This Week in eCommerce, August 27, 2021

Brittany Blackman
Aug 26, 2021

Amazon to Open Brick and Mortar Locations

After shaking up online shopping, convenience stores, bookstores, grocery stores and other projects, Amazon is looking to sneak into yet another market segment: department stores. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that some of the first Amazon department stores are expected to be in California and Ohio. The locations will stretch around 30,000 square feet, around the size of a Kohl’s or T.J. Maxx store but, notably only around a third of the size of a typical department store.

If you’re reading between the lines, this is yet another move that assists Amazon in collecting as much possible data on consumers as possible. 

Amazon’s department stores will add a new, specifically curated layer of information on each customer. They’ll be able to track how long shoppers spend looking at certain items, what areas they visit in the store and what items they consider before making a purchase. That increase in data will allow Amazon to create even more effective personalized campaigns for customers. 

CNBC reports that the news had a ripple effect across the retail industry, hitting the stocks of big-box rivals. Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy shares fell roughly 1.5% in premarket trading, while Walmart shares were down about 1%.

Amazon’s new foray into department stores would put even more pressure on the likes of struggling retailers like J.C. Penney, Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus. All of which filed for bankruptcy last year. Nordstrom and Macy’s have also been investing heavily in an effort to attract new customers, including opening smaller format stores and improving their eCommerce businesses.

We’ll see who comes out on top. 

Here We Go Again: Toys R Us to Open 400 Shops Within Macys

For what seems like the 37th time, we are here to report that Toys R’ Us is making another comeback. Well, they’re attempting to at least. 

The Toys R Us brand is teaming up with Macy's to open more than 400 shop-in-shops inside the retailer's department stores. Macy’s says that Toys ‘R’ Us is a recognizable brand that could help expand its reach in the toy business space while also making some leeway into competing with its primary competitors, Walmart and Target. The legendary toy store is already featured big ‘n boldly on the department store’s website. The co-branded page is owned by brand management company WHP Global

Back in March, WHP Global announced its acquisition of Tru Kids, parent company of Toys ‘R’ Us, as well as its plans to launch a few physical stores ahead of the 2021 holiday season. And famously after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and shutting down all of its U.S. and UK locations in 2018, Toys ‘R’ Us was revived by Tru Kids. They even tried to launch a few pop-ups, which didn’t exactly make an impact. 

Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette said the partnership with Toys R Us grew out of the small toy business the retailer launched through its lower-ticket Backstage segment, where toys were a "standout" category. With the Toys R Us partnership, Macy's toy business could expand fourfold, helping it keep up with its competitors. 

WHP Global didn’t say how long it will partner with Macy’s, but it will surely be interesting to watch how this unfolds for the troubled new companions. 

Old Navy Expands Size Selections

For many brands, the tickets to keeping a burgeoning Gen Z and Millennial demographic of shoppers loyal are sustainability and inclusivity. If a brand isn’t offering one, they better be offering the other. Old Navy took the hint. 

Old Navy is revolutionizing the shopping experience with the launch of BODEQUALITY. Beginning on August 20, Old Navy will redefine size inclusion, offering every one of its women’s styles, in every size, with no price difference. Typically, it is a tough journey for plus-sized women in America to not only find clothing in their size, but to find stylish clothing in their size that isn’t at an upcharge. 

Old Navy will soon offer sizes 0-28 and XS-4X for all of its women’s styles in its stores, and up to size 30 online, a far leap from where fashion was just a decade ago. On its website, the Gap Inc.-owned brand will create a one stop destination for all women’s clothing. 

Old Navy will also rearrange merchandise across its 1,200 stores, so that customers in search of extended sizes won’t be directed to a separate area to browse. This had been the case since Old Navy debuted dedicated plus-size shops in 75 stores in 2018. All stores will soon feature mannequins in sizes four, 12 and 18.

Old Navy’s investments come as the plus-size apparel category is seeing major growth, in part because of an increasing obesity rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 73.6% of all U.S. adults over the age of 20 are overweight, with the average woman wearing a size 16 to 18.

Old Navy is relying on its parent’s learnings from luxury athleisure brand Athleta. The women’s workout line, also owned by Gap, has added plus-size mannequins to its stores and made more of its styles available in extended sizes in recent months. The brands have been working simultaneously over the years on their respective plus-size launches.