Happy Thursday! In today's edition of The Spin we feature Amazon’s push into the smart glasses market and how online fashion retailer Zalando utilizes startups for improved customer service. You might also be surprised to see which retail giant has decided not to hire seasonal help for the holidays. Enjoy the read and as always, feel free to share. Cheers, Ulrike


New perspective. US online giant Amazon is said to be working on Alexa-enabled smart glasses to be released before the end of the year. Designed to look like regular spectacles, the audio-only glasses sync to smart phones but don't include cameras or screens for privacy reasons and extended battery life. They might still be useful as a platform for Amazon's entry into the emerging market for Augmented Reality (AI) glasses.


Building boom. To personalize Zalando’s customer experience, the Berlin-based online fashion retailer is integrating innovative new solutions by startup companies. Called “Build”, these functionalities can include new sizing and fitting tools, style and outfit suggestions plus inspirational content. The first partner is Bllush Visuals Ltd. The Tel Aviv-based startup will connect social media images of top influencers to Zalando’s online fashion store. All images can be shopped, with links provided to similar items from Zalando. The function will be tested first in Germany with new partners and local fashion stores expected to follow soon.


Out of breath. The multi-year athleisure trend may be coming to an end, and sports apparel companies are feeling the slowdown. Citing market saturation and a lack of innovation, Wells Fargo analyst Tom Nikic lowered earnings estimates for Nike, Lululemon and Under Armour, downgrading Under Armour from market perform to under perform. Meanwhile, actress Kate Hudson's affordable sports brand Fabletics is expanding into footwear.


Repeat offer. While US retailers like Amazon, Target and Macy’s are making headlines by hiring hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers for the holiday season, Walmart is going to rely on existing employees. According to Walmart, the company’s employees applauded the opportunity to make extra money during last year’s holidays, which prompted the company to repeat the offer.

Cash injection. The owner of House of Fraser, Chinese Sanpower Group, will invest £25 million into the British department store chain’s planned transformation. The move follows a half-year loss of £8.6 million on a 5.2 percent drop in like-for-like sales. As part of the new multichannel approach the HoF branch in Sutton Coldfield will be completely refurbished to include new and expanded departments as well as new premium brands and even a cocktail bar.


From designer to discount. Denise Incandela has taken (paywall) the position of Senior Vice President at Walmart’s US eCommerce sites, and Since April, Incandela has been serving as interim CEO of the now bankrupt US footwear retailer Aerosoles. Before that, she spent two years as President at Ralph Lauren Global Digital and more than 14 years in various positions at Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Direct. At Walmart, she will report to Scott Hilton, Chief Revenue Officer for the discounter’s US eCommerce.

Role model. Swiss Richemont Group, whose Dunhill group is currently closing (in German) stores, has appointed Chinese economist Jin Keyu to its board. In this role, the 35-year old daughter of Chinese banker and politician Jin Liqun will take a prominent part in the shaping of the luxury conglomerate’s strategic direction. Jin promotes herself as a bridge between China and the West, while the Chinese press emphasizes her work ethic and achievements to portray her as a role model for women in China.


Unlocking the song. To celebrate the launch of its ventilated Ventrix jacket, US outdoor brand The North Face and musician Maggie Rogers teamed up in a digital experience. “The Release Concept” released Rogers’ new track “Split Stones” layer by layer through the movement of a participant’s phone until the full length song was unlocked (video) 24 hours before its official release on September 20th.


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