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24 GGP malls celebrate Teen Vogue’s Back-to-School Saturday

BY Michael Fickes

Seeking to boost back-to-school sales, 24 GGP malls will host Teen Vogue’s Back-to-School Saturday™ on Aug. 10.

For the second year in a row, Teen Vogue magazine has declared a national shopping holiday for Back-To-School.

This year, 100 malls and numerous national retailers — H&M, Topshop and American Eagle, for instance —have decided to see what the marketing concept can do for them.

Retailers will offer back-to-school deals and discounts, and the malls will host events.

Participating GGP malls will offer live in-mall music performances, including popular musical acts such as Hayley Kiyoko, Thomas Fiss, 1GrilNation and Drew Seeley.

Willowbrook Mall in Houston will offer Back-to-School Fashion 101, freeze modeling, giveaways, gift with purchase, photo booth along with a DJ.

Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, Wash., will also have a live DJ, samples and giveaways. Macy’s will punctuate the day with a series of runway fashion shows at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Aeropostale will have a Denim Bar. The Body Shop, Inglot, Clinique & Benefit will offer free makeup sessions. Brow Arc will sketch out free henna tattoos. Icing, Claire’s & Francesca’s Collections will hand out fashion tips and trends.

Natick Mall in Natick, Mass., will spell out the latest trends in Fall Fashions. Retailers will offer plenty of deals. A Back-to-School Saturday Photo Booth will take your picture and put it on a cover of Teen Vogue.

Mall St. Matthews in Louisville, Ky., will offer fashion shows at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., a photo booth, a DJ and karaoke. Retailers will offer chances to win prizes along with deals on merchandise.

Not everyone likes going back to school, but GGP’s Teen Vogue Back-to-School Saturday aims to make getting ready to go back to school fun for customers and good for business.


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Kmart offers gas rewards program to Shop Your Way members

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Kmart is offering Shop Your Way members a chance to save at the pump while checking off their school supply and grocery shopping lists at select stores.

The retailer cited the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, which states that the average national price of a regular gallon of gas is $3.62, compared to the national average of $3.48 a year ago. And Kmart wants to make sure the recent spike in gas prices which has coincided with the back-to-school shopping season doesn’t negatively impact foot traffic to stores.

Shop Your Way members who purchase $50 or more of Procter & Gamble products at select Kmart stores between now and Aug. 3 will be eligible to save $1 per gallon of gas (certain gallon limits apply) at participating BP and Speedway gas stations.

Members can also save 30 cents per gallon on gas when they spend $50 or more with a coupon they receive at checkout, which can result in potential savings of $1.30 per gallon of gas at participating Speedway gas stations.

As further incentive to keep traffic coming into its stores, Kmart offers Shop Your Way members free layaway (no service fee), weekly exclusive members-only deals on school supplies and the chance to earn 5% in rewards points every day they use their Sears MasterCard at Kmart.

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You, Me and We Commerce: The Future of Retail IT?

BY CSA STAFF

By Tom Friedman, [email protected]

I was once a high-profile observer of the retail IT industry, when I was CEO of global research and trade show company Retail Systems Alert Group (RSAG). However, since selling RSAG to a private equity firm in 2004, I have kept a low profile in the industry.

Recently, my involvement with angel investing and startup mentoring has offered me a new perspective on the industry. I am now working with nascent startups worldwide entering the retail IT space.

From this vantage point, it appears that new systems and technology are enabling convergence of retailers, customers and brand manufacturers. I believe this will allow great leaps forward in merchandising, assortment, pricing, supply chain and product design.

First, let’s look at some of the IT-fueled retail innovations that are happening right now.

Perfecting old opportunities: ‘You commerce’
Today, a retailer speaks with customers to obtain information about which products the customer desires and then builds sales and assortment strategies around that conversation. I call this “You Commerce.” With developments in social media, these conversations are far more insightful and easier to act upon.

For example, I am mentoring a new Russian ecommerce company that allows women to create a 3-D avatar of their body dimensions and then try on fashion apparel virtually. Social networks add another layer to the process by allowing the shopper’s friends to sneak a look and offer advice. As a result, retailers could soon offer online service that assist customers with selecting better-fitted clothing options that are instantly vetted by the ever-so-important critiques from close friends.

Enabling new opportunities: ‘Me commerce’
In addition to perfecting old opportunities, IT innovation has begun to enable what many are calling “Me Commerce” (or retailing where the customer initiates the conversation and calls the shots). Under this scenario, the customer decides where a product will be available, what it will look like and even what it will cost.

A current example of “Me Commerce” is the Nike iD Studio concept store in New York and other major global cities. Through kiosks and online discussions with in-house shoe designers, customers build new “kicks” to match their color, style and functional preferences. Moreover, a few start-ups are investigating how a twist on the “reverse auction process” could enable customers to negotiate with retailers over markdown pricing.

Despite worries from retailers that this could erode margins, the insights gained from customer-assisted pricing practices could improve sell-through and provide true localized pricing.

The next step: Introducing product designers to customers
With the exception of Nike and a few other major brands with storefronts or websites, the product designer has a low profile or no role in the conversation with customers in the Me Commerce and You Commerce models. Typically, the retailer and the brand have a pre-season buying conversation based on a catalogue of already designed products. The retailer may buy based on sales histories for similar merchandise but it remains a guessing game season-to-season on which products will fly off retail shelves and racks. Brands may occasionally run consumer focus groups to reduce the risk, but designers and most customers have limited visibility or interaction, especially for toys, fashion and other short-cycle merchandise.

I am starting to see entrepreneurs experimenting with crowdfunding concepts (such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo) that enable independent designers to hear from potential customers about products and trends instantly. In addition, companies such as Lego have begun including existing customers in the corporate R&D process through Web-based product design challenges.

Working independently or in R&D at major brands, designers are embracing these new interactions to create relevancy earlier in the development process. I am grouping all these new activities under the broad category of “We Commerce.” This “demand-drive” environment could result in shortened development cycles, heightened sell-through, higher gross margins, fewer markdowns and happier customers, retailers and brands.

What it takes to get there
Despite my optimism expressed in this quick overview, I do not know exactly what the “We Commerce” retail business model will look like or how it will change the landscape. What I do know is that more and more bright, tech-savvy entrepreneurs around the world are acknowledging and tackling difficult retail problems. They are tinkering with new avatar systems, data analytics, cloud-based computing, social media and crowdsourcing. On the horizon, these technologies promise to change how retailers, brands and customers interact and to improve the overall shopping experience.

Tom Friedman was CEO and chairman of Retail Systems Alert Group from 1988 through 2004. He is now a Boston-based angel investor and mentor at MassChallenge Accelerator. He can be reached at [email protected].

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J.Cage says:
Jul-31-2013 10:39 am

Good article. Mobile and online shopping can drive retail sales better than any other media. Retailers need to constantly change strategy and evolve to current trends in the market and ensure they stay ahead of the curve. Came across this whitepaper on emerging trends in retail "Thinking about tomorrow: Post recession strategies for retailers" @ http://bit.ly/10XoIQa readers may find it useful.

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