Consumers have quickly become comfortable with using their smartphones for "showrooming," but retailers say they're still struggling to create mobile strategies that work to drive traffic and sales at brick-and-mortar stores. "If you don't try, you don't know," says David Jaffe, CEO of Ascena Retail Group, parent of Maurices, which last month began texting promotions to passersby who have opted in.
The biggest U.S. chain retailers ended last year with 2.2% fewer stores as more consumers shifted their shopping online, and the growth of e-commerce has retailers including Lowe's shifting capital investment to their web efforts. "The smart chains are the ones looking to grow online because there aren’t that many places left in the U.S. that warrant the cost of building another big-box store," said industry consultant Will Ander.
Cutting costs wouldn't have been enough for Macy's to successfully survive the recession -- instead, the company embarked on an aggressive new strategy that has since paid off in 10 consecutive profitable quarters, chief executive officer Terry Lundgren told members of the Portland Business Alliance this week. Lundgren, who serves as NRF's board chairman, also touted the retail industry's hard work in the area of job creation.
Large U.S. retail chains including Target and Supervalu have ramped up their efforts to fight organized theft rings, which steal an estimated $15 million to $30 million from merchants each year. Target has opened several crime investigation centers, armed with analysts and investigators who search through surveillance video and spreadsheets to track organized theft rings. Merchants say organized theft has been on the rise in recent years, as the Internet makes it easier for thieves to sell their loot -- 90% of retailers said they had been victims of organized retail crime last year, according to an NRF survey.