Posts tagged with "Retail"

Forgot to pack a warm coat? Try the airport vending machine

November 15, 2018

If you are traveling by air, don’t worry about packing lightly. There’s almost no limit to what you can buy at the airport now, if you find you have forgotten an important item or need something unexpectedly.

Zara Harding had a nagging concern as she walked to her gate after an airport layover last June,” she told The Wall Street Journal for a November 14 story.  She had run out of time to buy a coat for the glacier hike in Washington’s Cascade Mountains she was heading to and was “worrying about being cold in the snow.”

But to her surprise and delight, she found her solution right there at Hollywood Burbank Airport. “Lo and behold,” she says, “a Uniqlo brand vending machine appeared in my path.”

Harding, 39, a group fitness instructor from Northern California, told the business news outlet that she paid $69.90 for an ultra-light down jacket made by the Japanese casual clothing retailer.

Indeed, according to the Journal, the retailer started rolling out vending machines in August 2017 at airports and shopping malls near New York, Houston, Oakland, and seven other U.S. cities—selling basic, travel-friendly attire to customers with no time to browse through the racks or wait on a line.

Although Uniqlo won’t comment on its sales, San Francisco International Airport officials told the New York-based newspaper that the machine there brings in a whopping $10,000 a month.

And according to the Journal, Uniqlo is in the forefront an exponentially expanding number of companies that are using vending machine to sell everything from apparel to makeup, to electronics and high-end foods at hubs nationwide.

The machines can be stationed in unused corners of an airport and make sales around the clock. Some new machines have touch screens and robotic suction arms to deliver expensive products.

“There’s only so many stores you can fit in an airport,” Elias Bizannes, CEO of San Francisco-based ZoomSystems said in an interview. The company operates machines for Uniqlo, as well as Best Buy, Benefit Cosmetics, Nespresso, and Proactiv.

Sarah Skwire, a senior fellow at a think tank in Indiana was on her way to Washington, D.C., when she got a text message that she needed her own makeup for a filming, the Journal reports. At Indianapolis International Airport, she found one of the pink, 59 bus-shaped Benefit machines that are parked at 37 U.S. and Canadian airports.

Before, she says, “I would make sarcastic remarks: Who’s going to blow $40 on Benefit while waiting for a plane, from a vending machine?”

This time, Skwire, 47, bought a travel makeup kit to get herself camera-ready. A few months later, she was back at a Benefit machine after a compact of pressed powder came apart in her bag during a security screening. “I went from a skeptic to a minor enthusiast.”

At some airports, vending machines offer local flavor. Ted Drewes, a St. Louis frozen-custard institution, has been selling $6 “concretes”—custard so thick you can turn it upside down without spilling—from machines at St. Louis Lambert International Airport since mid-2015. Travelers bought 15,000 concretes in the machines’ first year and sales climbed 25% the next year, according to Las Vegas-based AVendCo, which operates the four frozen-custard machines.

At Pittsburgh International Airport, a vending machine operated by Arcadia Publishing sells books on the history of local neighborhoods for about $20.

What’s next? Maybe food or other supplies for all of those companion animals that are catching flights with their owners?

Research contact: @alyrose

Half retail pop-up, half laboratory: Mall owner debuts BrandBox

November 14, 2018

One of the nation’s biggest mall operators has come up with a way to fill empty storefronts—and it’s offering emerging brands plenty of perks to move in and do business for six to 12 months.

Santa Monica, California-based Macerich is launching a concept known as BrandBox at Tysons Corner Center just outside Washington, D.C., CNBC reported on November 12.

Under the BrandBox concept—half retail pop-up, half laboratory—the mall will house six brands, including luxury apparel retailer Naadam (founded in 2010) and upscale makeup company Winky Lux (founded in 2015).

Each brand will pay rent for its own mini store inside an 11,000-square-foot space, with new retailers funneling in and out each year, CNBC said.

For its part, Macerich will provide fixtures like shelving, data on foot traffic, radio-frequency identification tagging for inventory, marketing and even help finding staffing.

The rollout of BrandBox comes as more than 140 million square feet of retail space has been shuttered nationwide in malls and shopping centers already this year, according to real estate research group CoStar. Closures by Sears and Toys R Us are leaving a blank canvas at many malls for new uses like these so-called pint-sized and modern-day department stores.

Macerich plans to take BrandBox to its malls in Santa Monica, California; Philadelphia; and Scottsdale, Arizona, CNBC reported. In fact, the idea eventually is envisioned for all of its U.S. malls in some way. The company is considering adding multiple BrandBox locations inside some shopping centers, where there’s more demand for smaller retailers over department stores.

“I think what we’re learning as an industry is that we need to have modular space that can be reconfigured, “Macerich Chief Digital Officer Kevin McKenzie told CNBC. The physical walls within each BrandBox will be movable, he said. Sometimes two companies might fill the space; sometimes, seven.New York-based fashion house DKNY, an already established brand, also will be inside BrandBox at Tysons Corner Center at launch to test a new concept. McKenzie said the space can be a way for even traditional retailers to try out a new market before investing in establishing a permanent presence there.

Brands are appreciative of the real estate and the perks. “We view BrandBox as a safe environment to test our brand in a mall environment,” Matt Scanlan, CEO of Naadam, told CNBC. The technology Macerich is offering is a “major perk,” he said. “They have set us up with retail technologies and subscription software that are normally inefficient to install for a pop-up but can be transformative in terms of learnings.”

Macerich is the first major mall operator to announce plans to roll out a concept like this at a large scale, and one that’s been incubated from within the company. Rival Simon has been testing a rotating pop-up exhibit called “The Edit” at Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City, New York, but has yet to open other locations.

Research contact: @laurenthomasx3

How China’s ‘Singles’ Day’ became biggest shopping event ever

November 5, 2018

Singles’ Day, celebrated on November 11, is now the world’s biggest online shopping event—so much so that a countdown clock on the website shows the days, hours, minutes and seconds until shoppers in China and worldwide can claim their discounts (some of them, up to 95%) from a variety of retailers.

In less than a decade since Singles Day was first celebrated in China in 2009, Alibaba Group Holding has turned a quirky celebration for unmarried young adults into a global extravaganza drawing in thousands of retailers and hundreds of millions of shoppers of all ages—hitched or otherwise, according to a November 1 report by Bloomberg.

Just how big is this shoppers’ holiday? More than twice as much merchandise is sold over the 24-hour period as during the entire five-day U.S. holiday-buying spree that begins on Thanksgiving, runs through Black Friday and ends on Cyber Monday. Every year has exceeded the one before, with last year’s sales climbing 39% to 168.2 billion yuan ($24.2 billion). That’s on par with the gross domestic product of some smaller European nations. Most of the buying was via Taobao and Tmall, Alibaba’s main shopping sites.

This year, the shopping experience has spread to other e-commerce operators and will include more brick-and-mortar stores than ever before, the organizers claim. But Bloomberg says there is one, big unknown: To what extent, if any, the brewing U.S.-China trade war will cut into Singles’ Day sales.

It remains to be seen whether a depressed Chinese stock market and higher import tariffs resulting from U.S.-China trade tensions will curb consumers’ enthusiasm. On the other hand, Alibaba has significantly boosted the brick-and-mortar element of Singles’ Day by accelerating its investments in malls, convenience stores and food delivery services — part of what it calls its “new retail” initiative.

Essentially, Bloomberg reports, any transaction made via payment service Alipay will count. The initiative involves equipping traditional retailers with new technology to manage inventory and to serve as distribution centers for online shoppers, as well as connecting mom-and-pop stores to its platform. There are also 200,000 so-called smart stores that seek to combine the online and offline retail experience

While the Chinese mainland continues to dominate sales, according to the Bloomberg report, Alibaba continues to make it more global. That means getting foreign brands involved in selling to the Chinese. It’s also working to promote its English-language websites.

Research contact: @luluyilun

Flaming out: Burberry ends practice of destroying unsold products

September 7, 2018

Do you have money—or costly clothes—to burn? Until this week, the British luxury fashion house Burberry did exactly that with garments that did not sell out in-season, so that their posh clients would not see the “hoi polloi” wearing the same raincoat or outfit at half price.

In fact, according to the BBC, in 2017, Burberry burned about US$37 million worth of unsold goods.

However, the label took a lot of heat for from environmentalists for its conspicuous and lavish destruction of unsold inventory—and now management has opted to operate in a way that’s more politically correct.

In a September 6 press release, Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti said, “Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible. This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success. We are committed to applying the same creativity to all parts of Burberry as we do to our products.” The policy change will come into “immediate effect.”

What’s more, the company said, in another bow to environmentalists, their stores would stop selling “real fur,” promising that, “There will be no real fur in Riccardo Tisci’s debut collection for Burberry later this month, and we will phase out existing real fur products.

These commitments, the venerable fashion house said, build on “the goals that we set last year as part of our five-year responsibility agenda.”

Indeed, Burberry noted, to “tackle the causes of waste,” the group already is set to “reuse, repair, donate, or recycle unsaleable products and we will continue to expand these efforts.”

In doing so, the company stated outlined, “Our responsibility goals cover the entire footprint of our operations and extend to the communities around us. “

In May, Burberry said, it became a core partner of the Make Fashion Circular Initiative convened by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. In doing so, the brand has created a partnership with sustainable luxury company Elvis & Kresse, through which it will transform 120 tons of leather offcuts into new products over the next five years.

In addition, the Burberry Foundation in establishing the Burberry Material Futures Research Group with the Royal College of Art to invent new sustainable materials.

“We continue to invest in communities, from supporting young people in disadvantaged areas of London and Yorkshire, to developing a more inclusive and sustainable cashmere industry in Afghanistan,” the fashion line stated. “These efforts have been recognized by Burberry’s inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the third consecutive year.”

Research contact: corporate.responsibility@burberry.com