Why Apple, Walmart, Amazon, Macy’s and Target Matter

RIS News’ “5 Retailers that Matter” highlights the retailers making the most of the industry’s new omnichannel reality. The list features recent initiatives by Apple, Walmart, Amazon, Macy’s and Target that has helped keep them on the cutting edge.

Here is an abridged look at the list:

Apple. The retailer pioneered mobile POS, digital receipts, Genius Bars, smart associates and uncluttered store design to help reinvent retailing in the past decade.

When Apple entered the retail space in May of 2001 it had no retail experience and was taking what many believed to be a big gamble. What it did have was a hot new product in the iPod and a rapid expansion plan with 25 stores up and running by year’s end. The company opened or remodeled 49 locations in 2013, bringing the total number of Apple stores worldwide to 416 — each producing an average of $50 million in revenue.

Apple had 400 million retail visitors in 2013 —18,500 visitors per store, per week in the fourth quarter helped swell the 4Q retail revenue to $4.5 billion. Fueled by the good end of the year results Apple’s stocked soared to a 52-week high in early December with shares trading at $574.14.

Walmart. Walmart is the colossus of retail. Its every day low prices (EDLP) approach combined with a relentless drive to be number one in every segment it serves has driven annual revenue north of the $300 billion mark, a previously unheard of figure for retail or any industry.

For sheer size alone Walmart qualifies to be at the top of any list of retailers that matter, but the Bentonville giant is a leader in virtually every other metric that shapes retail including fulfillment innovation.

Walmart is investing in flexible fulfillment to get products purchased online in customers’ hands as quickly as possible, sometimes as soon as same day. Online orders can be picked up in-store, shipped directly from one of Walmart’s 130 distribution centers to the customer’s home, or shipped from store. The ship-to-store option is a win-win for Walmart. Its distribution network can deliver in bulk to stores rather than delivering individually to customer’s homes, while simultaneously getting customers into a brick-and-mortar location to potentially increase revenue through incremental purchases.

Amazon. Amazon pioneered the digital storefront, but even more important than its prowess as a retail and tech giant is its willingness to forgo profits to win at any cost. Amazon is taking the battle to brick-and-mortar retailers on various fronts including dynamic price changes. According to several independent studies Amazon has emerged as the low-price leader for numerous products — automatically adjusting to its competitors’ prices.

Amazon is reversing the traditional business model of retailing. Instead of luring customers to merchandise, it is focusing on sending the merchandise to customers. Funneling $13.9 billion into warehouses since 2012, the retailer will soon have nearly 100 warehouses to support what the company aims to make the new norm: orders shipped the same day the purchase is made.

Macy’s. Macy’s is not only a leader in omnichannel retailing, but also a cheerleader for the use of technology. The retailer has long innovated in the digital arena and continues to do so with its mobile offerings. Macy’s mobile apps and content are designed for communication, customer service and marketing. By using QR codes to lead consumers to rich content, the mobile channel becomes a “silent salesperson.”

The department store leader has more than 840 stores in 45 states — 500 stores are equipped for ship-from-store.  Macy’s has almost 20 private brands, accounting for 20% of the company’s sales

Target. Target has met the shoowrooming challenge head on, developing a strategy to use shoppers’ price consciousness to its advantage with the release of price matching for the 2012 holiday shopping season. The program was a success, and in 2013 any purchases made at Target or CityTarget (two-thirds scale stores in urban centers) between November 1 and December 21 were eligible for in-store price matching. Customers were able to return to a store at any time during the window if the item they purchased was available elsewhere at a reduced price, including Target.com.

The holiday season was not all positive for the discount retailer. After being named to the “5 Retailers that Matter,” Its POS system was hacked by thieves and 40 million customer cards were put at risk. Target has committed itself to working with authorities on the matter and has been out in front of crisis assuring the public that it is going to make things right for those affected. Despite experiencing a drop in stock price following the data breach, share prices have rebounded and are up in the first few days of trading in the New Year — evidence that consumer confidence is still high in the brand.

For related content:
5 Retailers that Matter
Macy's Creates the Customer Experience Through Omnichannel
Amazon Launches New Deal Every 10 Minutes
Apple Stores Debut In-Store Tracking
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