Report: Walmart asks vendors to fund Savings Catcher

Carol's latest Retail Wire weigh in on Walmart's Savings Catcher supplier request...and double standards.

As I stated in the City Wire article, given Walmart's data mining and analytic capabilities, the burden of accountability for uncovering and managing price discrepancies through the Savings Catcher program would seem to fall squarely on Walmart. This isn't a question of responsibility (or shouldn't be) then, but one of partnership. In this case, suppliers are being asked to partner with Walmart on an innovative digital savings platform that has perhaps proved more successful (in terms of adoption) than it imagined. This is no different from any number of other co-op support "opportunities" that many other retailers vigorously urge their suppliers to support. Why is it called "bullying" when Walmart is involved?

Read the article and check out the rest of the discussion.

Uniqlo sees U.S. as land of retailing opportunity

Carol's latest Retail Wire weigh-in on Uniqlo's U.S. store ramp-up.

A few years ago, Uniqlo was taking a measured approach to its U.S. expansion (Gap should thank its lucky stars). Now, Uniqlo is putting pedal to the metal, complete with fascinating where-are-they-now talent grabs (remember Walmart's much-maligned marketing maven, John Fleming? Now heading up Uniqlo's global e-comm).

Uniqlo's success rests on it rocking its still-limited, flagship-forward physical retail presence and driving scale through digital. It's not a bad strategy. Uniqlo drives awareness through its well-located stores which are brimming with well-priced, better basics and a smattering of exclusive technical togs. Once Uniqlo sets the hook, many shoppers will hit for future orders once they get back home.

Will Uniqlo continue to eschew small formats and stick with its flagship scheme? If so, digital will have to pick up the slack and drive the scale. Look to Williams Sonoma to see how it's done.

Read the article and check out the rest of the discussion.

RadioShack lives!

Carol's latest Retail Wire weigh-in on Radio Shack's hookup with Sprint and how its choice of a new chief might hint at future strategy.

Name recognition counts for a lot and literal deconstruction of the Radio Shack banner misses the point. Radio Shack's biggest challenge is that its locations are known for selling hardware. As households move to wireless solutions, cloud storage, etc., and as competitors like Best Buy and Walmart get better at balancing digital and physical assortments (showcasing high-margin, grab-and-go accessories in store, for example), that's a problem. It's quite interesting that a Dell executive has been tapped for the top spot. Dell, the company that went contrarian by doubling down on hardware (PCs) as a gateway to more profitable services and solutions. Hmmmm.

Read the article and check out the rest of the discussion