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Delivery workers’ employment status hangs in the balance.
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Morning Brew October 05, 2022

Retail Brew

Rosenthal & Rosenthal

Happy Wednesday. Today, we want to congratulate our inaugural group of Retail Brew Go-Getters!

We’re thrilled to announce the 2022 winners of our Go-Getter Awards™. We’re celebrating individuals in the early stages of their retail careers—the coordinators, specialists, and managers already making their marks in the industry.

We couldn’t be more proud of how these individuals exemplify the Go-Getter spirit, and we look forward to watching them grow into the business leaders and decision makers of tomorrow. See the full list of winners here.

In today’s edition:

—Maeve Allsup, Hayden Field, Erin Cabrey

DELIVERY

Working it out

Delivery worker riding a bike down a city street Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

The employment status of workers who deliver takeout, groceries, and even packages has been a topic of intense debate in recent years.

  • In January 2021, the Department of Labor under the Trump administration issued a rule that simplified the test used to determine whether a worker is an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Now the agency, under the Biden administration, is poised to propose new guidance, which experts say is likely to make it more challenging to classify delivery workers and others as independent contractors.

Ed Egee, vice president of government relations and workforce development at the National Retail Federation, said a large number of NRF members rely on independent contractors for delivery, and that the DOL’s timing—given inflation, supply-chain challenges, and other issues—is less than ideal.

“I think a lot of what’s driving the rule that’s about to come out from the Labor Department is a misunderstanding of the position of these independent contractors,” Egee told Retail Brew. “Many of them like the flexibility and ability to work when and how they want.”

The business perspective: Forcing companies to classify their independent contractors as employees will have wide-reaching negative implications, Glenn Spencer, SVP of the employment policy division at the US Chamber of Commerce, said.

“What [companies] worry about is losing the flexibility of the business models that they’ve used for, in some cases, decades or longer,” Spencer told Retail Brew.

Coming down the pipeline: Despite the intense focus on the new rule, it may be a while before its impacts are felt by delivery workers and the broader retail industry.

But Palmer says the ultimate impact of the rule is likely to be modest, and that the bigger changes will continue to happen at the state level.

Keep reading here.—MA

        

TOGETHER WITH ROSENTHAL & ROSENTHAL

Grow your own way

Rosenthal & Rosenthal

Businesses are like plants: Both need unique conditions to help them grow best. Some plants need to bask in sunlight for 8 hours a day; others thrive in shady corners. And some businesses need factoring to flourish, while others need a boost with purchase order financing. 

Fortunately, Rosenthal provides customized financial solutions to businesses that meet their specific needs. As the largest privately held factor and finance company in the US, they partner with companies across industries and sectors: fashion, food and beverage, even consumer tech.

Their newest division, Pipeline, focuses on high-growth D2C and e-commerce businesses. With Rosenthal’s working capital solutions, brands can grow quicker than bamboo—without giving up equity or diluting ownership.

Learn how Rosenthal can help you grow your business.

        

TECH

Producing results

Producing results Yinyang/Getty Images

“[United Natural Foods and two of the regional supermarket chains it owns: Cub and Shoppers] partnered with Afresh, a San Francisco-based software company that uses deep learning and reinforcement learning to help grocery stores forecast demand for produce, optimize ordering, and ultimately combat food waste,” writes Hayden Field for Emerging Tech Brew:

[For Cub], the tech’s full rollout has led to an 18% decrease in produce shrink...
Afresh’s tool involves an iPad that asks the produce manager questions […] to estimate current store inventory, then merges that manually collected information with the company’s demand forecaster and other machine learning models to reach a conclusion about how much to order…
So far, Afresh tech in Cub stores has led to a ~7% reduction in produce inventory held and a 2.5% increase in produce sales […] It’s also on track to reduce or save 1,264 tonnes of greenhouse-gas emissions, 43 million gallons of water, and 2.1 million pounds of food waste annually across all Cub stores.

Read the full story here, on Emerging Tech Brew.

        

COMMUNITY

Coworking with Lilly Liu Minkove

Lilly Liu Minkove Lilly Liu Minkove

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

From investment banking with Citigroup and strategy consulting with McKinsey to leading growth in markets like China and Europe for Coach, and directing Louis Vuitton’s Mid-Atlantic stores, Lilly Liu Minkove has an impressive 20+ year retail resume. Since 2012, she’s been using what she’s learned along the way to advise retail, fashion, and beauty brands at her consulting firm ArtLogica.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in retail? I am a doctor for retail and consumer brands. I help them diagnose their brand health using quantitative and qualitative tools, then help create strategic priorities and a roadmap to build on strengths and address areas of opportunity.

One thing we can’t guess about your job from your LinkedIn profile? How much fun it is to understand consumers and why they make the decisions they do!

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on? Consumer insights for Birdies, the female-founded footwear brand. We did qualitative in-home ethnography, and it was incredible visiting with their best customers at home. The founders were so engaged with what their customers had to say and I was really impressed with how quickly they took action on the learnings.

Which emerging retail trend are you most excited about this year, and why? I love the shift that retailers and brands are making on true sustainability efforts. These have been in the background for many years, but recently, I am seeing sustainability come to the forefront and even supersede commercial goals. The Patagonia case study is the ultimate example of this.

What’s your go-to coffee order? Decaf soy latte.

Worst piece of advice you’ve received? I’m a “zero-generation” immigrant who moved to the US with my parents when I was in elementary school. The advice I received from my well-meaning parents was to blend in with the crowd, not to make any “controversial statements” that would make me stand out. That advice is antithetical to making it in the business world, especially as an Asian woman.

What was your favorite retail product when you were 15, and what’s your favorite retail product now? In high school, I loved my Guess jeans. Now, I couldn’t live without my Bandolier phone case that keeps my phone, wallet, and digital keys organized.

        

FROM THE CREW

The Crew

Want more bingeable Brew content? Morning Brew is on YouTube! Our shows cover the tech, trends, and companies you care about, all while keeping our content fresh—and keeping boring jargon out. If you’re wondering how the world works (that makes two of us!), let’s figure it out together. Watch here.

        

SWAPPING SKUS

Today’s top retail reads.

Real deal: After years of bankruptcies and empty stores and malls, US retail vacancy hit a 15-year low in Q2, signaling a promising future ahead for brick-and-mortar locations. (the Wall Street Journal)

Hire calling: Why some retailers are hiring fewer workers this holiday season, while others are sticking with last year’s numbers. (Modern Retail)

Community service: Inside the Stop & Shop in Boston’s Grove Hall neighborhood that’s been newly renovated to be more community-oriented. (Grocery Dive)

Tell us: Complete this survey to help us bring you the content you crave—and be entered for a chance to win a $250 AmEx gift card. Talk about a win-win!*

*This is sponsored advertising content.

EVENTS

Win tickets to The SKU!

Win tickets to The SKU!

Interested in networking and engaging with top retail brands? We’ve got you covered.

Just give us a quick update on what you’ve been up to in the world of retail and you’ll be entered to win a ticket to The SKU.

We almost forgot the best part: You don’t have to come alone. You’ll also get a second ticket to give to one of your colleagues.

Enter to Win 🎟

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Macy’s has dodged some of the inventory woes plaguing other retailers.
  • Amazon has halted corporate hiring for its retail business through the end of the year, per the New York Times.
  • Goodwill debuted a resale site called GoodwillFinds.
  • Starbucks allegedly fired an employee labor activist for refusing to take off an anti-suicide pin, Bloomberg reported.
  • Gopuff and Grubhub formed a grocery-delivery partnership.

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Written by Maeve Allsup, Hayden Field, and Erin Cabrey

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