Tough Economic Times Make for Strange Retail Partnerships
By Kathy Gersch, [email protected]
The stagnant economy, shifting consumer preferences, and a rapidly transforming marketplace have inspired drastic measures in retail leadership, creating some surprising partnerships that are transforming the face of retail in America. High-end fashion retailer Neiman Marcus and low-price retailer Target teamed up to develop a limited collection for the holiday season. Upscale department store Nordstrom plans to feature the mid-priced trend-of-the-moment styles of Topshop in a number of its stores this fall. And J.C. Penney stores, known for their exceptional conventionality will soon house miniature trendy Joe Fresh shops.
While their prospects for success have been met with cynicism, the brands involved should be applauded for their innovative spirit and their inclination to lead change in the industry, rather than allow themselves to be overtaken by it.
Now, however, the tough work of selling these strategies to the general public and winning support from potentially skeptical employees begins. I’ll leave the first challenge to the companies’ marketing teams, but for those leaders looking to convince their employees to embrace a new way forward, here are three tips they can use in the weeks and months ahead:
1. Clarify your vision. Collaborations and new approaches like these are bound to generate some internal skepticism. Take the case of Neiman Marcus and Target, two companies with different consumer bases, different values, and different histories. To convince employees that such a partnership holds promise, leaders must put forth a compelling, unified vision that places the company at the forefront of a new retail paradigm, where variety, distribution, and brand recognition are paramount.
2. Win buy-in for the new strategy. Big changes require broad support. Reams of data outlining industry trends and stacks of spreadsheets on consumer purchasing habits can only go so far in convincing employees that dramatic strategy shifts — like, say, selling a potential competitor’s products in your own store — make real business sense for the company and its future. But their buy-in is essential. To win it, leaders should communicate their vision, urgently and persistently, and play to employees’ hearts as well as their minds.
3. Get everyone involved. More than just support, real change requires action from across the organization. Store managers, salespeople, executives, and everyone in between all have a role to play in carrying out the new strategy. Once leaders have won their backing, they must create opportunities for those individuals on the front lines to drive change forward. Cross-functional teams can bring together a wealth of important perspectives. They can serve as “eyes and ears” on the ground, helping to keep the new strategy on track, warning of potential obstacles and nimbly charting new ways forward, and they allow employees at all levels of the organization to feel like they are helping to shape the company’s future. In due time, leaders may find their employees’ enthusiasm for the new strategy contagious.
There is no magic bullet to ensure that these partnerships will be successful, but the spirit and innovative drive behind them is certainly worth celebrating. Those that stand still in the face of change are sure to be left behind.
Kathy Gersch is an executive VP at Kotter International, a firm that helps leaders accelerate strategy implementation in their organizations. She can be reached at [email protected].
Regency uses crowdsourcing to lease Baltimore shopping center
Jacksonville, Fla. — Regency Centers said Friday it is asking Baltimore residents to suggest stores and restaurants they want to open at their local Parkville Shopping Center through an online crowdsourcing platform called Popularise.
The leasing recommendations will be considered as part of the grocery-anchored center’s renovation, which has begun construction.
Parkville Shopping Center is a 161,734-sq.-ft. neighborhood center anchored by Giant, which replaced and renovated a former Super Fresh. The center’s retail space is currently 93% leased.
Center signage and store flyers encourage shoppers to visit Popularise.com/parkville to suggest preferred retail uses and business names, as well as comment and vote on submissions made by others. Popularise was created in 2011 by Washington, D.C., commercial real estate investors Ben Miller and Dan Miller. The site aims to encourage local communities to bring their market knowledge, ideas and support to actively shape their neighborhoods. Currently, the site features 11 commercial real estate projects, primarily urban, in four U.S. cities.
“Crowdsourcing is a new term, but asking customers about their shopping preferences has always been integral to strong tenant merchandising,” said Jack deVilliers, leasing agent for center owner Regency Centers. “Social media and new technology, like Popularise, allows us to reach more people in a nontraditional way.”
The $1.7 million renovation of Parkville will include a new exterior façade and architectural elements, upgraded signage, improved landscaping and parking lot enhancements. The center design was created by Bignell Watkins Hasser Architects in Annapolis, Md.
The center’s businesses will remain open during the construction, which is scheduled for completion in November.
As part of Regency’s greengenuity program to reduce the environmental impact of developing and operating shopping centers, the project will incorporate basic sustainable elements such as recycling building materials, installing heat-reflective roof material and employing environmentally friendly LED lighting fixtures on the buildings, paint and coatings.
New salon to open at Village on the Green
Dallas — Cypress Equities said Friday that Iconic Salon Suites will open at Village on the Green in north Dallas.
Iconic Salon Suites will occupy a 6,800-sq.-ft. retail space beside Jos. A. Bank, and joins recent additions such as Allstate, Plush Nails & Spa and Chiro One Wellness Centers.
According to Cypress Equities, developer of the mixed-use project, the new service businesses complement an existing lineup of retail, restaurant and residential components including Maximo Cocina Mexicana and Margarita Lounge, Jos. A. Bank, Planet Fitness, Clive and Co. and more.