Clicks to Bricks: Five Cool Concepts
In a role reversal of sorts, pure online retailers are venturing offline and into the world of brick-and-mortar retail. Here’s a look at five that are generating lots of buzz:
Online subscription fashion retailer JustFab’s first retail store, in Glendale Galleria, Glendale, Calif., was designed to mirror the brand’s online shopping experience. Customers shop curated product displays, with trend story videos and in-store “stylists” offering fashion advice. They can also register for exclusive VIP member pricing. Using the app’s floor activity toolsets, JustFab associates are able to check inventory instantly.
2. Proper Cloth
Custom-made shirts — and fine Scotches — are the bill of fare in online shirtmaker Proper Cloth’s first brick-and-mortar outing. The store is located in New York City’s Soho neighborhood, in a walk-up, residentially-styled loft space. (Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are ok.) Customers can peruse the fabrics, be measured or fine tune the fit of a Proper Cloth shirt already ordered. They can also get style or fit advice, and place online orders.
Online menswear retailer Bonobos has entered the physical arena with Bonobos Guide Shop, a handsome and comfortably-furnished showroom where customers can try on the brand’s shirts, pants and other products, get one-on-one expert fit advice and place an order (with delivery to their home). To date, the company has opened eight locations, from San Francisco to New York City.
4. Warby Parker
After opening small, try-on-only showrooms, the popular online eyeglass retailer, known for its affordable prices and cool retro frames, opened its first retail store in spring 2013, in New York City. It has since expanded to five additional locations, including Boston and Los Angeles. Glasses are on open display for try-on, and an in-house optometrist is on-hand for $50 eye exams. Non-prescription glasses are sold for take-away, and customers can choose to receive prescription products by mail or to pick them up at the store. There are also lots of non-optical shop extras, including a photo booth.
Launched in 2011 by Fossil founder Tom Kartsotis, this Detroit-based watchmaker also manufacturers bicycles and some paper products. After selling its products online, the company opened a flagship in Detroit this past summer, which was quickly followed by a location in Manhattan. (Shinola’s distribution will also include specialty fashion and jewelry retailers.). Along with Shinola-branded goods, the stores offer special collaborations and selected merchandise from like-minded (meaning a commitment to American-made goods) brands.
HoneyBaked Ham Leverages HP Technology to Keep Pace With Transactions
When it found the performance of a legacy data-processing system lagging too far behind the pace of its business, Alpharetta, Georgia-based The Original HoneyBaked Ham Co. of Georgia, Inc. decided to investigate more current options. Difficulties keeping up with the flow of transactional data from its 115 corporate stores and 200 franchise locations during the 2011 holiday season marked the turning point for the retailer.
“We had been slowing down in performance for the past two years,” recalled Kevin Madsen, director of IT infrastructure for HoneyBaked Ham of Georgia. “During the 2011 holiday season, we tried to do near-real-time transactional data processing all the way up to storage. We couldn’t keep up with the holiday load. Stores would fall behind the data at nine or 10 in the morning and stay behind till three or four the next morning.”
In early 2012, HoneyBaked Ham began speaking with some major data processing technology providers. After narrowing the selection to two finalists, the retailer selected HP 3PAR Dynamic Optimization Software and HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage solutions at the beginning of the second quarter.
“We selected HP due to price and because they handle data clusters in hardware,” said Madsen. “Hardware is always faster than software.”
Speed also applied to HoneyBaked Ham’s implementation of the HP technology, which Madsen estimated took about four hours.
“I had a good handle on everything I needed to do,” he said. “I was fully using it after about six weeks, but that was because of me. It could have been a heck of a lot quicker.”
To reduce ongoing investment costs, the retailer implemented HP 3PAR Thin Provisioning software, which improves storage efficiency and asset utilization. Now HoneyBaked saves approximately 50% in storage capacity, which minimizes future hardware investments as the company scales its data storage infrastructure. This hardware reduction also lowers data center power and cooling costs.
HoneyBaked Ham also deployed multilayer HP 7500 Switch Series, HP ProLiant DL360 Servers, HP Deployment Services and HP 24/7 support. The retailer purchased HP Converged Infrastructure solutions through HP channel partner VeriStor.
Madsen said the big test of the new HP data processing environment came during last year’s holiday season, when there were no performance complaints from any stores and HoneyBaked Ham obtained a view of transactional data that only ran about 30 seconds behind real time. He listed several other important benefits the retailer has gained from the technology, which also supports its VMWare hosts and email system.
Making the Right Call
“We now have one pool of stores to manage so we don’t have to worry anymore about juggling processes during peak load times to determine which are more or less important,” said Madsen. “The data enables our retail management team to make better decisions in the middle of the day for things like labor productivity and scheduling.”
In addition, Madsen said the HP data processing technology also assists HoneyBaked Ham with processes such as managing inventory and long-term customer demand forecasting. The retailer is clearly confident based on last year’s successful holiday season.
“We’re doing a lot of planning and ordering for the holidays,” stated Madsen.
Kraft strategy exec to head Oscar Mayer business
Kraft Foods Group has promoted Sam Rovit, current EVP of strategy, to EVP and president of the company’s Oscar Mayer business unit. Rovit succeeds Nick Meriggioli, who will be leaving the organization in early 2014.
As Kraft’s head of strategy, Rovit architected the separation of the former Kraft Foods Inc. into two standalone, public companies — Kraft Foods Group and Mondelez International. After the launch of the new Kraft in Oct. 2012, Rovit added the Planters nuts business to a portfolio of responsibilities that included strategy, corporate development, information systems and business process excellence. Under his leadership, Planters transformed its business model, which led to brand share growth for the first time in nearly two years, according to the company.
"Sam is an accomplished strategist with CEO experience in the meat industry," said CEO Tony Vernon. "He is a transformational thinker who has a unique ability to look at every aspect of the business, ask the hard questions and bring something new to the table. Sam is a great choice to lead Oscar Mayer into the future."
Rovit joined Kraft in 2011 from Bain & Company, where he was a senior partner. During his 20-year tenure at Bain, he led several of the firm’s practice areas, including global mergers and acquisitions, corporate renewal and turnarounds and agribusiness. He also served for two years as president and CEO Officer of Swift & Co., one of the world’s largest processors of beef and pork products.
Meriggioli joined the company in 1987 and spent the past seven years in Madison, Wis., as EVP and president of Oscar Mayer.
"Nick is a leader and mentor at Oscar Mayer, at Kraft and in the meat industry. Most recently, he championed innovation with the launch of Oscar Mayer Selects and led the rejuvenation of the Lunchables franchise," said Vernon. "Right now, Nick and his family have such strong ties to the Madison community that other opportunities at Kraft were not a possibility for him. We thank Nick for his many contributions to the company."
Rovit will continue to oversee the strategy function while the company conducts a search for a replacement.