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Sherwin-Williams in $11.3 billion acquisition

BY Marianne Wilson

Two of the biggest names in the U.S. paint industry are combining forces.

The Sherwin-Williams Company has agreed to acquire rival paint company Valspar Corp. in an all-cash deal it valued at $11.3 billion.

"The combination expands our brand portfolio and customer relationships in North America, significantly strengthens our Global Finishes business, and extends our capabilities into new geographies and applications, including a scale platform to grow in the Asia-Pacific and EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa)," John Morikis, CEO, Sherwin-Williams, stated.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2017, subject to approval by Valspar shareholders, they added. The boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the deal.

Sherwin-Williams will remain headquartered in Cleveland. Valspar is based in Minneapolis.

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Sporting goods retailer in two big city openings

BY Marianne Wilson

Modell’s Sporting Goods continues to grow its brick-and-mortar footprint. The New York-based company has added two more stores to its portfolio, one in Boston and the other in Philadelphia. Both stores are in prime locations formerly occupied by City Sports. (City Sports filed for bankruptcy in October 2016, and subsequently announced it would close all locations.)

In Boston, Modell’s opened an 11,000-sq.-ft. store on Boylston Street, in the city’s Back Bay area. It’s the retailer’s first outpost in downtown Boston.

In Philadelphia, Modell’s opened on Walnut Street, near Rittenhouse Square.

Modell’s operates some 160 stores in 10 states.

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Being There: In-Store Apparel Retailers Put Advantages to Good Use

It’s been more than 15 years since they started ringing the death knell for brick-and-mortar retail. And although the Internet shopping base continues to grow, the in-store experience is here to stay. Even the doomsayers have quieted during recent years. There are simply too many things about in-store shopping that the online experience can’t offer.

The value of in-store is especially real in the apparel industry. There are several factors that make in-store better when it comes to shopping for clothes, but one of the most important is met expectations. Those Under Armour leggings might look amazing in the online photo, so what could go wrong? Well, try cut, color, waistband, fabric, length or fit.

It seems obvious that trying on clothes is the key to a good fit, but that doesn’t mean consumers won’t complain about their unmet expectations when buying online. In a recent CivicScience survey* about online apparel shopping, the top “pet peeve” associated with Web retail was receiving a product different from what was expected (size, color, quality, etc.). Thirty-seven percent of adults listed this disconnect as their biggest gripe.

Interestingly, those who dislike receiving a product that is different from their expectations are 32% more likely to say social media comments and recommendations have the most influence on their purchases. They are also 32% more likely to use their smartphone to research products they want to purchase. So they love to be online, but right now there is no effective online fitting room.

The second most cited pet peeve was paying for shipping – and women are the most likely to be bothered by these added online costs. Third of the peeves is “making returns,” and if you’ve ever had to pay to ship a product back to the retailer, then you know how connected this third pet peeve is to the second.

These complaints present a challenge to online retailers, for sure, but it’s important to note that they also represent an opportunity for the brick-and-mortar retailer.

Take the social media commenting angle, for example. What if in-store retailers were better at connecting social media dialog to the clothing on the rack? QR codes on the apparel in question could allow buyers to see what others are saying about the product. Such tech solutions would also allow the store to inform the buyer if the item is available in another color or size not seen on the rack, and whether it’s at this location, one nearby or for order online. Such an in-store-meets-online strategy could combine what some buyers appreciate about Internet retail with what we know they appreciate most about in-store shopping, thus enhancing the experience. Brands like Nike, Ralph Lauren and Target have successfully implemented QR code initiatives, but be warned that QRs must connect the consumer to valuable, updated information, not just brochure-ware.

The group most frustrated by missed expectations in the survey was also more likely to be in the Millennial age bracket, which means they use their phones and they listen closely to their social networks. They are more likely to favor the social media network Pinterest. In fact, they are 82% more likely to actively use the social platform. Brick-and-mortar retailers might consider a “Pin It” campaign to encourage consumers to keep the in-store experience top-of-mind among social networkers.

The research also found that the “missed-expectations” set is 21% more likely than the other respondents to tell others about new brands, so they are willing to spread the word about products that make them happy. What about a “selfie corner” in-store, with the perfect backdrop for taking a shot of the new outfit to send around to friends? It’s being done.

And as always, customization is a welcome tactic with customers. Instead of offering a generalized birthday discount during the month of the consumer’s birthday, for example, retailers can create a party atmosphere, scheduling specific times that the consumer can visit and receive not just discounts, but warm birthday wishes from a store associate, and perhaps a cupcake and glass of champagne to boot. A colleague of mine recently spent wildly at Anthropologie in response to just such a campaign, while the countless other offers she’d received for birthday savings went unused.

Online retailers will be working hard to solve the shipping and returns hassles that peeve out many of their customers, and so brick-and-mortar needs to accentuate its supreme positive: the power of place.


John Dick is the Founder and CEO of CivicScience, based in Pittsburgh. Through its proprietary polling technology, CivicScience translates real-time, consumer intentions into fast, forward-looking business intelligence.

* Between 1/18/2016 and 1/29/2016 CivicScience polled over 4,400 U.S. adult consumers on what they dislike most about shopping for apparel online. Consumers who responded “I don’t do any apparel shopping online” were eliminated from the analysis. Nine percent of respondents reported that they “don’t dislike anything.”

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