This is issue no. 242. The last issue had a 😔 40.39% open rate with 6.5% of you reading up on why eCommerce companies are investing in brick and mortar. Amazon HQ2's RFP in their words. Take a look at the Mr. Porter pop-up collaboration with "The Kingsmen."

Amazon and Alibaba are great businesses but  flea market experiences not good for brands. - Michael Rubin, Fanatics

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Today's Top Intelligence (13 Reads)
BuzzFeed: eCommerce is Big Business
Code Commerce: BuzzFeed is even partnering with a “massive brick-and-mortar retailer” to create a product together under the retailer’s brand. The retailer — possibly Target or Walmart, but not Amazon — will sell the product in its stores and BuzzFeed will promote it online with stories and videos. Kaufman didn’t provide details, but said the partnership will become public “in a couple of weeks.”

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Part One: While it sometimes feels like we do all of our shopping on the internet, government data shows that actually less than 10% of all retail transactions happen online. In a world where we get our groceries delivered in just two hours through Instacart or Amazon Fresh, the humble corner store–or bodega, as they are known in New York and Los Angeles–still performs a valuable function. 

Part Two: We believe, as this Quartz article states, that “[t]he future of retail is tiny stores everywhere that sell exactly what you need.” Corner stores in places like NYC are a model for this — they’re on nearly every block and serve their local neighborhoods 24/7. We’re trying to use technology to bring some of that same ease and convenience to everyone by putting tiny stores right where people live and work.

eCommerce: A new program on one of Nike’s apps that uses augmented reality “has come very close to eliminating bots — and taking the sneaker hunt [to] as close to a fair game that I think it is anywhere in the industry.”
Brand: Jordan Brand is writing Russell Westbrook the fattest check it’s written for an athlete since, um, Michael Jordan cashed in last pay period. On Tuesday, ESPN reported that the reigning MVP will sign a 10-year extension with the brand he’s endorsed since 2013. Though the exact figures aren’t known yet, the contract will make for the highest total endorsement deal yet for the Nike-derived company

eCommerce: Her new job at Amazon is to babysit several robots at a time, troubleshooting them when necessary and making sure they have bins to load. On a recent afternoon, a claw at end of the arm grabbed a bin off a conveyor belt and stacked it on another bin, forming neat columns on wooden pallets surrounding the robot. It was the first time Amazon had shown the arm, the latest generation of robots in use at its warehouses, to a reporter.

eCommerce: In other words: What Whole Foods is to groceries, Nordstrom would be to fashion. The company is currently traded on the NYSE and has a market cap of $7.7 billion. However, Galloway disclaimed that he’s less confident that the acquisition would happen because Nordstrom is family-run.
Retail Real Estate: The concept store, which opens next month in West Hollywood, California, will be a fraction of the size of a normal Nordstrom store. It will let shoppers try on items while sipping a locally sourced beer or wine, getting a manicure, or consulting with stylists. And if a shopper wants to make a purchase, the stylist will pull the item from another Nordstrom location, or order it from Nordstrom’s website.

Brand: Ahwah feels that the turning point for women — aside from the female skaters who had long been wearing the men's styles — taking Vans seriously was its quietly cool collaboration with A.P.C., which began in 2004 and continued for several seasons (and which I totally forgot about and would really like them to reissue). The collab's success, she says, inspired the company to focus on simple, easy-to-wear styles and styles that speak to women in a more thoughtful way than just making something pink or adding a wedge. 

eCommerce: At Shopify, the company is focused on accelerating the checkout flow, said Mohammad Hashemi, director of product and payments. The company didn’t elaborate on whether it plans to implement one-click buying but said it recently developed its own accelerated payment feature, called Shopify Pay, which makes checkout completion 40 percent quicker.

Media: But it’s a run at risk unless there is gut-level trust from CMOs that they’re not getting ripped off. The technicians of the industry might dismiss bots and fraud as rounding errors and the cost of doing business in a fragmented ecosystem. But for a marketer under the gun, these issues do not inspire confidence. For that marketer’s boss, they can even inspire derision.
DNVB Alert: Eventually, Cotton Bureau says it expects to become a distributor to other T-shirt makers, but the current plans don’t focus on this until many months into the future, after the company has sorted out its own needs and made sure it can deal with the ebb and flow of working directly with a clothing maker. Fanelli says what it will need to charge at wholesale for its shirts will keep volume low relative to the size of the industry. “The truth is, going through us for these shirts is not going to be cheap,” says Fanelli.

Media: Spending on affiliate marketing in the U.S.—the commissions that sites like Wirecutter get—has jumped nearly 17% in five years to $4.5 billion in 2016, according to a Forrester Research study. In addition to Wirecutter coverage, the Times already uses affiliate links in its bestseller lists and reviews of restaurants, films, and theater, according to a memo to employees last year obtained by Politico. 
Graphic of the week:
Here is a contrasting look at the retail properties that will be expanding and contracting over the next year.

Via Forbes:

One of the things you'll see on the chart above is that the list of stores opening this year is dominated by discount and convenience stores. (You might not recognize some of the names. Couche-Tard is the corporate owner of Circle K stores, and Aldi and Lidl are large European grocery chains that are expanding in the US.)

The data highlight changing lifestyles and tastes. Fashion is less important in physical retail stores. It's being shopped for more and more online and it's becoming less of a focus for younger consumers who are more willing to spend money on experiences than on fashion products.

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