We are, as the amazing CEO, Shantanu Narayen, tells us, in the "Golden Age of Creativity" -- pretty much stoked from grade school with Adobe Spark, which brings out the creativity in everyone -- and it is upending every single shopping paradigm we ever thought imaginable.
Let's for a moment, deconstruct a typical enclosed mall. There are anchors, let's say JC Penney (JCP) and Macy's (M) or Sears (SHLD) or Nordstrom (JWN) . Then there are a bunch of Gaps (GPS) and Abercrombie & Fitches (ANF) and some one-off clothing and jewelry companies, a Tumi, a couple of Williams-Sonoma (WSM) stores, a Chico's (CHS) and some L Brands (LB) operations.
You get it.
When I go through the Adobe call, I can literally, using Adobe, recreate all the best parts of those malls by finding what I really want --or letting them find me -- and have it presented in a way that makes it so I don't have to go to the mall -- and, perhaps best, don't have to talk to anybody. I can buy two or three of any clothing item and return the ones I don't want so I simply do not need to go to that darned dressing room anymore, something I hate to do anyway. Who wants to leave stuff unattended in some room in some place you don't know anyway.
It is cheaper, faster and far more individualistic in that the maker of what I want has been able demonstrate as much creativity in the design of the site as she has in the design of the products.
In this world, I simply don't know what I would do if I were at a JC Penney where I have all of these national and private label brands that are simply indistinguishable from everyone else. Sears is pretty ridiculous and not even worth talking about given what the digital revolution has unleashed. Macy's is trying hard and has a terrific showroom of artists at its main store in Manhattan, but it is has not yet been demonstrated if it can scale. I have no idea what Nordstrom is doing except spending a lot of money.
When I think of Gap in this environment, I just think of stuff made overseas that ends in a landfill. With the exception of Bath & Body Works everything L Brands is so easily replaced by something creative on line, cheaper and more anonymous, that I find its very existence under attack by artists using Adobe and Wix (WIX) and Shopify (SHOP) to pick off customers by the scads.
The others? Only Williams-Sonoma, which was initially a catalogue store, seems to have made the leap to the web in an effective way.
Read the Adobe call. Think about what's been unleashed here. Recognize that when Shantanu speaks of the Golden Age of Creativity, he is thinking about the golden age where everyone has her own electronic pushcart that looks, online, every bit as fancy as a Tiffany & Co (TIF) or a Neiman Marcus, but is cheaper, in many ways than a Target (TGT) or a Walmart (WMT) .
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