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July 21st, 2016

Are the Largest Retailers Also the Most Innovative?

On June 30th, NRF and Stores Magazine released their 100 Top Retailers for 2016, a list that uses sales to rank retailers. We thought it would be interesting to compare this list to the Retail Top 100 Mobile In-Store Experiences list that DMI released in January 2016. The DMI list ranks retailers based on the quality of mobile experiences available to customers inside brick and mortar stores. Mobile in-store experiences are one way that many leading retailers are closing the gap between the online and in-store experience to remain relevant to today’s demanding shoppers.

The question; are the largest retailers also the most innovative in terms of delivering mobile in-store experiences to their customers?

Below are the top 20 retailers announced by NRF. In parentheses is the ranking for each retailer on the DMI Top Mobile In-Store Experience list.

  1. Walmart (6)
  2. Kroger Co. (57)
  3. Costco (52)
  4. The Home Depot (2)
  5. Walgreens (1)
  6. Target (9)
  7. CVS Health (17)
  8. Amazon (NA)
  9. Albertsons (NA)
  10. Lowe’s Companies (NA)
  11. McDonald’s (NA)
  12. Best Buy (12)
  13. Apple Store/iTunes (NA)
  14. Publix (NA)
  15. Macy’s (31)
  16. Rite Aid (77)
  17. Ahold USA (NA)
  18. TJX (NA)
  19. Aldi (NA)
  20. Sears (19)

A number of the largest retailers like Walmart, Walgreens, The Home Depot and Target are also leaders in mobile in-store experiences. However, many of the largest retailers are laggards when it comes to in-store experiences. Now, let’s look at the top 20 retailers on the DMI Mobile In-Store Experience list. In parentheses is the ranking for each retailer on the NRF Top 100 list.

  1. Walgreens (5)
  2. The Home Depot (4)
  3. Sephora (NA)
  4. Nordstrom (34)
  5. Bloomingdale’s (15)
  6. Walmart (1)
  7. Saks 5th Avenue (67)
  8. JC Penney (39)
  9. Target (9)
  10. American Eagle (NA)
  11. Kohl’s (25)
  12. Best Buy (12)
  13. Dick’s Sporting Goods (59)
  14. Office Depot (60)
  15. Express (43)
  16. Athleta (38)
  17. CVS (7)
  18. Free People (NA)
  19. Sears (20)
  20. Neiman Marcus (78)

From this list, we can see that many smaller retailers are outperforming their larger rivals in the area of mobile in-store experiences. These smaller retailers are often growing quickly and are doing so by innovating rapidly and responding to the demands of their shoppers. As their traditional brick and mortar stores suffer, they are finding ways to remain relevant through innovation in their store experience, distribution, supply chain, etc. We call this trend ‘innovate to survive’.

Brands like Sephora, Nordstrom, Saks 5th Avenue, Dick’s Sporting Goods and others are proving that size doesn’t matter when it comes to closing the gap between online and in-store shopping. Sephora, in particular, seems to have made a large bet on technology as the key to its future…and it’s paying off. The brand’s mobile applications and in-store digital experiences continue to win numerous awards, achieve high usage levels and contribute substantially to the brand’s winning customer experience.

In the end, it appears that size doesn’t matter when it comes to true, customer-centric innovation in the retail space.

Jeremy Gilman, VP of Strategy

Tags: retail trends

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