Posted Date: 12/21/2010
With 2010 drawing to a close, the editors of RIS News have looked back to identify the top retailing stories of the year. In 2010, both mobile technology and social media grew from a murmur to a not-so-dull roar, and the economic recession was the lingering unwanted guest. But despite the continuing chill, several retailers announced plans to open dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of new stores.
Here are our picks for the most significant retailing stories of the year published online or in our Executive Insights e-newsletter:
1) Kohl’s Spends $5 Per Facebook Fan (posted 9.14.10): As part of its charitable giving program, Kohl’s donated a total of $10 million ($500,000 each) to the 20 schools that received the most votes via a Facebook application. For its money, Kohl’s got names, e-mail addresses and 2 million-plus Facebook fans—enough to give the retailer a first-mover advantage in the exploding social retailing space.
2) Boycott Target Movement Cresting at 75,000 on Facebook (posted 8.31.10): Target discovered a downside to social media—the speed and momentum it offers to protest movements. The retailer’s $150,000 donation to an organization supporting an anti-gay Minnesota gubernatorial candidate sparked a “Boycott Target” movement on Facebook that built to 75,000 fans in a matter of weeks.
3) Mobile Traffic for Steve Madden is Exploding (posted 11.9.10): This story was important not because Steve Madden is a bellwether but because it showed the phenomenal growth of mobile commerce. Traffic coming from Steve Madden’s mobile site was 4.4% in April; 8.6% in June; and 9.9% in August. Even in the fast-paced world of retailing, traffic that more than doubles in four months’ time is remarkable.
4) Home Depot’s $64 Million Mobile Investment Rolls Out to 1,970 Stores (posted 12.7.10): This chainwide rollout of 30,000 mobile devices combining POS, phone/walkie-talkie communications and real-time inventory look-up was 2010′s emblematic mobile growth story for two reasons: It may well mark the tipping point in retail’s use of mobile devices for their employees, particularly if Home Depot’s prediction of a one-year ROI from labor savings is accurate. It also showed our readers’ hunger for information about mobility: in less than two weeks’ time, the article became the most-read story of the year on the RIS site.
5) A&P Chapter 11 Filing Marks 19th Retail Bankruptcy in 2010 (posted 12.13.10): Nineteen bankruptcies in one year are no one’s idea of good news, particularly when they include storied retail names like A&P and Loehmann’s as well as relatively recent high-fliers like Blockbuster. But this total marked a 41% decrease from the 32 bankruptcies in 2009, and a positive comparison to the big names lost in 2008, which included Circuit City, Steve & Barrys, Linens & Things and Mervyn’s.
6) Online Commerce Generates Black Friday’s Sales Sizzle (posted 11.29.10): The maturing of e-commerce was seen on what has traditionally been the biggest brick-and-mortar sales day of the year—Black Friday. Online sales accounted for one-third of all retail spending over the Thanksgiving weekend, while in-store sales increased only 0.3% on Black Friday itself compared to the same date in 2009.
7) Best Buy, Dollar General Add 1,000s of Stores (posted 4.20.10): An early sign of returning confidence on the part of retailers, this story combined a slew of announcements of retailers planning to open new stores by the dozens (Edible Arrangements), the hundreds (T.J. Maxx) and the thousands (Dollar General, Best Buy). Of course, in December TJX announced it was shutting its A.J. Wright division with a net loss of 71 stores, and Best Buy had a difficult third quarter—signs that the recession lingered far longer than anyone would have liked.
8) Top 10 Retail Technologies for 2010 (posted 5.4.10): Predicting the future is a tricky game. Not that the top 10 technologies RIS identified unimportant. They were forecasting and planning; price/markdown optimization; assortment planning; product lifecycle management; new product/private label development; allocation; promotion management; replenishment; item management; and shelf and space planning. But none of these technologies addresses mobile commerce or social retailing, and they only tangentially touch multi-channel operations and customer engagement—arguably the four biggest retail technology concerns of 2010. Here’s hoping our prognostication powers are in better shape for 2011.