Enough With the U.S. Retail Apocalypse

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Enough with the retail apocalypse, courtesy of Amazon.com Inc., and welcome to the omni-channel experience. This is the message of Barbara E. Kahn, professor of marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and this week's guest on Masters in Business.

Kahn, the author of “The Shopping Revolution: How Successful Retailers Win Customers in an Era of Endless Disruption,” cites Target Corp., Macy's Inc., Home Depot Inc. and others as examples of retailers that have learned how to survive and even thrive in the age of Amazon. Some have exploited online, others rely on big box stores or smaller urban outlets with a different product mix, while others add services like curbside pickup and in-store ordering for home delivery.

Her “retail matrix” analyses four factors that affect retailers: brands, experiential, frictionless and low-cost. These ingredients largely determine success amid brutal competition.

Meanwhile, Kahn says, “digitally native vertical brands” have become big sellers. Niche brands like Warby Parker eyeglasses, Casper mattresses and Allbirds shoes are creating a very different shopping experience -- and competing successfully against the retail behemoths.

Her favorite books are here; the transcript of our conversation is posted here.

You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunesBloombergOvercast and Stitcher. Our earlier podcasts can all be found at iTunesStitcherOvercast and Bloomberg.

Next week, we speak with James Millstein, co-chairman of Guggenheim Securities LLC, and former chief restructuring officer at the U.S. Treasury Department, where he was the principal architect of reorganizing American International Group Inc. after its collapse.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”

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