld is an example of the modern shopping centers that popping up all over Southeast Asia.  The creativity shown from retailing to dining to services gives shoppers an unparalleled high-end and inspiring experience to be enjoyed.

Will Nordstrom Have the Same Problems as Target?


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On the surface, Nordstrom’s and Target’s entries into Canada have a lot of similarities.  They announced they were coming the same year.  They are both brands that are unique in the marketplace and relatively well known among Canadians.  This is the first foray outside of the U.S. for them.  Both stores relied heavily on their head office staff and were determined to deliver their culture in their new home.  This is where the similarities end.

Target opted for a “big bang” launch into Canada.  Nordstrom has chosen a very measured roll out of stores.

Target renovated a large number of existing stores within a short time.  Nordstrom only opened their first store two years after announcing their intention to enter Canada.


With Target’s announcement that they are pulling out of Canada, it appears that Nordstrom took the right approach.  To confirm whether this is true, we recently took a close look at the only Nordstrom store operating in Canada.  Located in Calgary, Canada’s oil capital, the store opened in September 2014.  There has been enough time since then for the operators to get any kinks worked out as well as to see whether they can sustain the excitement of their opening.  Here is what we found.

This is a store that shouts service.  From the front entrance to the friendly staff that seem to genuinely care that you are finding what you want.  Someone even said “Welcome to Nordstrom!”


Key service message at front door – Nordstrom

Nordstrom sign

The sign lists all the various services Nordstrom offers


Another service – a rest area to just sit and people watch

The store itself is well appointed and comfortable.  In fact, it looks better than a lot of American Nordstrom stores.

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The merchandise looks very fresh and although there was reduced merchandise (not surprising for January) the store was set to look great and give the Nordstrom shopper the option of high-end brands to more interesting little known brands.

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With a combination of great service, seasonally appropriate merchandise, and a great look, Nordstrom does not disappoint. They can even entice a jaded retail consultant to start looking for her size!

So will Nordstrom make it in Canada – if Canadians have anything to say about it, the answer is yes. The number of Nordstrom bags going out of the store on a Thursday morning in January proves that point. The only issue is, can they make money on these stores? While we see them getting the top line sales, whether they can make money with Canada’s higher cost structure, only time will tell.

Target…Totally Predictable!


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Target Retail Store

Target leaving Canada is no surprise. Their stores were a real flop right out of the gate. Since the chain first opened its doors in March 2013, there were all sorts of basic issues: supply chain and empty shelves, dropping a fashion flyer with no advertised items in the store, summer fashion posters still up in November, etc. Behind this was an organization that was siloed—with marketing, merchandising and operations clearly not communicating and totally out-of-sync.

What has always been an amazing situation is that this phenomenal U.S. chain couldn’t even get Retail 101 right in Canada: in the Target store closest to my neighbourhood, the front and forward merchandise areas were empty and the high-traffic fixtures around the escalators were devoted to dollar store items. Even more astounding was the situation when I went to purchase a pair of jeans on the second floor men’s wear department. I was told that there was “no fitting room and that I would have to go to the lower floor women’s wear department.” What? A men’s wear area without fitting rooms? OMG!

We all hoped for an up-beat, creative, contemporary offering. What we got was a mess.

Unfortunately, they won’t be missed—because they never ever really arrived.

Some key learnings from Target:

  • Get the basics right!
  • Don’t be arrogant!
  • Don’t switch your culture!
  • Be nimble—or else!
  • If you have great resources—use them!
  • Never underestimate a competitor!

2015 Retail Outlook…Time to Check Your Priorities!

Canadian retailers of all types will find an action packed year ahead of them. With an economic background consisting of many pluses and minuses, retailers need to be super-sensitive to “messages from consumers” and agile in their reactions. Here is what the advisors at J.C. Williams Group think retail management must look out for.

  • E-tail (with 82% of Canadians researching products online and 71% making a recent purchase – source: J.C. Williams Group Canadian E-tail Report) is now a formidable and growing force. Commodities like Electronics and Entertainment have penetration of over 30%—and even apparel has 18% of expenditures spent online! Any retailer not moving to cross-channel or omni-channel retail will be left behind.
  • Value retailers from Dollarama and Giant Tiger to Walmart and Costco in the price-driven sector, fast-fashion H&M and Zara (Index Group), and Best Buy/Future Shop will continue to steal market share. Consumers want clear choices. Retailers without a clear strategy will confuse shoppers and lose buying traffic.
  • On the opposite end of the scale, Canadians will have more alternatives at the top end. Not to be outdone, Harry Rosen and Holt Renfrew continue bold expansions and upgrades while new entries Nordstrom and Saks will offer new shopper experiences. The question for the industry is “Will all of this be over saturation within our small country?”
  • As Canada builds with urban density, shoppers will see many more stores in city cores – most in smaller formats like the recently announced IKEA “pick up store” of ±37,000 sq. ft. Driving this change is the high cost of retail real estate and the creation of the web-based “endless aisle” where expanded assortments are shown online rather than in-store.
  • What does seem clear is that the retail life cycle (innovation ⇒ rapid growth  ⇒ mass acceptance ⇒ maturity ⇒ decline) is getting shorter. Canadian retailers that are (a) caught in the middle either value-wise or fast-fashion wise, (b) not focused on a micro-segment, (c) not clearly and uniquely differentiated, and (d) not offering omni-channel shopping (with some minor exceptions) will face competitive headwinds.
  • Canada has many of the best retailers in the world! These creative, service-centred, agile, and entrepreneurial omni-channel businesses will prosper in our country of great opportunities.

Source: Senior Advisors at J.C. Williams Group Limited
Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, Washington


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