retail news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Forbes reports that Hudson's Bay Company's decision to "split its physical store operations from its e-commerce side," a move also made by sister company Saks Fifth Avenue, means that "the parent company continues to focus on maximizing the value of its stock price while minimizing the effectiveness of its retailing business."

The story notes that "nearly every other major retailing company in North America has been working hard to integrate its in-store and online sides to make the shopping process easier, both for customers and their own employees. Omnichannel, format neutral, platform agnostic: whatever you want to call it, the ability to service consumers seamlessly has become perhaps the defining characteristic of a successful retailer right now."

The analysis goes on:  "HBC isn’t wrong trying to make its company more valuable and boost its share price. Those are good things. But nothing it is doing is in support of its core business, which is retailing. Splitting up unified brands into separate operating units and repurposing real estate may help the balance sheet but where are the initiatives to build a better retailer?"

Hard to ask the question any better than that.  The retailers that put efficiency ahead of effectiveness are the ones that may find themselves facing as tough road ahead.

•  The Los Angeles Business Journal reports that Amazon "is looking to hire hundreds of workers for its new Amazon Fresh grocery stores set to open in the coming months in La Habra and Cerritos.

"But don’t expect many cashiers to be among an estimated 600 positions available — the stores will be first in California to feature the ecommerce giant’s 'Just Walk Out' technology.

"Shoppers will enter the store using a credit or debit card linked to their Amazon account or scan the QR code in their Amazon app. The proprietary technology detects what products shoppers take from the shelves and keeps track of the selections in their virtual cart.  When done shopping, customers exit the same way they entered, by scanning a QR code or inserting their credit card. The stores will also feature traditional checkout lines where shoppers can pay with cash or cards."

•  Bloomberg reports that "Rivian Automotive Inc., the electric-vehicle startup backed by Inc., is in talks to invest at least $5 billion to build a factory near Fort Worth, Texas, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News.

"The factory - codenamed 'Project Tera' according to the document - would be able to produce 200,000 vehicles a year and would create at least 7,500 jobs by 2027."