July 13, 2017

charles-chanAs we’ve covered a couple of times already, this has been a difficult year for many American retailers. While brick-and-mortar stores struggle to compete with e-commerce outlets, online retailers as well must grapple with the ever-increasing might of Amazon. These seismic shifts in power have led many to wonder what the future of the industry might look like. Amazon has recently been experimenting with cashierless stores, but observers say the company still has a lot of work to do Continue reading

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July 11, 2017

y-amalOver the last few years, the Chinese sharing economy has grown to include everything from bicycles to basketballs. Consumers can temporarily purchase these items at kiosks scattered around urban areas with the idea being that they’ll return the product once they’re done. But as one umbrella-sharing startup recently learned, that’s not always the case.

Sharing E Umbrella launched earlier this year after their founder realized that “everything on the street can now be shared.” The company started up in 11 Continue reading

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david-mulderFor more than a decade, the growing e-commerce industry has turned the retail world on its head. From books to beds and everything in between, online shopping offers customers convenience and value that many traditional stores can’t compete with. Still, there’s at least one area of retail that e-commerce hasn’t conquered entirely: groceries. While experts estimate that 10 percent of all shopping in the U.S. now occurs on the Internet, overall online food sales are less than half that number. Continue reading

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During this year’s Fourth of July holiday, Americans will spend an average of $71 per household on food for barbeques and cookouts. While 63 percent of people will attend a professional fireworks display sometime over the weekend, 26 percent of the populace will launch their own pyrotechnics (hopefully in a safe manner). This short video features a few more Fourth of July facts to add some statistical context to the nation’s Independence Day celebrations.

Questions:

  1. Why are 98 percent of Continue reading
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June 16, 2017

In Japan you can buy almost anything from a vending machine: hot tea, sushi, umbrellas, even bread in a can. This video takes a look at the economic and cultural factors that have contributed to Japan’s vending obsession, such as an excess of coinage and a shortage of unskilled labor.

Questions:

  1. How does Japan’s low birth rate contribute to its vending machine culture?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of relying so heavily on vending machines?
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June 15, 2017

tupalo-zara2017 has not been a good year so far for many retailers. Chains like J.C. Penney and Sears plan to close hundreds of locations while J. Crew has posted 11 consecutive quarters of declining same-store sales. But as these formerly powerful brands struggle, the Spanish fashion giant Zara is thriving like never before. This week its parent company Inditex announced that first quarter sales jumped 18 percent to $733.3 million. Plus, total sales for Zara topped out at $6.3 billion, Continue reading

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meal-kitFor those who don’t want to take a trip to the grocery store or dine out, meal-kit startups like Blue Apron and HelloFresh bring dinner right to your doorstep. These companies place all the ingredients you need into a box along with detailed instructions about how to prepare your meal. And thanks to incessant advertising through new media platforms like podcasts, meal-kit startups have seen interest from consumers increase year after year. In fact, Blue Apron has been so successful Continue reading

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droneIn 2013 Amazon announced a bold new venture: a drone delivery service that could bring products to customers within 30 minutes. Three years later, the e-commerce giant completed its first Amazon Prime Air delivery during a trial run in Great Britain. Of course, the company still has a long way to go before its drones are ready to take flight in great numbers. Along with figuring out many technical details, Amazon must also deal with regulations that limit where drones Continue reading

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restaurants-strugglesWhile retailers have seen sales drop in the years since the Great Recession, restaurants have largely enjoyed a boom time. American eateries benefitted from a shift in consumer spending habits away from products and towards “experiences” like meals and travel. And as demand increased, so did the supply of restaurants. Chipotle, for instance, has added 57 stores so far this year on top of the 240 locations it opened in 2016.

The burrito chain’s aggressive expansion is even more astounding Continue reading

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Adam-PrzezdziekWith 158 million users and a $25 billion valuation, the photo and video sharing app Snapchat has grown into one of the most powerful social networks around. Still, just because the app is popular doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to become a moneymaker. Twitter, for instance, has more than 300 million users and has struggled to be profitable for years. So in order to become a true tech giant, Snapchat is teaming up with old media firms to create original content Continue reading

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