This Week In Retail Marketing Innovation - September 2, 2019

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Perch CEO explains to alma mater Princeton how brick-and-mortar innovation is on the rise


Perch CEO Trevor Sumner sat down for an interview with the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council to show them how retail isn’t dead, and the technological strides Perch has made to bring customers back in stores.

When asked about Perch’s impact on the retail industry, Sumner responds, “I think we're starting to change the conversation, we're starting to change the ideas. But we've only scratched the surface of a giant motion, because retail’s $4 trillion market is actually changing the way people shop, the expectations that they have, what retailers and brands work together to collaborate to create these experiences. It's just the beginning.”

Read the full interview here:

Digital brands are getting creative with alternatives to opening brick-and-mortar locations

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Online retail competition becomes more fierce every day. Because the market is saturated, some digital natives have no choice but to take the leap to brick-and-mortar.

Companies that make the shift from exclusively digital to physical retail use their space has a “physical webpage for their business” that gives the brand an opportunity to reach new sets of customers in various markets, according to RetailDive

For furniture retailers specifically, online purchases are infrequent, and competitors are at every turn. That’s why the expansion to physical spaces seems like the next logical step, with proven success by Warby Parker, which now has more than 100 locations across North America. Wayfair also opened their first brick-and-mortar location following a successful pop-up series over the summer.

However, permanent locations and pop-ups can be extremely costly, and aren’t always feasible for online brands. But what are the alternatives?

Stephen Kuhl, co-founder and CEO of furniture company Burrow, decided to put money towards more creative alternatives. Burrow collaborated with Lululemon, Bailey 44 and The Groomsman Suit to place their sofas within their retail locations, giving customers a sample of the brand in a discreet way.

Other digital retailers have gone for more cost-efficient and innovative alternatives to physical stores. Rent the Runway partnered with Norstrom to offer easy drop-off of rented items at four Los Angeles Nordstrom locations. Fernish, a subscription-based furniture brand, formed a partnership with real estate developer Alliance Residential to create showrooms.

Outer, an outdoor furniture retailer, took showcasing a step further by inviting existing customers to serve as “hosts” and show the product to potential customers directly from their homes. The hosts are paid a flat rate for showing off their outdoor landscapes.

The furniture industry is unique because, while you can find what you want online, customers want to test out the products in person, and see how they would integrate into their everyday lives, according to Outer co-founder and Chief Design Officer Terry Lin.

While these tactics are innovative and budget-friendly, it's important to note that the brand messaging is not completely in the retailer’s control. Outer’s hosts, for example, don’t have a brand employee present when showing off the furniture. They try to reduce risk through extensive screening, and other companies like Burrow try to mitigate risk by making partners go through extensive onboarding. Even so, the brand is exposed to potential damage.

Target and Disney partner up to open 25 new toy shops by October 2019

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Disney is set to open 25 stores within Target locations by October, according to a company press release. The partnership is a reflection of both brands trying to make a larger impression in the toy category and develop strong partnerships

Disney current operates more than 200 Disney-branded stores in North America and makes about $1.6 billion off its retail segment. An additional forty 750-square-foot Disney shops are expected to pop up in Target stores by October 2020.

The two brands aligned naturally with a mutual focus on families, according to the release. "We believe the combination of Disney's unmatched entertainment and storytelling with our omni-channel retail platform will create inspiring and unique experiences for our guests," Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement

The in-store experience was thought out carefully, and will feature music, interactive displays, photo ops, and a seating area where families can watch Disney movie clips, according to RetailDive.

In addition to the physical shops, Target will have a digital Disney store featured on its app called “Disney store at Target” on iOS and Android. The app will boast 450 products, with more than 100 of those that were previously only available at Disney retail stores. Target is also projected to open a store at a Walt Disney World Resort shopping center in 2021. 

The partnership comes just in time for the holiday season. While Target expanded its toy offering last year just before the 2018 holiday season, the retailer has gained a competitive advantage by partnering with Disney this year.

Sounding Smart by The Retail Water Cooler

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