Poshmark ‘Stories’ are a big step forward for social commerce

Poshmark announced a new feature to be added to their platform (the Poshmark App) called “Posh Stories,” which most closely align with Instagram or Snapchat stories, where the user has the ability to post a video to their account within the “stories” section that will only last for about 24-48 hours and will then disappear.

Brands on Instagram have had the ability to post products to their stories that can be accessed either on Instagram’s Shop or the brand’s website by simply “swiping up,” making many Poshmark users familiar with the process and idea, however, because Poshmark is an app dedicated solely to resale, it will have a unique advantage and power when compared to other resale companies or even social media apps for the time being.

Poshmark has made a significant contribution to the push for and growing popularity of social commerce. Ordinary people can list essentially any kind of clothing or accessories on the app and can set pricing however they feel appropriate, which has given the overhead power of selling and consuming to the general population. There’s no consigning or having to deal with the Poshmark company unless something goes very wrong (in which case the Poshmark employees are beyond helpful and considerate- I speak from experience), and shipping is incredibly simple and dependent on the seller,which means that instead of having to track down a “Questions?” or “Help” email or page from a standard company, one just just send the seller a chat as would normally be done with friends on social media.

Both the trend to buy second-hand items and Poshmark’s popularity have grown over the last few years, and in my opinion, Poshmark is one of the easiest platforms to use as it is accessible and straightforward for all. It has always felt like the majority of people on Poshmark truly identify as part of the Poshmark community which helps drive the social commerce train forward.

The current state of the U.S. has pushed all consumers who are still spending to ecommerce-based sales with some opting for delivery and others opting for curbside pickup if available. Some notable changing consumer mindsets that Poshmark can benefit greatly from at a time like this would be:

  • The consumer who shops in-person for everything they can and maybe uses Amazon if they have to
  • Those who have been hesitant about resale but now have the time to truly give it a go
  • Those who are familiar with resale and just aren’t getting the push needed to make confident purchases right now

Social commerce can greatly benefit all of these consumers as we are living in a time where social interaction seems lacking, and Poshmark Stories can help to both ease the mind of shoppers weary of resale and can help distract the minds of those stuck at home who need more content in order to make a purchase.

Posh Stories help the potential buyers of Poshmark see how a product looks in different settings, see how it moves, and possibly even see how it looks on the seller, which can be a compromise for those who prefer to shop in-person and try things on. Seeing a product move in a video or even just listening to someone talk about the product can help give the buyer that push of confidence needed to transition over to e/social commerce.

Another interesting concept brought up in this Retail Brew article is that the short lifespan of these stories can drive the feeling of exclusivity of the products on Poshmark, which may push that consumer who’s been on the edge of making a purchase to finally do it because they figure that others may buy it after looking at the story. The potential for flash sales through Posh Stories is also immense.

While Poshmark is not usually the place that people go when they are looking for luxury resale, it does actually have quite and expansive lineup of luxury products. Poshmark unfortunately does not have the authentication infrastructure of sites like The RealReal, however, sellers are usually quite good at posting proof of authenticity on their listing via receipts or item numbers. This being said, I foresee a big increase in Poshmark-based luxury sales because of the new ability to put videos of these products on a seller’s account. To my knowledge, no other luxury resale platform does this and the closest that I have seen in terms of video commerce (outside of Asia) is Nordstrom’s few and far between videos of store associates describing some of their most popular luxury items in a video at the bottom of a product listing on their webpage.

The last point that I would make is that these Posh Stories give Poshmark a pretty significant advantage over a company like eBay. Both have pretty janky websites/apps and require a detailed eye when browsing for the best deals and products. While eBay sells significantly more categories of merchandise than Poshmark, it still has a strong apparel, accessories, and luxury resale sector and is often thought of as the first place to go for secondhand items in good shape on the internet. The concept of video commerce is not something that eBay has embraced and I think that this will accelerate Poshmark to be more of a competitor in the apparel space. My only concern is that Poshmark does not do returns unless an item is truly not what the seller listed it as.

Overall, I think that video commerce will be a powerful tool for retailers to embrace going forward. The pandemic has accelerated the adaptation of both ecommerce and social commerce in the U.S., and Asian countries have been on top of video commerce for years. While this isn’t live-streaming quite yet, I think that is is a big step forward to being close, and kudos to Poshmark for stepping up to the plate.

Featured image taken from Adweek.

I tried two different luxury resale sites. Here’s how it went…

In the last three months I decided to try out two different luxury resale sites to see what all the hype was about and how the experiences differed across brands. Luxury resale sites have been hard to ignore in the last few years (a $24 billion industry, might I say) and been in the retail news for things both good and bad. Good: sustainability, affordability, accessibility to luxury fashion, changing the way that consumers shop, etc. Bad: possibly paying a ridiculous price for a secondhand item because you want to pay into the hype and the company knows that, and, worst of all, receiving an inauthentic item.

I tried out The RealReal (because how could I not?) and Tradesy. I’m sure that anyone reading this has heard of The RealReal for either the news appearances or the aggressive social media advertising plan. For the second company, I was undecided between Tradesy and Vestiaire Collective.

Vestiaire Collective has been highly reputable in the luxury secondhand space and I had only heard good things about them through social media and some of my favorite and most trustowrthy podcasts. What ultimately led me to chose Tradesy was curiosity (due to their social media ads that were heavily targeted and the fact that it is a U.S.-based company that only ships within the U.S. While Vestiaire Collective does have a filter that allows you to see products that are being sold in the U.S., I could not find anything that I really wanted to buy. I also did not want to spend hundreds of dollars on something that could possibly get lost in international mail or be held up in customs for a month.

Here’s how it went down:

I ordered a Tag Heuer watch from The RealReal. I had very limited knowledge about watches going into this purchase, however, the brand and make year of the model were very sentimental to me, so I went through with it. The description of the watch said that it was working, which was important to me because I did not want to go through the process of getting a new battery. Unfortunately, I overlooked the wrist measurement, assuming that I could probably squeeze my hand into an average-sized watch. It turns out that a 4.25 in. wrist is essentially child-sized and I have very large wrists. I had to bring the watch to a Tag Heuer certified jeweler who could then order the exact links needed (that are not used on any active models) to make the watch fit. That was a crazy experience, and not a cheap one, but a story for another day. Overall, I was satisfied with this purchase. The watch was sent in a nice dust bag with authentication paperwork. I should have just looked at the wrist measurement with more certainty.

Moving on to Tradesy…this was not as great and easy as my experience with The RealReal. I ordered a Moncler jacket because I thought that it was priced incredibly fair. It was about a $150 less than any other Moncler jacket that I had seen, but the price wasn’t low enough for me to question authenticity. Tradesy has options to both sell on your own (like eBay) or to send them your items to consign with them. This jacket happened to be listed by an independent consignment boutique, which I assumed was a luxury consignment boutique.

When the jacket came, it was in a printed ziploc-type of bag that said it was made of recycled materials. I thought that was cool, but it also lacked paperwork or any kind of fanciness that you can sometimes get even when a luxury item is secondhand. At this point, I didn’t question the purchase. I was on the fence with the jacket in terms of style and fit, though. I decided to wait it out for about a week.

When you buy something on Tradesy, you can only return it for site credit. I had my eyes on another Moncler jacket at The RealReal, so I figured that I would try and consign the jacket I had with The RealReal so that the next purchase would even out or even make me some money. Wishful thinking, right?

So, I sent the jacket to The RealReal to consign with them. It got sent back quickly with a message saying that the item was made with incorrect construction. OOF. I quickly reached out to Tradesy assuming that I was screwed becuase I was now outside of the return allowance window.

Thankfully, the Tradesy team was super helpful. They first wanted pictures of the jacket to be emailed to them to be sent to “authentication experts,” who then emailed me back saying that I should mail the jacket to them with a prepaid shipping label.

In the end, Tradesy verified that the jacket was inauthentic and fully refunded me to my original form of payment, which I am extremely happy about. I am not happy that I received an inauthentic jacket from a site that guarantees authenticity. Needless to say, I will not be purchasing from Tradesy again and I went and bought a different jacket from The RealReal instead

When you buy things secondhand AND online there will probably always be a bit of a risk with the purchase. I’ve never been a huge fan of consignment and have always questioned the business model, but I do now have more trust in the consignment process for secondhand luxury. That being said, there have been plenty of issues with authenticity and The RealReal despite having the consignment and authentication measures in place.

In the end, The RealReal is the way to go for almost anything luxury, and there are plenty of other luxury resale sites dedicated more specifically to bags such as Fashionphile or shoes such as GOAT or StockX.

My changing consumer habits amidst the quarantine

When self-quarantining became a true reality with stores shutting down everywhere, it’s not surprising that my first thoughts on this change revolved around how consumer behaviors were also going to drastically change. There are plenty of people working on studying these changes, but I thought it would be interesting to write about my own personal experience with adjustments to my normal shopping habits. Here are 5 changes to my normal consumer behavior profile:

  1. Curbside grocery pickup. I have been utilizing grocery pickup at Target for about 6 months, but was not relying on it, using it mostly when the temperature was less than 0 in Minneapolis. Now, I am using curbside pickup wherever I can, which for my location in Minneapolis means Target and Cub have been my saviors. Walking through the stores felt panicked and almost dangerous because of how many people touched things, so I started to rely on these curbside pickups. Cub has a significant advantage in that you can purchase produce and frozen foods, but I was let down one day by my order getting canceled right before I was supposed to pick it up. I don’t blame them, though, with how crazy the world has been. Being able to pick up produce was important enough for me to let it slide. An Amazon Go location in Minneapolis seems like a great idea right now.
  2. Getting into health and wellness products. I live an active lifestyle and try to eat as clean as I can, but I have never been a consumer of standard health and wellness products under the belief that I don’t need them. Lone behold, I have now purchased not one, but three, new vitamins that I’ll most likely buy again each month now. I also now have 100 packs of Emergen-C. Overall, these purchases are really out of character for me, yet I think that I’ll continue making them just to be on the safe side of life going forward.
  3. I am doing a lot of online shopping. This is obvious for most people, but I went from having one shopping cart opened in a tab to about nine that I will probably abandon at some point. Almost every retailer has some kind of sale going on, which means that I am actively hunting for the best deals and am digging deep into my sources to get as much information about the things that I am considering buying as possible. This means that the retailers that don’t have the best prices or don’t have the best product listings (details, pictures, my size in stock, etc.) are not getting my business.
  4. I’m paying attention to all of the promotional emails that I get. There comes a point when you get so many promotional emails that you stop paying attention to them. Due to boredom, I have now started to pay attention to all of the things that pop up in my inbox each day. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with all of the brands that have “picked items just for me,” but have been pretty disappointed with those products often being out of stock in my size. It happens, but I enjoy the false feeling of a brand truly caring about me and wanting to interact with me.
  5. I downloaded TikTok specifically to see the content that popular brands create. I’ve been incredibly hesitant to download TikTok, but in a period where I have more free time than I’ll probably ever have in my life, I figured I’d might as well. Brands on TikTok are doing a really great job with content targeted toward the Gen Z audience, I just find that it does not put me over the edge of wanting to make a purchase. I still prefer watching Youtube videos of people trying on different products or reviewing different products with the brands that I love. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the live content that many brands are putting up on Instagram Live or IGTV, such as Levi’s series of concerts, product drops from independent designers, or videos of styling products from different brands. I love connecting with my favorite brands via social media, but at the end of the day, I want a pretty technical video of a product before I purchase it (think Topo Designs videos on Youtube showcasing all of the features of their products).

I’m interested to see how my behaviors will continue to change and I am anxiously awaiting for the overall impact his will have on physical retail.

Can magazines/catalogues be relevant to Gen Z consumers?

I received a “LifeWear” magazine from Uniqlo the other day that pleasantly surprised me and inspired me to consider if magazines and catalogues could ever be relevant for the standard Gen Z consumer.

I’ve been a loyal fan of Uniqlo for years now, and while I sometimes question their sustainability claims, Uniqlo is by far the best place to go for clothing items that you need but do not have a large budget for. I am always impressed with the quality that I get for such low prices and the majority of my work clothing and about half of my athletic clothing are from this brand.

I ordered a pair of pants from Uniqlo, and in the packaging came the LifeWear magazine. I titled this post with “magazines/catalogues” because this magazine, in my opinion, blurs the line between magazine and catalogue in that it is filled with only Uniqlo products and their item numbers and pricing, yet the content is largely editorial and the focus is primarily on the images and the stories of the people featured within the magazine.

Needless to say, I was surprised that I got a magazine and was instantly brought back to my childhood when I would wait all year for the Toys “R” Us holiday catalogue to come out and I could flip through the pages while folding down the corners to mark the products that I wanted for Christmas.

A few years later, I looked forward to getting the PBTeen magazines as I would cut out the products that I liked and would save them on a corkboard in my room, pretending to be an interior designer. I don’t think that I have received a magazine since that stage of my life, which was probably around ages 10-13.

My first thought was “What ever happened to magazines?”, which was soon followed up with, well, the internet, but something about this Uniqlo magazine inspired to think about whether or not magazines could ever be relevant again for Gen Z consumers.

The LifeWear magazine showcased Uniqlo products being worn on ordinary people styled in ways that I would have never thought of when just looking at the products online by themselves on a harsh white background, and there was something truly intriguing about flipping through the pages of a physical item rather than clicking through slides on my laptop. The content seamlessly aligned with the title of “LifeWear” as each of the people featured in the magazine wore about three different outfits, all catered towards different daily activities yet manyof the products worn had cross-functioning abilities. The magazine of course also featured new releases and upcoming collabs, but overall did its job in that I now have a whole lot more Uniqlo products in my online shopping cart because I found inspiration in the way that these products were worn in the magazine.

Obviously magazines and catalogues disappeared for a few reasons, some being that they’re a large waste of paper and all of the LifeWear magazine content can probably be found online. However, I felt pretty special receiving a well-done magazine, as if Uniqlo had targeted me as a consumer with a high purchase rate who would probably enjoy looking at pictures of their products being worn in real life.

Where I think there may be potential for magazines to become popular again relies solely on how shockingly excited I got flipping through this magazine. It was nice to feel something and to have a companion while I continue to shop online, especially because I don’t live near a Uniqlo store (and those are usually even harder to shop than the website).

Magazines being produced at the rate that they once were will hopefully never happen again, but I do think that a brand creating a magazine twice a year (SS/AW) that is only sent to a select group of shoppers could be of potential impact for a brand. If the magazines could be made from recycled materials or old shipping supplies, that would be pretty awesome, too.

My last point to make is that by focusing on previous consumers that have come back to make repeat purchases, a brand has the ability to strengthen that retailer-consumer bond and increase the customer loyalty. Magazines were distributed to absolutely everyone for higher customer acquisition rates and brand awareness, but maybe a more targeted distribution strategy will be what’s in store for the future of magazines and catalogues.

10 Online UX Features that WON’T deter me from making a purchase on your website

I consider myself to be somewhat of a professional online shopper. I can spend hours and hours putting together shopping carts of things that I most likely won’t ever buy or won’t buy for weeks (sorry retailers- at least I don’t abandon the cart?) and with a background in retail and design, I often ask myself about which UX-related features either incentivize me to follow through with a purchase and which ones send me away from a website immediately.

With years of scrolling experience under my belt, here are 10 UX features that are critical for me (your slightly-more-informed than average/relatively average consumer) to not leave your website right after getting there:

  1. The design of your website is nice to look at. It sounds like this should be obvious, but there are so many retailers (very prominent retailers, I might say) that have website presences that are janky, disorganized, and confusing for the eye. Clear lines and white space are your friends! When I get to your homepage, your website should adapt to the relative size of my screen, I shouldn’t get hit with 1,000 pop-ups, and the different sections of the homepage should scroll in blocks that are fluent to the size of the screen. Examples of nice, clean websites: Everlane and Topo Designs. Examples of hard to look at websites: Old Navy and Macy’s.
  2. Pop-ups, not Blow-ups. Upon getting to the homepage, a few pop-ups are okay. These would include current and relative promotions, a chat bot, or an email box for a promotion. It should be incredibly easy to click out of them and they shouldn’t take up the whole screen. If I get to your website and the whole thing goes black so that a plethora of popups that I have to spend time figuring how to get out of pop-up, I’m out. Going off of that…
  3. Give a little, get a little. One of my favorite features is a pop-up that asks for my email for a first-time purchase discount in return. I usually fall for this all of the time and it 100% incentivizes me to make a purchase because of that 10-20% off discount (preferably the 20). I then tend to find that I like the products, not just the brand, and I come back to make repeat purchases.
  4. A submissive chatbot. In the last year I have utilized chatbots A TON and have actually found them to be incredibly useful. A chatbot that can connect you to an actual human who can answer questions about your product is a great way to get consumers informed about what they’re buying and why they should buy it. I’ve found a great deal of help with chatbots when buying a car, looking at new cell phone plans, and deciding on buying a secondhand luxury bag. Chatbots can also be super useful when you head to a website on a very specific mission and they pop-up right away, directing you to where you need to go. What’s not helpful, however, is when chatbots pop-up every time you click something new or go to a new page and you then are forced to click out of or minimize them every 30 seconds. That is incredibly annoying, but one pop-up at the beginning of my search and easy access to open the pop-up are great features to have. I want to control the power of the chatbot, and not the other way around. Lastly, I don’t expect there to be a real-live person behind the chatbot 24/7, but during normal business hours is great. Speaking of getting help…
  5. The “Contact Us” tab is easy to find. Think about it. If I’m a customer that’s dissatisfied with something about my experience or purchase, and I have to struggle to find where I can get help, I’m not going to be any more satisfied. A clear place to contact for order help is so important, and getting a response within 24 hours is even better.
  6. Out of stock’s are clearly marked. Is there anything more awful than scrolling past a product that you love, clicking it like any other one, and then seeing that it’s not even available? I’ve always wondered how hard it could be to manage labeling the out-of-stock’s clearly so that I don’t have to bother clicking unless I want to get on a waitlist. My favorite type of listing is when an entire product is out of stock, there’s a big box on the listing saying “out of stock,” and when there’s a size or two out of stock, the in-stock sizes are listed under the product when I scroll so that I know whether or not it is worth my time to click through.
  7. Remembering where I was in a scroll. Something that I have come to no longer tolerate is when I scroll and scroll and scroll through pages of listings, click on a product, and then go back to the product listings and the website forgets where I was and just sends me back to the top of page one. It is not worth my time to try and mega scroll back to where I was, especially if I was just scrolling and didn’t have the option of clicking through page numbers. If I experience this, I immediately leave the website because it is 2020, thousands of other retail sites can perform this function, and there is no excuse.
  8. Remembering my cart, at least for awhile. It warms my heart when my computer dies, I have to create all of my tabs again, and what was in my cart at a specific retailer is there again right when I open up the website. Pure bliss. While I don’t expect a site to remember my cart for months, it is a really useful tool when you go back and forth on deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
  9. Products are styled on a person or where they should be used. It’s really hard to imagine how a product will look either on me or in my life if the only pictures of it are laying flat on a white background. I have also found that depending on the way that products are styled, I can easily be swayed to make more purchases because I love the way a sweater was paired with a pair of jeans or they way a pair of sneakers was styled with a cool pair of socks. One thing to look out for- making sure that the things worn in the product pictures are available in your store and are listed underneath the product, this is easy money! Back to that sweater, if I can’t find the jeans that I liked that are in the picture, how am I supposed to buy them?
  10. Products are represented on different-sized models. Lots of retailers are getting better at this, however it’s still not good enough. If your products are modeled only on one person, it’s really hard to think about how they will fit on me and how the colors will play with my skin. Obviously not every retailer has the budget to get thousands of shots for their websites, but having at least two models of differing sizes wearing different colors of the product if applicable truly helps me imagine myself wearing the items. ALSO- tell me what sizes the models are wearing!

Overall, there is a lot of room for improvement on the online retailing side when talking about user experience, and I’m hoping that someone will find this useful when testing the usability of their site or wondering why their traffic and/or conversion might not be where they want it to be.

The bursting of my D2C dream bubble

The Business of Fashion reported on the stepping down of Ty Haney, Outdoor voices CEO, a few days ago, and of all the CEO step-downs that I have paid attention to since starting my internship, this one has hurt the most.

I discovered Outdoor Voices in 2016 via an Instagram ad and instantly fell in love with the brand and its message. As someone who never got into lululemon and never really understood the hype behind it, it felt as if Outdoor Voices was made for me.

What drew me to the brand was what drew all of OV’s loyal customers to the brand, which was their distinct colors, shapes, and the impressive marketing strategy behind it all. Once that first OV ad showed up on my feed, I can confidently say that one has popped up at least two or three times per week ever since then. The images posted on their Instagram feed have always been beautiful, have emphasized how to use the products for recreation, and have emphasized showing women of all sizes wearing the products.

For me, the brighter colors appealed more than the neutrals of lululemon, and I was never into athleisure the way that lululemon customers are. I’ve never needed my workout clothes to function as work clothes and for the short time that I was really into athleisure, I was doing it for the fashion potential rather than the comfort. Lululemon is probably the clothing brand that is closest to having items for any occasion (working out, walking, hiking, going to work, shopping for groceries, etc.), minus formal events. Something about the brand, though, has never appealed to me.

That’s why hearing about OV not performing well financially hurts so much, and it really puts a damper on all of the hype surrounding the D2C industry, which is what I have grown up with and come into my spending power surrounded with. D2C has been the buzz for as long as I can remember, so it’s hard to think about the brands that you have loved for a few years not performing well compared to a few huge retailers in their categories. I always tell people that I have a few brands that would I die for, those of which are Everlane, Allbirds, Glossier, and Outdoor Voices, and when the activewear department of your wardrobe takes a hit, it hurts.

Today, I’ve thought a lot about why this is happening to some D2C brands and not others. I read a couple of articles about this OV news, and while it makes sense that you can’t reach profitability without your operations being as efficient as your marketing, it’s still hard to understand when D2C is pretty much all you’ve known in your adult life.

On campus, you regularly will see students wearing the blue baseball cap and canvas tote bag that Outdoor Voices is known for, but I realized that I’ve never seen it on someone who doesn’t look like a college student. I can also guess that people within about five years of my age were disproportionately targeted with social media ads, which means that you get a couple of milennials but a whole lot of Gen Z’ers who don’t have disposable income and probably only own the baseball cap and bag that comes with from Outdoor Voices, which in the long-term is not a very sustainable business strategy because we won’t have that kind of disposable income for awhile.

The last concept of OV that I always loved was the message that yes, you can wear the products just for athleisure, but there’s more depth to the products and the brand, which is something that I’ve always felt that lululemon lacked. OV products are meant to be used for intense gym workouts or strenuous hikes as well as more casual forms of exercise because you feel good about getting out there and participating in recreational activities and you get to wear products that aren’t as commonly seen as lululemon. I’ve always loved the initial concept of the brand that Ty Haney has talked about in interviews for years where she was running in what seemed like olympic-level apparel when it definitely didn’t have to be, there just weren’t any other options.

In the end, there are a lot of problems regarding customer acquisition for OV. Sure, with their initial funding they got me and others like me good and got us devoted to the brand, but anyone outside of this small demographic probably doesn’t even know of the brand. Their ads feature a diverse group of females, but a diverse group of people within a very small age range. They also have an entire men’s line but there are essentially no men in their ads. While I subscribe to the OV idea and lifestyle, having the loyalty of 21 y/o’s with limited disposable income is not a profitable nor sustainable customer acquisition to have.

Lastly, did you know that you can subscribe to the Business of Fashion for free as a student? How did I not know that? All you have to do is head to the BoF Professional page, look at the different memberships, and then click the line below the three types to set up a student account!

Where Art & Retail Meet

I visited the Minneapolis Institute of Art this Saturday for probably the 10th time, but for the first time I was truly amazed by the merchandising and selection in the Mia store/gift shop. This inspired me to think deeper into the intersection of art and retail and the psychology behind consuming art or “artsy” products.

Gift shops and stores within art museums are usually strategically placed right by the entrance and exit so that you have to pass them when you walk both in and out of the museum, which makes complete sense. And after looking at art that costs more than your life’s worth (probably) for a few hours, if you’re someone who is often inclined to buy souvenir-type items as a memory of a place, you’re likely to go into an art museum’s store to pick something small up.

This is where you’ll first come across the typical merchandise in an art museum store such as prints, posters, magnets, mugs, notebooks, stickers, pins, scarves, etc. that have the museum’s most notable artworks on them. I can’t afford to buy Starry Night, however, I can afford to buy a Starry Night poster to hang on my wall and a Starry Night mug to drink my coffee out of every morning.

What inspired me about the Mia store was the narrow yet incredibly expansive assortment of products from brands that I’ve often only seen on Instagram. The Mia art store has your typical products-postcards of the works within the museum, a table full of Mia-branded goods such as notebooks, shirts, caps, pens, etc., books covering a variety of art-related topics, and some high-end jewelry that ties into the different exhibits, but it was also filled with quirky, trendy, design-oriented and Instagram-famous products that were carefully placed into their respective places.

By quirky and trendy I mean Baggu bags, miniature things like puzzles, fun food-oriented items, cosmic astrology dust, and affordable and more modern acetate jewelry. Instagram-famous brands would be Baggu and Machete, and design-oriented items would be the HAY monochrome toothbrushes and the Poketo clear acrylic rulers, and protractors.

It was almost as if the store was merchandised specifically for me, and I would have never expected the Mia store to carry any of these products, so props to the merchandising team there. One example of this that I have is the small collection of Woll Jewelry at the Mia store, which is a jewelry brand I found on Instagram based out of California. I have not yet found a store that carries this brand of jewelry but have always really wanted to touch it prior to making a purchase because the jewelry is made out of an unconventional material. With it being in the Mia store, I got to touch it and feel it and interact with it in a way that I couldn’t otherwise do, which benefits both Woll and the Mia store.

Where I’m going with all of this is that there is so much more potential within an art museum store for products beyond the specifically-themed artwork gifts. With the more famous art museums such as the Met, it makes sense for the majority of the products to have prints of the Van Gogh’s, O’Keefe’s, and Monet’s, but there is still room to bring in products from small art and design shops or those jewelry makers you see on Instagram that make jewelry unlike the traditional kind found at art museums.

The Mia art store is a perfect example of an art store that capitalizes on not only the art that hangs within the museum and the educational resources such as books but also the lifestyles of people beyond the average art-goer who have money ready to spend on fun and quirky products that maybe don’t have anything to do with the art museum.

Is the airport the new mall?

I got an email this morning from Coresight research that had an intriguing headline; “Global Tourism: Improved Infrastructure and Enhanced Shopping Experiences Are Driving Airport Retail Sales.”

I couldn’t actually read the report because of not wanting to pay for a membership, but it got me thinking about my recent travels and helped me compile all of the retail-related travel behaviors I noticed while traveling last month.

First, I want to talk about my experiences with airport retail. I have been traveling alone since I was 10, and every time that I went to the airport, I bought the same things each time. I started with a bag of Haribo gummy bears and whatever brand of water was available at room-temperature at Hudson News. Once I hit 14, I added in some form of coffee, preferably from Dunkin if I could easily find one. Somewhere between 18 and 19 I started to buy business-related books, too, from whatever kinds of bookstores I could easily find. Last year was the first time that I got to try a vending machine with Benefit Cosmetics in it, and I only purchased a sample primer because I thought it was really cool to get makeup out of a vending machine.

I have the same purchasing routine almost every time that I travel (excluding when I have to lug my dog all over an airport), but flying internationally for the first time this year opened my eyes to airport retail because I actually paid attention to my surroundings. Here are some important points made with my commentary attached:

Between the brief details provided by the free page of the report and some of the notable mentions in this Retail Dive article, here are four of the most important factors of the boom of the airport retail industry:

  1. Airports have a price advantage and offer ample opportunities for convenience (Coresight). Of course they do! I’m obviously going to spend $4 on my room-temp water because there’s nowhere in an airport to get it cheaper. I’ll pay a ridiculous amount for a soy latte because I’m not going to get any better deals. I’ll even pay some amount for a primer that comes out of a vending machine just because it’s cool and I don’t know what else to do, and there are tons of other people who behave like this. If I feel like I’m carrying too much I can go and buy myself a bigger bag and if I’m bored out of my mind there are tons of places to buy myself a new book. When people travel, they like to do what’s easy, are willing to compromise on food prices, and probably feel like they deserve to treat themselves, which is part of the reason why stores in airports are usually so successful. Travelers tend to forget really important things, too, which definitely doesn’t hurt any retailer.
  2. Airport retailers have invested in engaging shopping experiences (Coresight). About a month ago I went through the Frankfurt airport, and was amazed with the visuals that I saw in almost every store. From luxury to The Body Shop, it was so hard to not just go into the stores and take pictures because of how amazing they all looked (Step it up, LGA). Below are two pictures that I took of the Hermes store that invoked a pretty deep emotional response from someone who pays attention to visuals with intense detail yet has no connection to the Hermes brand nor can even dream of being able to afford something from Hermes. Retailers of all sorts are capitalizing on the consumer desire for an engaging shopping experience, and it’s relatively easy to grab the attention of a wandering airport dweller trying to kill time.
Hermes, Frankfurt International Airport
Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

3. People traveling usually have disposable income (Retail Dive). While this is not always true, it’s true a lot of the time. Your standard airport dweller usually does have the budget to indulge in an airport, and if they have a lot of time on their hands, they will probably be pretty easy to convince to make a purchase. For people who are constantly travelling, the airport can become what a mall is to someone who doesn’t fly often- a place where you can get almost everything you need.

4. The rise of budget airlines (Coresight). I was exposed to the world of budget airlines in Europe last month, traveling in and out of the Bergamo Airport in Milan (basically an airport for Ryanair and other small, budget European airlines). When you get through security at Bergamo, you only have one option of where to walk, and it is down a long and winding hallway of stores of all kinds. The hallways eventually spits you out in an upscale food court with the few gates behind. I walked slower than I ever have down this hall, admiring all of the different shops and thinking about how this airport was very strategically designed to get people to shop it. The majority of people in the airport were only travelling with small bags due to probably only leaving their countries for a day or two, which made it easy for purchasing small goods. From local food and wine to luxury stores to toy stores and more, I had a blast dipping in and out of stores to kill the time. My favorite was a wine and pasta shop that sold Italian wines and bags of pasta that definitely catered to the tourists going through the airport. It took some major self-restraint to not buy a bunch of bags of pasta and multiple single-serve bottles of Prosecco.

Most of what I noticed in terms of airport retail really stood out to me in Europe, but the Retail Dive article above brought up some really great points regarding the future of airport retail in the U.S., and they all revolve around none other than Amazon and its potential impact.

Imagine an AmazonGo store in an airport where you could get essentially any small item that you would need in addition to a plethora of premade meals and ready-to-go snacks that you could then purchase without actually taking your wallet out with the cashier-less checkout technology. Woah. This would eliminate my reason to go to Hudson News for sure, because yanking my wallet out of my backpack is one of my least favorite parts of traveling when I just need a bottle of water so I don’t pass out.

The potential impact that Amazon has on airport retail in the U.S. is almost overwhelming to think about, so we’ll have to see where it goes.

Staples’ New Retail Concept

featured image from Chain Store Age

In this morning’s email from Chain Store Age, one of the leading articles was First Look: Staples launching new retail concept in Boston by Marianne Wilson.

My first thought was, “Wow, I haven’t heard anything about Staples in years.” I’m sure that there are plenty of others in that boat, too, and I was even more surprised that the headline had to do with innovation at Staples.

Once upon a time, when I used to go back to school shopping with my mom, for the earliest years I remember heading to Staples to get all of my supplies. I loved picking out new folders and notebooks, pens and paperclips, rulers and calculators, etc., and looked forward to it every year.

As I got older, we started to go to Target for back to school shopping instead, and only visited Staples to get the more obscure items that we couldn’t find at Target. The most recent time that I went to STaples was when my mom brought me there when I was 13 or 14 because I got an ugly virus on my Mac and none of us had a clue how to get it off and there were no such thing as Apple stores nearby.

Now, in my 20s and at the end of my education road for at least a couple years, I find myself buying any office supplies I need off of Amazon and heading to Target if for whatever reason I actually need a notebook. I had to think hard about why I would ever need to go to Staples, and I think that many people might have to ask themselves that question, too.

After reading this article, though, I’m really excited for the future of Staples and I’m incredibly optimistic about these new store formats. I believe that evolving from a warehouse type of store with ugly carpets and beat-up walls to a space where people can work, accomplish those life tasks that no one really knows how to do (get TSA precheck, print something when you don’t have a printer or print something larger than what the household printer can do, find a decent place to hold a meeting, record a podcast, find professional legal and tax help, etc.), and buy anything that you might need for any kind of office space is what Staples needs to become relevant in the life of the average American again.

Here is a quote from Mike Motz, CEO of Staples US Retail (pulled from the CSA article)-

“We recognize that the way people shop is changing, and with the launch of Staples Connect we are adapting to fit the needs of our customers. Our customers are teachers, students of all ages, small business owners and side hustlers. Research shows that much of what they are seeking is real human interaction with members of their community and industry, which is key to productivity and growth. At Staples Connect, we do more than just supply your success through product offerings, we wholeheartedly support it.”

Adapting to the needs of the Staples customer will be what shapes the future of “office retail.” I love that Motz points out that the Staples customer is a teacher, a student of any age, anyone with a side-hustle, or just anyone who does some kind of work.

There’s something welcoming to me about the Staples Connect idea, and I think that coworking at a Staples could be less intimidating than a hip, start-up coworking place that we hear so much about, especially when there are plenty of work-related services offered that you often have to go elsewhere to find.

I also think about the span across the US that Staples has. While this concept is only being tested in a few Boston stores and will probably not make its way into the more rural areas of the US, I think it could easily cater to suburban working Americans. If I still lived where I grew up in New York and owned my own small business, I would essentially have no options for coworking, printing resources, legal/marketing services, or anything of the such other than my tiny local library or heading down into NYC. However, there is a Staples 25 minutes away (which is a tiny, tiny commute for the area) and I would 100% go work there if the space was inviting and there were all kinds of resources for me and my business, which is what makes this idea so powerful for me.

I’m hoping that this concept is a successful one that can revive the Staples brand for the average working American.

What does resale mean for the Nordstrom shopper?

Nordstrom has just launched See You Tomorrow, a curated resale shop located in the NYC Flagship store. Everything in the shop has been bought by consumers who have either returned the products or have resold them back to Nordstrom (Forbes). See You Tomorrow is also online at https://seeyoutomorrow.nordstrom.com/.

All of the products in this shop-in-a-shop have been carefully examined and refurbished, and according to some of the people who have visited, look just as well put together as everything else in this Nordstrom location, but with lower prices.

Shoppers can bring their clothing items to the flagship store to consign for a Nordstrom gift card, but it is not clear if the clothing brought in has to be from Nordstrom or from a brand that Nordstrom carries. In the future, Nordstrom hopes to be able take in items that are sent to them from customers, not just brought in (Glossy). Returned products usually get sent to Nordstrom Rack to be sold at a steeply discounted price (Glossy).

The shop is set to be in the flagship location for at least 6 months and will expand into other locations depending on future success (Mall of America, please?).

You may be thinking, “Another department store doing resale? Eh.” but in my opinion, this is different than ThredUp in Macy’s or any other department store. I’ve been in a Macy’s that has a ThredUp section, and I was pretty disappointed. The only exciting thing to me was that I could be buying something used rather than new, but the display of the products was disorganized and overwhelming, and the product selection was confusing to me. At Nordstrom, these are items of clothing that are from designer or even luxury brands that are being sold at significantly lower prices than usual, which makes them affordable to wider range of people and therefore expands Nordstrom’s consumer base. There are lots of shoppers who avoid shopping at Nordstrom due to higher prices that aspire to own designer goods, and this gives shoppers access to high-quality goods at a fraction of the price.

Resale tends to make fashion more affordable to the masses, which is why I think that this is an amazing strategy for Nordstrom. I, a middle-class college student, can visit the store or the website and buy products that are in great condition that I wouldn’t usually be able to, which gives me more incentive to shop at Nordstrom. These products are also unique because they probably aren’t available on a mainstream level anymore. I trust that Nordstrom has taken good care of these products and that they have authenticated them to the best of anyone’s ability.

A big problem that major players in the resale world have run into has been authentication issues (@TheRealReal) that have put a damper on the trust that consumers have for these retailers. I don’t know why I trust Nordstrom to be better at this, but I just do. Nordstrom has been creating magic in the retail world as of late and I trust that the people behind See You Tomorrow want their curations to be as authentic as possible. Nordstrom also has an advantage in that many brands that are hesitant to sell at department stores do actually trust Nordstrom and know that Nordstrom can offer them something more than the rest.

I also think that this is a great move for Nordstrom because of how big the resale market is. The consumer mindset has shifted in the last few years as to what to do with things that we no longer need. It used to be “just throw it away” and moved towards “How else can I use this?” but now the first thought that many people have is “How can I make money off of this?”.

See You Tomorrow will give every person in New York an opportunity to resell their used designer products (because you know there are plenty of wealthy people in NY who have designer or luxury items that they no longer use) and make a quick profit off of them that can then be used to buy something else from Nordstrom.

I also really love how Nordstrom didn’t take a sustainability marketing angle and has focused more on the reselling of their products. While resale definitely cuts down on waste, this is not going to make a huge impact unless this idea truly scales across the country. And, you can’t forget that you can only get money back in the form of a Nordstrom gift card, which forces you to buy more from Nordstrom. However, if you then went and bought more things from the See You Tomorrow section, you are shopping in a more circular and sustainable way.

My last thought on this is that there is so much potential for Nordstrom here. Having a resale pop-up within the standard Nordstrom store makes hunting for that perfect, gently-used treasure that’s unattainable for most people a fun and exciting shopping experience, and encourages a wide range of shoppers to consider shopping for used items before buying new.

For more info/sources, visit :

The Future of Resale is Taking Shape at Nordstrom Now | Forbes (featured image source)

‘Resale and Retail Can Peacefully Coexist’: Inside Nordstrom’s long-term resale plans | Glossy