What Can Today’s Retailers Learn from the Captain of the Titanic? Plenty.

Like the captain of the Titanic, leadership of failed and failing retailers has been publicly, and occasionally brutally, criticized. In some instances, this criticism is clearly deserved, in other cases not.

It may not be as bad as it seems.

Despite the painful passing and decline of retail industry stalwarts including Linens ‘n Things, RadioShack, The Bon-Ton Stores, Toys R Us, Sears and Kmart, retail chains including Macy’s, Kohl’s, Walmart, Target and other major retailers are showing financial improvement. Macy’s stock price is up 40+ percent year-to-date, Kohl’s is up 30+ percent, and Target is up 25+ percent. The rumors of the death of brick-and-mortar retail have been greatly exaggerated. And, Sears, Kmart and JC Penney are still open for business.

Recently, I participated in the Annual Retail Forum at Columbia Business School where a keynote speaker addressed a question from the audience: “

How would the speaker approach the precarious position of a challenged major retailer? What steps would you recommend?”

The response was,

“Shut it down…they don’t deserve to stay in business.”

This, “throw in the towel,” response brings to mind a key question we should ask ourselves. What would we do if we found ourselves as CEO of a retailer at risk of complete cataclysmic failure? One obvious metaphor is that of being captain of the Titanic. You may not remember, but the Titanic had a bonafide captain: his name was Edward John Smith.

Continue reading “What Can Today’s Retailers Learn from the Captain of the Titanic? Plenty.”

There’s a lot of unknown, out there…

“Last year, Randa created a division devoted to honing its digital offerings, optimize data collection for its direct-to-consumer operations, as well as to assist retail and brand partners.

Randa Digital Labs is responsible for, among other projects, online content for each of its products, provided to retailer partners free-of-charge, establishing a basic standard for content when an online retailer sells a Randa-made product.

“If someone is putting Levi’s belts as a third-party seller and taking horrible photography, RDL assures that adjacent pages are populated with wonderful storytelling and great photography,” David J. Katz, Randa CMO said.

If Randa’s recent bid for Perry Ellis is any indication, the company is aiming to write the rules itself and remain on the prowl for M&A targets that could further elevate its enterprise to beyond just manufacturing.

“There’s an awful lot of unknown out there,” Katz said. “What’s not healthy is trying to hold onto an old model.”

– Excerpt from Business of Fashion

Faded Department Store Brands Search For New Identity Online

“Brands and the licensees that make their clothes are rewriting the rules of retail as they work together to court the modern consumer and compete online.” BY CATHALEEN CHEN,  AUGUST, 2018

Where Will Tomorrow’s Retail Leaders Come From?

Look at Kohl’s.

  • Prior to joining Kohl’s, new CEO Michelle Gass, spent 17 years at Starbucks and began her career with Proctor & Gamble.

  • Kohl’s recently appointed president, Sona Chawla, spent 7 years at Walgreens as president of ecommerce.

  • Chief Merchanding Officer, Doug Howe joined the company from QVC.

  • And Chief Marketing Officer, Gregg Revelle, served at Best Buy, AutoNation & Expedia prior to joining Kohl’s. 

Really? What do they know about general merchandising?

A lot. Kohl’s shares are up an impressive 30% in 2018 – during a “retail apocalypse.”
Kohl’s has shops where customers can return their Amazon purchases, and buy Amazon Echo, Fire & Kindle devices. Crazy? Like a fox. It’s doubtful that Kohl’s is creating new Amazon customers, and the store is generating increased traffic & loyalty.
Want groceries with your comforter set? Aldi will open supermarkets inside Kohl’s doors as part of a new partnership. Strange bedfellows or clever collaboration? Credit Kohl’s with innovation and a focus on fundamental retail metrics – driving increased sales with less inventory – better turn, less dilution.
Well done.
And, the company is well positioned to gain market share from recently departed retailers Bon-Ton, Toys R Us and Babies R Us.

(c) David J. Katz, 2018

Annual Retail Forum: “Retail Radicals”

Very honored to speak at the “Annual Retail Forum” at Columbia Business School, Wednesday, August 1st.

Joining “Retail Radicals” including Mickey Drexler, Jill Granoff, Paul Charron, Richard Jaffe, Robin Lewis, Mark Bozek, Alex Brick , Mark A. Cohen, Anne Marie Stephen, and other leaders and luminaries for a one-day interactive summit on emerging brands and macro shifts shaping the future of the retail industry.

This program showcases retail radicalism from a multi-disciplinary perspective, identifying the skills, knowledge base, and best practices required to lead the retail industry into the future…

Date: Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Venue: Uris Hall, Room 301, Columbia University Campus
Time: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM