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    The Week In News, But Shorter

    October 23 - 29, 2023

    The Week In News, But Shorter
    October 23 – 29, 2023

    A big topic this week in the headlines was around returns. The first headline that caught our eye was around how implementing a return fee is impacting shopper behaviors. We all know the impact returns have had on property owners when retailers deduct returns for items bought online from their sales figures, but now if returns are being deterred, does it also potentially cost visitors altogether? The second headline was that Happy Returns, a reverse logistics company known for helping facilitate online returns, was purchased by UPS. What does this mean for property owners? Well if you haven’t already thought of returns as a service, or how you can participate and actually support your retailers in reverse logistics, now might be the time. We’re here to help!

    This week we saw more predictions for the holiday season, reports on how tech can help with retail theft going “mainstream”, and how experiences play into upcoming shopping experiences.  We’ll be posting our weekly news recaps on LinkedIn, so feel free to share them with a friend!

    Digital Meets Physical

    Amazon pilots collaborative shopping tool within app [RetailDiveAmazon announced it is testing a Consult-a-Friend feature within its app to allow shoppers to request and view friends’ feedback on products. Amazon said its data showed that customers used the “share” button in the Amazon Shopping app billions of times to share products via messaging services, social media apps and email.

    Consumers look to use AI for holiday shopping [MarTechThis year, many holiday shoppers are planning to use AI tools for assistance in finding the right gifts and deals, a study by Sapio Research found. Over two thirds (69%) of shoppers said they think AI will make it easier to discover new products and brands. High-earning shoppers are even more likely to use AI.

    A look at new tech tools that aim to protect retailers from theft [The Today ShowFrom facial recognition to artificial intelligence and thermal imaging, retailers are looking for ways to deter and detain thieves with new anti-theft technology. NBC’s Vicky Nguyen reports for TODAY with a look at some changes you might start to see at your favorite stores.

    Micro & Last Mile Fulfillment

    UPS To Buy Reverse Logistics Specialist Happy Returns from PayPal [Wall Street JournalUnited Parcel Service agreed to acquire Happy Returns, a software and reverse logistics company that handles returns for retailers, from PayPal. Chief Executive Carol Tomé said that by combining Happy Returns’ digital experience with the package-delivery company’s small package network and brick-and-mortar locations, label-free returns will soon be available at thousands of locations in the U.S.

    Amazon to integrate drones into fulfillment network for faster delivery [RetailDiveAmazon will integrate drone deliveries into its fulfillment network to reach customers faster. Prime Air drones will start deploying at some of the company’s same-day delivery sites in the U.S., rather than standalone Prime Air Delivery Centers like it has done in Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas.

    Etsy guarantees on-time delivery during the holidays [RetailDiveEtsy touted three initiatives aimed at making “it easy for buyers to discover and shop from the best possible listings from independent sellers.” The company highlighted its Purchase Protection program, which promises to deliver products on time or offer customers a refund. Etsy said it is also expanding protections for sellers this holiday season by covering the cost of refunds on more qualifying orders.

    Those New Online Returns Fees Are Driving Away Shoppers [The Wall Street JournalNew fees for online consumers to send back goods appear to be cutting back on returns as retailers had hoped, but they could also be costing companies customers heading into the holiday season. About a third of companies surveyed say they have lost customers since they began charging consumers fees to return items.

    Restaurants & Ghost Kitchens

    5 ways technology is on the menu at quick-serve restaurants [National Retail FederationThere was a time when all the technology you needed for a successful food business was a non-stick skillet. That time has long passed, of course — increasingly, food businesses are technology businesses.

    Danny Meyer Claims AI and Human Hospitality Can Peacefully Coexist [Food & Wine Union Square Hospitality Group founder Danny Meyer and IBM senior vice president of software and chief commercial officer Rob Thomas discuss the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in the restaurant industry.

    Mall Talk

    BuyBuy Baby plots brick-and-mortar return; opening 11 stores [Chain Store AgeBuyBuy Baby is returning to digital and physical retail. Less than four months after the company was purchased out of bankruptcy by baby goods manufacturer Dream on Me and shuttered all its stores, BuyBuy Baby is reopening in time for the holiday season.

    Holiday spend expected to reach $1.6 trillion: ICSC [RetailDiveDespite inflation woes, eight in 10 shoppers expect their holiday spending budgets to either remain the same or increase from last year, according to a new survey of 1,007 consumers from the ICSC. That proportion is slightly higher than the 73% of consumers who said the same last year.

    Saks is prioritizing experiences to compete for holiday shoppers [GlossyU.S. consumers plan to spend more on luxury gifts this year. According to consulting firm PwC, almost 40% of consumers will spend more than they did last year, and those who make at least $120,000 will spend an average of $3,000 on gifts. To retain its core customers and attract new luxury shoppers, Saks has ambitious plans. The retailer’s holiday strategy popularly includes its iconic holiday window displays, its NYC flagship light show and its fall sale.

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