Industry News & Expert Views

More Than 400 Lawmakers Sign Open Letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

By Sheridan Fifer

In what one news outlet called a declaration of war, more than 400 lawmakers from 35 countries publicly called out Amazon and CEO Jeff Bezos in an open letter. The lawmakers who signed the letter include US Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Keith Ellison, and Ro Khanna, and Jamaal Bowman. They pledged to support the movement against Amazon in their places of work. The letter accused the online retailer of underpaying taxes, intimidating and underpaying workers, and contributing to climate change. 

"Mr. Bezos, We, elected representatives, legislators, and public officials from around the world, hereby put you on notice that Amazon's days of impunity are over," the lawmakers wrote.

Read the full story at Business Insider.

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Walmart CEO Plans Gradual Approach to Scaling Walmart+

By Sheridan Fifer

Early estimates paint Walmart's membership program as a big success, but Walmart won't reveal the number of subscribers to Walmart+. Instead, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon says the company is judging success by a different metric entirely: the Net Promoter Score, which is a measure of how likely customers are to recommend the program. By building a loyal membership base over time, McMillon wants to avoid the mistake of scaling too quickly and exceeding Walmart's capacity to deliver. In other words, Walmart will prioritize the quality of the subscriber experience over the quantity of subscribers. 

“I realize we’re going to face some pressure to share numbers and to scale this really quick,” he said. “This is not a Disney+ or a Netflix membership for streaming. It requires capacity. It requires humans. This is a different product, but it’ll be a Walmart product.”

Read the full story at CNBC.

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JCPenney Announces New Beauty Concept After Sephora Partners with Kohl's

By Sheridan Fifer

JCPenney and Sephora have partnered to operate Sephora locations in hundreds of the retailer's stores for 15 years. The partnership hasn't been free of strife: in the spring, JCPenney filed a restraining order to prevent Sephora from allegedly backing out of their contract early, Sephora responded with an emergency motion to dissolve, and the legal saga ultimately ended with both companies agreeing to revisions to the original agreement. Since then, JCPenny has filed for and been bought out of bankruptcy, and Sephora has partnered with Kohl's for hundreds of shop-in-shops. Now JCPenney has announced that it will soon unveil a new beauty concept. No details were forthcoming, but the retailer did say that an improved beauty offering is part of its broader turnaround goal. 

“We look forward to unveiling this new concept, which will be enhanced by our Salon offerings, to provide an improved beauty experience,” a spokesperson for the company wrote in an email to FN. “Until then, we will continue to faithfully serve our customers through SiJCP [Sephora in JCPenney].”

Read the full story at Footwear News.

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UPS Imposes Shipping Limits on Some of Its Largest Retail Customers

By Sheridan Fifer

In order to avoid a scenario some in the industry are calling "shipageddon," UPS is taking steps to preserve shipping capacity for all its customers. The Wall Street Journal first reported that the delivery company is imposing shipping limits on some of its biggest retail customers, specifically naming Gap and Nike. The limits on shipping begin this week and will remain in force throughout the holiday season. UPS didn't name the retailers that the restrictions would affect, but the company said it is working with its retail customers to coordinate demand and capacity. 

Meanwhile, Amazon, one of the country's largest retailers, has skated ahead without much shipping troubles thanks to relying on its own delivery service and drivers to accommodate its slew of shipments.

Read the full story at CNN Business.

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Bed Bath & Beyond Plans Overhaul of Supply Chain, Stores, and Operations

By Sheridan Fifer

Bed Bath & Beyond has a history of ordering too much inventory and then using discounts to move a product assortment that its current chief merchandising officer called "outdated." But so far this year, the retailer has halved the total number of its suppliers, and it won't stop there. Armed with new executives and a planned investment of $250 million, Bed Bath & Beyond is embarking on an ambitious and very large-scale turnaround effort. CEO Mark Tritton has nothing less in mind than a total overhaul of the retailer's supply chain, stores, and operations.

"There's a lot of low-hanging fruit and fruit on the ground," the CEO said. Cleaning up inventory management, changing the nature of supplier relationships and integrating an omnichannel mindset is some of the low-hanging fruit, but with an extensive tech upgrade yet to come — success will be contingent on careful execution.

Read the full story at Supply Chain Dive.

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Amazon Calls This Holiday Shopping Season the Biggest in Its History

By Sheridan Fifer

Without disclosing sales numbers for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, traditionally its biggest days of the season, Amazon announced that this year's holiday shopping season has been the biggest in its history. The coronavirus pandemic pushed shoppers out of brick-and-mortar stores and into Amazon's marketplace, and the resulting deluge of online orders isn't over yet.

“In a holiday season unlike any other, it’s clear that customers still want great deals on gifts for their loved ones or a little something extra for themselves, and we’re glad to help deliver smiles throughout the season,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer.

Read the full story at CNBC.

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Walmart Drops Online Minimum Purchase Requirement for Walmart+ Members

By Sheridan Fifer

On December 4, Walmart will add a new perk for Walmart+ members. In a change that takes aim at one of Amazon's biggest selling points, Walmart will no longer require members of its loyalty program to buy a minimum of $35 worth of goods at a time in order to qualify for next-day or two-day shipping on Walmart.com. The perk for Walmart+ members does not apply to same-day orders fulfilled by Walmart stores. 

So far, Walmart has declined to share how many customers have signed up for Walmart+, much to investors’ dismay. (One third-party estimate puts it at 19 million members, however).

Read the full story at TechCrunch.

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Walmart Will Lay Off More Than 1,200 in Arkansas and New Jersey

By Sheridan Fifer

On January 31, more than 1,200 Walmart associates in Arkansas (the state where Walmart is headquartered) and New Jersey (the state where Walmart-owned Jet.com has its offices) will lose their jobs. The layoffs come at a time when Walmart is working to become a true omnichannel organization, which means big changes to operations and the structure of its teams. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon believes the retailer's customers jumped ahead two to three years in adoption of omnichannel programs because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We are streamlining some roles so we can be more effective and efficient. At the same time, we are creating new roles, particularly in the supply chain, in our stores, and in other facilities which will open up new opportunities," said the memo from U.S. CEO John Furner and U.S. E-commerce CEO Marc Lore...

Read the full story at Retail Dive.

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