Introducing #TBT, The (Re)Evolution of Retail

A lot of what we do at CloudTags has to do with the future of retail and what can be done to revolutionize the way we as consumers perceive the shopping experience. As important as it is to look forward to gain insight on the future of omnichannel shopping, just as much knowledge can be gained by looking back. The history of retail is as vast as it is fascinating.  So many of the things we take for granted as modern day shoppers only came to be because of the groundbreaking ideas from retail innovators of years past.

After realizing what a wealth of titillating information there is on the history of retail, we’ve decided to create this weekly blog series that will highlight some of the major breakthroughs and game-changers. We also figured, if we’re going to do a retail “throwback” series, why not post it on #TBT. How’s that for #trendy? While we can’t promise any adorable baby pictures or awkward prom photo ops, we will always include some cool imagery that will help give a glimpse into the retail trends of the time. We’ll kick off our first #tbt with the A.T. Stewart Company store – the first ever department store in the US!

After building a prosperous mercantile business, Alexander Turney Stewart decided to take his savvy retail expertise and shoot for something really big. Stewart commissioned the construction of a massive building at 280 Broadway, which would soon become referred to as the “Marble Palace.” Once completed, Stewart’s revolutionary department store would go on to feature a number of marketing innovations that helped boost inventory turnover - an increasingly important requirement after the retail boom of the Industrial Revolution.  Stewart was among the first retailers to set fixed prices for his products, but perhaps even more importantly, put a major focus on appealing to female shoppers. Through limited-time sales and special events like fashion shows, Stewart increased foot traffic and generated buzz for his innovative department store. His success drew the attention of other retailers, many of whom set up very similar stores along Broadway, making that portion of Manhattan the prime window shopping destination for New York City elite. Today, department stores act as the cornerstone of the retail industry, providing huge product selection to millions of shoppers every day in a convenient one stop shop. Hats off to you, Alexander Stewart!


Check back in next week for the first round of in depth coverage. If you’re looking for some (not so light) reading in the meantime, KPMG wrote an excellent and comprehensive report highlighting the current, future and past trends of the global retail market. Take a peek!