Industry Trends

What they're saying about Zipline

Industry Trends

Lessons from Shoptalk for Women: Empowering Retailers to Lead With Purpose

Since their groundbreaking announcement of an all-female speaker lineup for their 2020 conference, Shoptalk has been on a clear mission to empower women leaders throughout the retail industry. So when we got the opportunity to take part in their recent Virtual Meetup for Women, we jumped at the chance! Here’s what we learned…

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Industry Trends

Walgreens just launched 2-hour Delivery. Here’s what should happen next.

Last week, Walgreens made waves in the drugstore world by announcing: “nationwide, contactless, same-day delivery in under two hours.” This commitment to fast, same-day delivery is a trend we’re seeing explode across retail in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic – and it’s quickly becoming “table stakes” for drugstores like Walgreens.

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Industry Trends

People are the Heart of Retail

At NG Digital Retail Summit last week, Ron Thurston, Vice President of Stores at INTERMIX, called for industry leaders to display empathy as we shift and grow. “Whether it’s the empathy you show to your customers who walk through the door, the empathy that you show your team, or the empathy you have when you think about the challenges people everywhere faced in the last year.”


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Industry Trends

Why Gartner Attributes an Associate-First Strategy With Lowe’s Covid-19 Success

During a recent Gartner webinar, The Post-COVID-19 Playbook for Retail Store Associates, Senior Director Analyst Kelsie Marian examined how the pandemic both exposed the weaknesses in many retailers’ strategies and also revealed the strength of many retailers to pivot and adapt. 

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Industry Trends

NG Digital Retail Summit: How Retail Brands Must Leverage Technology to Meet Customers Where They Are

It’s no question that retail has fundamentally changed. Customer behaviors have rapidly evolved and the future of the brick-and-mortar store is unknown.

So, what’s next for the retail industry?


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Industry Trends

Emerging Trends in Retail for 2021 According to the Experts

After the arrival of a global pandemic, all predictions for 2020 were totally upended. The virus impacted the daily life of individuals everywhere, but it hit the retail industry particularly hard. As we head into 2021, retailers still find operations to be shaped by the effects of COVID-19


After facing a year of crisis, the industry is facing a great deal of uncertainty in how 2021 will unfold. Between emerging innovations, drastic shifts in consumer behaviour, and economic expectations, 2021 calls for retailers to continue to be nimble in the wake of change. 


We asked industry experts what emerging trends they’ve observed across retail! Here is what some thought leaders had to say…

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Industry Trends

Revenge Spending: How Retailers Can Prepare

A year ago, the pandemic rocked our world. Our jobs, our economy, and our daily lives were all impacted by the virus and the regulations and policies that followed it. Now, as regulations begin to lift, vaccinations become more widespread, and people receive stimulus checks, pent-up consumers are flocking back from mandated isolation to populate brick-and-mortar stores for in-person spending. 

Many are calling this emerging behavior “revenge spending.” We’ve seen these trends in China as well as here in local retail sales after the last round of stimulus checks. Innovative retailers that have survived the pandemic are expected to see a windfall gain from the gradual reopening of the US. 

As the federal government distributes stimulus checks to previously confined populations of Americans, we can expect a spike in increased spending in our stores. Here are a few ways that retailers can prepare for consumer revenge spending. 

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Industry Trends

Why Comms Will Only Become More Important as the World Reopens

A recent Wall Street Journal article titled ‘No Shoes, No Mask, No Service? Businesses Now Write the Rules on Face Coverings’ made me realize that getting store communications right is going to be more important than ever as regulations begin to relax and people slowly return to their normal routines. As states such as Texas remove the official mask mandate, businesses are left to write their own rules.

The article reads, “A patchwork of reactions at businesses large and small will likely define the American consumer experience over the next several months. Best Buy, Target and other major firms have responded by reinforcing Covid-19 rules already in place, while other executives have said the masks can come off. The commercial, rather than the political, arena could very well determine how much our lives look like a return to normal in the coming months.”

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Industry Trends

Zipline Department Stores Set Apart from the Competition

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of discussion about the fate of department stores that are unable to react and adapt to customers’ changing needs. Some experts have. forecasted the definitive death of department stores stuck in the dark ages while applauding the inventive reallocating of store resources to accommodate the shift in consumer traffic.

Department stores have focused on redefining their role for years. Some industry leaders like Kohl’s and Macy’s have already made innovative strides to breathe new life into old models, while others have lagged behind. That was all right before an international pandemic hit. 

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Industry Trends

How COVID Woke up Retail and Drove Lasting Innovation

Sarah Tava, Director of Brand Stores at Fjällräven North America, spends her days making sure that her fleet of stores is equipped with what they need. This is no small feat, to begin with, even before the challenges that 2020 brought to the mix. 

Still, despite the pandemic, Fjällräven was able to accelerate innovation and accomplish great things. Last year saw the brand open four more stores in major cities in North America. In the height of store closures, Fjällräven was able to keep their employees on board and engaged with ship-from-store capabilities, creating an infrastructure to strengthen store operations even when Covid-19 threatened to cripple it. 

At Future Stores Connect 2021, Retail Zipline CEO and Co-Founder Melissa Wong chatted with Sarah about how Fjällräven was able to transform operationally to be more responsive to market demands and meet customers where they were.

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Industry Trends

Stores: Still a Vital Part of the Retail Experience


Macy’s will close 125 retail locations by 2023. Is this a harbinger of the end of the physical store? Macy’s calls the move rightsizing, and says this is part of a merchandising transformation that includes an enhanced digital and store experience.

We call it the future of retail: brick-and-mortar stores that are thoughtfully placed and reinvented as part of a true omnichannel strategy. 

And we know that Macy’s isn’t alone. GNC, Tailored Brands, Signet, Zara and many others have cut their retail footprints. Coresight tracked 2,145 store closings in the first month of 2021. While some retailers won’t make it out of lockdown, many are seizing the opportunity to grow and thrive in the wake of disruption.

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Industry Trends

NRF 2021: Chapter One

Retail’s Big Show Addresses the Future of Retail

The National Retail Foundation has hosted an annual convention to unite industry leaders for over 100 years. With a pandemic underway, and the retail industry facing an unknown future, it was more important than ever for Retail’s Big Show to return virtually for its first chapter in 2021.

NRF 2021: Retail’s Big Show – Chapter One was focused entirely on the immediate needs of retailers today. In our new environment. Retail doesn’t stop moving forward, so we all move forward together. 

We had an incredible time hearing from industry experts and participating in conversations with visionary leaders from all over. These are some of the most important takeaways that we explored during NRF. 

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Industry Trends

Social responsibility initiatives at The Home Depot and Ulta Beauty build authentic relationships

It was no surprise that at NRF this week, a big topic of conversation was brands’ responsibility to stand behind social and environmental causes. 2020, of course, was marked by an international pandemic, the BLM movement, and an incredibly contentious election. In light of what was happening in the world, all businesses were forced to reflect on what they stand for and how they use their resources to improve the world around them. 

As the moderator of Wednesday’s session on social responsibility noted, “Being a socially responsible company is no longer a point of distinction, it’s the expectation among stakeholders– customers, employees, and capital investors.” 

NRF invited executives from two large brands to the table to discuss the role of social responsibility within retail; Ron Jarvis, chief sustainability officer at The Home Depot; and Dave Kimbell, ULTA Beauty president.

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Industry Trends

Four surprising ways Covid has changed the shopper journey

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has been a powerful catalyst for change in the retail industry. In the early months of pandemic, while scrambling to gain consumer trust, companies created quick solutions to address new standards of hygiene and safety. Now that shoppers are once again returning to physical stores, retailers are trying to build scalable, end-to-end experiences that will help their customers feel safe in the years to come.

When it comes to navigating this new normal, two brands in particular – Verizon and Suitsupply – are leading the way. Krista Bourna, SVP Consumer Sales & Operations at Verizon, and Fokke de Jong, CEO and Founder of Suitsupply, discussed their company’s learnings on stage at NRF. Here are four surprising takeaways from their talk:

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Industry Trends

Modern Day Build Versus Buy

I recently watched an interview between CVS Health Chief Digital Officer Firdaus Bhathena and Executive Director of Engineering Mike Michel. During the online session, called CVS Health Live: Office Hours, the two discussed the latest trends in digital health and shared their perspectives on what’s coming next. One poignant moment dealt with the company’s decision to build, versus buy, new technology.


Of the decision, Mike Michel says, “Buy what accelerates you. Build what differentiates you.” Michel’s summary is the most succinct and thoughtful opinion that we have heard from a resource-rich organization that understands that they need to focus their internal development on technology solutions that will differentiate their health offerings. Other software vendors can help them accelerate their business.


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Industry Trends

How Retail Zipline Protects Brands From Inevitable Covid Lawsuits

Chief Executive recently reported that more than 460 employment, labor and consumer lawsuits involving coronavirus safety claims were filed by the end of July. Regardless of how mindful you are about safety, any company that exposes its people to others is at risk of being sued.

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Industry Trends

Your Tech Vendor Just Got Acquired – – Now What?

At the end of July, one of the companies in our space, Reflexis, was acquired by a publicly traded tech behemoth, Zebra Technologies, for $575 million. Given the size of the deal and the fact that a sizable number of our customers were using Reflexis before switching to Retail Zipline, many people have asked us for our opinion on the deal.

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Industry Trends

Litigation and Retail – Protecting Your Brand From Harm

If you’re like most retailers, the threat of litigation is something you contend with regularly. With a pandemic still running rampant while stores reopen, many retailers are looking for software solutions to protect them from potential lawsuits.

Retail Zipline is designed to reduce risk and save retailers money by shortening investigations, providing a single source of truth, making it easy to demonstrate compliance, and substantially reducing the likelihood of being hit with huge fines or difficult lawsuits.

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Industry Trends

How Customers Influence the Product Development Process

At Zipline, we have a strong philosophy around retail communication and want our customers to buy-in to that vision and trust in our method of driving store execution, compliance, and happier employees. But, we also know that stores, HQ and upper field are constantly coming up with ideas to solve today’s challenges. That’s why we lead with conviction but know we can only win by really listening to customers.

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Industry Trends

Five Things Convenience Store Customers are Looking for in a Loyalty Program

Retail is a tough business. (Understatement of the year, right?) Consumers are swimming in a sea of seemingly endless options, all competing for their limited attention and disposable income. What’s the secret to business success? Your existing customers. It’s five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than keep a current one. And, current customers spend 67% more than new ones. 

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Industry Trends

What it means to be in service to stores

When scheduling becomes all about efficiency, workers suffer. They wind up with unpredictable shifts, which means they can’t adequately plan for childcare or classes, which is why many of them take retail jobs in the first place. In addition, they can’t accurately plan for how much income they will make month to month, since their employers can’t guarantee them a fixed number of hours. For most retail workers, the situation is frustrating, depressing and completely avoidable. 

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Industry Trends

Here’s the hardest thing about recalling furloughed workers. (Spoiler alert: It’s not the paperwork.)

Assuming you’ve been in touch with your work team members, you may have an idea where their mind is at; or maybe you only think you know. According to a recent international study of more than 2,000 employees conducted in March-April 2020, furloughed workers are 37% more likely to report mental health declines during the pandemic. What are things that weigh heavily in their minds? Some of their concerns are not so obvious.

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Industry Trends

Why SIP Didn’t Stop Leading Retailers From Implementing New Technology

Because Retail Zipline is a fully remote company, we watched our customers and prospects adapt to a new way of working and were pleasantly surprised to see how quickly it felt normal to ‘jump on a zoom’ instead of waiting a week or two for an in-person meeting.

Nick Coughlan, a sales director at Zipline, was in the middle of a deal with a large grocery chain when shelter in place orders were issued and non-essential workers began working from home. He explains his experience working with retailers during the pandemic in the following interview: 

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Industry Trends

The Store of the Future is going to need a communication upgrade

New sanitization standards, sticky floor mats, installation of temperature technology… all of that stuff requires instructions and guidelines be sent to stores, somehow. That 65-page operating manual, those training guidelines, that new print-in-store signage… all of that stuff has to live somewhere. And all of that stuff has to be sent and accessed in such a way so that all of a retailers’ locations – sometimes upwards of thousands – can give customers the same experience. 

All of these changes – as well as the reasons behind them – will need to be communicated to stores.

Here are five reasons why your “Store of the Future” is going to need a communication platform upgrade:

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Industry Trends

Brace Yourself: Returns are Coming

Online returns suck. Very few people want to print a shipping label and wait in line at the post office (does anybody even have a printer anymore?). And even fewer want to pay for return shipping. The alternative? Head to your nearest brick and mortar store with those wrinkled poly bags full of last season’s fashions in tow. 

So, what’s a retailer to do? Returns – especially online returns – are a huge source of friction of customers and associates alike. But companies that take the time now to prepare their field teams via clear and consistent communication will come out on top. Here are a few practical tips to help your stores weather the storm of returns.

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Industry Trends

How Essential Retailers are Helping Their Communities During COVID-19

In this article, we look at how eight leading essential retailers are helping those less fortunate in their communities during the pandemic. What stands out to us is that these companies rolled out these programs in the midst of what can only be described as the most chaotic few weeks of these businesses’ existence. To be able to innovate, move quickly and coordinate these efforts is a testament to the leadership and values of these brands. 

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Industry Trends

The Future of Grocery: What’s in Store (and what’s not)

With much of brick and mortar retail grinding to a halt during the pandemic, grocery stores are booming. Products are flying off the shelves more quickly than stores can re-stock. Many analysts believe that with the emergence of COVID-19, we are entering into a new age of grocery, one where the customer experience shifts to the convenience of online ordering and delivery, while still maintaining a safe and shoppable environment within stores’ four walls. To understand other trends, we looked to the experts to understand what good store execution will look like in the “new normal.” 

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Industry Trends

How Essential Retailers are Giving Back to Employees During COVID-19

We know that this period feels like holiday season X 1000 for essential retailers. The volume of communication, changes and updates are happening at a neck breaking pace. It’s chaotic and stressful for employees. But the stories that we hear of companies taking care of their essential workers during the pandemic give us hope that retail associates are finally being recognized and rewarded for the work they do to represent brands. Here are just a few examples of companies stepping up to do right by store associates.

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Industry Trends

Five Insights from Cannabis Retailers Navigating COVID-19

Deemed essential businesses in 30 states, cannabis stores have been allowed to stay open during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place. Advice from cannabis leaders can help retailers from other industries prepare for store reopenings. Here are five tips we gleaned from a recent FlowerHire webinar and articles published over the last few weeks.

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Industry Trends

Why Retailers Are Moving Forward With Tech Initiatives Despite Covid-19

A Retail Dive brief reports that lululemon, despite impacts from the coronavirus outbreak across its markets is sticking to its Power of Three growth plan after closing a $1.4 billion fourth quarter. In sports terms, we call this ‘beast mode.’

Other retailers are showing similar winning attitudes despite the current situation. They know that investing now will allow them to emerge as better, more agile companies after Covid-19.  L.L.Bean was ready to launch big technology initiatives just as the pandemic was closing stores around the globe. Rather than delay the projects, the company decided to move forward. We recently sat down with Corey Bouyea, Sr. Manager Store Operations, to learn more.

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Industry Trends

COVID-19: Retail Response Best Practices

In these uncertain times, it can be hard to know how to ease fear, keep your employees safe, and communicate and share updates as the situation around coronavirus (COVID-10) continues to evolve. Our talented team, many of which are former retail professionals, have been putting our heads together and came up with a few best practices for communicating during a crisis that we wanted to share with you.

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Industry Trends

Z-Tail Report: Gen Z Shopping Habits

As retailers create new strategies to engage shoppers through unique in-store experiences, study reveals 58% of Gen Z prefers a physical shopping experience.

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Industry Trends

Surviving the Dreaded Middle

The “middle class” of retail is getting squeezed. Here’s what they can do to fight.

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Industry Trends

Gen Z and Retail

Where Gen Z differs from the Millennial generation, and what it means for brick-and-mortar stores.

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Industry Trends

Retail: Learning from Banks

What retailers should learn from banks about creating engaging customer experiences in their brick-and-mortar spaces.

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Industry Trends

Brick and Mortar Success in a Digital World

Using physical stores to enhance customer experience and thrive in a digital landscape.

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Industry Trends

Learning from Digital Native Retailers

What traditional retailers should take away from their digital native counterparts.

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Industry Trends

Australian Lessons for American Retailers

Cautionary tales from Starbucks, Amazon, and beyond.

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