Happy Tuesday and welcome back to The Spin! Today we investigate why Nordstrom rejected the Nordstrom family's takeover offer, how Jeff Bezos might get back into banking, and why artificial intelligence might work better in collaboration with humans. We also discovered a new kind of Merkel effect at Paris Fashion Week. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Cheers, Ulrike


Too low. US luxury retailer Nordstrom has rejected the Nordstrom family's takeover offer of $50 a share and will end discussions unless they can substantially increase the bid. On Monday, Nordstrom stock was trading between $51.74 and $53.18. Several Nordstrom family members, who currently own about a third of the company, have been trying to privatize the retailer since June. One attempt failed in October, when they could not secure financing.


Banker Bezos. Amazon Inc, which has just acquired the cloud-based gaming platform GameSparks, is currently in talks with large US banking organizations including JPMorgan Chase to build (paywall) checking-account-like products for younger customers and those who do not have any. The field is not entirely foreign to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who worked at the investment firm D.E. Shaw & Co before launching his online empire.

Appealing simplicity. The online giant's success also proves that successful design does not have to be beautiful. Among the factors, that seem to be more important than appealing aesthetics are transparency, trustworthiness, helpfulness and a consistent viewing and buying experience, allowing customers to quickly understand product attributes and easily compare different items.


Make fashion, not war. The Chinese-built Hawassa Industrial Park in Ethiopia, which has been attracting Chinese and Western textile manufacturers, is expected to generate $1 billion annually. Its goal is to help transform the impoverished, agrarian country of 100 million into a manufacturing hub and create 2 million jobs by 2025 - unless brewing political unrest derails the plan.


Speed bot. The raging success of its click-and-collect program has prompted (paywall) Zara to automate the process. About a third of the Spanish fast-fashion retailer's global online sales are picked up at stores, bringing long lines to many locations. A robot-supported version of the program will soon speed up the process. When customers enter a code, robots are prompted to retrieve their packages and bring them to a designated drop box.

Better with humans. Many machine learning models are currently based on customer questionnaires, providing traditional retailers with a lot of faulty data. This only widens the gap with online players, which can collect real-time information on each move a customer makes. According to experts, traditional retailers should use AI tools primarily to up-skill employees.


Merkel's hips. On the same day, that Angela Merkel secured her fourth term in office, her prudent "bourgeous hausfrau" style scored some major catwalk credibility in Paris. For Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia presented a slew of coats and jackets with padded "Merkel hips", although he did not explicitly claim to have channelled the chancellor. For an edgier feel, the designer threw in a few suits with a stern Stasi-esque feel.


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