Welcome back to The Spin! Merger negotiations between German arch-rivals Galeria Kaufhof and Karstadt seem to go smoothly with a decision expected by mid-August. Over in the US, Walmart has to re-configure its employee-based delivery program, while South Korean retailer ALand is preparing to disrupt Western fast fashion. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


Smooth operator. Negotiations between the owners of Galeria Kaufhof and Karstadt, Canadian Hudson’s Bay Company and Austrian Signa Holding, are apparently going smoothly (in German), and a decision is now expected by mid-August. As reported, the two companies are considering a merger (paywall; in German) of the two rivaling German department store chains to increase competitiveness and cut costs.


From South Korea to North 6th Street. Asian fast fashion retailer ALand has opened its first Western outlet in Brooklyn. Billed as a department store for Millennials, it offers (paywall) beauty, accessories, fashion and home decor from its own portfolio of low-priced brands including City Breeze, ChiChi and Fennec. ALand currently operates 20 locations in Asia. In the West, eCommerce and wholesale are supposed to be the main sales drivers.

Beyond bricks. To incentivize store personnel to help shoppers outside store hours and physical locations, Saks Fifth Avenue has assigned 170 employees with the newly created role of mobile style advisor. In addition to helping clients find specific items, they can answer styling questions, send new product on spec, and lure them into stores to try on additional items. The company also started slipping ads into other retailers' eCommerce boxes.


Express yourself! Brands and retailers including Moda Operandi, Luisa Beccaria, La Double J and Matchesfashion.com have been expanding their offers to include (paywall) a slew of decorative home goods including pillows and throws as well as tableware and cutlery, allowing their customers to express their personal style way beyond their day-to-day outfits.


Stumble on the last mile. Walmart ended an employee-based delivery program which had store personnel deliver packages to online customers on their way home from work. Apparently, employees did not have sufficient experience, and wait times often extended the paid-for time frame. The retail giant is now testing a modified version of associate delivery with just four assigned employees in one US location.

Welcome to the machine. Artificial intelligence is going to alter retail in a variety of ways. Promising applications include price-optimization, sales forecasting, product proposals for up- and cross-selling, data-based lead scoring and performance management, potentially making sales more human in the long run.


Waiting to explode. China’s one-child policy, which ended in 2015, has created a nation of countless Millennials that singlehandedly have to support aging parents and grandparents. As part of China’s fast growing middle class, their taste is going to shape businesses around the world. They appreciate home-grown brands and culture including ACGN, which is poised to grow into a $76 billion market, but their spending might soon become more pragmatic.


Popping up. As Adidas reinvents its pop-up store in Brooklyn as a collaborative creative space, Nordstrom invites customers to sleep-ins at its pop-up with mattress specialist Casper. Meanwhile, VFC-owned outdoor brand The North Face has taken the concept to new heights by opening a pop-up at 2,100m altitude in the Italian Alps - only reachable via a two hour hike.


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