This is issue no. 232. The last issue had a 42.32% open rate with a 8.21% of you reading up on how Wayfair competes with Amazon.

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Today's Top Intelligence (14 Reads)
Disney Tracks Your Facial Reaction in Theaters
Data feature: By placing four infrared cameras and infrared illuminators above a theater screen, the researchers were able to identify 16 million facial landmarks, or expressions, from more than 3,100 theatergoers during 150 screenings of nine Disney movies, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Zootopia, and The Jungle Book during 2015 and 2016. The data was then analyzed with a computer. (Before this gets too creepy, Disney isn’t tracking your every move at your local theater. The experiment took place during screenings at one particular 400-seat theater. And audiences likely had to choose to participate.)

Full (amazing) report here. (.pdf)

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eCommerce: They weren't alone in this feeling. Data shows that order fulfillment is one of the top barriers to growth in the world of online business. Packaging and shipping out orders purchased through an online portal can quickly become a nightmare for brick-and-mortar retailers who are new to online sales--and because of this, it sometimes keeps business owners from entering the online sales environment completely.

Retail: In shuttering Chelsea Collective, Dick's should be turning its focus back to growing online, Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Brian Nagel told CNBC in an interview. Looking at the "pure" sporting-goods superstores, Dick's is really shaping up to be the "last man standing," he said. Further, Dick's can and will continue to sell women's athleisure apparel through the company's existing stores — what was probably the retailer's plan to begin with, said Nathan Yates, director of research at consulting firm Forward View.

eCommerce: Asia-Pacific will be home to more than half of the world’s digital buyers this year. Approximately 61.7% of Asia-Pacific’s internet users and 28.5% of its population will make a purchase digitally this year. With room for growth, Asia-Pacific’s digital buyer audience will increase 13.2% in 2017 and continue to expand by double-digit percentages annually through 2019—the fastest rate by region worldwide.

eCommerce: The FTC is probing a complaint brought by the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, which looked at some 1,000 products on Amazon's website in June and found that Amazon put reference prices, or list prices, on about 46 percent of them. An analysis found that in 61 percent of products with reference prices, Amazon's reference prices were higher than it had sold the same product in the previous 90 days, Consumer Watchdog said in a letter to the FTC dated July 6.

Data: But let’s be real: the biggest opportunity has to lie with Amazon. The company sells almost every consumer good you can imagine, and its business is all about tailoring product suggestions to consumers’ buying habits. Well, what if Amazon could call up a recently created map of your house and suggest more items for purchase?

eCommerce: Which of these paths a brand chooses—and the distribution strategy it employs in that domain—will determine a brand executive’s focal issues, challenges and priorities. Either distribution option will impact the brand executive’s ability to control their brand strategies (e.g., pricing, brand content, marketing, etc.), to generate profits, and to create a stable cadence for managing activities on the Amazon marketplace channel.

eCommerce: Earlier this year, privately-held Stitch Fix said it had $730 million in revenue in the 2016 fiscal year, marking its third consecutive year of profitability. At the time, it pushed back against rumors that it was turning down late-stage investments to clear a path to an initial public offering. However, the online personal styling service last month tapped Paul Yee, who has extensive experience at major brands, as CFO, and speculation about an IPO intensified.

eCommerce: China is also set to overtake the U.S. as the world's largest luxury-goods market in the next four years, according to Euromonitor. Despite a government push to curtail conspicuous consumption, the country is home to more billionaires than anywhere except the U.S., and China's growing middle class aspires to show off a level of affluence that was out of reach just a decade ago.

Brand: Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight company led by billionaire Richard Branson, announced last year that it’s working with Y-3, a fashion label from Adidas and Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, on designs for spaceflight wear. 
eCommerce: A return policy is basically a marketing campaign. ThirdLove’s Try Before Buying and Athleta’s Give It a Workout Guarantee are pithy slogans, easily understandable as a flash in a Facebook feed. “It’s about having something to talk to your customers about,” says Zak. “Especially with digital marketing, it’s a moment in time. You have a second to get someone’s attention.”

Retail: This disconnect opened a window of opportunity for stores that rely less on discounts and more on unique selection and personal relationships with their customers. The fact is, most department stores sell the same products. With the internet only a click away, price comparison has become the norm. In comparison, what specialty retailers offer is a level of attention and curation — often stocking the piece a more cautious department store buyer might not take a chance on — that is both valuable and differentiating.

Retail: But Mandel goes further, arguing that retail is actually creating jobs right now, if you count e-commerce. He’s been trying to do just that, looking county by county across the U.S. and counting new jobs in warehousing and other sectors likely to be devoted to e-commerce fulfillment and logistics. He’s found that e-commerce, by his count, has created 397,000 jobs over the past decade — more than five times the jobs lost in retail over the same period.

Brand: The global luxury market has long been dominated by three giants, all European — LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Kering and Richemont. Now, it has two hungry American players with which to contend.
Graphic of The Week
At press time, $APRN was trading around $6.85/share. While they are experiencing quite a bit of skepticism, these days, a few 2PML readers remain bullish on longterm value of the stock.

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