Outdoor Focus

Image of Jennifer Bringle

Jennifer Bringle, features editor at Casual Living, is our guru of product introductions and retail and style trends. While helping Casual Living to stay tuned in to the various markets and latest retail issues, Jennifer keeps her focus on what’s new, what’s hot and what’s not.

  • Rolling Out the Red Carpet

    I recently attended a media event at a local outlet mall that brought together a select number of editors, reporters and bloggers for a private shopping experience. The center literally rolled out the red carpet for us, treating my fellow shoppers and me to champagne and hors d’oeuvres, free gifts, discounts and other goodies. By the end of the night, my arms were laden with overflowing bags, and I was already planning my next visit. The next day, I shared a photo of my loot on social media, and as I perused the other mentions using the event’s ... Read More
  • Selling to Digital Natives

    In today’s world, there are two types of people: digital natives and digital immigrants. This status has zero to do with where one lives physically, but rather, how they live online. A digital native is a person born after the integration of computer technology into our society (young Millennials, we’re looking at you). They’re 30 and younger, and they either don’t or barely remember a time when computers weren’t an integral part of life. Digital immigrants are the rest of us—the folks who’ve learned to adopt and adapt to these technologies as they ... Read More
  • Will Amazon Go Change Retail?

    While everyone has seen Amazon as a harbinger of an online-only retail world, the company has recently moved in the opposite direction, opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and now its Amazon Go store in Seattle. The 1,800-square-foot shop—which opened this month—sells grocery staples, prepared foods and meal kits. Sounds conventional enough, right? Not so fast. This is Amazon, after all, so of course there has to be a high-tech twist—in this case, an app that requires shoppers to scan their smartphones as they enter the store. While they shop, the company’s “just walk out” technology tracks what ... Read More
  • How Will Retail Change in 2017?

    This past year has been an eventful one for the retail industry. From the chaotic election cycle to weather woes, retailers have gotten their fair share of curveballs. And new technologies—everything from mobile shopping apps to chip card readers—have presented both challenges and opportunities. As we move into 2017, a host of changes await on the horizon. In fact, the National Retail Federation recently compiled a list of predictions for how the industry will evolve over the coming year. So what did they forecast for 2017? Here are three of their biggest predictions: Channel Blending Next year promises ... Read More
  • Why m-commerce is the new e-commerce

    If you think e-commerce is the next big thing, I have bad news for you: You’re already behind. The biggest new trend in retail is small, and likely in your pocket or purse—m-commerce, or shopping via mobile phone. According to a report from Internet Retailer, 30% of e-commerce in the U.S. is conducted via mobile devices, and mobile commerce generates around $100 billion in revenue per year. That’s a sizeable chunk of the retail market. So, how do you get a piece of that pie? The first step is making certain your e-commerce site is optimized ... Read More
  • Why I Bought Furniture Online

    I have a confession to make: I’m a big online shopper. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also a pretty big brick-and-mortar shopper, too. (Actually, I’m a big shopper in general - I may have a bit of a problem!) But it’s hard for me to resist the allure of the digital marketplace. Much of my web shopping is for items such as electronics, clothing, diapers, etc., but I’ve also made a few furniture purchases online. While I’m usually a “need to see/touch” kind of furniture shopper, there have been instances when I’ve ... Read More
  • Three Lessons Every Store Can Learn from Amazon

    Recently, The Retail Federation published a story on “21 Ways Amazon Changed the Face of Retail.” Timed for the e-commerce giant’s 21st anniversary, the piece highlighted nearly two-dozen ways the company has rewritten the retail playbook. We all know Amazon as a force to be reckoned with in the retail game. The site has been wildly successful, and has—for better or worse—forced traditional retailers to rethink how they run their businesses. And while most traditional independent stores can’t (and shouldn’t) replicate Amazon’s model, there are some key components of its business plan that retailers ... Read More
  • Going for the Gold

    If you’re like me, you’ve been glued to your television the past week watching coverage of the Summer Olympics in Rio. I’m a sports fan in general (it’s hard to grow up in college basketball country and not be), but there’s something special about the Olympics that really gets me going every four years. It's fun to feel part of something that can unite a country around a common goal. Particularly in a year as politically polarizing as this election cycle has been, the sense of national camaraderie feels even sweeter. I felt that ... Read More
  • Why Retail Training Matters

    In my reporting for our upcoming profiles of this year's Apollo Award nominees (check it out in our upcoming September issue), I noticed an interesting trend among the honorees I interviewed. Now, remember, these are retailers who are being recognized for the outstanding way they run their stores. These folks are at the top of their game. And what they kept telling me over and over was that one of the most important investments they make in their shops isn't in new displays or technology or advertising—it's employee training. In fact, Eric Stalzer of Great Gatherings ... Read More
  • How Building Community Can Build Business

    Last week, I got the chance to visit Grill-Billies, a barbecue retailer located in Raleigh, N.C. As I sat on the deck of the store chatting with owner Joe Pino, I couldn’t help but notice a common theme in our conversation—building community. Pino spent years as a competitive pit master before opening the store in 2013. During his years on the competitive barbecue circuit, he made a lot of friends in the industry, and those relationships have helped fuel his growing business. Tapping into that network of barbecue experts, Pino has a wealth of advice at his ... Read More
  • Who Do You Think You Are?

    This past week, I again got the pleasure of judging entries for our annual Merchandising Awards. This year's field was exceptional, with a varied group of stores representing a number of different locales and styles.  But across the board, one thing I noticed among the stores that elicited the strongest reactions from our judges was that each had a strong sense of identity.Even without knowing where it was located, I could almost pinpoint the city or at least region they called home, and I got a strong sense of who their clientele was, too. Even though many of ... Read More
  • 3 ways to harness the power of reviews

    In the old days, word of mouth was arguably one of the most powerful forms of reaching consumers. More than flashy advertisements or slick marketing campaigns, the opinions and experiences real-live customers shared verbally with their friends and family held the kind of weight that could potentially make or break a business or product. Today, word of mouth is just as important, maybe even more so. But in our digitally focused world, word of mouth looks much differently than it did even 10 or 20 years ago. Product reviews, Facebook posts, tweets, viral videos and the like are the new ... Read More