There will be more retail change in the next 10 years than in the past 50. David shares some of the issues so you are on the right side of the curve.

RoZie The BrandZ Robot Makes An Appearance in San Francisco

RoZie our BrandZ Robot made an appearance at The Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco today. Here she is doing some last moment limbering up.

She was a massive hit. Thank you David Brebner from Umajin and the team at Spark, Matt White and Rodrigo Solorzano.

Her next  appearance will be in my key note for the “Retailing To The  Customer of One In An Internet of Things Age” event on the 17th  September in London.


It’s Christmas


Even before you have had a chance to whip on your bikini or Vilebrequin swimming trunks, pack the factor 20 and hot foot it to the nearest beach. The sight and sound of Santa can be heard.

I was in New York last week. More on that in another post but on the obligatory walk down Fifth Avenue to see the latest and greatest in retail I spotted Santa. Well not just Santa but an entire Christmas store that had just opened its doors for the season.

I know a first mover advantage with Christmas decorations is a sharp retail strategy that works, but in July!

So I had to go in and take a good look around.




Quite a range as you can see and yes people were actually buying.


Things are looking up for holiday sales in 2015. The outlook is much more favourable than it was this time last year.

With Christmas marketing campaigns signed off by now and many in production, with stock on the high seas on the way to retailers across the globe the holiday season is mostly set. Now it’s all about execution…but do us all a favour please wait till the summer holidays are over!

Now It Gets Interesting


Not content with the established big national and religious holidays being turned into major shopping events retailers over time have invented their own calendar of shopping holidays that no one asked for or really cares about..

Undoubtedly the most successful of these recently has been ‘singles day’. This self-created day has been taken to epic proportions by China’s Jack Ma’s Alibaba.

What began in 1993, as a student led anti-Valentine’s Day at Nanjing University, situated in the capital of Jiangsu province in Eastern China, where single people could buy things for themselves has become a gigantic consumption event.

Alibaba embraced the concept to boost sales it has now become the World’s biggest online retails sales day. It compares with “Cyber Monday” in the US, the Monday after Thanksgiving, which is also marketed as a big online shopping day.

Here are the Alibaba ‘Singles Day’ numbers.

In November 2014, Alibaba rang up record sales of $9.3 billion dollars from “Singles Day” yes that right $9.3 Billion in 24 hours.

Nearly all the 30,000 merchants on the internet retailer’s platform offered discounts the 2014 event attracted the participation of more international brands a well including Japanese label Muji, Spanish clothing retailer Desigual and American outdoor clothing label The North Face.

That 24 hours trading resulted in 278.5 million packages in transit through China. Jack Ma himself appeared to reporters to say the logistics of delivering these packages made him nervous.

To find out more about singles day watch this video


So enter the latest ‘Prime Day’

Slated for today Wednesday July 15.

This time by Amazon. Ostensibly to celebrate Amazon’s 20 year birthday and for the now ubiquitous 24 hour period only.

Billed by Amazon as bigger than Black Friday with deeper discounts and new deals being released every few hours. Its point of difference is that it’s only available for Amazon Prime subscription service members and in only 9 countries.

In normal times that would be that.

But we don’t live in normal times.

We live in a dog eat dog fight in omni channel retail. So enter Walmart to the party. Raining of Amazons parade – or at least trying to.

It is launching 2,000 exclusive roll backs, across categories such as electronics, baby, home and toys and it will last for 90 days. In addition to these Walmart promises some ”atomic deals”


Perhaps a year ago Walmart could have ignored this Amazon move but not today. With its stock having lost some 23% of its value since January 2015, it needs The Street to know that it’s still an Amazon fighting force.

Amazon meanwhile is perusing its own strategy. Whilst it is notoriously fugal with its sales and customer data. It is not too difficult to see the Amazon Prime strategy at work here, on Prime Day.

Signing on more Prime members. According to non Amazon sources 45% of Amazon customers in the US have signed onto Prime. That’s some 40 Million and that’s nice but this is even nicer…

Amazon prime members spend more than double non-members.

Happy Birthday indeed.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Chain Store


It’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is The Chain Store

The origins of modern chain store retailing date back several millennia to ancient China. Merchants in China and later Japan recognised there were advantages to centralised management and selling through multiple distribution points which to day serve as the defining characteristics of chain store retailing. Chain stores emerged in North America in the 1700s when the Hudson’s Bay Company created a network of branded trading posts. However, it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that the chain store approach to retail gained momentum in Europe and the United States. The era of chain store expansion began in earnest in the early 20th century as retailers recognised the profit potential associated with leveraging a variety of fixed and variable costs across an expanding base of stores whereby the sales volume generated by each additional location produced incremental profits. The superiority of the chain store business model became evident following the Second World War when global consumption surged for all manner of consumer goods. This set off an unprecedented wave of chain store expansion across all types of merchandise classifications. Definitions on the number of units that constitute a chain may vary, but there is no disputing the chain store’s impact on retailing. Chain stores led a dramatic restructuring of the retail industry during the past 100 years and today many of the world’s largest corporations are chain store operations.

Contribution to Retail History

The chain store method of retailing brought about arguably the greatest structural change the industry has seen during the past 100 years. The retail industry today is dominated by those who operate chain stores to effectively serve consumers’ wants and needs in a profitable manner.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast

In Retail Conversation…The Holidays

If you missed my live “In Retail Conversation with… Bryan Roberts”  which we broadcast a couple of weeks ago here is the recording. We covered a lot of ground around retail holiday sales, the impact of Black Friday, eCommerce and what retail 2015 is going to bring and a lot , lot more. Hope you find it interesting.

It’s not yet Christmas and yet it’s Boxing Day


Christmas and Boxing Day are fast merging. Just look at the above from London’s Oxford Street. It’s a retail trend that is cutting across all holiday events. Getting in early… the art of the retail pre-emptive strike.

One of my predictions for retail in 2015 is the growing importance of O2O (online to offline) across the world for retail especially in China – now the world’s largest eCommerce market. We will be seeing more use of digital and physical retail assets being interrelated and at holiday times getting ahead and locking in consumer spending.

Todays press ads from John Lewis and Currys- PC World  in the UK (below) are an example of how getting in early and O2O are manifesting themselves. The Boxing Day sales starting virtually on line even before the Christmas turkey has even been defrosted let alone put anywhere near the oven and then moving later into physical spaces. We will be seeing a lot more of this in 2015.



Thank you for reading my blog during the year and for all your comments and feedback, it is much appreciated.

Happy Holidays to you all.


History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Galaries du Bois

Galeries de Bois

It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is Galaries du Bois.

Shopping in Paris is just as important as eating, walking, and visiting museums, and the pre-20th Century shopping Malls of Paris are still an attraction for tourists to day. The malls have long iron structured glass roofs, and original features such as marble and black and white tiled floors. They house restaurants, shops and boutiques. The passages were built in the style of a ‘souk’ – a covered area in which to shop, browse and meet friends. The Galeries du Bois au Palais-Royal was built in 1786 and housed 120 luxury boutiques; after shopping there you could pop in to the central gardens that housed the Palais Royal. The Galeries du Bois became the prototype for the other passages of Paris that followed. The upper classes loved these malls. They could shop and meet, away from noise, smells, weather and ‘unsightly riff-raff’. Famous writers and other notables visited them. Balzac and Zola wrote about them in their books. By 1850 Paris had 150 passages, but today just 30 remain. Department stores such as Bon Marché, which opened in 1852, began to replace them.

Contribution to Retail History

The Galeries du Bois form another link in the chain of the history of public shopping ‘centres’, which stretches back to the forums of Ancient Rome. The 18th century Parisian ‘galleries’ share many features with today’s modern malls – a covered, pleasant retail environment where shopping is a social pastime, as well as, a commercial activity.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Pocket Balance

Pocket Balance

It’s Wednesday so this week  it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is The Pocket Balance

A pocket balance – also known as a spring scale – is simply a spring fixed at on e end with a hook to which an object can be attached at the other. The object to be weighed is hung from the hook and the force that this weight exerts on the spring is proportion al to the distance that spring is extended – an established scientific principle known as Hooke’s Law. The scale markings on the spring balance identify the weight accordingly. The pocket balance was first created in 1770 by Richard Salter in the UK. From the late 18th century onwards these little scales were widely used in markets, grocers and farm shops – wherever people needed to be able to verify the weight of goods to be purchased in order to calculate the correct pricing. Portable, quick and simple to use, the pocket balance was ideal for weighing goods where pinpoint accuracy was not required, for example, sacks of potatoes or meat carcasses. The underlying principles of the spring balance were later incorporated into the spring scale weighing system widely used by retailers. In this case, the items are placed on a tray underneath the spring mechanism and the pressure exerted (expressed as weight) is shown by the position of pointer on the numbered dial.

Contribution to Retail History

The portable spring scale was the first major development in weighing scales that didn’t rely on the use of counterweights. Their portability enabled goods to be weighed anywhere, not only in shops or other fixed locations. Spring scales are still in use today because they are cheap to make and easy to use, although in the retail environment, more accurate digital scales have replaced them.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Department Store

Department Store_RT

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Department Store

The earliest department stores appealed to affluent shoppers or those who aspired to own high-quality merchandise and began to surface on multiple continents in the early to mid-1800s. The department store concept remains highly relevant to shoppers, but modern operators are less discriminating and offer formats and product assortment s that appeal to a broad range of income levels. As with many retail innovations, the origins of the department store are difficult to isolate to a particular individual or retailer and the earliest versions of department stores bore little resemblance to their modern counterparts. However, what is clear is that the concept of a retail store offering multiple classifications of merchandise gained momentum in the early to mid-1800s. Charles Henry Harrod established his first retail business in London 1824. Austin’s was established as a department store in Northern Ireland in 1830 and David Jones opened a department store in Australia in 1838. Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge and William Alder Dunn opened a department store in England in 1849 and in 1851, the Buckley &Nunn department store opened in Melbourne, Australia. In 1852, Aristide Boucicaut opened the Le Bon Marché in Paris and six years later in 1958 the first R.H. Macy & Co. store opened in New York. These retailers brought a different perspective to the concept of department store, but each sought to benefit from the escalating standard of living that had resulted from the Industrial Revolution. As disposable incomes for Europeans and Americans increased, department store operators were there to provide a new type of shopping experience and to satisfy shoppers’ desire for consumer goods. The golden age of the traditional department store and its role in society began to fade in the 1960s with the advent of suburban shopping malls and discount department stores. The latter introduced a new type of value proposition to price sensitive mass market shoppers who were willing to accept reduced service levels and a more austere store experience in exchange for lower prices. The concept of the department store remains as relevant as ever, however retailers have to continue to refine product assortments and pursue ever narrower segments of the marketplace based on shopper demographics.

Contribution to Retail History

The introduction of department stores in England, France and the United States in the early to mid-1800s marked the beginning of an important chapter in the history of retailing. Department stores became iconic symbols of prosperity and were the dominant form of retailing for more than a century. The concept of the department store remains as highly relevant today as when it emerged to satisfy new found affluence spawned by the Industrial Revolution. Department stores gave rise to discount stores and also influenced the development of enclosed malls as retail developers took note of the powerful appeal that resulted from combining multiple departments of merchandise in a single destination.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast

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