This Week in CX: Retail Closings, Religion and Amazon Trying to be Fashionable
As legacy retailers struggle to stay open, Chick-Fil-A soars
1. Rash of store closures further entrenches retail apocalypse
The latest onslaught of retail store closures comes as no surprise to adherents of the “retail apocalypse,” but those of us vested in CX know that e-commerce isn’t solely to blame.
Recurring customer pain points like long queues, disorganized shelves and mismanaged inventory are what’s felling major brands like Sears, Barney’s and Payless.
An estimated 12,000 stores will close by the end of 2019, according to a new report from global marketing research firm CoreSight Research.
Nine months into the year has seen 29 percent more stores shuttering than in the entirety of 2018. Payless ShoeSource, which filed for bankruptcy in February, accounts for 37 percent of the closings.
Attempting to rebound from bankruptcy, Sears’ strategy has been to focus more on tools and appliances, with less clothing and smaller locations. With that in mind, the parent company is shuttering 21 Sears locations and five Kmart locations in late October.
Some of the more jarring store closures include Walgreens’ plans to axe approximately 200 US stores, announced in an SEC filing. This eats into less than 3 percent of its 9,600-store footprint, under what the company calls a “transformational cost management program.”
Read more: The Sears Bankruptcy and a Flawed Customer Experience - Interview with a Brand Strategist
Pharmacies were thought to be largely immune to losing market share to online sales, but that could be changing as e-pharmacies like Capsule empower customers to buy prescription drugs online.
Luxury retail is another sector thought to be untouchable – at least temporarily – but with the iconic New York department store Barney’s filing for bankruptcy last month, it appears no one is spared.
The century-old retailer announced it would close 15 of its 22 stores, shuttering its Las Vegas, Seattle and Chicago locations while preserving stores in Manhattan, Beverly Hills, San Francisco and Copley Place.
2. Chick-Fil-A reaffirms commitment to Christian values
Officially America’s most-loved fast food chain, Chick-Fil-A beat out the west coast’s In-N-Out burger joint for the top spot in Market Force’s Fast Food Market Research Report.
The brand reached $10.5 billion in revenue in the past year with over 2,400 restaurants. In a recent interview with Christian Headlines, a Chick-Fil-A VP reaffirmed the restaurant’s commitment to Christian values, saying “Jesus had it right.”
A covenant signed by the Cathy founding family in 2000 iterated the company’s commitment to closing on Sundays, faith-based values and never taking the company public.
“We will be faithful to his Christ’s lordship in our lives… We will prayerfully seek His leadership in all major decisions that impact our family and others.”
In the early 2000s, Chick-Fil-A called on fine dining guru Danny Meyer and Ritz-Carlton executive Horst Schulze for hospitality guidance. Soon after, the restaurant began requiring its employees to say things like, “my pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome” and adding flowers on tables at all locations.
3. Amazon is trying to become more fashionable
It might be known for taking over the world, but Amazon isn’t the most glamorous place to shop for clothes. Case in point: its top-selling women’s apparel items include easy dresses, spandex workout gear, socks and underwear.
In addition to debuting an exclusive clothing line called The Drop, designed by social media influencers like Paola Alberdi, Amazon signed on to be the exclusive streaming partner for Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty lingerie show at New York Fashion Week.
Last year, it was available on YouTube to all and sundry; this year, it’s limited to Amazon’s 100 million Prime members, who can purchase the new collection in a single click.
4. Apple and Burberry are collaborating on a chat service
British luxury fashion house Burberry has enlisted Apple to design a chat service called ‘R Message’ that integrates with its internal iOS app, known as ‘R World.’ The service is available by invitation only for “high-value” clients, and will allow them to book in-store appointments, receive personalized recommendations and buy products directly.
An important thing to note is the messaging service is manned by human associates; luxury retail and chatbots don’t mix - not yet, at least.
Intriguingly, however, the chat service has back-office benefits for store associates by being tightly integrated with the backend inventory system, which lets staff check stocks and drive sales.
Meanwhile, a newsfeed-style feature will keep them up-to-date with company updates, ad campaign images and press mentions.