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What Makes the STORES Hot 100 so HOT?

Last week, STORES Magazine hosted a Twitter Chat that asked just that. The event was moderated by STORES Editor Susan Reda and included featured guests prepped to take questions form the Twitterverse. Among the featured guests were Bryan Gildenberg, Chief Knowledge Officer of Kantar Retail, which provides data for the Hot 100 report, and representatives from two Hot 100 retailers — Steve Oblak, SVP of Category Management for and David Jaffe, CEO of Ascena Retail Group, which operates through five major brands, Maurices, Dress Barn, Justice Lane Bryant and Catherines.

Q&A Highlights from the #STORESHot100 Chat

A common theme among all participants was a customer-centric, omnichannel focus. For continued growth, Wayfair reminded us that “consumers must be happy for a company to grow” and Ascena deemed their sweet spot as “unwavering customer focus.”


Channel alignment is only one piece of the pie when managing a multi-brand organization. David Jaffe, CEO of Ascena Retail Group, which operates through its five major brands, briefly touched on the topic of brand alignment.

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The explosion of, which took 12 years to go from dot-com startup to e-commerce giant (nearly $1billion in sales last year), and Amazon, which rounded out the list’s top ten, inevitably led the discussion to the impact of the Internet. Attendees wanted to know where the future lies… Fewer in-store visits? The proliferation of mobile?

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When you boil down the list, grocery chains and the home goods market made some serious waves. Mergers and acquisitions flooded the supermarket industry, positioning Albertsons in the number one spot with well over 400% growth. And for the first time ever, two home goods retailers, Wayfair and Conn’s HomePlus, cracked the top five.

STORES Magazine Editor Susan Reda remains positive about the numbers across all markets. As reported in the Chicago Tribune:

“The eclectic quality of the list is an upbeat indicator for retail,” said Stores Media editor Susan Reda. “While Albertson’s grew mainly by acquisition, Wayfair’s ascent is 12 years in the making as this online specialist benefits from renewed consumer interest in sprucing up their homes.”

So What is it That Makes These Retailers So Hot?

Bryan Gildenberg said it best on the NRF’s report insight:

“Hot retailers find a way to align with a shopper base that might not be very well organized or had not been effectively addressed previously,” says Bryan Gildenberg, chief knowledge officer with Kantar Retail, which provides the data for the Hot 100 report.

“Hot retailers do things better than their competitors. They’ve cleverly carved out a proposition for the consumer,” Gildenberg explains. “Part of that is being at the right place at the right time with the right products.”


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