STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 39

MEETING A MARKETPLACE NEED
In 2007, consultant Bill Mirabito was in a
strikingly similar position to where he is now: at
the helm of a brand-new startup. Then, he left a
position as a senior retail analyst with Forrester
Research to found ecommerce consulting
firm B2C Partners. Now, his new company is
Floorwatch, a smartphone app that allows instore shoppers to get the attention and assistance
of associates in more than 57,000 stores with a
single download.
In both cases, Mirabito met a marketplace need.
He chose the consultant path after spending half
of his days on the phone with clients wanting more
detailed advice, and founded Floorwatch after a
2015 survey of more than 1,100 shoppers showed
their primary in-store problem was the inability to
find help when they needed it.
The concept for the app came after customer
feedback, not before - which is an important
point. Over the years, Mirabito has seen
numerous retailers touting technology in
the name of innovation, regardless of
consumer wants.
In leaner times, when this crop of companies
began, new technology was explored first as
the answer to a business need. Otherwise, costs
would have been too high for flights of fancy.
Indochino's Green echoes the sentiment. "I've
heard of retail tech teams developing robot
associates in stores with an iPad for a chest," he
says. "I've seen stories about piloting drones in
stores, and using augmented reality. But I don't
know any consumer that's asking for this stuff.
What they want is to connect to a human being
- a store associate - who is knowledgeable
and attentive."
"I find it over and over again," he says.
"There's too much technology without really
relating to the customer experience and business
return on investment."
In Indochino's made-to-measure category, there
are always new options for how a customer can
be fitted, and it would be "easy to gravitate to
that new technology. But our belief is entirely in
the experience that we can drive, and not just the
product ... . We don't introduce things lightly."
Over time, that plan has paid off. If Green,
who joined Indochino in 2015, was going to
start the company today, he'd enter a crowded
field without much opportunity to differentiate.
But starting lean - and holding on - helped
place the company out front.
So, too, with one other standout 2007 startup:
Fitbit. Over the last decade, Fitbit has grown
STORES.ORG

from two 30-year-old employees trying to inspire
people to lead healthier, more active lives to
more than 60 million devices sold. In 2016, the
company posted annual revenue of $2.17 billion.
Along the way, it racked up numerous awards -
and countless competitors.
THINK DIFFERENT
Consultant Bob Phibbs, CEO of The Retail
Doctor, looks back on 2007 as a time when some
had an inkling of what was coming, but no one
had the full picture. That stands for both the
economy and the way technology - particularly
mobile - would influence retail overall.
Then, he says, traditional retailers still held all the
cards; there was no thought of picking up a phone
and scanning something, being able to purchase
items online 24 hours a day or finding product
knowledge somewhere other than the store.
Consider Rue La La, a member of the online
flash sale category of disruptors that appeared
near the start of the recession. "Rue La La
was designed to revolutionize the shopping
experience," says Jeff Steeves, senior vice
president of marketing for the company, founded
in 2008.
"The objective was to develop a curated
experience of the best brands from around
the world and an exclusive members-only
environment, and bring customers to the brands
they love - and provide a bit of theater while
doing it."
Today, the company continues to innovate, and
now sees more than 70 percent of traffic and 60
percent of sales come through mobile shopping
environments.
To be sure, dissatisfaction, new possibilities
and the idea of "why can't things be done
differently?" have led to great changes. But some
things have remained the same.
"It still comes down to this," Phibbs says.
"Who is your customer, and how are you going
to reach them?"
If today's crop of disruptors hopes to succeed
like those now in business a decade, they'd do
wise to explore the lessons of years ago: branded
experience, authentic connection with the
customer, well-trained associates and innovation
for more than simply innovation's sake.
"Today, there are too many places to buy too
much of the same thing," Phibbs says. "It really
does have to feel different."

"There are
so many more
professional
women today
living their lives
and creating their
destinies than at
any other point
in time. It's such
a powerful time
for a company like
Journelle ... to be
able to tap into
that wave."
- Lyn Lewis, Journelle

Fiona Soltes, a freelancer based near Nashville, Tenn., loves
a good bargain almost as much as she loves a good story.
STORES August 2017 39


http://www.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine -August 2017

Editor’s Page
President’s Page
Retail Politics
NRF News
Trends
Retail People
Hot 100 Retailers
Forward Thinkers
Personalized Pricing
C2W
Q&A
Store Operations
Omnichannel
Marketing
Online
Finance
Business Operations
Startup Spotlight
Security
Fraud
STORES at 100
NRF Communities Update
End Cap
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - intro
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - cover1
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - cover2
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 3
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 4
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 5
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Editor’s Page
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 7
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - President’s Page
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 9
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Retail Politics
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - NRF News
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Trends
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 13
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 14
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 15
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Retail People
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 17
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 18
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Hot 100 Retailers
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 20
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 21
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 22
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 23
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 24
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 25
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 26
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 27
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 28
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 29
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 30
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 31
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 32
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 33
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 34
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 35
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Forward Thinkers
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 37
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 38
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 39
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Personalized Pricing
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 41
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 42
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - C2W
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Q&A
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 45
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Store Operations
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 47
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Omnichannel
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 49
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Marketing
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 51
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Online
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 53
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Finance
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 55
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Business Operations
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Startup Spotlight
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 58
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Security
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 60
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - Fraud
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 62
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - 63
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - STORES at 100
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - NRF Communities Update
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - End Cap
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - cover3
STORES Magazine -August 2017 - cover4
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