100 years young

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The year was 1918. The biggest headline heralded the end of World War I, while other prominent news stories covered the Great Train Wreck in Nashville and the creation of time zones and Daylight Saving Time by the U.S. Congress. Luminaries Mickey Spillane, Ted Williams and Leonard Bernstein were born in 1918, and a new trade publication intended to serve the needs of the growing retail industry published its first edition.

It was called STORES.

From the early days, there was plenty to write about. Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, Nordstrom, J.C.Penney and Neiman Marcus were already established retail companies — and in 1918, Brooks Brothers celebrated its first 100 years in business.

For decades, STORES focused its editorial coverage on department stores, featuring plenty of stories about merchandising and marketing. The pages were filled with articles that discussed how to better serve the changing customer and the importance of building relationships and developing services to cater to shoppers’ needs.

We’re still discussing those same topics 100 years later. PSFK’s latest “The Future of Retail” report details how our industry is competing across channels by building an intelligence foundation — underpinning enhanced customer experiences with a layer of strategic information enabled by technology. Retailers are looking for ways to be more responsive to shifting consumer priorities and striving to create environments that cultivate discovery and encourage community.

While connecting with consumers remains a recurring tenet of success, retail has changed so much over the years that merchants doing business in the ‘60s, ‘70s — even the ‘80s — would be hard-pressed to understand the challenges their colleagues face today. As the industry moves swiftly toward convergence where physical and digital channels blend as one, disruption has claimed a prominent seat in the boardroom. Today’s conversations move from a frictionless experience to responsive logistics to capitalizing on an Internet of Things-enabled infrastructure.

This month’s cover story discusses how the points once used to measure retail performance no longer apply. With consumers now shopping across multiple physical and digital channels, store closures should not be viewed as a sign of distress but as a marker of change. As headlines have shown, companies that refused to evolve and/or embrace disruption are now suffering the consequences.

Ecommerce is part of doing business as a 21st-century retailer. It’s not killing bricks-and-mortar, it’s simply a component of the changing face of this industry — without it, a retailer’s business is half-baked.

In the more than 25 years that I’ve been involved in some fashion with STORES, I’ve watched it change along with the industry. Our coverage now spans all types of retail, multiple channels and emerging hybrid businesses. We devote pages and pages of coverage to the role technology plays in our industry; we celebrate new concepts, have conversations with industry leaders and forward thinkers and endeavor to keep a finger on the pulse of emerging trends.

We think of STORES as a business publication for retailers, and much like the companies we feature, we hope to connect with our customers.

We may be 100 years old, but we’re just getting started.

Follow @Susan_Reda and #STORESMag on Twitter for retail news and trends.

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