PrimeTime: Amazon partners with Snapchat on visual product search feature, uses Prime Day to highlight private labels, plans to launch holiday toy catalog, announces Delivery Service Partners program, acquires PillPack

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon is partnering with Snapchat on a visual product search that will live inside the social media app. The feature will allow users to identify songs, products and barcodes with the help of Shazam…


The Grinds: Disney and Muji launch immersive experiences, Aday grows “wear-testers” program, Peloton acquires Neurotic Media, WeWork debuts retail market

Disney brings Star Wars to Hollywood Studios and Muji opens more hotels, inviting visitors to live in their brands. What happened A little over a month after debuting Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios Park, Disney is bringing Star Wars: Galaxy’s…


Less is more: How companies are controlling supply while maximizing demand in a digital and physical world

Scarcity is a powerful psychological force. It compels consumers to change their behavior while simultaneously raising the value of products and services. However, putting locational, temporal or inventory limitations in place may seem contrarian at…


Going, going, gone: How Amazon, Hamilton and Supreme are navigating the hype that stems from time-based scarcity

Scarcity is a powerful psychological force. It compels consumers to change their behavior while simultaneously raising the value of products and services. However, putting locational, temporal or inventory limitations in place may seem contrarian at…


Here and now: Netflix and Amazon pioneered instantly released and long-lasting content, but are now exploring the opposite direction

Scarcity is a powerful psychological force. It compels consumers to change their behavior while simultaneously raising the value of products and services. However, putting locational, temporal or inventory limitations in place may seem contrarian at…


Organic Growth — with Holly McWhorter of PLANT Apothecary

#78. PLANT Apothecary is a fully organic skincare brand that has a big focus on environmental friendliness and bold design. We talk with co-founder Holly McWhorter about her research-minded process and how she’s scaling a company that nurtures her…


PrimeTime: Prime Wardrobe launches for all U.S. Prime members, Kroger reigns supreme in U.S. online grocery delivery, Sonos makes a comeback, Amazon Hub grows, Prime members enjoy discounts at all U.S. Whole Foods locations, American Express and Amazon team up with co-branded credit card for small businesses

The latest news on everything Amazon   All U.S. Prime members now have access to Prime Wardrobe, a service that allows customers to order apparel online, gives them a seven-day grace period to try on the items, and then charges them for…


The Grinds: Goop answers pseudoscience criticism, UPS looks to automation, #MeToo jeans reprise the accessible feminism debate, Disney launches attraction previews

Goop answers pseudoscience criticism by coming clean about its product benefits. What happened After growing a business by amassing a devoted following of customers who believed in product benefits not necessarily backed by science—and receiving…


PrimeTime: Amazon launches Alexa for Hospitality, strives to win over Brazilian cosmetics companies, sells from Treasure Trucks; Microsoft develops cashierless technology; Roku plans to launch Amazon-inspired channel subscription service; CVS expands pharmaceutical delivery service

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon launched Alexa for Hospitality at a number of hotels in the Marriott family and has invited other hotel chains to integrate with its echo speakers as well. The service will place Echo speakers…


PrimeTime: Amazon inks deal to stream the English Premier League, extends 10% Whole Foods discount for Prime members, rebrands its membership program, debuts the Fire TV Cube; Sears expands its auto partnership with Amazon; Mastercard seeks to integrate payment system into Google and Amazon voice assistants

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon inked a deal with the English Premier League, giving the platform exclusive rights to stream soccer on Prime Video. This means that, starting in 2019, UK-based Prime members can watch the 20…


The Grinds: JCPenney launches Fanatics shop-in-shops, Honest Company raises $200 million, Wish brings the dollar store online, Walmart opens ModCloth stores

JCPenney banks on shop-in-shops, this time with digitally-native sports manufacturer and retailer Fanatics. What happened JCPenney launched Fanatics shop-in-shops in 350 of its locations, and plans to open 300 more by the end of the summer. Each…


PrimeTime: Amazon extends Whole Foods discounts to Prime subscribers, makes Prime Pantry a monthly membership, announces partnerships between Amazon Dash and WePlenish, AmazonFresh and SideChef; Costco holds out with strong membership model; “Amazon’s Choice” label grows in significance

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon is extending its Whole Foods discounts to Prime customers who will now save 10% on featured items—marketed as Prime Member deals in store—and on on-sale products at the grocery store in a…


PrimeTime: Amazon’s hold over the beauty market grows, Google’s smart speaker sales surpass Amazon’s

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon’s hold over the beauty market is growing a minimum of 24% year over year in the U.S. in the top ten verticals. In Q1 2018, luxury cosmetics sales rose 57% and the company plans to capitalize on…


PrimeTime: Amazon Channels reigns over television subscriptions; Amazon upgrades its beauty shopping experience, will launch the Marketplace Appstore for sellers, is closing customer accounts because of returns; Whole Foods tests a store-in-a-store housewares concept, Acer’s new laptops are integrated with Alexa

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon Channels continues to take more of the television subscriptions pie from TV networks. The service, which allows Prime customers to purchase streaming subscriptions to television channels is now…


Cop & Flip: Sneakerheads and the secondary market furthered sneaker culture, using brands like Nike as a vehicle for growth

“Lifestyle brand” is a buzzword that has lost meaning in the consumer economy. Either imposed or self-ascribed, companies with the label use it as a justification for their ambition to become much more than a brand, but a way of life. Some are…


PrimeTime: Amazon is using 3D body scanning to collect data to grow its apparel business, halted its expansion in Seattle, added a children’s book subscription to Prime, launched a new private-label pet brand called Wag

The latest news on everything Amazon   As its apparel retail business grows, Amazon’s 3D body scanning department will collect data on how body size and shape changes over time. The company acquired a startup called Body Labs in 2017 that…


The Grinds: Instacart may suffer from Walmart-Amazon food wars, Meghan Markle takes influencer marketing offline, Brookfield Ventures invests in tech-driven startups, Kering adapts to a changing luxury industry

In Walmart and Amazon’s food wars, Instacart may be the collateral damage. What happened Walmart continues to rev up its grocery operations at home and abroad. This week, the company announced that it will merge its grocery chain Asda with…


PrimeTime: Amazon will sell an Echo Dot for kids, raise its annual Prime membership fee, stream Thursday Night Football, double its credit line, sell Chico’s apparel; Amazon is attempting to win over HQ2 finalists and growing its retail business with profits from AWS and advertising; Private equity firms want to consolidate top Amazon sellers

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon will begin selling the Echo Dot Kids Edition in May 2018—a smaller device with a protective case, two-year warranty, and a year of the FreeTime Unlimited Family Plan, including child-oriented…


PrimeTime: Amazon Key delivers to cars; Walmart’s online grocery program improvements are paying off; Amazon gives Best Buy exclusive rights to sell Fire TVs, inked live video game deal with the NBA, may surpass Walmart as top U.S. apparel retailer; Home Depot amps up tech team to compete with Amazon

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon Key now delivers packages to customers’ cars—an additional service to the Key program, which also drops off packages inside of Prime Members’ homes with the help of an internet-connected door…


Is Debt Divine or Disastrous?

While debt has proved problematic for bigger companies, it can also be a savior for smaller ones. In the direct-to-consumer horse race, brands are trying to scale faster than their competitors—most companies have turned to selling equity in exchange…


The Grinds: Toy retailers seek gains from Toys R Us’ bankruptcy, Fraud-detecting services vet online shoppers, The Wing ushers in a new era of retail real estate, Beauty buffs and sneakerheads form social channels

Big toy retailers like Hasbro and Mattel and independent toy stores hope to gain market share from Toys R Us’ bankruptcy, but Amazon and its competitors may beat them to it. What happened In the wake of Toys R Us’ bankruptcy, toy manufacturers…


PrimeTime: Amazon expands Prime Wardrobe, braces itself for new state taxes, outpaces Best Buy as top electronics retailer; Amazon Echo partners with home builders; Amazon Fuse will expand the company’s media ecosystem; Walmart may buy stake in Flipkart

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon will allow more Prime members to access the Prime Wardrobe program, which lets shoppers try on clothes before paying for them. Prime Wardrobe—which has yet to officially launch and serves…


Game-Day Retail: Inside the sports brands and venues that are providing the products and services fans already want

Today, a number of brands and retailers are entering the sports industry, disrupting long-term economic models to make it easier for fans to rep their team spirit. Rep the Squad, for example, is using a rental subscription model to provide fans…


PrimeTime: Amazon grows its private-label presence; U.S. warehouses unfit for ecommerce fulfillment; Amazon wants Alexa to compete with Venmo; Walmart continues to compete with Amazon via price matching, pickup kiosks and healthcare; Amazon’s R&D expenses surpass those of all other U.S. companies

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon now has over 70 active private-label brands on its platform. The majority of these brands emerged in 2017, though the company began testing its private-label products in 2009. These brands and…


PrimeTime: Whole Foods may offer discount to Prime members; Amazon Video falls behind Netflix, YouTube and Hulu; Amazon launches Home Assistants; Trump may seek to regulate Amazon; Amazon Spark is failing, Amazon is collecting state sales tax, but leaving out cities

The latest news on everything Amazon   Whole Foods may offer Prime members a 10% discount, based on signs advertising the offer were seen in the grocery chain’s flagship Austin store. Since the Amazon acquisition, benefits to Whole Foods…


The Grinds: Build-A-Bear thrives—Toys R Us dies, Adore Me to open stores near Victoria’s Secret, New York City devises retail vacancy tax for landlords, Goop raises $50 million

Build-A-Bear thrives —Toys R Us dies. To-the-point analysis about one of the four important stories from the week.   What happened Build-A-Bear has posted four consecutive years of profitability and remains debt free in an era when…


Dear Walmart & Jet: One Thing I Would Do

As the battle with Amazon continues to heat up, Walmart has the best chance to play offense in categories where Amazon either isn’t focused or isn’t succeeding. While both companies are competing heavily in the private label world, Amazon continues…


The Grinds: Ulta Beauty will begin selling Chanel Beauté, Nordstrom family ends buyout effort, ThredUp wants to create a consignment ecosystem, Google launches new advertising program online with its AI assistant

Ulta Beauty will begin selling Chanel Beauté—a coveted and surprising addition to the beauty retailer that mixes high and low. To-the-point analysis about one of the four important stories from the week.   What happened Ulta Beauty,…


Dear Netflix: One Thing I Would Do

As you continue to produce show after show and movie after movie, with hundreds more in the pipeline, you have an emerging opportunity that will not only grow Netflix revenue, but also deepen the relationship between your service and its…


PrimeTime: Amazon.com lockers at Whole Foods lead to more short-term grocery visits; Amazon may have its sights set on Toys R Us real estate; Executives leave Whole Foods; Whole Foods lays off regional marketing staff; Majority of Amazon shoppers don’t notice ads

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon.com lockers, which are installed at over 75 Whole Foods locations, allow Amazon customers to pick up their packages in a secure location. This leading to more short-term visits and impulse…


PrimeTime: Amazon goes after lower-income customers; strikes multi-year contract with Whole Foods, but leaves small grocery vendors worried; makes Prime Pantry a monthly subscription; discusses partnership with banks to create Amazon checking account product

The latest news on everything Amazon   Amazon continues to go after lower-income customers, infiltrating Walmart territory with a discounted Prime membership for Medicaid recipients. The membership costs 54% of a regular Prime membership…


The Grinds: JCPenney leverages Sephora, Stitch Fix adapts its subscription model, Best Buy closes mobile phone stores, BuzzFeed and Walmart launch a product collaboration, Amazon warehouses embrace chaos

JCPenney continues to leverage Sephora for its turnaround efforts, but the minimal amount of control it has over its biggest growth driver is worrisome. To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What…


The gift and curse of Amazon’s margin mentality

Amazon has an entirely different view of margin than most other companies. One of CEO Jeff Bezos’ most well-known quotes is, “Your margin is my opportunity,” signaling the company’s intention to use its scale to significantly drive down prices for…


The Grinds: Fast-fashion full-price sales fall, Amazon expands Amazon Go, Younique raises Coty’s profitability, Adidas’ Speedfactory innovates the supply chain, ABC Carpet & Home sells top floors as office space

Fast-fashion retailers are seeing falling full-price sales, led by H&M and more recently, Zara. To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Analysts were already concerned with Zara’s…


The Grinds: Harry’s moves beyond shaving, Prime credit card users get cash back at Whole Foods, Instacart and grocery partners compete with Amazon, Kraft Heinz cuts costs, but needs to grow, Amazon Lending partners with Bank of America

Harry's moves beyond shaving as it tries to become a platform and holding company for digitally-native brands. To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Harry’s, a…


The Off-Price Epidemic

While off-price stores like TJ Maxx and Burlington have existed for decades, the 2008 recession—the biggest since the dot-com boom—incited retailers to turn more heavily to the off-price business model. At the time, consumers across all…


Creation over Commodities — with Joe Ferrara of Resonance

#59. Resonance is a venture-operating company that is helping designers scale their brands at record speeds. We talk with its co-founder, Joe Ferrara, who started the company with Lawrence Lenihan after spending close to a decade investing in…


The Grinds: Goop expands merchandise, Whole Foods raises rates for sellers, L. L. Bean updates return policy, Secondary sneaker market heats up, Macy’s launches new pop-up

Goop expands and diversifies G. Label merchandise, but questions of scalability loom To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Goop, which launched in 2008 as Gwyneth Paltrow’s…


The Grinds: Fenty Beauty outpaces competition, Alibaba moves offline, H&M curbs expansion, Mall landlords fight over tenants, Apparel sales hit all-time low

Fenty Beauty becomes the fastest-growing celebrity cosmetics line To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Sales for Fenty Beauty, a cosmetics line created by Rihanna, Sephora and…


What is Amazon? Definitely not a conglomerate.

Standard Oil and General Electric—two of the most successful companies ever—are the go-to comparison for massive, interlinked companies. But those who call Amazon the Standard Oil or GE of the 21st century use a comparison that falls short and…


The Exclusive Product and Collab Report

In today’s competitive retail landscape, selling the same products as everyone else—and especially Amazon—puts brands and retailers on the path to self-commoditization: the race to the bottom on price that is bankrupting some companies and seriously…


The Grinds: Outdoor Voices calls out copycats, Amazon raises seller fees, Starbucks mobile ordering grows, Fake products slip past The RealReal, IKEA partners with TaskRabbit

Fans of Outdoor Voices call out brands for copying its products, proving more powerful than non-existent legal protections To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Outdoor Voices…


The uncertain road from a single product to lasting brand

A single-product company that desires to become a brand needs to diversify its products over time to maintain interest and evolve with the market. But few single-product based companies have been able to build lasting brands with a wide assortment…


The Grinds: Amazon Go opens, Richemont buys Yoox Net-a-Porter, Young people prefer online shopping, Bankrupt retailers get rent concessions, Target unveils unique fragrance

Richemont buys Yoox Net-a-Porter, becoming the first major luxury holding company with a serious ecommerce operation To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   Why it’s interesting…


The Full Price Report

Discount-heavy pricing strategies create long-term cycles of dependence that lead to promotion-addicted shoppers and lowered profit-margins—companies end up repeatedly undercutting themselves. Brands and retailers, therefore, are looking for ways to…


The Grinds: Beauty Pie’s pricing strategy, Amazon’s aesthetic, Target’s holiday sales, Amazon’s beauty business, Aural advertising increases

Beauty Pie, the membership-based beauty retailer sees success with its unconventional pricing strategy To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   Why it’s interesting Beauty Pie was started…


2017 Year in Review: 8 Fundamental Shifts Reshaping the Consumer Economy

2017 was yet another transformative year for the consumer economy. There were a range of new developments and trends from the last few years that continued accelerating. What follows is a recap of 2017, along with some predictions and…


The internet was supposed to eliminate sales associates. Then it revitalized them.

As online sales rapidly increase, Amazon takes a bigger piece of the ecommerce pie, voice commerce and virtual reality appear imminent and subscription models are revitalized, why do sales associates need to be part of the shopping journey at all?…


From Down Under — with Jonathan Shokrian of MeUndies

On the 48th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, a show about the intersection of consumer, retail and commerce, I talk with Jonathan Shokrian, the founder of MeUndies, one of the early direct to consumer subscription brands that is injecting some…