The retail apocalypse is causing one company to rethink its entire strategy

It didn't take long for Hershey to mention its push into e-commerce on Wednesday's earnings call.

In prepared remarks at the beginning of the conference call, president and CEO Michele Buck listed online retail as a major focus and potential growth area for the company. She mentioned collaboration with brick-and-mortar retailers, as well as efforts to better accommodate the needs of online shoppers.


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Her comments did not fall on deaf ears.

Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow circled back to them during the Q&A portion of the call, asking about what he interpreted as a "change of tone regarding the sense of urgency to get bigger in e-commerce." He mentioned that in his discussions with investors, he'd noticed concern over the dwindling number of cash registers — the epicenter of the confectionary impulse purchases so crucial to Hershey sales.

"I think it is fair to say that we are dialing up," replied Buck, who also stressed that Hershey's impulse and take-home business showed "pretty strong performance" during the period.

10 retailers keeping brick and mortar afloat

10 retailers keeping brick and mortar afloat
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10 retailers keeping brick and mortar afloat


Everywhere you turn, you see an Apple product. Apple has truly become one of the most successful retail companies ever. Even though they're relative newcomers to the retail scene, they've managed to achieve huge success on the market with their products at their more than 400 stores.

One aspect of their business model that comes with significant benefits is that they're frequently introducing new versions of products. If you really think about it, it's remarkable how a company that stands for technological innovation and new trends relies on the old ways of conducting sales and customer service. But, what would you expect from a company with an endless parade of gadgets that often require instructions? Trained and informed staff to the rescue!

Photo credit: Reuters

Tiffany and Co.

Diamonds are still many a girl's best friend. And ladies still need to go into the store to see if it's the right fit. Tiffany and Co. know exactly what they're selling. They're on top of trends and innovation, but still follow the traditional way of sales.

Tiffany and Co. was founded in 1837 and their flagship Manhattan location has been featured in numerous movies. They have 260 stores.

Photo credit: Reuters

Lululemon Athletica

Lululemon sells yoga, running, fitness and sports apparel. Consumers flock to their stores as it gives them the opportunity to try out the clothes before buying.

Let's be honest, most of us need a little extra time with the clothing to see if it fits us right, or gives us optimal flexibility on the track, mat or anywhere else.

Lululemon Athletica was founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1998. The company has more than 350 retail locations now.

Photo credit: Reuters


The Coach brand dates back to 1941. Even back then, their brand stood for quality luxurious leather goods - all items that consumers want to feel, see and try on in person.

After more than 75 years in business and adapting to the changing trends, their leather products are still going strong on the global market. They have roughly 1,000 retail stores all over the world.

Photo credit: Reuters

Select Comfort

Select Comfort is a company that sells adjustable firmness beds and other sleep related accessory products. If you're like most people, you want to go into the store itself to see if the bed is right for you.

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The company has more than 400 retail stores. Since comfort and sleep are never going to go out of style, that number may grow.

Photo credit: Getty

Michael Kors

Here we have another popular luxury lifestyle brand. Kors handbags, shoes and watches are a huge drawing card when it comes to walk-in customers.

Michael Kors Holdings has over 500 retail stores and is working to grow even further. If their consumer loyalty is any indication, they will probably do so. One of their current strategies appears to be to open retail locations in airports.

Photo credit: Getty

True Religion

This is a company that makes expensive and fashionable jeans, among other things. Most of us wouldn't risk an online purchase with such an item.

True Religion was founded in 2002. In only 15 years, they've managed to become a successful global brand. They have more than 100 stores with the latest in premium denim averaging roughly $170 per product.

Photo credit: Getty

Home Depot

Home is where the heart is so it should come as no surprise that people want to nurture their homes and continually make improvements. That's where Home Depot comes in with informative staff ready to give you insights to help make your home improvement dreams into reality.

The company currently has more than 2,200 stores, the same figure it had at the start of the Great Recession. They've managed to maintain their brick and mortar presence with explosive profits buoyed by more than 30% growth in sales figures.

Photo credit: Getty

Vera Bradley

Vera Bradley offers handbags, quilted cotton luggage and stylish accessories for women all over the world. They have 70 stores in total. All of their products are available in their branded stores, as well as in various other stores worldwide.

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Birks and Mayors

Birks and Mayors is what you get when jewelry giants Mayors Jewelers, as well as Henry Birks and Sons Inc. join forces. It's perhaps the most famous brand for jewelry, timepieces and silverware in the U.S. and Canada.

While the company only has 67 stores, they do incredible business. Considering the hefty price tag attached to the vast majority of their products and the personalized touches so many like with their jewelry, their retail business continues to thrive.

What does all of this brick and mortar success prove? Companies that offer exclusivity, excellent customer service, and are willing to keep on top of trends, will achieve long-term success. In the end, it all comes down to service. That's why brick and mortar companies aren't dead and they'll remain a force for a long time.

Photo credit: Getty


The CEO went on to discuss how Hershey is reinvesting additional resources in the e-commerce imitative and partnering with customers. She noted that there's major interest among the company's brick-and-mortar partners to expand online offerings.

The entire exchange echoed many others occurring all over the retail industry right now, as cash-rich and acquisition-happy online conglomerates like Amazon disrupt the whole landscape. Companies are scrambling to stay competitive as consumers increasingly shop online, adjusting on the fly to changing conditions.

Hershey's efforts also show that it's not just traditional brick-and-mortar shops that have to adjust. The sweeping changes are affecting companies all across the retail pipeline, from suppliers to those that provide back-end services.

For a recent example of how quickly a retailer's fortune can change, look no further than Blue Apron, the meal-prep delivery service that recently went public. Mere weeks before its initial public offering was supposed to price, Amazon bought Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 billion.

It was terrible timing for Blue Apron. Many potential investors quickly identified the possibility of more competition in the food-delivery industry and ran the other way. As a result, Blue Apron took a cleaver to its IPO range, cutting it to $10 to $11 a share, down from $15 to $17. The company ultimately priced at $10 a share — 40% below the maximum it had sought.

Blue Apron has since been on the receiving end of even more bad news, with its stock closing 32% below its IPO price on Wednesday.

At this point, there's no way around it: the company got "Amazon'd" — the Business Insider-coined term used to describe when a company's entire existence gets rocked by the Jeff Bezos-led tech titan.

The growing juggernaut remains a spectre that still looms over just about everyone, and it's clearly affecting corporate behavior all across the market.

In the meantime, Hershey remains confident about their push into online retail, and says its in-store sales are holding up just fine.

"We have been able to win in-store even as e-commerce has accelerated," the company's president Todd Tillemans told Business Insider. "Right now, we're focused on partnering with retailers and investing in capabilities to unlock growth for our brands online. I believe we are in a really good position to win in an omni-channel world."

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