Retail Rundown

Gender Equality

REI has broken down barriers of social norms once again. First REI focused on their ‘Opt Outside’ campaign, closing stores on Black Friday, and encouraging people to hit the outdoors. Now REI is taking a stance on gender equality with their new campaign, “Force of Nature,” a commitment to making women the prime focus of the company’s nonprofit investments, gear development, and marketing for the rest of 2017.

According to research done by REI, 72% of women say they feel liberated or free when they are outdoors, but only 32% describe themselves as “outdoorsy.” One of the most cited reasons for this is the primarily male-dominated news, social media, and marketing around the outdoor industry.

REI Is Taking The Fight For Gender Equality Outside

Store Formats

Starbucks Corporate is making three big changes to their headquarters in Seattle, including the addition of the company’s first store that only takes mobile orders and payments.

Because of the success of the mobile order and pay platform, which has recently created a bottleneck at some locations, Starbucks has been thinking of new ways to meet the increased demand. This new store that only takes mobile orders and payments is an early experiment the company expects to learn from, Adams wrote in the letter. The new store will serve all of the mobile orders from employees in the building.

The store in the lobby, called SoDo Lobby, will close April 7 and reopen as the company’s first-ever Starbucks Reserve Store. While the lobby is under construction, the Support Center will have a Starbucks mobile truck outside the building, “so that there can be a gathering place for partners (employees) and customers, outside, during the much-anticipated warmer weather of Seattle’s Summer,” Adams wrote in the letter to employees.

Big Changes Coming to Starbucks Headquarter 

Retail Technology

Amazon announced the launch of Amazon Cash, a new service that allows consumers to add cash to their balance by showing a barcode at a participating retailer, then having the cash applied immediately to their online Amazon account. The service will support adding any amount between $15 and $500 in a single transaction, Amazon says.

Like PayPal, Amazon Cash is also meant to appeal to the same general demographic who may not yet be shopping online – those who get paid in cash, don’t have a bank account or debit card, and who don’t use credit cards. This “cash customer” (the unbanked or “underbanked) accounts for around 27 percent of consumers, said a 2015 report from the FDIC.

While they may have money to spend online at times, there isn’t an easy way to do so. Until today, they would have to but an Amazon Gift Card in a designated amount or add cash to prepaid payment cards, to be used at checkout. More broadly, the service could appeal to anyone who just wants to deposit some cash in their account, without hassle.

Amazon Launches Amazon Cash

More Retail Technology

Inventory management solutions provider Avery Dennison has announced a global partnership with Target focused on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology as part of the retailer’s ongoing deployment of RFID across more than 1,600 locations.

It’s interesting that throughout last year Target didn’t offer many specifics at all about how its effort to bring RFID into all of its locations was going. Then, just before 2016 ended, Target touted RFID and related technology investments as helping it improve its buy online, pick-up in-store program and contribute to its third quarter 2016 sales increase.

It would just be nice to know what’s really happening with Target’s RFID deployment. RFID is a technology that has major implications in both the supply chain and on the store floor in the years to come. It can help retailers be more accurate and efficient about managing inventory, can help them prevent loss from theft and ultimately can create more positive experiences and results for shoppers. Target could undeniably claim a leadership role in this movement if it talked a little more about what it is actually doing.

Target Taps Avery Dennison for Massive RFID Project

Retail Market

Lululemon shared its fourth quarter earnings, indicating slowed growth that concerned some investors and pointed to a possible shift in the athleisure market. In an investors call, Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin attributed the slowed growth to “an assortment lacking color,” referring to a product roster of plain and dull styles that failed to entice consumers. However, he noted that the company is still on pace to double sales to $4 billion by 2020.

It’s indicative of the increased competition within the expanding athleisure market. According to data from Edited, at the end of last year, the best-selling leggings were dominated by brands like Adidas by Stella McCartney and Zara, rather than Lululemon.

Gabrielle Porcaro, senior fashion and marketing editor at Women’s Health, said the evolution of the health and wellness space is leading women to try new things, which increasingly may mean brands other than Lululemon.

“As women have become more knowledgeable about the fitness market, and now that there are sites like Bandier and Carbon 38 to introduce them to brands at similar prices points, women could be trying out new things,” she said. “They also could be experimenting beyond basic black and trying brands that offer increasingly fashion-forward, flashy and risk-taking prints and colors.”

Michelle Watson, founder of upscale athleisure company Michi, said in order to bolster growth, Lululemon will need to focus on new offerings that still appeal to its brand identity and shopper demographic.

What Lululemon’s Market Shift Means for Athleisure

I am currently a senior majoring in Retailing and Consumer Sciences while minoring in e-commerce. I hold the position of Social Media Manager for the Terry J. Lundgren Center For Retailing at the University of Arizona, where I am responsible for creating social media platforms that not only enhance our brand but also educate the world about retail trends. I am what you call a Retail Enthusiast, I am intrigued by the way the retail industry is evolving and what it has to offer. In my free time, I enjoy the outdoors, yoga, good music, and good company.