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Instacart’s new suite of tech aims to be the “antidote to Amazon”
Morning Brew September 22, 2022

Retail Brew


Good afternoon. Pumpkin spice, plaid, and the Fed’s third consecutive 0.75% interest rate hike? Sounds like every other Thursday the first day of fall!

In today’s edition:

—Erin Cabrey, Jeena Sharma


Connect store

Connect store Instacart

Ever since Amazon reimagined the grocery store from the ceiling down with its computer vision-based “Just Walk Out” checkout, and the pandemic gave online grocery shopping a major boost, traditional grocers have been feeling the pressure to bring high-tech experiences to IRL stores by adding things like smart carts and robots to their aisles.

With a new slate of grocery tech offerings called Connected Stores, Instacart aims to help grocers compete with the e-comm behemoth through a one-stop shop of features like electronic shelf tags and mobile self-checkout, to connect the online and brick-and-mortar experience, David McIntosh, Instacart’s VP of platform growth and technology, told Retail Brew.

“We want to arm the industry with these capabilities and tools. We want to enable all of our retail partners,” he said. “We want to be the antidote to Amazon.”

Linking up

McIntosh broke down the suite of Connected Stores tech, which he noted is “modular,” and allows retailers to “stack them on top of each other as building blocks.”

  • First, Instacart has updated tech from companies it acquired last year. The new iteration of the Caper Cart, made by smart cart company Caper AI, which Instacart bought last October, is slimmer, lighter, and holds 65% more.
  • Then there’s some brand new stuff, like a Scan & Go function that lets shoppers check out using their phones, and also helps shoppers identify which products are EBT SNAP eligible.
  • Another new feature is Carrot Tags, electronic shelf labels that allow up-to-date pricing and the display of attributes like organic and non-GMO.

As McIntosh noted, the Connected Stores tech brings a digital shopping experience to brick-and-mortar stores. Plus, the new features “have clear ROI from the start;” they boost basket sizes and improve retailer ops, freeing up floor personnel to focus on the customer.

Keep reading here.EC



Down to the penny


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Run(a)way with me

Run(a)way with me David Gannon

Joining established names like Tom Ford and Carolina Herrera at New York Fashion Week was Kim Shui, a relatively new entrant to the fashion week circuit.

Retail Brew caught up with the up-and-coming womenswear designer, who’s known for her vibrant prints, after her show at the Grand Central Terminal to ask her some pressing questions:

How do you define the Kim Shui customer?

They’re 21 to 40. They live in a major city, or they’re in a smaller city and really up to date on fashion on social media. They’re very big users of TikTok and Instagram and kind of are influenced by seeing what other people are also wearing online. And they are not afraid of being bold with their fashion choices.

What’s next for Kim Shui?

We kind of want to experiment with some different ways of retail. I really want to explore how we can create more drops. We have traditionally done shows every two seasons. I’m kind of interested in also doing smaller collections and dropping that throughout the year, with a see-now-buy-now element to it, and also having Afterpay being able to have people access that. I think the idea of drops, the quantities being of a certain amount and having designs where they can be more thought-out, that also is interesting to me.

Keep reading here.JS




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Today’s top retail reads.

Licensed to sell: Retail cannabis is coming to New York, and the state has established a $200 million fund to provide startup loans for new business owners—regulators want those convicted of marijuana-related crimes to get the first shot. (The Wall Street Journal)

Fired up: As the global auto industry moves toward electric vehicles, the owner of gas station chain Circle K is getting creative in an attempt to jumpstart the company’s food business. (Bloomberg)

Heat wave: Inside an Amazon air freight hub in San Bernardino, California, during some of the hottest days of the year, when temperatures reached up to 110 degrees. (Los Angeles Times)

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*This is sponsored advertising content.


  • Amazon is facing an FTC investigation into its proposed $1.7 billion purchase of iRobot, maker of the Roomba.
  • Taco Bell said it will start testing Beyond Meat carne asada next month in Ohio.
  • Nordstrom said it implemented a “poison pill,” which will prevent investors from acquiring more than 10% of its shares, following Mexican department store Liverpool’s investment.
  • Walmart said it would hire fewer workers for the holiday season this year than it did in 2021.
  • California is moving to ban the sale of diesel-powered medium- and heavy-duty trucks.


The numbers you need to know.

Last month, Retail Brew dove into the concept of Made in America—what it means, how retailers approach domestic manufacturing, and the supply-chain issues that come with the practice.

In January, New Balance opened a new facility in Methuen, Massachusetts, where the company seeks to create 750,000 pairs of shoes annually by the end of the year.

  • For the storied shoe brand, the label Made in America means sourcing at least 70% of materials domestically.

Domestic manufacturing really comes down to price points. US labor costs much more than in places like Asia, and building facilities isn’t cheap either. “All these factories require huge investments, and there’s a couple of years of planning to open one,” Felipe Caro, professor of decisions, operations, and technology management at UCLA, previously told Retail Brew.

  • A way to shorten lead times and ease constraints is to source close to the US, but not on American soil.
  • Honduras produces 5% of the clothing made in the United States for companies like Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas, Ricardo Ernst, professor of operations and global logistics at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, told us.

American Giant, a San Francisco-based DTC brand, prides itself on the quality of its apparel, charging $138 for a hoodie. It’s part of the elevated costs associated with being able to say Made in America.

  • “That was the first customer that I could remember that said, ‘I don’t want to do it the cheapest. I don’t want to compete with Fruit of the Loom. I don’t have to,’” Bryan Ashby, president of Carolina Cotton Works, told Retail Brew.


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Written by Erin Cabrey, Jeena Sharma, and Grace Donnelly

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