Fabletics, an activewear brand co-founded by actress Kate Hudson in 2013, will open 12 new retail locations in 2017. The brand already has 18 locations that have been open since fall 2015.
On any given day somewhere above the world, at least one, and as many as 250, FedEx Express jets are flying toward their destinations. A team of aircraft dispatchers, meteorologists, technicians and other hardworking team members are monitoring conditions all over the world so the shipments they’re carrying arrive when and where they’re needed. Retailers know how important delivery is when it comes to the last mile, but they may not realize just how difficult that last mile may sometimes be to traverse.
Headquartered at FedEx’s nerve center — the Global Operations Control Center (GOCC) in Memphis, Tenn. — the 15-person meteorology team is the largest in-house department of its kind in the express cargo industry, and is the second-largest staff among all U.S. airlines. The team helps packages get delivered, rain or shine, snow, sleet or even a haboob (a rolling dust wall that can reach 3,000 feet high). In a world of shifting weather patterns and unpredictable events, how does FedEx Express oversee and direct 672 aircraft and 44,000 vehicles?
One critical way the department works is by tracking the location of every FedEx airplane currently in the sky, and working with the GOCC team to reroute when necessary.
“Our operational forecasters are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and hold daily weather briefings that help operations team leaders plan appropriately,” said Kory Gempler, Manager, Weather Services at FedEx in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “For example, if a big storm is coming, some flights and packages may be rerouted to other airports and areas to avoid delays.”
Expansion can be difficult for businesses with a small footprint, especially when that footprint begins in the packed confines of New York City. But one juice bar, Pure Green, is gathering consumer data via artificial intelligence, to map growth outside of its four present locations: three in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn.
With the help of Genie, an AI-powered recommendation engine from Grey Jean Technologies, Pure Green can gather and analyze transaction and consumer data from its current stores to determine the best areas to set up new retail locations. Thus far, Pure Green already expects to open two more Manhattan stops in the near future — one in the East Village and another in Tribeca — with the ambitious goal of opening 30 locations by the end of 2017.
As the holiday season concludes, retailers may have more to be excited about heading into 2017. U.S. shoppers are as optimistic about the economy and the purchasing environment than they’ve been since August 2001, according to one metric from global economic research association The Conference Board.
The Consumer Confidence Index, a metric measuring the degree of optimism on the state of the U.S. economy expressed through consumer savings and spending, hit 113.7 in December 2016, up from 109.4 in November.
Just weeks after opening its flagship store in Manhattan, fashion retailer Rent the Runway has announced a $60 million funding round led by Fidelity Management and Research Company. The round includes contributions from existing investors Technology Crossover Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, and Advance Publications, Inc.
With the latest round, Rent the Runway has procured more than $190 million in venture capital investment. The brand’s new undisclosed valuation represents a “significant step up” from the $520 million valuation it earned when it raised a $60 million round in 2014, according to Co-founder and CEO Jennifer Hyman in an interview with Recode.
It’s no secret 2016 was no picnic for the retail industry. And for Sears, the new year is shaping up to be just as grim. The company told employees that it will close 30 Sears and Kmart stores in early 2017, according to Business Insider.
Most of the stores will start liquidation sales on Jan. 6 and go out of business between late March and mid-April. Sears announced the closures internally, but did not publicly release a comprehensive list of the stores that would close.
This latest round of closures will bring the total number of stores that Sears has closed this fiscal year to more than 200. That means the retailer will have fewer than 1,500 stores left by early 2017, down nearly 60% from 2011, when Sears had more than 3,500 stores. Sears is shutting down stores to help stem losses from falling sales.
Convenience chain QuickChek wanted to see if it could draw a direct line between its mobile advertising and traffic to its 140 stores in New York and New Jersey. Using location-based technology to determine whether mobile ads were responsible for driving customers to its stores, the retailer was able to measure an 83% list in visits for a test group compared with a control group of customers.
Lidl, the German no-frills grocery retailer with more than 10,000 grocery stores throughout Europe, currently has a low profile in the U.S. Yet with the brand planning an aggressive expansion into the U.S., Lidl may not only climb its way out of anonymity but shake up the grocery industry — and possibly the convenience sector — in the next decade.
“Lidl’s arrival here in the U.S. will be the single biggest event in the U.S. retail industry over the next couple of years,” said Mike Paglia, Director of Retail Insights at Kantar Retail. Such a confident prediction stems from the Kantar team’s forecasts for the next seven years, which project rapid growth for the brand. Lidl is expected to:
Although retailers are under immense pressure to ship products at the last minute during the holidays, it appears the overwhelming majority were up to the challenge. As many as 97% of retailers successfully processed and delivered orders to customers on their last guaranteed shipping date before Christmas, according to research from Kurt Salmon.
The delivery results were an improvement on the previous two years: 95% in 2015 and 87% in 2014.
Unless you are an e-Commerce shopper in the Caribbean or Latin America, you may not have heard of Aeropost. The 30-year-old services company provides shopping, payment and last-mile delivery support for e-Tailers (including major players like Amazon and eBay) in 40 countries throughout the region.
In addition to its web site, Aeropost operates 100 storefronts throughout the region that function as e-Commerce service centers. The locations are equipped with web-connected terminals and staffed with purchasing assistants who can help novice e-Commerce shoppers navigate different sites to find the items they’re seeking. Shoppers can pay for their purchases either in cash or with a credit card, and they can pick up the items they’ve ordered at the Aeropost store rather than dealing with the vagaries of last-mile fulfillment — a big benefit in countries that lack a strong delivery and shipping infrastructure.