Welcome back to The Spin! If retail continues to shift towards e-commerce, about 75,000 stores will have to close by 2026. In latest tech news, Google-parent Alphabet just beat Amazon with commercial drone deliveries, while Walmart aggressively expands its fleet of in-store robots. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


The big short. As a result of the continued growth of e-commerce in a shrinking retail market, experts expect up to 75,000 additional stores to close by 2026 - about 21,000 of those in the apparel segment. Last year saw a slowdown, but store closures will most likely accelerate again when the boost from recent fiscal stimuli fades. The market share of e-commerce is on track to grow from 16 to 25 percent of retail sales.


Alphabet beats Amazon. Following an 18 month long test in Australia, Alphabet’s drone start-up Wing has received regulatory approval to start a drone delivery service in North Canberra. Wing's app users can place orders for products like sporting goods, food and pharmaceuticals from companies like Drummond Golf and Pure Gelato. Additional local merchants have already been invited (blog) to participate.

Rolling out the robots. To counterbalance rising expenditures for wage increases and service investments, US retail giant Walmart is aggressively expanding its fleet of in-store robots. About 1,850 Walmart stores will have autonomous floor scrubbers by 2020, about 350 will feature robotic shelf scanners, and the number of conveyer belt scanners will be increased to 1,700.


To save a dime. In 2017, Walmart installed its prepaid MoneyCard platform. The service offers 3 percent cash-back on online purchases, 1 percent in stores and 2 percent at fuel stations and Murphy USA. According to Walmart, it saved customers about $2 billion over the last two years. To drive sales among customers who don’t have access to traditional banking services, the discounter also operates in-store money centers, which offer services like check cashing and money transfers.

Saved by the bell. The takeover of British department store Debenhams by its lenders has wiped out its shareholders and enraged Mike Ashley, who unsuccessfully tried to buy the group through his Sports Direct. Part of the reason his offer was rejected, were his many conditions including his taking the CEO position. Causes for Debenhams’ downfall include a lack of trendy fashion, an excessive store network, and soaring debt and costs.


Taking down the drama. Building on the success of her bold, eponymous line (image gallery), New York-based designer Rosie Assoulin has launched a collection for everyday wear. Dubbed "By Any Other Name", the 15-piece capsule of casual separates includes (image gallery) blazer-dresses, color-block pants and voluminous tops, retailing between $595 to $1,295.


Power promotions... As the search for a global head of design and concept continues, Calvin Klein has promoted Marcella Warthenberg to chief merchandising officer. She will continue her role as global head of licensing and international markets and report Calvin Klein CEO, Steve Shiffman (press release).

...at Calvin Klein. The responsibilities of designer Ulrich Grimm, who’s been handling accessories and licenses, have been expanded to include accessories, shoes and home decor. His new title is global head of non-apparel design. Meanwhile, former underwear lead Suzanne Barton has been promoted (paywall) to global head of close-to-body design, overseeing the brand's worldwide underwear business.


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