Once again the retail industry is gearing up for the holiday season. Wondering what kind of holiday season it will be? The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales during November and December to increase between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent over 2018 to a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion. PwC’s 2019 Holiday Outlook reports that Black Friday is now more symbolic than significant with almost 50% of shoppers waiting until after Black Friday Week to complete their shopping.


What’s notable is that the winners this holiday season and beyond will be the ones that are combining technology, personalization and in-store services in new ways to drive customer acquisition and increased customer lifetime value. As we approach 2020, it’s about the ability to meet customers wherever they are, in-store, online and in-home.


Stories about technology, personalization and in-store services that caught our attention this month:

1. Retail experiences beyond your wildest dreams.
Business Insider reports that the first phase of the much-awaited American Dream Meadowlands opened in NJ and will feature luxury brands, fast fashion/retail, entertainment, dining, and babysitting. Seventeen years in the making, and conceived before the iPhone existed, it embraces the concept that retail cannot exist without entertainment and experiential elements.


2. Retail stores investing in new store formats.

Ikea is opening a new store format in the U.S., starting with Queens, NY, that will house a planning studio. Business Insider notes that consumers will be able to purchase portable products at the store, but associates will direct consumers to complete orders of bigger-ticket items like furniture online and have them delivered to their homes. Ikea reports that similar concepts in Europe and Asia have contributed to 43% growth in their eCommerce sales.


The Retail Gazette writes about Vans’ new boutique which combines footwear, clothing and accessories with space for events and workshops. “We are very excited about our retail transformation coming to life in London, we aim to provide shoppers with a much needed differentiated and authentic consumer experience,” Vans vice president direct to consumer Diego Baronchelli said.


3. And they are investing in in-store services, particularly beauty.

Glossy writes that Nordstrom’s largest online market is NYC, and it’s not only aiming to drive its customers into its first flagship store in New York, but it’s leaning on beauty services to do so. The beauty department is the company’s largest and covers two levels — one is 8,000 square feet and features a traditional beauty counter experience, and the second, at 6,000 square feet and called Beauty Haven, is dedicated to 110 services. Their goal is to provide shoppers the option of spending anywhere from 30 minutes to all day at the retailer.


Our CEO, Sam Kliger, was featured in a WWD Talk last month and provided insights about enabling personalized consumer experiences through technology, most especially beauty.


4. Complementary partnerships continue to unite online with offline, including the mall owners.

Retail Dive reports on a 50/50 JV between Simon Property Group and the Rue Gilt Group, parent of Rue La La and Gilt. Together they are launching a “multi-platform” venture dedicated to online discount shopping to compete with brick-and-mortar off-price sellers by using storytelling, data and analytics. While RGG has the digital chops, Simon brings credibility and relationships with both brands and customers to the venture, David Simon said in the release.

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