Where’s the loyalty?
Has anyone else noticed that more and more consumers seem to be “cross-shopping” than ever before? I’m talking about those people who shop both the high-end luxury retailers and the discount or even dollar stores. I recently read an article that indicated one-quarter of all Nordstrom shoppers also shop at the Dollar Store. And, I started to ask myself if this trend is here to stay.
Two decades ago, shoppers were relatively loyal to one or two high-end retailers and wouldn’t have even thought of shopping anywhere else. Today, though, for any number of reasons, many shoppers (like the ones mentioned above) are buying from a wider variety of retailers. What could be driving this change? I think there are a couple of things: First is the basic economic motivation. People of all income levels are more driven to look for deals when times are tough. So, I think the recession played a major role in starting the trend. But, something else has happened to keep it going. The availability of “fashion-forward” apparel at many/most discount locations has certainly increased. Target offers higher-end goods and specialty lines, Kohl’s has discounted brand-name items, and stores like Zara and H&M have the latest styles at an affordable price. Think about it: There’s a broader range of alternatives for shoppers who are more price-conscious than ever before. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there isn’t a market for Neiman’s and Saks (luxury brands still provide better service, selection and quality). What I am saying is that there’s been a shift in loyalty. People just aren’t as loyal as they once were because they don’t have to be. There are other, often more affordable, options they can turn to.
I also think that retail brands themselves have changed. A few years ago, Macy’s was seen as a high-end brand name known for the occasional good promotion. Now, they are more of a bargain hunter’s venue, with deep and consistent discounting that, in my mind, moves them into a different category altogether. People are also doing more opportunistic buying and looking for that great find at a lower price; less “targeted” shopping in exchange for more browsing. I think Nordstrom has figured out the appeal of this needle-in-a-haystack approach and realized that their Nordstrom shopper is also a Nordstrom Rack shopper, which is why we’re seeing an increase in Nordstrom Rack locations in recent years.
Ultimately, I think this is fundamentally good news for the retail real estate industry. This allows more leasing, programming and design flexibility, making it possible to mix brands in ways that wouldn’t have been possible (or accepted) before. It really opens up the tenant mix and allows for centers to be leased based on what your market is looking for instead of on arbitrary labels, formulas and restrictions. While developers and retailers have been debating this for years, I think we are starting to see more acceptance from the development community. Take Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine, Calif., for instance. They’ve had great success adding Target to their mix. In their case, Target is right next to Nordstrom—something we would never have seen five years ago. There are also more Costco units going into regional mall environments than ever before. Maybe it’s time for all centers to have their own retail DNA based on market characteristics and market voids. Perhaps it’s time we have “hybrid” centers where shoppers can go from Target to Tiffany’s to Kohl’s and Saks. Maybe this is the start of our industry’s next evolution.
What do you think? Is this a trend that will last? Do you think we’ll see more “hybrid” centers in the future? Please make a public comment below or feel free to e-mail me privately at [email protected].
Click here for past columns by Jeff Green.
Lowe’s builds on customer experience strategy with new executive roles
MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Lowe’s continues to implement its customer-focused strategy with the creation of new executive roles. The company has created a customer experience division that will be led by Gregory Bridgeford, chief customer officer, who is responsible for creating customer experiences that will best serve customers and differentiate Lowe’s from its competitors.
Reporting to Bridgeford are:
Robert Gfeller, customer experience design executive. Gfeller previously served as EVP merchandising. His new responsibilities include leading the design of compelling, differentiating experiences across the United States multi-channel business. Over the near term, Gfeller will continue to lead the merchandising function until his former position is filled.
Thomas Lamb, chief marketing officer. Lamb previously served as SVP marketing and advertising. His new responsibilities include all communications and marketing functions.
Joseph Mabry, digital interfaces executive. Mabry previously served as EVP logistics and distribution. He will be responsible for planning, developing and operating Lowe’s internet websites and other digital customer interfaces.
Lowe’s also created an operations division, lead by Rick Damron, COO, for delivering the customer experience.
Reporting to Damron are:
Dennis Knowles, U.S. stores executive. Knowles previously served as SVP specialty sales and store operations support. He will manage operations and in-store readiness of U.S. retail stores.
Brent Kirby, sales and service fulfillment executive. Kirby served most recently as SVP store operations – North division. Kirby is responsible for managing operations of U.S. outside sales and services, including contact centers, installation, repairs, and on-site sales.
Gary Wyatt, real estate executive. Wyatt will continue to oversee real estate, engineering & construction, and facilities and is responsible for designing, planning, constructing and maintaining retail and customer service spaces for the U.S. multi-channel business.
Lowe’s also made the following personnel changes:
Richard Maltsbarger has be named business development executive. He previously served as SVP strategy. Maltsbarger is responsible for strategic planning, business process management, research and Lowe’s innovation center.
Nelson Peace, now corporate administration executive, previously served as SVP corporate affairs. Peace is responsible for government affairs, corporate facilities, corporate security, aviation, and corporate events and travel.
William Robinson, now head of international operations and development, previously served as senior vice president of international operations and customer support services. Robinson is responsible for the company’s operations in Canada and Mexico as well as international development.
“With one of the deepest benches in retail, Lowe’s has a long history of developing great leaders,” said Robert Niblock, chairman, president and CEO. “These individuals’ leadership, hard work and expertise in their respective areas have been instrumental in the success of our company. Now it’s time to focus on creating and delivering seamless customer experiences.”
Former Target exec joins logistics company
SANTAFESPRINGS, Calif. — Weber Logistics, a third party logistics company in the Western United States, has named former Target human resources manager, Sheila Jordan, as its new VP human resources. Jordan will report to Weber’s CEO, Harry Drajpuch, and be responsible for all human resource-related activities, including hiring, training, associate development and administration, for employees across Weber’s 17 distribution centers and freight terminals.
According to Drajpuch, “Sheila’s charge will be straightforward: build and develop a team to deliver the industry’s best customer experience. She’s had great success doing this in retail, manufacturing and logistics operations, including significant experience hiring and developing distribution center staff. We will rely on her to maintain and enhance Weber’s culture of service excellence.”
Before joining Weber, Jordan was a director, executive recruiter and management consultant at Purcell International Group, a premiere executive search and recruitment firm. Prior to that, she enjoyed a progressive 18-year career with Target., where she last served as senior manager for human resources and development.
Jordan earned both a Master of Science degree in management and a Bachelor of Science degree in organizational management from Colorado Christian University.