Buyer's re-BORIS
To:Brew Readers
Retail Brew // Morning Brew // Update
BORIS is increasingly a thing.
May 26, 2023

Retail Brew

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In today’s edition:

—Andrew Adam Newman, Jeena Sharma


Get your ship together

Online purchase to be returned in store Ian McKinnon

Never mind the former UK prime minister, the tennis player, or Frankenstein. For retailers nowadays, there’s only one BORIS—buy online, return in store—the one that saves them the expense of shipping for returns.

And BORIS is on the rise, with 47.6% of retailers reporting an increase in the past 12 months, according to new data from Pollfish and goTRG, a return logistics company whose clients include Walmart.

The data, which was gathered in March, was from a survey of 500 retail insiders at 21 companies, including Walmart, Amazon, The Home Depot, Costco, and Target.

Point of no return: Retailers are trying to get a handle on the volume and expense of returns. Total retail returns accounted for more than $761 billion in merchandise for US retailers in 2021, according to the National Retail Federation.

  • “For every $1 billion in sales, the average retailer incurs $166 million in merchandise returns,” according to the NRF.

And retailers seem to be taking the returns challenge more seriously than ever, with 57.2% in the goTRG poll responding that returns are a bigger priority than they were 12 months ago.

To fee or not to fee: Some retailers—including H&M, Zara, Abercrombie & Fitch, and J.Crew—have started charging fees for online returns, and the survey suggests that’s becoming a trend, too.

Keep reading here.—AAN



Retail pros brand updates

The Crew

Remember when Dunkin’ was “Dunkin’ Donuts”? Even with a new identity, coffee lovers can still spot the beloved establishment from a mile away. From football teams to pancake mixes, a lot of household names have opted for new monikers over the past few years.

Whether branding has been tweaked or scrapped completely, learn why top companies have decided to change outdated or offensive logos and names. Also, find out how big names maintain brand recognition through visual design cues and placing value on a strong customer relationship. Read the story from Marketing Brew.


Open for business

Open for business Alessandro Biascioli/Getty Images

A walk around the newly opened VIA Riyadh mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is enough to see that the once-closed country is now open to international luxury businesses, as part of the government’s ongoing top-down liberalization efforts to lessen its economic dependence on fossil fuels. The space is home to retailers from Tom Ford and Dolce and Gabbana to Elie Saab and Zimmerman.

In 2022, Saudi Arabia's fashion market was worth over €2 billion (~$2.15 billion), and only continues to grow as brands like Prada and Tiffany’s expand their presence with mono-brand outlets in the country.

This trend has also opened up opportunities for international retailers looking to enter the country.

But while it’s clear that the Saudi Arabian customer has a taste for high fashion, consumers in the region are also unique in their likes and dislikes. And for an international retailer, knowing how to approach them is key to being successful in the country.

Keep reading here.—JS



Group shrink

A sign in a store that says, "Shoplifters will be prosecuted." Wirestock/Getty Images

Usually, it’s great news when retailers tell shareholders that products are flying off the shelves, but not in a recent round of earnings calls, when CEOs said it’s increasingly organized crime rings that are making off with the goods.

The word of the day for Target’s Q1 call on May 17 was “shrink,” uttered 22 times by executives and analysts, and referring of course not to a Seinfeld episode but rather to the general term for inventory loss. Shrink encompasses losses including shoplifting by individuals or organized rings, employee theft, administrative errors, and return fraud, but it was organized retail crime (ORC) that stole the thunder.

“We continue to contend with significant headwinds caused by inventory shrink, building on a worsening trend that emerged last year,” Target CEO Brian Cornell said on the call. “While shrink can be driven by multiple factors, theft and organized retail crime are increasingly urgent issues impacting the team and our guests and other retailers.”

Keep reading here.—AAN



Today’s top retail reads.

Comeback era: Inside the Adidas Samba’s strange cycle of unwavering popularity and what it says about the wearer. (GQ)

Going up: The economy may be struggling, but sales of luxury goods are booming as consumer appetite for high-end products remains high. (Vox)

Flying high: While retailers continue to trial delivering products via drones in parts of the US, in Shenzhen, China, drone delivery is as common as it gets. (Technology Review)

Shopping shifts: Ever heard of biometric scanning? This unique feature could soon become an advanced part of brick-and-mortar shopping’s future. Retail Brew covers the story, sponsored by Square.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.


  • Retailers including Kohl’s, Best Buy, and Lowe’s are seeing the effects of inflation-induced consumer caution.
  • Chanel’s sales dipped in the US but remained strong in China.
  • Jana Partners, the activist investor, is preparing for a proxy fight with pet-food company FreshPet.
  • Ralph Lauren’s quarterly sales beat analysts’ expectations as demand remained high.


Three of the stories below are real...and one is most definitely not. Can you spot the fake?

  1. A frozen yogurt chain has partnered with Mad Dog hot sauce to host a competition where those who can drink an entire bottle of the hot sauce in one sitting win a year’s supply of frozen yogurt.
  2. King Charles’s Aston Martin runs on surplus English white wine and cheese.
  3. Starbucks is introducing “chewable nugget ice pellets” in its drinks this year.
  4. About 456,000 waffle makers are being recalled for potential burn risks.

Keep reading for the answer.


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OK, we love both frozen yogurt and hot sauce, but drinking an entire bottle in one sitting? Not sure it’s worth a visit to the ER.


Written by Andrew Adam Newman and Jeena Sharma

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