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    The Week In News, But Shorter

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    The Week In News, But Shorter
    March 27 – April 2, 2023

    April 3 – 9, 2023

    We used to work with a robot. Westfield Labs’s corporate headquarters were in Australia, so to make it easier for executives to “pop in” for a chat, we had a robot that they could take over and drive around the office with the screen displaying their laptop camera. And while this was incredibly novel at the time—and a total conversation piece for visitors—did it dramatically change the way we worked? Absolutely not. Do we see them all over offices today? I can confidently say no (did we mention this was 10+ years ago??) So, when the Associated Press asked if robot waiters were the future this week, we had to have ourselves a little chuckle. Robots do have a place when it comes to retail and restaurants, but replacing humans in human focused interactions doesn’t strike us as one of them. (Check robot news from Walmart that strikes us as a bit more realistic.)

    Other hot topics this week included how retailers are keeping tabs on inventory, why TikTok is helping outlet malls make a comeback, and which retailer is making good on a fast BOPIS promise. Have we told you recently that we are also on Twitter and LinkedIn?

    Digital Meets Physical

    Walmart banks on stores, robots as it stokes e-commerce [RetailDiveSpeaking to investors and analysts on day two of its annual investors meeting, executives reminded their audience that Walmart’s inventory sits within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population.For decades the retail giant has staked its growth and profits on this vast brick-and-mortar network of what is now more than 5,300 locations, including 600 Sam’s Club warehouse stores.

    Designing Brick and Mortar for the Digital Age [Chain Store AgeThe digital age and all of today’s advancements in e-commerce have prompted us to adapt quickly — especially when it comes to the shopping experience. Now with two-day shipping, one-click checkout, and other ways e-commerce is modernizing how we make purchases, brick-and-mortar stores must pivot due to the rising influence of online shopping.

    Apparel Retailers Turn to Chips to Track Merchandise in Stores [The Wall Street JournalApparel retailers are taking their inventory-management systems to the sales floor as they look to track individual items more closely through busy environments and fulfill more online orders through stores.

    Micro & Last Mile Fulfillment

    Pickup-only grocer raises $11.5M, but the format’s outlook looks gloomy [GroceryDivePickup-only grocer JackBe, which opened its first location in Oklahoma City earlier this year, announced last week it has raised $11.5 million in new funding. Despite these gains, pickup-only stores run by startups and companies like Walmart have either shut down recently or failed to expand as consumers prioritize in-store shopping.

    Quiet Platforms head departs as American Eagle’s logistics arm struggles [RetailDiveThe head of American Eagle’s Quiet Platforms has stepped down as the apparel retailer prepares to slash expenses after the logistics unit failed to meet expectations.

    Walmart lays off over 2,300 warehouse workers [RetailDiveWalmart is continuing reductions to its fulfillment center workforce at facilities across the country. Nearly 1,050 people will lose their jobs at a fulfillment centers in Forth Worth, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

    Office Depot delivers on 20-minute BOPIS promise [DigitalCommerce360Office Depot eliminated tasks from in-store employees and upgraded hardware to make this initiative happen. About 27% of Office Depot’s online orders are for store pickup, and of those orders, 15% are picked up curbside. Office Depot plans to continue to offer curbside pickup, despite a decline in use.

    Restaurants & Ghost Kitchens

    Restaurants Use Voice to Drive New Customer Experiences [PYMNTSFor restaurants, any ordering and payment channel that removes friction from the experience can be key to increasing sales and customer loyalty. As such, voice transactions, where consumers can place their order and pay for their meal just by speaking, present a significant opportunity.

    Are robot waiters the future? Some restaurants think so [Associated PressYou may have already seen them in restaurants: waist-high machines that can greet guests, lead them to their tables, deliver food and drinks and ferry dirty dishes to the kitchen. Some have cat-like faces and even purr when you scratch their heads. But are robot waiters the future? It’s a question the restaurant industry is increasingly trying to answer.

    Mall Talk

    Apple to Cut Jobs in Some Corporate Retail Teams in First Known Layoffs [BloombergApple Inc. is eliminating a small number of roles within its corporate retail teams, according to people with knowledge of the matter, marking its first known internal job cuts since it embarked on a belt-tightening effort last year.

    That Style, Again? How Shopping Got So Boring [The Wall Street Journal] Manufacturers and retailers of everything from computers to dresses hit pause in the past few years when it came to innovation, the result of pandemic-related upheavals in the design, manufacture and distribution of goods.

    Dust Off Your Hollister Jeans: Outlet Malls Are Back [Refinery29At New York’s Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, the scene is straight out of an early 2000s film’s mall sequence. Groups of 20-somethings parade in cargo jeans, Adidas Samba sneakers, and Gap logo hoodies, carrying shopping bags from stores like Aéropostale, American Eagle, and Claire’s.

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