If the SKU fits
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Can fit-tech tools reduce returns?
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November 01, 2023

Retail Brew

Apple Business Connect

Hello, hello. It’s the first day of November, which means it’s time to swap your 12-foot skeletons for tinsel, candy corn for candy canes, and “Monster Mash” for Mariah Carey. Or, you know, you could pace yourself and just start prepping for Thanksgiving.

In today’s edition:

—Andrew Adam Newman, Alex Vuocolo, Erin Cabrey


Fit decision

A photo-illustration where a woman is selecting clothes online based on her digital twin to assure she get the correct size. Fit:match

Nothing gets retail executives reaching for the Tums quite like bracketing, when online shoppers order a size up and down from what they think will fit them to be sure they get the right size—then return the other two (or more). The stomach acids really roil for retailers who offer free returns, because they could lose money on the transaction if they sell an item while assuming the cost of processing, which can cost up to $20 per return—not including freight, according to the Wall Street Journal.

And it gets worse: When products get returned, they often are no longer considered new and are sold as used, “open box,” or “refurbished.” Worse, many retailers throw away more than 25% of their returns, ​​Tobin Moore, CEO of Optoro, told CNBC in 2019.

But some relief may come from the burgeoning fit-tech industry, whose tools determine consumers’ exact dimensions and use AI technology to suggest what size to order for specific garments. Fit-tech executives say their tools could get retailers closer to the state that classic rockers Kansas sang about in the ’70s: the point of no return.

Keep reading here.—AAN



Shine brightly this year

Apple Business Connect

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Business owners get control of how their business shows up for Apple users, so any season’s greetings you make are all up to you.

Show potential holiday shoppers how to support you and your biz this gift-giving season. Sign up for free.


Automatic for the worker

Amazon warehouse robotics Getty Images

As Amazon faces increasing scrutiny for its workplace safety record, the e-commerce giant is testing out two new robotics systems that it says will help speed up warehouse operations and reduce employee injuries at the same time.

One new system, called Sequoia, integrates robotic arms and mobile platforms to completely overhaul how warehouses receive, containerize, and ultimately process inventory for customer orders. The safety improvements, according to Amazon, will stem from a new more ergonomic workstation that allows employees “to do all their work in their power zone, between mid-thigh and mid-chest height,” Scott Dresser, vice president of Amazon Robotics, wrote in a blog post.

“With this system, employees will no longer have to regularly reach above their heads or squat down to pick customer orders, supporting our efforts to reduce the risk of injuries,” Dresser said.

Keep reading here.—AV



Coworking with Punam Patel

Punam Patel headshot Punam Patel

On Wednesdays, we wear pink spotlight Retail Brew’s readers. Want to be featured in an upcoming edition? Click here to introduce yourself.

After over two years working in product development at vitamin brand OLLY, Punam Patel just jumped into a fresh job title, becoming VP of product development across OLLY and SmartyPants Vitamins, both owned by Unilever.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in retail? As the VP of Product Development at OLLY and SmartyPants Vitamins, my job is to oversee the innovation and creation of the supplements you see on retail shelves and online. It’s a particularly interesting intersection of science and retail, as I work closely with both our team of scientists to make sure the products are effective, and our retail strategy teams to make sure we’re creating products that consumers want. 

One thing we can’t guess about your job from your LinkedIn profile? I don’t work in a lab all day! My job is a mix of science, product development, working with our regulatory team, taste-testing flavors, and even getting to travel for events like our recent back-to-school brunch, where I met Hilary Duff!

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on? Recently at OLLY, we launched our first line of adaptogens. This was particularly fun to work on because it’s an entirely new category for OLLY.

Keep reading here.—EC



Today’s top retail reads.

Traffic jam: As shoppers flooded to Sephora’s website and app to shop its biannual sale, many were frustrated when they were forced to join a queue before they were able to shop. (Glossy)

Power strip: With annual visits up and available space down to record lows, strip malls are on the rise, proving shopping centers don’t necessarily need large anchor stores to succeed. (the Wall Street Journal)

On the map: A look at Pennsylvania-based C-store chain Wawa’s planned expansion westward to seven more states. (C-Store Dive)

Hang your shingle: Ready to reach more customers this holiday season? You need Apple Business Connect, the perfect tool to help you connect with customers + keep them up to date on your biz’s deets. Get it for free.*

*A message from our sponsor.


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