jerryking + e-commerce   257

A ‘Grass Roots’ Campaign to Take Down Amazon Is Funded by Amazon’s Biggest Rivals - WSJ
Sept. 20, 2019 | WSJ | By James V. Grimaldi.

Walmart, Oracle and mall owner Simon Property Group are secret funders behind a nonprofit that has been highly critical of the e-commerce giant

About 18 months ago a new nonprofit group called Free and Fair Markets Initiative launched a national campaign criticizing the business practices of one powerful company: Amazon.com Inc. AMZN -1.50%

Free and Fair Markets accused Amazon of stifling competition and innovation, inhibiting consumer choice, gorging on government subsidies, endangering its warehouse workers and exposing consumer data to privacy breaches. It claimed to have grass-roots support from average citizens across the U.S, citing a labor union, a Boston management professor and a California businessman.

What the group did not say is that it received backing from some of Amazon’s chief corporate rivals. They include shopping mall owner Simon Property Group Inc., SPG 0.27% retailer Walmart Inc. WMT -0.11% and software giant Oracle Corp. ORCL 0.19% , according to people involved with and briefed on the project. Simon Property is fighting to keep shoppers who now prefer to buy what they need on Amazon; Walmart is competing with Amazon over retail sales; and Oracle is battling Amazon over a $10 billion Pentagon cloud-computing contract.

The grass-roots support cited by the group was also not what it appeared to be. The labor union says it was listed as a member of the group without permission and says a document purporting to show that it gave permission has a forged signature. The Boston professor says the group, with his permission, ghost-wrote an op-ed for him about Amazon but that he didn’t know he would be named as a member. The California businessman was dead for months before his name was removed from the group’s website this year.

Free and Fair Markets, or FFMI, declined to reveal its funders or disclose if it has directors or a chief executive.

“The bottom line is that FFMI is focusing on the substantive issues and putting a spotlight on the way companies like Amazon undermine the public good—something that media outlets, activists, and politicians in both parties are also doing with increasing frequency,” it said in a statement in response to questions from The Wall Street Journal. “If Amazon can not take the heat then it should stay out of the kitchen.”

The creation of a group aimed solely at Amazon is an indication of the degree to which competing companies have coalesced to counter the growing and accumulated power of Amazon and how far competitors are increasingly willing to go to counter-strike. Lobbyists that exaggerate the extent of their grass-roots support—a practice known as “AstroTurf lobbying”—are common in Washington, but it is rare for a nonprofit group to be created for the sole purpose of going after a single firm.

Amazon is facing additional opaque opposition as well, with websites and articles popping up portraying the software giant as the Evil Empire. The website Monopolyamazon.com, which does not disclose who is behind it and registered its web address anonymously, includes a handful of articles calling on the Defense Department to reject Amazon’s bid for a $10 billion cloud-computing contract. For months last year, an anti-Amazon dossier circulated in Washington alleging conflicts of interest in the Pentagon procurement process and a chart from the document later reached President Trump before he asked for a review of the Amazon bid.

Free and Fair Markets is run by a strategic communications firm, Marathon Strategies, that works for large corporations, including Amazon rivals. Marathon founder Phil Singer is a veteran political operative who has worked as a top aide to prominent Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and on Hillary Clinton ’s 2008 presidential campaign.

In a statement, Mr. Singer defended the group. “FFMI is not obligated to disclose its donors and it does not,” Mr. Singer said.

Marathon initially asked for a fee of $250,000 per company to fund the anti-Amazon group, according to a person at one of the companies approached. Among those invited to fund the group but declined were a trade association that includes members who compete with Amazon, and International Business Machines Corp. , according to people familiar with the contacts. IBM, which declined to comment, previously was a client of Marathon.

In a statement, Amazon said, “The Free & Fair Markets Initiative appears to be little more than a well-oiled front group run by a high-priced public affairs firm and funded by self-interested parties with the sole objective of spreading misinformation about Amazon.”

Simon Property, the world’s largest mall landlord, declined to comment. Simon does not have any brick-and-mortar Amazon stores in its roughly 200 malls, outlets and open-air centers in the U.S., whereas its peers with smaller portfolios count multiple Amazon stores in theirs. The Indianapolis-based landlord recently launched its own online shopping platform, Shoppremiumoutlets.com.

Walmart funds the organization indirectly by paying an intermediary that pays for Free and Fair Markets, according to sources familiar with the arrangement. Walmart is a client of Marathon.

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said, “We are not financial supporters of the FFMI but we share concerns about issues they have raised.” Mr. Hargrove declined to comment further.

The group’s aim is to sully Amazon’s image on competition, data-security and workplace issues, while creating a sense of grass-roots support for increased government regulatory and antitrust enforcement, according to people familiar with the campaign.

Free and Fair Markets has lobbied the government for legislation and investigations of Amazon, sent dozens of letters and reports to Congress and staff, according to congressional staffers, published scores of op-eds in local and online media and tweeted hundreds of social media posts blasting Amazon.

Over the past year, many of the actions advocated by the group have gained traction. Amazon has come under increasing antitrust scrutiny from the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, states attorneys general and the European Union. In New York, Amazon backed out of plans to open a second headquarters in Long Island City after facing political opposition. Free and Fair Markets campaigned against government subsidies to support the site and tweeted more than 300 times on the topic.

Oracle provided financial support as part of an all-out strategy to stop Amazon from getting a $10 billion mega-contract to handle cloud computing for the Defense Department. The Pentagon eliminated Oracle as a bidder in the first round. Kenneth Glueck, who runs Oracle’s office in Washington, confirmed that the computer technology firm has contributed to the effort.

A goal of the organization was achieved in July when President Trump said he wanted to conduct a review of the contract. In August, the secretary of defense said he was investigating conflict-of-interest allegations surrounding the $10 billion contract known as Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI. At the urging of President Trump, the bid award has been put on hold during the review.

Mr. Trump, a frequent critic of Amazon, cited complaints about the project from several of Amazon’s competitors, which in addition to Oracle included IBM and Microsoft Corp. , saying he had heard the contract “wasn’t competitively bid.” The contract has not been awarded and Microsoft remains one of the two remaining bidders.

Though Free and Fair Markets has contacted members of Congress and the administration, it has not registered as a lobbying organization. Such groups are required to file with Congress if more than 20% of their work involves lobbying. Marathon said it complies with lobby disclosure rules.

None of the articles notes that Mr. Engel’s group is funded by rivals of Amazon.

A spokeswoman for The Hill said the publication was unaware of the funding sources and failure to disclose such payments violates a standard written agreement all op-ed writers are required to sign.

Sandy Shea, managing editor of opinion for the Inquirer’s parent company, the Philadelphia Media Network, said, “We aren’t equipped to investigate the makeup or structure of a nonprofit that submits a piece.”

Bill Zeiser, RealClearPolicy editor, said RealClearMedia publishes “commentary on politics and public policy from a wide array of sources. These submissions are assessed on their editorial merits.”

Representatives of the Post-Gazette and Chronicle did not respond to emails.

In an interview earlier this year, Mr. Engel said the motive of the group was not to promote the views of Amazon’s rivals. He said Amazon has been the only target because its business tactics run counter to the group’s goal of free and fair markets. “The one organization that feels it stands above that is Amazon,” Mr. Engel said.

Marathon did not make Mr. Engel available for comment a second time after the Journal determined that rivals were funding the group.

Mr. Engel and his group have been quoted in publications, including once each in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. None said who funded the group.

One article about Free and Fair Markets was commissioned by Marathon.

Last October, an Iowa writer and consultant, Jeff Patch, published an article on RealClearPolicy.com, a news website known for political coverage, about a report by Free and Fair Markets critical of Amazon’s record of hiring and firing women. “Many [women] were fired after Amazon concocted pretexts for their terminations,” Mr. Patch wrote.

Mr. Patch, who has worked as a journalist and a staffer for a Republican congressman and conservative think tanks, did not disclose in his article at the time that he was a paid contractor for Marathon.

Bank statements and invoices reviewed by the Journal show that Mr. Patch billed Marathon, and was paid thousands of dollars… [more]
Amazon  clandestine  contra-Amazon  countermeasures  counternarratives  dark_side  e-commerce  grass-roots  lobbying  lobbyists  nonprofit  Oracle  Simon_Properties  sophisticated  Wal-Mart 
23 days ago by jerryking
Now bigger than eBay, Shopify sets its sights on Amazon
August 20, 2019 | Financial Times | by Tim Bradshaw, Global Technology Correspondent.

.....ecommerce via social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, which have become vital to growing online retail outside Amazon, and increasingly important to Shopify.

“Instagram has been the most phenomenal growth vector for small businesses,” said Mr Lütke. “It's a great way to tell stories about products that Amazon, with its static pictures and very sanitised listings, doesn't offer people.” 
Amazon  e-commerce  fulfillment  logistics  retailers  Shopify  Tobias_Lütke 
7 weeks ago by jerryking
For Sephora, the store is core to its beauty
July 24 2019 | | Financial Times | by Harriet Agnew and Hannah Copeland in Paris.

**Sephora stores focus on experience, allowing consumers to test products digitally on a virtual mirror for instance or personalise products **

Like its stores in New York’s Times Square and Dubai Mall in the Middle East, Sephora in La Défense has recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment. The investment reflects how bricks and mortar and experiential retail are key to Sephora’s growth. The LVMH-owned group, which stocks about 300 brands alongside its own label, has increased sales fourfold in the past eight years, fuelled by a booming beauty market........“A lot of people are scared of the retail apocalypse so they’re not investing in stores, and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said chief executive Chris de Lapuente in an interview on the shop floor. “We’re investing in our stores, taking our top 100 stores in the world and renovating them to the best possible standard.”....Mr de Lapuente says one attraction of Sephora is that consumers “discover brands they can’t find anywhere else”, noting that about a third of its offerings are exclusive to Sephora, and it acts as an incubator for upcoming or niche brands....Exclusivity might be with Huda, which began selling false eyelashes in Dubai and subsequently developed a collaboration with Sephora; pop star Rihanna’s cosmetics brand Fenty, which is on track for €500m sales this year; or an exclusive collaboration with Dior for the Dior Backstage range of make-up.

Pointing to the beauty bar where customers can get a free makeover, Mr de Lapuente added: “Experiential retail is crucial to our success. Sephora is a place where people come for advice, they come to listen. We teach, inspire and play . . . You’re not going to get this online. Online you can do your research . . . here you can come and experiment.”

Mr Fujimori agrees, saying Sephora “successfully combines experiential retail with a leading ecommerce presence, leveraging digital technology to enhance the shopping experience in-store and online”......
Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. The challenge now for Sephora is to stay ahead in a world where there are more make-up and beauty brands than ever, and social media has lowered barriers to entry and boosted the speed to market. Meanwhile, Amazon last month announced the launch of its professional beauty stores, aimed at the mass market.

“Amazon is just another one of the many choices out there,” said Mr de Lapuente. “They have a strong e-commerce offering. They don’t have stores. We love that consumers love to shop online and in store.” He says that customers who buy both on- and offline tend to purchase three times more than those who buy using just one channel. Ecommerce represents an average of 20 per cent of sales in each country for Sephora, which uses influencers to build its community. “Amazon just forces us to raise our game.”....

The pressure is on to keep on innovating. “Beauty is so fast-moving, you can’t cruise,” said Mr de Lapuente. He says innovation will come both from new products (citing untapped potential in haircare and wellness), and from the way in which brands reach consumers. He sees opportunities in areas like voice-activated ordering through home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, and social commerce through platforms like China’s WeChat.

But despite such technological developments, for Mr de Lapuente, the store has a robust future.

At La Défense, customers are returning to work with Sephora’s distinctive striped bags modelled on the black and white stripes of Italy’s Siena Cathedral. “Is physical retail alive or dead?” mused Mr de Lapuente among the throng of shoppers. “It looks pretty alive to me. The store is where the magic happens.”
Amazon  beauty  brands  bricks-and-mortar  customer_experience  cosmetics  digital_influencers  e-commerce  experimentation  experiential_marketing  high-end  in-store  incubators  innovation  LVMH  makeup  millennials  omnichannel  refurbished  renovations  Sephora  women 
11 weeks ago by jerryking
Walmart Hires Global Tech Chief to Compete With Amazon
May 28, 2019 | WSJ | By Sarah Nassauer.

Walmart is working to becoming an increasingly tech-focused company, buying up e-commerce startups and investing heavily to boost online sales. ...... Walmart is working to becoming an increasingly tech-focused company, buying up e-commerce startups, investing heavily to boost online sales, adding more grocery-delivery options and working to ramp up its digital ad revenue. The bulk of Walmart’s revenues and profits came from around 4,600 U.S. stores as of the most recent quarter......Walmart’s current chief information officer, Clay Johson, and all unit CTOs will report to Mr. Kumar. Marc Lore, Walmart’s head of U.S. e-commerce, will continue to report to Mr. McMillon directly,
Amazon  appointments  C-suite  CTOs  digital_strategies  e-commerce  hiring  retailers  start_ups  technology  Wal-Mart 
may 2019 by jerryking
America’s Biggest Supermarket Company Struggles With Online Grocery Upheaval
April 21, 2019 | WSJ | By Heather Haddon.

Kroger adjusts operations and invests in technology to hang on to customers who avoid stores; ‘we’ve got to get our butts in gear
Amazon  bricks-and-mortar  BOPIS  CDO  cultural_clash  delivery_services  digital_strategies  disruption  e-commerce  e-grocery  grocery  IBM  Instacart  Jet  Kroger  Microsoft  millennials  Ocado  Oracle  pilot_programs  post-deal_integration  retailers  same-day  Shipt  start_ups  supermarkets  Vitacost  Wal-Mart  Whole_Foods 
april 2019 by jerryking
Supercharging retail sales through geospatial analytics
March 2019 | | McKinsey | By Rob Hearne, Alana Podreciks, Nathan Uhlenbrock, and Kelly Ungerman.

A retailer can now use geospatial analytics to understand the interactions between its online and offline channels. With these insights, it can create a higher-performing retail network.
====================================
Is our outlet store in San Francisco hurting foot traffic and sales at our full-price store two miles away? Or is it doing the opposite—attracting new customers and making them more likely to visit both stores? How are our five Manhattan stores affecting our e-commerce revenue? Are they making consumers more likely to shop on our website or to search for our products on Amazon? If we open a new mall store in the Dallas metro area, what impact will it have on sales at our existing stores, at our department-store partners, and online?

The answers to these kinds of questions are increasingly crucial to a retailer’s success, as more and more consumers become omnichannel shoppers......most retailers don’t give adequate thought to the cross-channel impact of their stores. They rely on gut feel or on high-level analysis of aggregated sales data to gauge how their offline and online channels interact.....there’s a way for retailers (and other omnichannel businesses) to quantify cross-channel effects, thus taking the guesswork out of network optimization. Through advanced geospatial analytics and machine learning, a retailer can now generate a detailed quantitative picture of how each of its customer touchpoints—including owned stores and websites, wholesale doors, and partner e-commerce sites—affects sales at all its other touchpoints within a micromarket......US retail sales are on an upward trajectory.....despite the growth of e-commerce, the vast majority of these purchases still happened in brick-and-mortar stores. .....So why have US retailers closed thousands of stores in the past year, with thousands more closures to come?....Because the consumer journey is changing!!......Consumers are transacting in different channels....engaging across multiple channels, often simultaneously rather than sequentially. It’s critical for omnichannel retailers to have a detailed understanding of the interplay between online and offline touchpoints, and between owned and partner networks.

Quantifying cross-channel effects

the starting point is data......from a wide range of internal and external sources. Inputs into a geospatial model would ideally include not just transaction and customer data but also store-specific details such as store size and product mix; site-specific information such as foot traffic and retail intensity; environmental data, including local-area demographics; and anonymized mobile-phone location data.......A simulation model can then quantify the sales effect of each of the retailer’s customer touchpoints on its other channels within a local market. The model must be sophisticated enough to simulate the upward or downward revenue impact of adding or removing a particular touchpoint.

Geospatial analysis reveals that the consistency and magnitude of cross-channel effects vary significantly across channel types and markets.
analytics  bricks-and-mortar  cross-channel  customer_journey  customer_touchpoints  data  e-commerce  foot_traffic  geospatial  gut_feelings  location_based_services  McKinsey  moments_of_truth  omnichannel  privacy  retailers  store_closings  security_consciousness  site_selection 
march 2019 by jerryking
Amazon to Launch New Grocery-Store Business
March 1, 2019 | WSJ | By Esther Fung and Heather Haddon.

Amazon is planning to open dozens of grocery stores in several major U.S. cities....as the retail giant looks to broaden its reach in the food business and touch more aspects of consumers’ lives......The new stores would be distinct from the company’s upscale Whole Foods Market chain. It isn’t clear whether the new stores would carry the Amazon name......Amazon in recent years has become increasingly focused on physical retail, posing a threat to traditional grocers. The new chain would help Amazon in fulfilling a yearslong initiative to build out a physical grocery presence, which was at one point potentially envisioned to reach more than 2,000 brick-and mortar stores in a variety of sizes and formats......Amazon is also exploring purchasing regional grocery chains with about a dozen stores under operation, one person said, that could bolster the new chain......Amazon’s further push into physical retail is its latest move far beyond its origins selling books and music on the web. Over the years it has become a cloud-computing giant, a major player in Hollywood entertainment and a burgeoning provider of logistics services. More recently it has emerged as a major competitor in digital advertising and launched forays in finance and health care......The new stores aren’t intended to compete directly with the more upscale Whole Foods stores and will offer a different variety of products, at a lower price point, these people said. Whole Foods doesn’t sell products with artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and sweeteners, among other quality standards.

Suppliers with big brands have hoped to have inroads into Whole Foods since Amazon bought the chain nearly two years ago. While Whole Foods has gradually expanded the big brands it carries—such as Honey-Nut Cheerios and Michelob beer—a conventional grocer can carry a much larger assortment of items. Amazon has had mixed results with its food-delivery business, and it wants to better understand how it can cater to grocery shoppers....Supermarket operators Walmart Inc., Kroger Co. and others are also trying to find ways to offer delivery and pickup to customers in a more cost-efficient manner...Amazon’s new grocery brand also comes as the retailer rolls out its cashierless Amazon Go stores in urban areas. It is testing that checkout technology for bigger retail stores. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is expanding its national footprint....For its new stores, Amazon is targeting new developments and occupied stores with leases ending soon.....Amazon doesn’t want restrictions on the type of goods it may sell at its stores and wants the ability to change the store and sell health and beauty products for instance......It is unclear whether these new stores will be cashierless, but they will be heavily tilted to customer service and pickup capabilities......a strategy where big retailers combine e-commerce with physical stores is the direction the industry is heading.
Amazon  BOPIS  bricks-and-mortar  cashierless  e-commerce  food  grocery  home-delivery  in-store  Kroger  new_businesses  physical_retail  rollouts  supermarkets  Wal-Mart  Whole_Foods 
march 2019 by jerryking
Store wars: short sellers expect more pain in US retail
February 26, 2019 | Financial Times | by Alistair Gray in New York.

Short sellers who made big bets against US retailers a couple of years ago had hoped for carnage across the board. No one could compete with the rise and rise of Amazon...which would make life hard for every mall tenant across America.

But after a period in which internet shopping seemed to hit almost every brick-and-mortar retailer, the industry seems to be dividing into winners and losers. Casualties are still piling up: bankruptcies since the turn of the year....Payless Shoes ....Sears, the once dominant department store chain, narrowly avoided outright liquidation.

However, some of the biggest companies e.g. Walmart & Best Buy are reporting their healthiest metrics in years......For short sellers trying to profit from falling share prices, it makes for a perilous environment.

“It’s a slow death by a thousand paper cuts, and not the kind of ‘mall-mageddon’ originally anticipated by that trade,”.....“Retail has been much more volatile than many would have expected. It hasn’t been decidedly one way down.”....an over-reaction in 2017 and that led to pretty nice opportunities [for longs] in 2018,”.....Investors who put money on the demise of retail that summer have lost out in many cases......It was almost as if they [shorts] were acting like no retail real estate space can work,” ....overcapacity doesn’t mean retail real estate is dead.”...Shares in the sector have been volatile in part because investors have had to consider a series of seemingly contradictory data points about the health of both the US consumer and the retail business.....Traditional chains are also trying to take on Amazon by improving their online offerings and making their stores more enticing. Both require hefty investment, although successful examples include Lululemon, which offers yoga lessons in its stores. Shares in the company have tripled since a 2017 low.

“Those who are innovating and investing in ecommerce, marketing and social media tend to be doing well...“The US is still over-stored,” ...Ecommerce meant “more of the store base is not economic. That’s going be a secular pressure for years to come. For those retailers that don’t have a digital strategy, it’s just a matter of time before they fall.”
Amazon  apocalypses  bankruptcies  barbell_effect  bear_markets  bricks-and-mortar  commercial_real_estate  death_by_a_thousand_cuts  department_stores  digital_strategies  e-commerce  innovation  investors  investment_thesis  Lululemon  pain_points  overcapacity  retailers  shopping_malls  short_selling  structural_decline  Wal-Mart 
february 2019 by jerryking
Ikea looks to launch sales platform that would include rival products
February 12, 2019 | Financial Times | Richard Milne in Almhult.

Ikea is exploring the launch of an online sales platform offering furniture not just from the famous flat-pack retailer but also from rivals as part of its big transformation...........

Torbjorn Loof, chief executive of Inter Ikea, added: “It is also about how you connect. If you take home furnishings, for instance — how you connect communities, how you connect knowledge, how you connect the home. It’s not only furniture, it’s paintings, it’s the do-it-yourself part. There are many different constellations that can and will evolve over the years to come.”
Alibaba  Amazon  brands  clothing  e-commerce  experimentation  fashion  furniture  home-assembly  Ikea  leasing  opportunities  platforms  retailers  third-party  Zalando  rivalries  digital_strategies  Torbjörn_Lööf  coopetition 
february 2019 by jerryking
Inter Ikea’s Torbjorn Loof: making the vision clear
February 3, 2019 | Financial Times | Richard Milne.

Internal politics had supposedly never played much of a role in the tangled web of companies that makes up the world’s largest furniture retailer. But when Inter Ikea, little-known owner of the brand and concept, acquired the product range, design and manufacturing businesses in 2016 from its more famous sister company, Ikea Group, Torbjorn Loof was struck by the infighting.......The 53-year-old is running a franchise system that decides everything: from which products are on offer and what the stores look like, to the famous catalogues and flat-pack design. But rather than use his new-found power and influence, Mr Loof took a different approach..........Mr Loof is now engineering the biggest transformation Ikea has undertaken by changing its famed business model that has brought it so much success. Having giant out-of-town warehouses, where shoppers pick their own furniture and then build it at home, underpinned Ikea’s solid profitability for seven decades.

But now it is looking increasingly at city-centre stores, online shopping, home delivery and assembly, and more radical ideas such as leasing furniture and selling on websites such as Alibaba. Mr Loof says that challenging such a successful status quo is tricky, especially as the company does not have all the answers on what the new retail landscape will look like.....“We made sure that the vision and the purpose were very, very clear. Not spending too much time on what sometimes is in the middle of things — all the strategies and plans, and all of that had to come later.”......Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad said it was important to be long term and “think about where should we be in 200 years?” The managers smiled at his exaggeration and asked him if that wasn’t too much. “Yes, of course”, he said, “but then you make the short-term plan: that means the next 100 years”.....the toughest tasks is encouraging the entrepreneurship that characterised the company’s early days. He concedes that the decade-long period of growth in the early part of this century stifled Ikea’s creativity and recalls going to see Kamprad a few years ago when sales suddenly hit a bump. “I was a little bit worried. I said to Ingvar: ‘sales are not growing’, and then he looked at me and just smiled and he said: ‘wonderful! Crisis!’ So, there is this kind of [attitude] to love the crisis because the opportunities in the crisis are that you get more creative,” he adds. Ikea has experimented more with what Mr Loof calls the “phygital” — the place where the physical and digital worlds of shopping collide (e.g.an augmented reality app visualization of Ikea furniture in situ at a customer's home, as well as a virtual reality kitchen). ...Ikea will do numerous trials in the next few years: “Even if we would be the best planners, we hire brilliant business analysts, the best strategists, I think we would not make it. So, we have to be the fastest learners . . . daring to test things and make mistakes, but also again correct them.”
CEOs  clarity  Ikea  vision  mistakes  Communicating_&_Connecting  creativity  crisis  cyberphysical  transformational  coopetition  city-centres  Alibaba  leasing  e-commerce  home-assembly  home-delivery  Torbjörn_Lööf 
february 2019 by jerryking
Brands Invent New Lines for Only Amazon to Sell WSJ
Jan. 25, 2019 | WSJ | By Annie Gasparro and Laura Stevens.

Amazon gets exclusive products, while brands receive faster customer feedback, marketing support and increased sales.......To build a big line of exclusive products on its site, Amazon.com Inc. AMZN 0.95% is pushing other brand manufacturers to do most of the work.

The online retail giant is asking consumer-goods companies to create brands exclusively for Amazon after finding that developing them on its own is too costly and time-consuming.....Amazon’s initiative is the latest example of the e-commerce giant flexing its muscles in order to offer the lowest prices and widest selection, as it seeks to cut into the market share of big-brand manufacturers.....Manufacturers generally benefit from selling their products through a range of retailers. Also, they risk cannibalizing higher-margin sales of their main brands by offering comparable products under different labels. But those entering deals with Amazon view the arrangement as a golden opportunity.

In exchange for creating exclusive products, the brands get help launching their products on Amazon.com, faster customer feedback when testing new products, marketing support, and, of course, revenue from the sales. They also can appear at the top of search results—a big draw given that Amazon’s platform lists an estimated 550 million items......Speed was paramount. “We had to take what would normally be 12 to 24 months of development to 90 days,”....Amazon, on its own, has been quietly adding to its in-house brands in recent years. Analysts estimate the site now offers more than 100. ....Amazon sometimes promotes its own brands higher in search results on its site, like “Amazon’s Choice” and sponsored items, or as default results in voice searches using Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.

In-house brands often generate a higher profit margin for retailers, including Amazon, and can draw in customers because they can’t find those brands elsewhere. But developing a new brand and formulating products takes time..... the program offers manufacturers a way to “launch brands and products directly to Amazon customers.”

Amazon is increasingly important for consumer-product manufacturers. It now accounts for roughly half of all sales online,.....Amazon’s program also can be used for “orphan brands” that manufacturers have stopped selling or that never made it to market.....Amazon has no issue going full-court press on private label, and pursuing all these brands. If the quality and pricing architecture don’t fit and they have to pivot, they’ll do so,” said Todd Mitchell, president of Compass Marketing Inc., which works with Amazon. “They’re not limited to the constructs of shelf space.”
accelerated_lifecycles  Amazon  brands  cannibalization  CPG  e-commerce  exclusivity  fast-paced  in-house  manufacturers  new_products  orphan_brands  private_labels  product_development  product_launches  shelf_space  speed 
january 2019 by jerryking
Every Company Is Now a Tech Company
Dec. 4, 2018 | WSJ | By Christopher Mims.

There was a time when the primary role of leaders at most companies was management. The technology required to do the work of a company could be bought or siloed in an “IT department,” treated more as a cost center than a source of competitive advantage.

But now we’ve entered a period of upheaval, driven by connectivity, artificial intelligence and automation. The changes affect the world of business so profoundly that every company is now a tech company. But now companies born before the first internet bubble also must realize they can no longer function as non-tech businesses......The question is, how does a non-tech company become a tech company quickly? Increasingly, the answer is bringing tech talent into the highest executive ranks, adding deeply knowledgeable and indispensable “technical co-founders” long after the company was founded......To put it another way: When faced with a competitor like Amazon, do you do as Walmart did, and invest heavily in tech firms and technical knowledge? Or do you go the way of Sears…into bankruptcy court?

In August 2016, Walmart announced it would acquire e-commerce startup Jet.com for $3.3 billion, the largest ever deal of an old-line bricks-and-mortar company buying an e-commerce company. The acquisition was about a transfusion of new minds as much as Jet’s technology, which was far ahead of Walmart’s online operation at the time....Mr. Lore is now chief of e-commerce at Walmart......Walmart’s e-commerce business revenue grew 43% in the last quarter alone....Wal-Mart is successfully pursuing a “second-mover strategy” against Amazon....Things don’t always go this smoothly. In fact, when well-established companies acquire tech-savvy startups in order to bring aboard engineers and executives--acqui-hires-- it’s usually a disaster.....Within the first three years after an acquisition, 60% of employees at a startup leave......That rate of turnover is twice that of employees hired the old-fashioned way. What’s worse, the employees who leave tend to be the most aggressive and entrepreneurial—and more likely to launch a competing startup.....For large companies stuck between the rock of disruption and the hard place of acquiring startups that can’t hold on to key employees, what’s to be done?[sounds like a cultural clash] John Chambers, who was chief executive at Cisco for more than 20 years, where he oversaw 180 acquisitions, has some answers. In his new book, “Connecting the Dots,” Mr. Chambers outlines some rules. For one, corporate cultures should align. Also, it helps if the company you’re buying already has significant traction in the market..... it’s essential to promote the leaders of acquired companies into your own ranks. Mr. Chamber’s rule at Cisco was that a third of the company’s leaders should be promoted from within, a third should be recruited from outside, and a third should come from acquisitions. .......As the competitive landscape continues to change and technology becomes ever more essential to how business is done, investments that might have seemed too risky a few years ago now may sometimes turn out to be the best path to survival.
acquihires  artificial_intelligence  automation  Amazon  books  Christopher_Mims  connecting_the_dots  CTOs  Cisco  cultural_clash  digital_savvy  e-commerce  Jet  John_Chambers  large_companies  post-deal_integration  reinvention  silo_mentality  technology  Wal-Mart 
december 2018 by jerryking
Checking Out New York’s Online Grocery Stores and All Their Trimmings - WSJ
U.S. NEW YORK METRO MONEY
Checking Out New York’s Online Grocery Stores and All Their Trimmings
Newer services offer smaller order minimums and shorter delivery windows

Faster grocery delivery services are battling for business. PHOTO: TIM BOWER

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By Anne Kadet
Nov. 20, 2018 10:00 a.m. ET
All seems relatively peaceful on the streets of New York these days. But in truth, there is a battle afoot—between online grocery services competing to offer same-day delivery. They’re fighting for space in your pantry. They want to deliver your Thanksgiving turkey.

New York’s busy families have long relied on traditional online grocery delivery services like FreshDirect and Amazon Fresh for big shipments, typically scheduled a day in advance.

But as this market matures, attention has turned to the more spontaneous shopper. The newer services feature smaller order minimums, faster online shopping and shorter delivery windows.

Last week, on a Monday morning, I placed orders with three of the more high-profile competitors in this space—FoodKick, Amazon Prime Now and Jet—to compare them on selection, ease of ordering, price and delivery. I now have enough baby carrots to last me through Christmas.

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New_York_City  grocery  supermarkets  e-commerce  e-grocery  home-delivery 
november 2018 by jerryking
Walmart tells investors to expect more risk-taking
October 16, 2018 | Financial Times | Alistair Gray and Pan Kwan Yuk in New York.

Doug McMillon said at an investor meeting on Tuesday that the Arkansas-based company was experimenting with technology ranging from floor-cleaning robots to augmented reality and biometrics as he urged Wall Street to “challenge your thinking about Walmart”.

Walmart superstores have transformed shopping habits and became a dominant force in American retail. The bricks-and-mortar model, however, has been upended in by the rise of ecommerce.

“Looking back, we had a proven model, and we naturally focused on execution. As the numbers grew, we . . . unintentionally became risk averse,” Mr McMillon said at a meeting for investors.

“But today we’re getting to reimagine retail and our business. To do that we take risk — try quite a few things and learn from our failures. That type of behaviour’s in our DNA, and we’re waking up that part of our culture.”.....Online sales, in which Walmart has been investing aggressively as part of its response to Amazon, are expected to increase around 35 per cent for the fiscal 2020 year, compared to the expected 40 per cent for 2019.

Walmart also on Tuesday struck a partnership with Advance Auto Parts, allowing it increase its presence in the car parts business. Under the tie-up the companies will offer home delivery, same-day pick up at each other’s stores and installation of some parts.
Amazon  e-commerce  experimentation  failure  innovation  retailers  risk-taking  Wall_Street  Wal-Mart  augmented_reality  auto_parts  biometrics  bricks-and-mortar  home-delivery  same-day  shopping_habits 
october 2018 by jerryking
The Prime Effect: How Amazon’s Two-Day Shipping Is Disrupting Retail
Sept. 20, 2018 | WSJ | By Christopher Mims.

Amazon.com Inc. has made its Prime program the gold standard for all other online retailers... The $119-a-year Prime program—which now includes more than 100 million members world-wide—has triggered an arms race among the largest retailers, and turned many smaller sellers into remoras who cling for life to the bigger fish.

In the past year, Target Corp. , Walmart Inc. and many vendors on Google Express have all started offering “free” two-day delivery. (Different vendors have different requirements for no-fee shipping, whether it’s order size or loyalty-club membership.)

Amazon and its competitors are often blamed for the death of bricks-and-mortar retail, but the irony is that these online retailers generally achieve fast shipping by investing in real estate—in the form of warehouses rather than stores. To compete on cost, the vendors must typically ship goods via ground transportation, not faster-but-pricier air. The latest to offer free two-day delivery is Overstock.com , which claims it can reach over 99% of the U.S. in that time frame from a single distribution center in Kansas City, Kan.

But the biggest online retailers aren’t the only ones building massive fulfillment centers and similar operations. Fulfillment startups and large companies from other sectors are hoping to scale up by luring smaller sellers who want alternatives to Amazon’s warehousing and delivery operations.
Amazon  Amazon_Prime  arms_race  delivery_times  disruption  e-commerce  free  fulfillment  retailers  same-day  shipping  third-party  warehouses 
september 2018 by jerryking
Costco Wholesale expands online grocery in Ontario | News
Costco launched its Canadian grocery site and delivery service in July.

“This new shopping option makes available a wider selection of quality goods available to members and businesses across Ontario - from Windsor to Ottawa.".

Initially introduced in Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe markets in July, the success of the service has prompted Costco to offer grocery delivery across the province, with the exception of Northern Ontario. The new service features hundreds of grocery items including health and beauty aid products along with vitamins and supplements.

All orders from the site come with a two-day delivery guarantee with no delivery fees for orders over $75.
Costco  e-commerce  e-grocery  free  grocery  home-delivery  order-size  supermarkets  Toronto  Golden_Horseshoe 
september 2018 by jerryking
How Tech is Drawing Shoppers Back to Bricks-and-Mortar Stores - WSJ
By Rebecca Dolan
Sept. 12, 2018

Robin Lewis, "The New Rules of Retail"

E-commerce’s disruption of malls is impossible to deny, but sometimes shopping in stores is the only way to guarantee quality before you buy. The question: Will these technologies help you make the most of the trip?
books  brands  bricks-and-mortar  customer_experience  e-commerce  high-end  innovation  Nike  retailers  technology  mobile_applications  Nordstrom 
september 2018 by jerryking
Hard Lessons (Thanks, Amazon) Breathe New Life Into Retail Stores
Sept. 3, 2018 | The New York Times | By Michael Corkery.

Barbara Kahn, a marketing professor and former director of the retailing center at the Wharton School, has written “The Shopping Revolution” describing the disruption in the retail industry.

It may be too early to declare the death of retail. Americans have started shopping more — in stores. From the garden section at Walmart to the diamond counters at Tiffany & Company, old-school retailers are experiencing some of their best sales growth in years....Stores that have learned how to match the ease and instant gratification of e-commerce shopping are flourishing, while those that have failed to evolve are in bankruptcy or on the brink....Amazon has forever changed consumer behavior....Many successful stores are now a cross between a fast-food drive-through and a hotel concierge......Doomsayers have predicted that online shopping, led by Amazon, would one day conquer all of retail, rendering brick and mortar obsolete....But the pace of closings has slowed, as the most unprofitable stores have been culled and the weakest companies have collapsed....Far from retrenching, many retailers are expanding their physical presence or spending billions to overhaul existing stores......Many of the new stores are supposed to be all things to all shoppers — what the industry calls an “omni-channel” experience.

Customers can order online and pick up at the store. They can order online and have their purchases delivered home, in some cases, on the same day. Or they can visit the store
Amazon  BOPIS  bricks-and-mortar  consumer_behavior  e-commerce  home-delivery  instant_gratification  lessons_learned  omnichannel  retailers  revitalization  same-day  store_closings  Target  Tiffany  books  Wharton 
september 2018 by jerryking
YourGrocer Jobs - AngelList
YourGrocer connects busy people with the local shops they love via an online marketplace and hyperlocal delivery model.

Our customers buy from multiple local shops in one place, with one transaction.

We're enabling local, independent shops to compete with the major supermarkets by offering 'full stack e-commerce', acquisition through to delivery.
grocery  hyperlocal  e-commerce  e-grocery 
august 2018 by jerryking
Amazon’s Ripple Effect on Grocery Industry: Rivals Stock Up on Start-Ups
Aug. 21, 2018 | The New York Times | By Erin Griffith.

When Amazon bought Whole Foods Market. The $13.4 billion deal shook the grocery world, setting off a frenzy of deals and partnerships that continues to intensify. Traditional retailers pursued digital technology, and online companies reconsidered their relationship with brick-and-mortar retail......“Are technology folks like us going to figure out retail faster than the retailers figure out technology?” [the Great Game] ..... “In some ways we’re all kind of fighting the same fight against the gigantic folks online.”

Food shopping is one of the last major holdouts to online retail. Groceries are unique in that their inventory is perishable, fragile and heavy. Grocery customers often shop at the last minute, like to see the food they are about to eat and don’t want to pay high delivery fees.

Even Amazon, with its Amazon Fresh online grocery service, has struggled to gain ground in the business. The company’s Whole Foods deal, paired with Walmart’s 2016 acquisition of Jet.com, underscored that the future of selling food and household items requires cooperation between the digital natives and the old-school retailers.....Grocery companies “are realizing that with Walmart and Amazon moving at their pace, you need to pick yours up, too,” .... “I wouldn’t call it fear. I would call it a wake-up call.”....... Market research conducted by Morgan Stanley in July found that 56 % of consumers who were likely to order groceries online said they would most likely order from Amazon, compared with 14 % who would go to a mass merchandiser and 10 % who would use their local supermarket. Phil Lempert, a grocery industry analyst, predicted store closings for chains that do not evolve to meet the changing needs of customers. Stores offering curated selections, specialty items, cooking classes and the option to buy online and pick up in person will thrive,......Josh Hix, chief executive of Plated, a meal kit start-up, said the Amazon-Whole Foods deal had immediately changed his discussions with grocery chains. Meal kit companies have a checkered record. But the grocery companies saw an opportunity to use Plated’s data and research on recipes and taste preferences......Most of the big grocers “have wanted to kill us, partner with us, invest in us or buy us — all probably in the course of the same conversation,”......The ownership structure allows Boxed to license its technology to its retail competitors in the United States as they try to become more digital. The company is in talks with 10 or so potential partners for various pieces of its technology. They include mobile app technology, personalization software, a packing algorithm that maximizes space in shipping boxes, software that tracks item expiration dates, order management software and warehouse robotics automation........Grocery delivery is difficult to do affordably, but tech-driven efficiencies like those developed by Boxed, Amazon and others have forced change on the industry.

“Consumers want convenience and will pay more for it,
Amazon  AmazonFresh  bricks-and-mortar  e-commerce  home-delivery  partnerships  retailers  same-day  start_ups  the_Great_Game  Whole_Foods  fulfillment  grocery  supermarkets  ripple_effects  e-grocery 
august 2018 by jerryking
Inside FreshDirect’s Big Bet to Win the Home-Delivery Fight - WSJ
By Jennifer Smith
July 18, 2018 5:30 a.m

Designed to keep food fresh longer and move it faster, FreshDirect’s 400,000 square-foot distribution centre is the online grocer’s multimillion-dollar bet on the fastest-growing sector in the grocery business, home-delivery. FreshDirect pioneered the e-commerce home-delivery market, and now with Amazon and big grocery chains like Kroger Co. piling on investments, companies are jockeying for position in a business that some believe is the future of supermarket sales.....FreshDirect's trucks now provide next-day delivery to customers across the New York-New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., metropolitan areas, with plans to expand into Boston next. The private company says it generated between $600 million and $700 million in annual revenue in 2017.

It declined to disclose the cost of the new facility, which was financed with the help of a $189 million investment round in 2016 led by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, direct funding and incentives from state and local governments......Amazon, Target Corp. and other large companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to expand food delivery and build out their grocery e-commerce operations. Supermarket chain owner Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV’s Peapod unit, the longest-running online grocery service in the U.S., has expanded to 24 markets and is investing in technology to cut its handling and delivery costs.

Walmart Inc. said this month that Jet.com, the online retailer it bought two years ago, will open a fulfillment center in the Bronx this fall to help roll out same- and next-day grocery deliveries in New York City.

The grocers are trying to solve one of the toughest problems in home delivery: Getting food to doorsteps in the same condition consumers would expect if they went to the store themselves. Delivering perishables is trickier than dropping off paper towels or dogfood. Fruit bruises, meat spoils, eggs break. ........FreshDirect’s logistic hurdles start well before delivery. It must get products from its suppliers to the building, process the food, then pick, pack and ship orders before the quality degrades.

That is why the new distribution centre has 15 different temperature zones. Tomatoes do best at about 55 degrees, but “chicken and meat like it to be just at 32 degrees... it gives more of shelf life to it,"....Software determines the most efficient route for each order, and tells workers which items to pick.....A big part of the facility [distribution centre] is ripping out tons and tons of operating costs out of the business.....The stakes in getting the technology right are high. FreshDirect is competing with grocery chains that often fill online orders through their stores, using a mix of staff and third-party services like Instacart Inc. So-called click-and-collect services, where consumers swing by to pick up their own orders, tend to have better margins because the retailer isn’t paying for last-mile delivery.....Online-only operations with centralized warehouses tend to be more efficient than logistics run out of stores, because they use fewer workers and can position goods for faster fulfillment.
algorithms  Amazon  big_bets  cold_storage  distribution_centres  distribution  e-commerce  food  FreshDirect  grocery  home-delivery  infrastructure  Kroger  logistics  perishables  retailers  software  supermarkets  Target  Wal-Mart  warehouses  fulfillment  same-day  piling_on  last_mile 
july 2018 by jerryking
Amazon set for Prime Day ad revenue bonanza | Financial Times
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Amazon  Amazon_Prime  brands  advertising  e-commerce 
july 2018 by jerryking
Amazon encourages entrepreneurs to build logistics network | Financial Times
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Amazon  Amazon_Prime  last_mile  Fedex  UPS  USPS  entrepreneur  logistics  shippers  speed  small_business  e-commerce  delivery  delivery_networks  delivery_times  delivery_services 
june 2018 by jerryking
India’s Biggest Competitors to Walmart and Amazon? Mom and Pop - WSJ
By Eric Bellman and Vibhuti Agarwal | Photographs by Smita Sharma for The Wall Street Journal
May 28, 2018 9:00 a.m. ET
Amazon  bricks-and-mortar  convenience_stores  e-commerce  family_business  India  local  mom-and-pop  retailers  Wal-Mart  small_business 
may 2018 by jerryking
Walmart Expands Online Grocery Delivery to 100 Cities - The New York Times
By TIFFANY HSU and NICK WINGFIELD MARCH 14, 2018

“There is a lot of experimenting going on as everyone tries to figure out that last-mile delivery — it’s a tough economic equation to make work,” said Mike Knemeyer, a professor of logistics at Ohio State University. “But if you can, you’ll have a big head start on the others, and you’ll end up making money not just in groceries but on all of the things that you sell.”

The nexus of e-commerce and grocery sales is increasingly appealing to retailers.
Wal-Mart  home-delivery  e-commerce  grocery  supermarkets  Amazon  Whole_Foods  distribution_channels  logistics  same-day  delivery_networks  last_mile 
march 2018 by jerryking
Amazon: The Making of a Giant
By Hanna Sender, Laura Stevens and Yaryna Serkez
Published March 14, 2018 at 5:30 a.m. ET
Amazon  e-commerce  Jeff_Bezos  new_businesses  new_products  retailers 
march 2018 by jerryking
Next Up for Amazon: Checking Accounts - WSJ
By Emily Glazer, Liz Hoffman and Laura Stevens
Updated March 5, 2018
financial_services  Amazon  JPMorgan_Chase  e-commerce 
march 2018 by jerryking
Imagining the Retail Store of the Future
APRIL 12, 2017 | The New York Times | By ELIZABETH PATON.

What will the store of the future look like? Gleaming robots using facial recognition technology to personalize sales pitches to mood or past spending preferences? Voice-activated personal assistants, downloading the availability, color and fit of any and every garment to your smartphone? 3-D printing stations? No checkout counters when you leave? Holographic product displays on the shop floor that change when a customer walks by? Virtual fitting rooms via virtual reality headsets? Drones dropping deliveries in the backyard or on the front steps?.......is this the sort of shopping experience that customers really want?
Scores of leading retailers and fashion brands increasingly say no.........Farfetch — the global online marketplace for independent luxury boutiques — held a daylong event at the Design Museum in London. There, in front of 200 fashion industry insiders and partners, José Neves, the founder of Farfetch, unveiled “The Store of the Future,” a suite of new technologies developed by his company to help brands and boutiques bridge the worlds of online and offline.......A report by Bain suggests that although 70 % of high-end purchases are influenced by online interactions, stores will continue to play a critical role, with 75 % of sales still occurring in a physical location by 2025.

What may change, however, is a store’s primary purpose. Forget e-commerce, or bricks and mortar, or even omnichannel sales; according to Mr. Neves, the new retail era is one anchored in “augmented retail,” a blend of the digital and physical allowing a shopper to shift seamlessly between the two realms.....Holition is an augmented-reality consultancy and software provider based in London that has worked with some well-known retail brands.......“The holy grail for retailers is creating digital empathy....No one knows what the future will look like....those using technology and data to create bespoke personalized shopping experiences...are more likely to come out on top.”.....boutiques and physical events remained vital “marketing opportunities,” with a more specialized inventory selection and the opportunity for customers to do more than buy merchandise......talks, film screenings and designer meet-and-greets, along with social media lessons, exercise classes and floristry sessions.......“Stores cannot just be row after row of product rail anymore,” he added. . “To survive, they have to tell stories — rooted in a sense of community and entertainment — and have points of view that makes the owner stand out.”.......“Ultimately the use of data to transform stores will separate those who make it to the next step and those who won’t.
reimagining  retailers  physical_place  shopping_malls  cashierless  e-commerce  reconceptualization  future  shopping_experience  brands  fashion  omnichannel  bricks-and-mortar  MatchesFashion  Holition  Yoox  facial-recognition 
february 2018 by jerryking
No lines, no registers, no fun: Amazon Go’s sterile future - The Globe and Mail
ELIZABETH RENZETTI

there's only one Amazon Go, located in the bottom of the company's Seattle headquarters, but you can bet more are on their way – especially since Amazon now owns the retail chain Whole Foods. The expansion of a chain of cashierless stores, whose shelves will one day likely be stocked by robots, raises many good questions about what kind of work we value and want for the future. Amazon's opaque data-collection procedures raise other important questions about privacy and information security..... We already know that, in the West, we suffer from a crisis of social isolation – what used to be called loneliness – that is so acute it is becoming a public-health crisis. Social interactions, even small and seemingly meaningless ones, can have great benefit to people who feel disconnected and adrift. A smile from a cashier or a commiseration from a fellow shopper could be the highlight of someone's day. ....."The more contact we have with other human beings, the better the world is, even if it's just a gas station attendant or a store clerk," Dr. Yarrow said. "This is how we form communities, in these seemingly inconsequential interactions."....But community-building isn't the buzzword of the moment – "seamlessness" is. That is, all experiences are meant to be as convenient as possible, requiring the least number of clicks, human interactions, waiting times. Friction is the enemy. Bumps are the enemy, and so, I gather, are sidesteps and interruptions and serendipity. I'm not sure if the proponents of seamlessness have ever listened to Leonard Cohen, or they would have heard the master's wisdom: "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."
Amazon  Amazon_Go  retailers  e-commerce  experimentation  soulless  Communicating_&_Connecting  sterile  loneliness  cashierless 
february 2018 by jerryking
Big brands lose pricing power in battle for consumers
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Anna Nicolaou in New York and Scheherazade Daneshkhu in London 2 HOURS AGO

The product manufacturers are being squeezed by the big retailers — notably, Amazon and Walmart, which together sell $600bn worth of goods a year. Walmart has long put pressure on suppliers to cut prices. Amazon’s rise has exacerbated the “deflationary impact”, Société Générale says, creating a “much tougher environment in the US”. After Amazon bought Whole Foods in June, the price war grew more intense in groceries, pushing prices to historic lows that punished producers. 

Brand loyalty has suffered in the process. Equipped with the tools to compare prices online instantly, and bombarded with more choices, shoppers are growing more likely to opt for cheaper and discounted products — particularly in categories such laundry detergent and shampoo. To keep their spots on store shelves, brands are having to accept lower prices......Former Amazon employees say the company’s algorithms scan prices across competitors in real time, automatically adjusting its own so it can offer the lowest price. While most big brands have wholesale agreements with Amazon, third-party sellers are prolific on the site, complicating price control further. A 34oz bottle of P&G’s Pantene Pro-V Shampoo & Conditioner was listed by 10 different sellers — nine of them third parties — on the shopping site.

Amazon’s dominance makes it difficult for brands to abandon the platform, or try to sell directly on their own websites. “You have 200m customers on Amazon. If you walk away, there’s 200m people who are going to just buy from your competitors,” says James Thomson, a former Amazon manager who consults brands. “You’re probably not going to win.”

“This is a pretty dire situation,” he adds. “If brands are worried about meeting quarterly targets, they can’t afford to lose Amazon sales.”

Still, “the retailers have nothing to gain by pushing [consumer products makers] into bankruptcy”,
......Consumer goods companies have responded to the pricing pressures by aggressively cutting costs, led by the “zero-based budgeting” model of 3G Capital,
large_companies  Fortune_500  brands  CPG  pricing  price_wars  shareholder_activism  Amazon  P&G  Nestlé  win_backs  price-cutting  Nelson_Peltz  shifting_tastes  Colgate-Palmolive  upstarts  Unilever  zero-based_budgeting  3G_Capital  e-commerce  Mondelez  Big_Food 
february 2018 by jerryking
Despite Amazon effect, not all mom and pops in trouble on Main St.
Chris Morris, special to CNBC.com Published 8:53 AM ET Fri, 11 Aug 2017

With so many major retailers struggling to stay afloat, it'd be easy to think smaller, mom-and-pop stores are doing even worse, or might be largely fading away. The recent demise of retail giants, however, has left a brick-and-mortar vacuum for local stores to fill.

And many experts say it might be best to stay small. Being a micro-sized business certainly isn't protection against big-box retailers or online competitors, but being a small business that's an integral part of a local community can help build a loyal customer base.

"The vast majority of mom-and-pop businesses are either neighborhood retail businesses or small service businesses," says Leonard Schlesinger, Baker Foundation professor at the Harvard Business School. "As neighborhood businesses, they play a significant role in neighborhood stabilization, [providing convenience for people living close by]."
Amazon  big-box  mom-and-pop  retailers  e-commerce  ethnic_communities  convenience_stores  local  customer_loyalty  small_business  department_stores  neighbourhoods 
january 2018 by jerryking
How Retailers Can Thrive in the Age of Amazon - WSJ
By Stephen Moore
Dec. 15, 2017

How can a retailer flourish in such a daunting environment? By providing “emotional fulfillment,” = the joy customers take in seeing, touching, sniffing and testing the product before they pull out the credit card. A computer can’t match that experience...“We are social animals. We aren’t robots who are going to make all our purchases from robots.”

Somewhat counterintuitively....e-commerce is “not our enemy” but is becoming complementary to retail. Here’s his challenge to anyone who thinks digital sales are set to crush the old analog kind: ...If that isn’t enough, he adds: “Guess what’s one of our most successful stores we just opened up three months ago? Amazon. They already mastered online book sales. Why are they creating a physical presence? Because they know they need to connect and fuse with you as a consumer.” That’s what he means by emotional fulfillment.

He sketches out a strategy for retail in the digital age. It starts with making the mall an appealing place to visit. Parking is free, he says, and the stores are full of helpful employees. “We tell our retailers that one of the primary value added of retail shopping is the expertise that the salesclerks can offer customers,” he says, “They better be knowledgeable about what they are selling, or people will go online or to a discount store.” He urges his tenants to pay well more than the minimum wage to attract better employees, and he says most of them do
retailers  Amazon  contra-Amazon  shopping_malls  e-commerce  bricks-and-mortar  emotional_connections 
january 2018 by jerryking
What the Tax Bill Fails to Address: Technology’s Tsunami -
DEC. 20, 2017 | The New York Times | Farhad Manjoo.

Manjoo posits that the Republican tax bill is the wrong fix for the wrong problem, given how tech is altering society and the economy....The bill (the parachute) does little to address the tech-abetted wave of economic displacement (the tsunami) that may be looming just off the horizon. And it also seems to intensify some of the structural problems in the tech business, including its increasing domination by five giants — Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company — which own some of the world’s most important economic platforms.....some in Silicon Valley think the giants misplayed their hand in the legislation. In pursuing short-term tax advantages, they missed a chance to advocate policies that might have more broadly benefited many of their customers — and improved their images, too......This gets back to that looming tsunami. Though many of the economy’s structural problems predate the last decade’s rise of the tech behemoths, the innovations that Silicon Valley has been working on — things like e-commerce, cloud storage, artificial intelligence and the general digitization of everything and everyone around you — are some of the central protagonists in the economic story of our age.

Among other economic concerns, these innovations are implicated in the rise of inequality; the expanding premium on education and skills; the decimation and dislocation of retail jobs; the rising urban-rural divide, and spiking housing costs in cities; and the rise of the “gig” economy of contract workers who drive Ubers and rent out their spare bedrooms on Airbnb....technology is changing work in a few ways. First, it’s altering the type of work that people do — for instance, creating a boom in e-commerce warehouse jobs in large metro areas while reducing opportunities for retail workers in rural areas. Technology has also created more uncertainty around when people work and how much they’ll get paid.
Farhad_Manjoo  preparation  job_loss  job_displacement  Silicon_Valley  tax_codes  corporate_concentration  platforms  income_inequality  short-sightedness  e-commerce  cloud_computing  artificial_intelligence  gig_economy  precarious  automation  uncertainty  universal_basic_income  digitalization  Apple  Amazon  Netflix  Microsoft  Facebook  Alphabet  Google  inconsistent_incomes  Big_Tech  FAANG 
december 2017 by jerryking
Some Big Retailers Are Still Betting On Brick and Mortar
NOV. 14, 2017 | The New York Times | By MICHAEL CORKERY.

Target’s new store near Herald Square in New York City, down the block from Macy’s flagship store and other national retail chains. It is one of about 130 smaller format stores Target has opened or plans to open by the end of 2019. The new stores are scaled back versions of the big-box Targets that predominate in the suburbs.

The company’s store strategy stands out at a time when just about everyone seems to be questioning the relevance of brick-and-mortar retail. Amazon is seizing an ever-larger share of consumers’ wallets, reducing foot traffic to stores.....The retail industry has been pushing back against the pessimism. This summer, the IHL Group, a retail and hospitality advising firm, produced a report that showed retailers will open more new stores than they will close this year. (Most of the growth, however, came from restaurant openings, not new department stores or big box retailers.)....

“The negative narrative that has been out there about the death of retail is patently false,” Greg Buzek, the group’s president, said in August when the report was published.

Some of the biggest growth in brick-and-mortar stores is coming from discount retailers, like TJX, the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. E-commerce may offer convenience and instant gratification. But shoppers are still willing to go into a store to hunt for a good bargain.“......The big challenge is how do you get customers to come into a store if they don’t have to,” said Melina Cordero, head of retail research for Americas at CBRE, the real estate firm.....Walmart is also trying to generate more buzz around its stores, which had drawn complaints from some customers in recent years for being too cavernous and unpleasant to shop in.

This month, Walmart is holding holiday parties — complete with toy demonstrations and workers in reindeer hats — as it “cranks up the volume on store experiences.”...Retailers like Walmart are hoping they can build a more profitable business that incorporates both brick-and-mortar and online shopping — a strategy known in the industry as “omni-channel.”

Online retailers like Amazon face high transportation costs, particularly as they guarantee free two-day and even same-day delivery. They are also bearing the cost of processing free returns.

Many analysts and retail executives said Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods and its more than 460 stores validated the relevance of brick and mortar. Still, e-commerce continues to grow at a blistering rate, far outpacing the increase in overall retail sales. Unless that growth abates, analysts and economists question how so many stores — from suburban malls to hip boutiques — can survive.
retailers  Target  bricks-and-mortar  small_spaces  store_closings  big-box  CBRE  Wal-Mart  omnichannel  e-commerce 
november 2017 by jerryking
A Website for Pop-Up Stores Attracts Funding - WSJ
By Peter Grant
Oct. 10, 2017

(For John Corless)

A venture-capital firm that focuses on real-estate technology is investing in a London startup that has created an online marketplace for pop-up stores.

Fifth Wall Ventures, which is backed by big names in the real-estate world like Hines, CBRE Group Inc. and Macerich Co. , has made a “significant” investment in Appear Here, according to Brendan Wallace, Fifth Wall’s managing partner. He declined to specify an amount or how much of an ownership stake Fifth Wall is taking.

Founded in 2013, Appear Here has hooked up thousands of retailers with landlords in London and other U.K. cities, and its website currently includes more than 100,000 brands looking for space. The company, which enables retailers to sign leases for days or months, also has expanded to Paris and, earlier this year, New York.....London retailers leasing space through Appear Here and its competitors, like Hire Space and We Are Pop Up, also have turned marginal neighborhoods into hubs for new and edgy retail concepts. That hip vibe sometimes has lured big name retailers to those areas as well.

“The idea that online retail is going to kill physical retail is a complete fabrication,” Mr. Bailey said. “Every online retailer I know is wanting to open up physical stores the same way that every traditional retailer is moving online.”
e-commerce  venture_capital  start_ups  Appear_Here  pop-ups  websites  funding  retailers  landlords  London  CBRE 
october 2017 by jerryking
IKEA Jumps Into ‘Gig Economy’ With Deal for TaskRabbit
Sept. 28, 2017 | WSJ | By Saabira Chaudhuri and Eliot Brown.

IKEA agreed to acquire Silicon Valley startup TaskRabbit—the online marketplace that connects people with freelancers willing to run errands and do odd jobs—combining the pioneer of the flat pack with a trailblazer of the so-called gig economy.
....Documents related to a financing round from 2015 suggest TaskRabbit then had a valuation of about $50 million....the deal represents a bigger strategic tack at the furniture company. It also underscores a broader shift at many large companies grappling with big changes brought on by digitization. Many established corporations are increasingly turning to Silicon Valley to help their business grow, or slow their declines—sometimes spending heavily on small venture capital-backed startups that have strong traction with young consumers.

Especially where older industries are shifting rapidly, deals have piled up. Auto makers have become prolific investors and buyers of self-driving startups. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has become one of the more active buyers of startups as it grapples with a shift to e-commerce, including a June deal to buy men’s online clothier Bonobos.

Several large firms have launched small Silicon Valley outposts and venture capital arms of their own. Often, though, they say it makes more sense to buy these startups than build a new brand or operation themselves.

The TaskRabbit deal is IKEA’s first foray anywhere near Silicon Valley. The privately held company—when it has bought anything at all—has tended to focus on forestry and manufacturing firm purchases..... IKEA intends to also learn from TaskRabbit’s digital expertise. Retailers and brands globally have been racing to capture shopper data in a bid to personalize their offerings and build customer loyalty.......The bulk of IKEA’s sales are still made in its sprawling out-of-town superstores that house everything from plants to beds. It has 357 stores across 29 countries. But it has worked to adapt to a rise in online shopping, rolling out home delivery and click-and-collect options. IKEA has also been opening small, centrally located stores situated near public transport that stock a limited range of offerings and are also used as collection points.

The company’s website had 2.1 billion visits in fiscal 2016, up 9% from the prior year. Earlier in September, it launched an augmented reality app that lets people place IKEA furniture in their homes. It has also souped up its product range, offering tables and lamps that double up as wireless phone chargers and bulbs that can be controlled wirelessly.

“As urbanization and digital transformation continue to challenge retail concepts we need to develop the business faster and in a more flexible way,” Mr. Brodin said. “An acquisition of TaskRabbit would be an exciting leap in this transformation.”
IKEA  TaskRabbit  gig_economy  home-assembly  mergers_&_acquisitions  M&A  Silicon_Valley  large_companies  brands  Fortune_500  start_ups  e-commerce  home-delivery  BOPIS  augmented_reality  urbanization  digital_strategies  retailers  product_launches 
september 2017 by jerryking
Costco Is Surviving in the Age of Amazon
By DAREN FONDA, Senior Associate Editor
From Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2017
Amazon  contra-Amazon  Costco  big-box  e-commerce 
september 2017 by jerryking
Disney Reimagines Its Stores to Be More Like a Vacation
SEPT. 26, 2017 | The New York Times | By BROOKS BARNES.

The redesign makes Disney’s stores a bit more like Disney’s theme parks. For instance, daily parades at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida will be streamed live to those colossal video screens. During the parades, store personnel will put out mats for shoppers to sit on and roll out souvenir carts stocked with cotton candy and light-up Mickey Mouse ears.

The screens could easily be used to stream other events, such as red carpet arrivals for Disney movie premieres. That kind of programming could bolster foot traffic, and thus sales — while also turning the stores into a more potent promotional platform for Disney’s films, television shows and theme parks.....As it attempts a new mall strategy, Disney is also remaking its e-commerce operation. ShopDisney.com is replacing DisneyStore.com.
Disney  prototypes  retailers  overhaul  redesign  entertainment  makeovers  consumer_feedback  theme_parks  shopping_malls  e-commerce  reimagining  reconceptualization 
september 2017 by jerryking
Toys ‘R’ Us versus Amazon: No contest
September 17, 2017 | The Globe and Mail | BARRIE MCKENNA.

It's a new era all right...The industry is grappling with the relentless onslaught of Amazon and Alibaba, excess retail space, the retreat of department-store mall anchors and intense price competition. Meanwhile, consumers are shifting their spending from things to experiences, including entertainment and dining-out
The harsh reality for Toys "R" Us and other big-box stores is that they aren't indispensable any more as North Americans discover new and different ways to shop. You don't have to schlep to a suburban shopping strip to find the newest Lego set, video game or electronic gadget. Order it online, and you can have it delivered to your door, often for free the next day, at the best price available anywhere.

....retail experts have warned that a tipping point was coming for the industry as more and more shopping moved online. This looks like the year.....Analysts predict that a record 9,000 retail stores will close across the U.S. in 2017. That would eclipse 2016, when roughly 6,200 stores closed....
Retailers have been filing for protection from creditors at a faster pace this year than at any time since the 2008-09 recession. Toys "R" Us joins a long list of famous retail casualties of 2017 in Canada and the U.S., including Sears Canada, The Limited, Wet Seal, BCBG, Payless Shoes, Sports Authority, Gymboree, Aéropostale and American Apparel. And there are still three-plus months to go.....The rise of Amazon is proof that consumers are embracing new ways of buying. The company's North American sales grew five-fold to $80-billion (U.S.) between 2010 and 2016. Half of U.S. households now subscribe to Amazon Prime, a fee-based service that offers free two-day shipping, music and video streaming plus other perks......What's alarming isn't so much the share of shopping that has moved online, but the speed at which it's moved.

Warren Buffett sold off nearly $1-billion worth of Walmart stock earlier this year, explaining that traditional retailing is "too tough" a business in the age of Amazon. "The world has evolved, and it's going to keep evolving, but the speed is increasing," Mr. Buffett said.

Amazon and China's Alibaba won't be the only winners in this new era. A vast array of other businesses feed off the online industry, including shippers and logistics companies, plus a vast network of technology companies, including store platforms (Shopify), analytics companies and app makers.
Amazon  Alibaba  e-commerce  store_closings  Barrie_McKenna  retailers  bricks-and-mortar  toys  Toys_"R"_Us  bankruptcies  brands  Amazon_Prime  home-delivery  accelerated_lifecycles  Warren_Buffett  Wal-Mart  big-box 
september 2017 by jerryking
Schafer: Retailing's new reality spawns a new metric
JULY 8, 2014 | - StarTribune.com | LEE SCHAFER @LEEASCHAFER.

sales per square foot(print)

There aren’t many retailers left that don’t let customers buy anything online. What if a third of the total sales never go through a store at all? Should those be counted?

By tacking on “print” to foot, Rubin is measuring productivity by calculating total sales on all the selling space the company occupies, its entire real estate footprint.

What selling space should get added to the stores in the calculation? Rubinson decided to include those vast warehouses all of these companies seem to operate. After all, the stuff sold online has to be stored, picked and boxed up someplace before the UPS truck can take it away.
metrics  retailers  e-commerce  sales_per_square_foot  warehouses 
september 2017 by jerryking
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