Weekly Industry Brief: 10.3.2016

Happy October! Sources in the hyperlinked text after the headline.

Brand/Retailer

  • West Elm plans to launch its own boutique hotels. Link
  • WalMart in talks to invest up to $1B in India’s Flipkart. Link
  • Old Navy names Chief Marketing Officer. Link
  • American Eagle names Bob Madore Chief Financial Officer. Link
  • Starbucks to continue profitable expansion in low-income neighborhoods. Link
  • The rise and fall of Aeropostale. Link
  • Amazon finds grocers are hard to kill. Link
  • Uber is rocking the suburbs. Link
  • What to millennials actually use Venmo for? Link
  • Everlane responds to lower global cashmere costs by charging less for sweaters. Link
  • Facebook launches a Craigslist competitor for buying and selling used items. Link
  • Aritzia rises 16% in Toronto stock exchange after IPO. Link
  • H&M third quarter earnings miss estimates on discounts. Link
  • Rebel teens are killing America’s clothing giants. Link
  • New Adidas CEO sets off in pursuit of Nike. Link
  • Sears, Claire’s at high risk in study of retail failures. Link
  • Luxury stores add more amenities in tougher market. Link
  • Madewell teaming up with Sezane again in latest French girl collection. Link
  • Sarah Jessica Parker launches line of dresses. Link
  • Bass Pro Shop buys Cabela’s for $4.5B. Link

Marketing/Social

  • Snapchat users spending average of 78 seconds playing Under Armour’s Cam Newton game. Link
  • Location tracking and the trouble with opting in. Link
  • Patagonia launches a beer that’s good for the planet. Link
  • eBay dips its toes in fashion with Project Runway partnership. Link
  • WhatsApp races to internationalize Snapchat’s overlaid creative tools. Link

Startup/Emerging Tech

  • Best Buy to open at midnight to launch PlayStation’s new VR headset. Link
  • WalmartLabs open sources the application platform that powers Walmart.com. Link
  • H&M and Sephora nab early entry into Kik’s fashion bot shop. Link
  • Google quietly expands ride sharing service. Link
  • IBM Watson will power inspection drones that can spot damage on cell towers. Link

International

  • Office Depot agrees to sell European business to Aurelius Group. Link
  • Amazon raises stake as retailers battle for customers online in Canada. Link
  • Uniqlo dips its toes in Canada’s cutthroat retail sector. Link
  • Amazon bets on Diwali to take title as India’s top web retailer. Link
  • Singapore’s Golden Week courts China’s tourists as retail falls. Link
  • Even Chanel and Hermes are susceptible to current global climate. Link

 

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@WalMartLabs Acquires Luvocracy

…or acqui-hires Luvocracy.  According to TechCrunch, @WalmartLabs acquired a solid roster of talented peeps with pedigrees including Yahoo, Blurb, and eBay.  They reportedly plan to use this talent to improve their own site’s product discovery, building off of Luvocracy’s past as a sort of cross between social recommendations, wish lists, and Pinterest. Sort of like Wanelo or Svpply.

Walmart has been on the prowl lately, with this acquisition marking the R&D arm’s14th startup purchase. Recently, they’ve been clearly focused on ecommerce and mobile innovation.  Still fresh is the June  acquisition of fashion commerce and discovery app Stylr.

I don’t hate it as a strategy. In fact, there was just a Mobile Marketer article published on this topic exactly. Big brands are putting their financial resources to good use by acquiring top talent who have innovative ideas and technical skills.  It has become increasingly apparent that the expertise needed is in mobile and social, two areas where perhaps traditional retailers are struggling to keep up. The traditional retailers may not have the culture, perks, location, or thought leadership to attract top talent in these areas but are able to adapt in the shorter term via acquisitions.

It will be interesting to see how smaller brands or brands with fewer resources work around and compete with the likes of WalmartLabs and Nordstrom, which I wrote about recently.

One thing is for sure: mobile and social aren’t going anywhere. I think this was a solid acquisition.

Here is some coverage so far:

WalmartLabs Acquires Kleiner Perkins-backed Luvocracy, a Pinterest-like Marketplace for Product Recommendations (TechCrunch)

Walmart Buys Shopping App Luvocracy (InvestorPlace)

Wal-Mart buys another tech start-up, Luvocracy – only to shut it down (WSJ MarketWatch)

Wal-Mart on the Prowl to Boost Web Expertise (Women’s Wear Daily)