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Retail Unwrapped - from The Robin Report
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Retail Unwrapped - from The Robin Report

Author: Robin Lewis and Shelley E. Kohan

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Welcome to Retail Unwrapped, a podcast from The Robin Report. 

Join Robin Lewis and Shelley E. Kohan each week as they share insights and unpack issues at the core of retail and consumer products. The conversations are lively and the opinions are honest. 

New episodes every Friday.


191 Episodes
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There was a time in retail when the route to the C-suite was from the sales floor, and future leadership was carefully groomed at companies like Lord & Taylor, Abraham & Strauss, and Macy’s. With many companies downsizing and eliminating training programs, plus integrating more technology, future retail CEOs may come from unexpected places. Pepsi has become the poster child for launching retail CEOs: Brian Cornell of Target, Lauren Hobart of Dick’s Sporting Goods, Vive...
Nordstrom’s core mission is to make customers feel good and look their best. And the retailer is legendary for listening to the customer and delivering customer service that “is not defined by us based on our legacy practices. It’s defined by customers. The customer is still the best filter we have for every business decision we make," according to Pete Nordstrom. Two industry giants, Bob Spector, and Paco Underhill, join Robin and Shelley as they discuss how Nordstrom’s culture that is focus...
Top headlines in retail reinforce the seismic shifts in the industry, including vertical integration, aligned brand platforms, private branding, new department store models, and updated workplace policies. It has all turned retail operations on its side as leaders grapple with how to master so many changes happening all at once. Join Robin and Shelley as they discuss the hot topics in today’s retail environment, including what Walmart’s recent earning report means, what’s up with CEO Kev...
Special guests Susan Vison, VP and executive director of REI’s Path Ahead Ventures, and Ed Chang, co-founder of Varlo, join Robin and Shelley to discuss how big companies can help elevate and support underrepresented BIPOC brand owners.An estimated one percent of founders in the outdoor industry identifies as a person of color, despite over 30 percent of outdoor participants identifying as such. REI is addressing that gap with its Path Ahead Ventures launched in 2021 to focus on providing sup...
Special Guest: Charlie Youakim, Chairman and CEO, SezzleThe BNPL market has exploded over the past two years as consumers have ramped up this fintech alternative to credit cards. Competition is heating up; will only the strong survive?Special guest Charlie Youakim, Chairman and CEO of Sezzle, joins Robin and Shelley to talk about how this online payment platform increases purchasing power for consumers with interest-free installment plans.Listen in to learn why BNPL is in such a growth mode (...
If Walmart, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase can’t figure out how to make healthcare work, then there is something seriously wrong with today’s U.S. retail healthcare model. In 2018 Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase announced a joint venture into healthcare called Haven. Three years into the venture, they walked away. Now Walmart is closing its clinics and telehealth services because it’s just not a sustainable business model. Join Robin and Shelley as they re...
The evolution of frictionless shopping in self-checkout continues to meet customer expectations and enhance the in-store experience. What’s behind the technology? Join Robin and Shelley to reveal the expanding role of RFID across retail industries and its broader use cases in supply chain, customer engagement areas, and combating theft and counterfeiting. This is a critical conversation you won’t want to miss. Special Guests: Bill Toney, Vice President Global, Food Soluti...
Weather analytics and retail are connected. The most basic connection is seasonal changes prompt seasonal sales. But there’s more to it. Special guest Evan Gold, EVP of Global Partnerships & Alliances at Planalytics joins Robin and Shelley to talk weather’s impact on retail. Learn how climate change has added complexities into understanding and managing one of retail’s biggest disruptive forces… the weather. Using analytics to better manage how today’s volatile weather patterns...
The state of AI in retail today can be as confusing as it is exciting. But it is a board mandate for retail, without question. The opportunity to drive higher productivity and profitability is massive, yet it’s still a technology that needs to be driven by a purpose. The first and most critical question: What are you trying to solve for? Join Purva Gupta, Co-Founder and CEO of Lily, with Robin and Shelley as they deconstruct the common pitfalls of “tech vendor math” and reveal a ne...
Recent failures of Matches, FarFetch, and Net-a-Porter has left Mythersea as the last luxe multi-brand standing. High spenders prefer to buy directly from brand companies like LVMH, Christian Dior, Gucci, and Hermès. And these luxe majors would rather sell directly to consumers than wholesale to a multi-branded ecommerce website. Join Robin and Shelley as they roll back the curtain on what’s going on with luxury ecomm. What’s more, live streaming will be another nail in the coffin ...
Consumers are speaking out. A class action lawsuit has been filed by two Hermès shoppers in Northern California who are fed up with sales tactics used by this luxury powerhouse. They allege that the French luxury brand violates federal and California antitrust laws when selling its iconic status-symbol Birkin and Kelly handbags. They claim Hermès has illegally forced customers to spend thousands of dollars on other products to gain access to buying a Birkin bag. Join Robin and Shell...
Don’t dismiss the power play of the growing community of content creators, recognized as the cultural leaders of the 21st century. Proof? The creator economy market is expected to double to $480 billion by 2027. Join Julian Greene, Head of Creator Partnerships at Flagship along with Robin and Shelley in a candid conversation about how social media has unlocked a flood of content creators and the monetization of creator commerce. They also dispel common myths surrounding the burgeon...
Here is a tale of four female CEOs with contrasting and compelling leadership styles. Take Mary Dillon, who led 288% revenue growth at Ulta but is now grappling with the past two years of slower growth at Footlocker. Contrast that with Fran Horowitz, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, who has overseen 16% growth in 2023 and a remarkable 10% CAGR since 2019 since 2017. Join Robin and Shelley as they delve into two leadership styles and strategic approaches to reveal how these two leaders...
Fashion ecomm has evolved from customers finding and visiting websites to seek out what they want, to search-enabled discovery, to today’s modern model of bringing fashion directly to you and replicating the excitement of impulse purchasing …online. The art and science of the shopping experience have also been perfected with the help of influencers who are real and authentic. Join special guest Tarek Müller, star entrepreneurial founder of ABOUTYOU along with Robin and Shelley in ...
Tony Spring is creating a bold new chapter at Macy’s and he will inevitably face off with activist vultures. His strength as a strategic marketer should pave the way to a reimagined Macy’s. Join Robin and Shelley as they dive into Spring’s strategic shift to close underperforming stores and open local, smaller format stores. They deconstruct how Macy’s will grow with a strategic emphasis on technology, data transparency, and AI-driven marketing to support a consumer-focused transformatio...
There’s a store across the street and thousands more just a key tap away. Consumers are addicted to the explosion of websites, marketplaces, and direct-to-consumer brands flooding cyberspace. The upside for consumers is lower prices and anything they want; the downside for brands is the impact on the environment and a race to the bottom. Join Robin and Shelley as they pull the curtain back on the U.S. retail marketplace. Quick preview: U.S. marketplace retail sales grew by an estimated 1...
One of the hottest tickets this year is the much-anticipated annual edition of Shoptalk in Las Vegas. This year’s key topics will not disappoint, with a focus on how AI can transform your business, create unified retail experiences, harness brand power, and build loyalty via seamless customer journeys. Join Robin, Shelley, and special guest Krystina Gustafson, SVP of Content for Shoptalk, as they share a sneak peek into one of the most talked about events of the year. For...
Here’s a provocative thought: The sum of retail is greater than its parts. Historically, retailers benchmark individual store profit for physical retail as a mainstay of performance measurement. But in a digital marketplace, brick-and-mortar profitability goes beyond the scope of the four walls.Join Robin, Shelley, and special guest Steve Morris, founder of ASG and a well-known real estate strategist, as they redefine profitability in an omnichannel world. Listen to this insightful conversati...
Returns have become a huge headache for retailers and a hassle for customers -- and the growth of online sales has exacerbated the problem. The cost of returns continues to skyrocket, impacting the bottom line, and at the same time, the negative environmental impact of returned goods is growing. Join Robin, Shelley, and special guest David Sobie, Co-founder and CEO of Happy Returns, a software and reverse logistics company that enables frictionless, no-box, no-label returns for mer...
The retail environment is moving at lightning speed, making C-suite succession planning more difficult. Case in point? Gap has had a revolving door of CEOs ever since trying to replace Mickey Drexler. Leading the retail industry in a digital marketplace and finding the right talent has become an exercise in art and science. Join Robin, Shelley, and Kevin Finnegan from Global Recruiters of Lowcountry as they discuss why understanding frontline workers and moving fast on the tech side are ...
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