Mike O'Brien

mobrien@accessintel.com / MikeOBmcm

Mike O’Brien has worked in journalism, marketing and public relations for … well, quite a while. At Multichannel Merchant he focuses on the world of direct-to-customer operations and fulfillment, editing MCM’s weekly O+F Advisor newsletter, and programs the annual Ecommerce Operations Summit conference. Previously Mike was a senior account executive for Marx Communications, a boutique public relations firm working with marketing and advertising technology companies. Other past work includes stints as a media relations consultant for a concert promoter, a marketing communications specialist for a pharma software firm, a research analyst covering corporate e-learning and a daily newspaper reporter on every beat imaginable – except sports.

Over 60% of U.S. Retailers Would Consider Banning Serial Returners

| Mike O'Brien

Sixty-one percent of U.S. retailers said they would consider banning serial returners as Amazon has done to combat the growing wave brought on by over-generous policies, according to a new survey from UK ecommerce software firm Brightpearl. In the UK, 45% of retailers said they would consider doing so.

Trump Moves to Pull U.S. from Universal Postal Union

| Mike O'Brien

The Trump administration has announced plans to withdraw the United States from the Universal Postal Union by January 2020. The move is an effort to counteract below-market parcel shipping rates that China has enjoyed for years to the competitive disadvantage of U.S. merchants.

Amazon Research Project Reportedly Testing Robotic Picking Arms

| Mike O'Brien

Amazon is reportedly experimenting with robotic arms that can visually identify items on a conveyor, pick them up using a compressed air vacuum gripper and place them on a table or shelf. At the same time the company says publicly the state of the art isn’t there yet to handle the wide variety of products it stores and sells.

USPS Proposing Parcel Rate Increases in 9%-12% Range

| Mike O'Brien

The USPS is proposing a number of rate changes that would be effective on Jan. 27 including an average 9.3% increase in its Parcel Select service for packages weighing more than 1 lb., as it looks to recover rising costs and deals with stiff competition from major carriers.

Kroger and Walgreens Join Forces in Cincinnati-Area Pilot

| Mike O'Brien

In the continuing saga of strange bedfellows teaming up to combat the threat of Amazon, a Kroger/Walgreens pilot in northern Kentucky outside Cincinnati allows shoppers to pick up Kroger orders at 13 select Walgreens and purchase Kroger products while there.

With More States Requiring Online Sales Tax Collection, Concerns Rise

| Mike O'Brien

As of Oct. 1, 10 states added a requirement for remote sellers to begin collecting tax online sales tax in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Wayfair ruling in June, and many merchants are finding it difficult to comply. See what an advocacy group is doing, when states are enacting laws and what litigation is pending.

Toys R Us, Geoffrey Looking to Come Back Again

| Mike O'Brien

Toys R Us, the on-again, off-again toy retailer, is looking for another reboot, less than four months after closing its remaining stores, according to investors that acquired its assets out of bankruptcy court.