Ecommerce Shutdowns, Layoffs Among Impacts of Coronavirus Outbreak

| Mike O'Brien

The coronavirus outbreak is continuing to wreak havoc on retail, with the impact going beyond store shutdowns to online business being shuttered. Companies that closed their ecommerce operations in recent days include fashion brands Reformation, Marysia and The Frankie Shop, and retailers TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods.

Target Upbeat on Q4, 2019 Results and Strategic Plans

| Douglas P. Clement

Target CEO Brian Cornell piled on superlatives when discussing Q4 and 2019 results, including six consecutive years of 25%+ growth in ecommerce sales. Same-day (order pickup, drive up and Shipt delivery) accounted for more than 80% of Target’s Q4 comparable digital sales growth of 20%, compared to 1.5% overall comp growth.

Target Breaks Into Top 10 for U.S. Ecommerce Sales

| Douglas P. Clement

Target’s strong focus on ecommerce, including a 2019 holiday push on fast delivery options and BOPIS, has propelled it into the top 10 for U.S. ecommerce sales, according to a new report from eMarketer. Target checks in at No. 8 with projected 2020 U.S. ecommerce sales of $8.34 billion, increasing its share from 1.1% to 1.2%.

Target Facing Unionization Efforts at Test Fulfillment Center in New Jersey

| Mike O'Brien

Workers at a Target fulfillment center in New Jersey are considering union representation, stirring up labor issues for the retailer as it reworks the supply chain to move inventory closer to customers and better integrate store and online channels, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. Amazon and FedEx are also facing unionization pressures.

Brandless Goes Away, A Rare Stumble for SoftBank

| Douglas P. Clement

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) retailer Brandless, which sold beauty products, non-GMO snacks and everyday items under its own non-brand austere label in a radical departure from the norm, is halting operations. Brandless is laying off 70 employees and retaining 10 to fulfill remaining orders, which stopped being accepted Feb. 10.

DTC Mattress Brand Casper Sleep’s IPO Filing Raises Doubts

| Douglas P. Clement

The global sleep company Casper, in a crowded field of mattress-in-a-box companies going direct to customer it helped spawn, has been a darling of the business and lifestyle press, That is, until it recently filed for an IPO, and pundits and the business press attacked the CEO for his obsession with a unicorn valuation.

New Industry Group Seeks to Tackle Growing Issue of Product Returns

| Mike O'Brien

To combat the growing problem of returns, which continue to eat away at profit margins, the Retail Value Chain Federation and returns prevention software provider Newmine have created the Product Returns Council to work on solutions. Both will take part in a returns workshop at Ecommerce Operations Summit, April 14-16 in Orlando.