Target is putting on a Nutcracker that is actually nothing like the Nutcracker. Read about that and so much more in the BloomReach Relevance Report.

So, the last Saturday in October. Don’t slide into November without reading the BloomReach Relevance Report. It’s bad luck. Or something.

Target targets holiday shoppers starting, well, about now

Target store

Give us a moment as we sift through Target’s holiday advertising plan. There is a lot to like, we think. Of course, we’re saps and suckers for the holidays.

But let’s start with what we don’t like, just to try to lend the BRRR a little credibility. First there’s this eight-minute musical the retailer is producing. It’s just like “The Nutcracker,” the Target folks say, except instead of Tchaikovsky the music will be hip hop.

Oh, and instead of the Sugar Plum Fairy and toy soldiers, Target will be slipping in Trolls and Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles. (Hey wait. Isn’t Toys R Us using Trolls in its holiday advertising?)

Oh, and, about those swords used in the battle scene? Those will be microphones. And, one more thing, instead of calling it “The Nutcracker,” Target is calling it “The Toycracker.”

So, it will be just like “The Nutcracker,” except nothing like “The Nutcracker.”

We never liked musicals, anyway. They always seemed like good stories, constantly interrupted by singing. Sort of like good TV, being interrupted by commercials, which actually, the Toycracker is. It will be shown in two four-minute segments during the airing of “Frozen,” which is, well, a musical.


But it gets better. Target is bringing back Ginger Breadington, Target’s spokescookie. Honestly, we don’t remember Mr. Breadington, but he sounds pretty cute. Unlike musicals, we like talking food. Best of all, Mr. B is going to show up on Snapchat as a filter, according to website U.S. campaign. That means, U.S. campaign says, people can send “ginger snaps.”

Oh yeah, but it also gets worse. Target is rolling its campaign out before the Nov. 8 presidential election. As in the first week of November. As in really early.

So, get ready.

Will Amazon ever be a retail-profit powerhouse?

Enough with the Amazon-taking-over-the-world stuff. Sure, we’ve been beating that drum and we figure it’s time for a respite. Here it is: A smarty-pants The Wall Street Journal columnist notes that more than half of Amazon’s earnings come from pursuits other than retail.

Maybe that’s not stunning news, given Amazon’s well-publicized success in the web-hosting world. But WSJ columnist Steven Russolillo has a furthermore: If AMZN wants to continue its gravity-defying (and, at times, logic-defying) stock-price rise, it needs to prove that it can be a killer retail company.

So far, the jury is out, though it’s spent tons on warehouses and delivery systems and the machines to make them hum. Apparently when a lot of money gets spent, investors like to see that much and a lot more come rolling in. And it might.

In fact, it better, Russolillo says, because as juicy as Amazon’s web services business is, it’s vulnerable to other big-name companies that are unleashing big cloud initiatives. The competition will be intense. There will be pressure on pricing, etc.

Amazon might indeed be giving retailers fits, but, Russolillo says, the big competitors in the cloud are not “dowdy brick-and-mortar merchants.”


 We want it here yesterday

Amazon box marked heavy

It seems two days is the new three-to-four days. CNBC reports that a recent Deloitte survey says that a dwindling number of customers consider three or four day delivery as “fast.”

Last year well over half (63 percent) said getting the goods within four days felt fast. This year, that number is down to 42 percent.

The culprit? Yeah, Amazon and its two-day Prime service, CNBC supposes. But it’s not just Amazon. Other retailers are also upping their game, the story says. More retailers with a physical presence are shipping orders from their stores, cutting down on delivery times, the story notes.

Oh, and, CNBC also points out that Amazon is rolling out same-day delivery to more markets. So, the number who say within four days is fast, slips from 63 percent last year to 42 percent this year.

Are we looking at 42 to 27 percent next year?

What Amazon has in store with stores

Marshall Field's sign

urns out those physical book emporiums that Amazon has opened aren’t stores at all.

They’re laboratories. The head of Amazon Web Services told the crew at the Wall Street Journal’s annual digital conference that the bookstores are a way for the company to noodle around with how it might use online customer data to build better experiences in a brick-and-mortar store.

It so happens that building better experiences in a store is a way to make more money. Combining in-store and online data has also been a big initiative for most retailers with brick-and-mortar outlets, given that shoppers increasingly no longer differentiate between online and in-store shopping. It’s just shopping.

Andy Jassy, the Amazon guy who spoke at Wall Street Journal Live D conference, said the Amazonians are pretty darn pleased with the way the experiment is going.

So you might ask yourself: Why would Amazon open stores to conduct experiments to see how it could sell more stuff in stores when it didn’t have stores to sell stuff in, until it opened the experimental stores?

All right, actually, you’d probably ask yourself a far less-convoluted sentence than that. The BRRR has its own syntax problems.

Anyway, after all that: We don’t know. But we could guess. We love guesses.

For some time there has been talk about major retailers selling their wares through Amazon. (Well, OK, Gap talked about it.) And Amazon has been courting fashion brands.

What if Amazon could offer retailers and brands not only its “storefront,” which consumers rush through constantly, but also deep data from online that could be used in-store?

Or what if Amazon created another business unit, ala Amazon Web Services, that somehow provided just the analytics, based on what it learns with its laboratory stores?

Some look at Amazon’s latest moves and ask: Who knows? We prefer to look at Amazon’s latest moves and ask: What if?

Minneapolis’ Downtown Macy’s may be doomed

Minneapolis’ iconic Macy’s store could be on thin ice, which is a phrase they rarely get to use in Minnesota. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the retailer is far along in negotiations with a buyer who would convert the historic building mostly into office space, the Star Tribune says.

Macy’s isn’t saying anything. The company has talked for some time about unloading some of its valuable real estate and possibly leasing space back from the new owners. The ST story says it’s possible, but not certain, that Macy’s could keep a small retail presence in the building, through which you could trace the history of Minneapolis retail.

The Star Tribune points out that the Macy’s site is huge, 1 million square feet in three adjacent buildings, built between 1902 and 1929. It once housed the flagship store of the Dayton’s chain, the original parent of Target. In 2001, the building became a Marshall Field’s, the iconic Chicago department store that was purchased by Macy’s in 2005.

Quote of the week

“We got to send an important message that we’d rather invite people to go outside with us rather than be fighting it out in the aisles.” — REI CEO Jerry Stritzke, in an email to the Associated Press explaining the retailer’s decision to double down on last year’s Black Friday closing.

Amazon logo courtesy of Amazon. Photos by Mike Cassidy.

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at mike.cassidy@bloomreach.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.