Checking in With the Retail Apocalypse

Thorsten Linz
Apr 6, 2019 · 3 min read
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Photo Credit: Amazon

In 2017, people were declaring that the “Retail Apocalypse” was upon us. Experts were predicting that Sears, Kmart and Macy’s were on the edge of extinction. Retail, in short was doomed.

But it wasn’t.

Retail as we knew it was doomed. Companies that didn’t evolve with our tastes and shopping habits didn’t survive. In other words, Ecommerce didn’t kill traditional retail. The status quo did.

We wrote about this in 2017, and included some case studies of some of the retailers we thought were doing it right.

  • The Target Open House concept store is still going strong. They are still featuring small startups and manufacturers. But, that didn’t seem to stem the tide of store closures. Target closed over 30 underperforming stores since 2017. However, they haven’t stop their drive for innovation and their passion for the customer experience.
  • Wingtip, the massive retail space and private club in downtown San Francisco dedicated to “the finer things,” is still kicking. They seem to be focusing more on the private club aspect of their business, which seems to be doing well.
  • Birchbox is still doing well, in fact they took the online to offline by partnering with Walgreens. Customers can shop a curated mix of indie makeup brands at Select Walgreens and Duane Reade stores that is set up like a boutique customer experience.
  • Warby Parker disrupted the eyeglass industry further by offering eye exams in select markets and their online/offline approach to sales is a hit. They innovating their in-home try on service even more with Augmented Reality.
  • Stitch Fix is still going strong but now offers “fixes” for kids. Their innovative data-driven approach is obviously working, they sold $1.9 Billion last year.
  • Shoes of Prey, the custom shoe retailer, stopped taking orders in August of 2018, citing an inability to scale to a mass market. But, that doesn’t mean that customizable shoes are a non-starter. Nike seems to be doing just fine with their customizable shoes, but Adidas closed up shop on their Mididasline.
  • Ministry of Supply, the 3D-printed professional knitwear company, is still innovating new ways to make professional clothing more versatile and wearable.
  • Amazon Go went from a small pilot store only available to Amazon employees, to a plan to possibly roll out 3000 stores by 2021.

As far as Sears, Kmart and Macy’s, well they are clinging to life. But with store closings, they seem to making plans for reinvention. Kmart is kaput for sure, but Sears and Macy’s are looking into new business models and taking on an innovative approach to solving their dilemmas.

Sears is looking at smaller footprints with a focus on tools and appliances. Macy’s is closing underperforming stores to focus on improving the customer experience design for the remaining ones. Both retail giants also plan on a bigger focus on digital and mobile experiences.

Want to learn more about the exponential retail innovations happening right now? Download our whitepaper and let’s get the conversation started on our LinkedIn Group.

Simplify Innovators

Thorsten Linz

Written by

Lean Startup Coach, Mentor, Growth Marketer, Technologist, SingularityU Ambassador, Chief Everything Officer @ Innovare AI

Simplify Innovators

Simplify’s Medium channel about Business Innovation, Corporate Change and Culture, and Exponential Organization Design

Thorsten Linz

Written by

Lean Startup Coach, Mentor, Growth Marketer, Technologist, SingularityU Ambassador, Chief Everything Officer @ Innovare AI

Simplify Innovators

Simplify’s Medium channel about Business Innovation, Corporate Change and Culture, and Exponential Organization Design

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