The View from the Glass House

Transparency challenges companies by making information about products and pricing, as well as corporate practices around labor, environment, healthcare and other issues, instantly available to potential customers. Empowered by YouTube and other new media, consumers have the power to reframe, even shatter, the reputations of products, services and companies. As transparency washes the windows of corporate headquarters, leaders of retail and consumer product companies will … [ Read more ]

Do Private Labels Always Benefit the Supply Chain?

Private label products, or store brands, can bolster a store’s market share and positively impact retail sales. But what effect do private label products have on the supply chain? Is introducing a store brand always a good idea, or can it have detrimental effects as well? Marc Sachon and Víctor Martínez de Albéniz propose a model that can help retailers determine whether introducing a private … [ Read more ]

The Multichannel Imperative

Multichannel retailing has become a market imperative. Consumers who shop in two or more channels are often much more profitable than single-channel shoppers—although they expect a seamless experience across stores, catalogs, Web sites, mobile sites, call centers, TV networks, and direct mail. It’s a daunting challenge, but retailers often overestimate its difficulty. Rather than focus only on big investments in technology integration, retailers should also … [ Read more ]

Getting Control of Your Inventory

To a CFO, inventory is often a line item on the balance sheet that measures inventory turns against the income statement (cost of goods sold). This COGS analysis provides an overall view of how much inventory is held across the company’s supply chain. What it doesn’t provide, however, are the reasons why the inventory is there in the first place or whether the return on … [ Read more ]

Designing a Two-Sided Platform: When to Increase Search Costs?

Why do some shopping malls, retail stores, popular magazines, and even Internet portals seem to purposefully make it hard for consumers to find what they want? HBS professor Andrei Hagiu and Bruno Jullien challenge the conventional wisdom that intermediaries create value by reducing search and transaction costs. Their paper sheds light on the economic motivations that in some contexts may lead intermediaries to make it … [ Read more ]

Out of Stock? It Might Be Your Employee Payroll – Not Your Supply Chain – That’s to Blame

Attention, shoppers: Did you find everything you were looking for? Retail customers who answer “yes” to this question might very well represent the Holy Grail to retail operators who want to increase their sales with only a modest increase in costs or, in some cases, increase sales by merely reallocating staff within a store at no extra cost. Impossible? Not according to a new study … [ Read more ]

Beware of Dissatisfied Consumers: They Like to Blab

When consumers have a bad shopping experience, they are likely to spread the word, not to the store manager or salesperson, but to friends, family and colleagues. Overall, if 100 people have a bad experience, a retailer stands to lose between 32 and 36 current or potential customers. These are some of the conclusions of The Retail Customer Dissatisfaction Study 2006, conducted by The Jay … [ Read more ]

Slow To Sync

Data-collaboration efforts among retailers and suppliers have been under way for years, but few companies have pulled it off. What’s the trouble?

The democratisation of luxury: the Boucicauts and the Bon Marché

After 150 years, the department store concept is still going strong thanks to a husband and wife team who pioneered the ‘retail experience’ – a philosophy of customer service, quality and fair pricing for all.

Loyalty: Don’t Give Away the Store

Loyalty programs are profitable – if used correctly. HBS Marketing professor Rajiv Lal discusses how grocery stores get it wrong. But you can get it right.

“Yours for Only $19.99”

Using Sale Cues to Influence Customer Purchasing

The e-tailer’s secret weapon

General retailers use their expertise in a few core categories to attract customers, but over the Web they must offer more. Enter the on-line category manager.

Who’s Minding the Store?

Overwhelmed by the complexities of today’s marketplace, retailers are essentially letting vendors run much of their business. Here’s the method to their madness.

Reinventing the Store: Implementing Strategic Change at the Ground Level

Overturning an existing power structure is generally the business of revolutionaries-not retailers. But a few industry leaders are turning the traditional hierarchy upside down. They are shifting power from the corporate headquarters down to the individual stores. In doing so, they are tapping into and leveraging the ideas, talents and energy of the most important competitive weapon they have in their arsenal-their store teams.

When … [ Read more ]

Shopping For Savings

Retailers and their suppliers could cut costs by $40 billion a year with better collaboration. Here’s why they aren’t counting their savings yet.

What Brings Them In and What Keeps Them Coming Back

Many businesses on the Internet spent wildly doing whatever it might take to attract customers to their sites. It soon became clear that the challenge was not simply to bring the customers in the door, but also to retain these customers for future purchases. The quest was on to discover what tactics had the most appeal to the Internet shopper. This study reveals survey data … [ Read more ]

Can E-tailers Find Fulfillment with Drop Shipping?

Consider this scenario: You establish a website and advertise products on it. When customers send in orders, you forward them to your wholesaler or distributor, who ships the orders directly to customers’ homes with your company’s label on them. You completely avoid the enormous costs and risks involved in inventory, warehousing, and fulfillment. Too good to be true? That depends, says a new paper by … [ Read more ]

Making Use of All That Data

Point of sale (or bar code) data offers information riches for margin-strapped retailers and their partners-if they can overcome the technology and business hurdles to using it effectively.

How ‘Atmospherics’ Can Differentiate Retail Outlets

How a consumer is influenced by atmospheric factors – music, colours, smells – is the subject of much conjecture. What follows is a guide on how to monitor these effects and how some factors can influence spending patterns.

Finding Sustainable Profits in E-Commerce

The author argues that to sustain a competitive advantage, Web retailers must align their strategies with the product characteristics and buying practices of customers in their market segment. He divides the dot-com retail market into four segments on the basis of the type of good sold and describes the strategies needed to succeed in each.