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Sourcing Summit: What Legacy Brands Can Learn from Digital Natives

Traditional apparel stores have been facing unprecedented difficulty bringing in traffic and sales, but the success of digital natives, particularly throughout the pandemic, has offered a blueprint for how these businesses can evolve.

Transitioning from a traditional mindset into an agility-focused retailer isn’t easy, but Foot Locker is taking notes from the new breed by leveraging its community to not just seek out a transaction, but also become an indispensable part of their lives. The athletic footwear and apparel retailer recently launched its Los Angeles community store to act as a culture hub for local consumers, artists and families and ultimately build significant connections with these shoppers.

In a Sourcing Summit session, Frank Bracken, executive vice president, general manager and CEO North America, Foot Locker, noted that millennials and Gen Z shoppers alike tend to feel disenfranchised and lonely, making it pivotal for the stores to foster genuine connections.

“We talk about humanity and personal relationships and as old and legacy as that sounds, shoppers can just come into our stores and talk with one of our associates about sneaker culture or the Lakers winning the NBA Championship,” Bracken said. “You stop by the Compton store and see the excitement, the lineups, the anticipation of what shoe is dropping. That’s a real thing that happens, and that spontaneity is something we sometimes take for granted.”

Sucharita Kodali, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, encourages retailers to examine data throughout the full lifecycle of the business, whether it’s coming from merchandising, store associates, fulfillment or back-end operations like a warehouse or a call center.

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And while companies don’t always have access to (or don’t know how to interpret) competitive insights, she said this data is useful in understanding lifetime value or thinking about different personalization tactics.

“So much of the data you have is from the same people that you’re looking at, but the best and most brilliant data is often when you’re able to step back and have that 30,000-to-50,000-square-foot view of what else is happening in the landscape,” Kodali said.

Kodali highlighted StyleSage and Edited as tools retailers should be prioritizing to parse industrywide market data.

The panel further focused on which apparel retailers have managed to stand out, how formats such as popups and dark stores have come to fruition, and retailers’ evolving relationships with landlords.

All the session’s from this year’s Sourcing Journal Summit, R/Evolution, are available on-demand for the first time. Follow this link for more information.