Morning Brew - ☕ Staying power

Boutique luxury hotels debut bathrobes, scents, and beauty products.
Morning Brew September 23, 2022

Retail Brew


Happy Friday. So, it seems most of the 70+ companies taking part in a four-day workweek experiment in Britain have found no decline in productivity. Several even reported a boost! Something to think about—or, you know, email your boss.

In today’s edition:

—Jeena Sharma, Erin Cabrey, Grace Donnelly


Take me home

Take me home Hotel Emma

The lingering but distinct scent in the hotel lobby; the soft, luxurious feel of the bathrobe; the gorgeous cutlery and glassware that come with room service—over the years, these touches have become the hallmark of a modern upscale hotel. It sort of makes perfect sense for a hotel to turn these products into a side hustle of its own. Established hotel chains have long offered their loyal customers the opportunity to purchase their bathrobes and scents. Now, boutique luxury hotels want in.

Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas, stocks everything from candles to fragrances, beauty products to bathrobes and apparel at its onsite shop, Curio. CMO Beth Smith told Retail Brew the products act as a form of “conversational currency” for Emma’s customers. “When they come here, they wear these things, they smell them, they use them, and then they take them home with them to really share their experience with their friends,” she said.

Swarooprani Muralidhar, a senior analyst at Coresight, agreed, saying the products have “brand recall” value. “They can look at that brand and/or an emblem or a logo and associate it with that specific hotel or whatever the experience—the memory of it,” she said. “And luxury, at the end of the day, is all about the experience.”

  • Scents and candles (priced from $39 to $55) account for 40% of Hotel Emma’s total retail sales, while the bathrobe (between $90 and $215) brings in 20%.
  • The approach seems to be working; revenue for Hotel Emma’s retail business increased 20% from 2020 to 2021.

Smith hopes to expand Emma’s retail business with a focus on items like pillows and rugs that have an “Emma feel to them, kind of like One Kings Lane, where you have a look that you're trying to accomplish,” she said.

Keep reading here.—JS



It’s time to deck out the checkout


The cat’s out of the (online shopping) bag, folks. More and more people turn to digital channels for all their various needs and wants—and those consumers have high expectations. 

Merchants need to prioritize conversions, and pronto. So start optimizing the customer experience with 3 executive insights for bettering the checkout process, brought to you by a CEO who has perfected the art of conversions. All the executive-level intel you need lives in Bolt’s handy ebook.

Read the deets on the trillion-dollar conversion problem (aka shopping cart abandonment), see how you can improve conversions without gutting your tech stack, and peep the unexpected space a CMO’s next focus should be.

Download your free copy right here.



Shop-in-shopping spree

Shop-in-shopping spree Kohl's

Retailers have been setting up shop inside other shops for a while. Now, Retail Brew is taking inventory to see how some of the most noteworthy shop-in-shop partnerships are going.

Tween dream: This week, Claire’s and Walmart built on their four-year partnership by expanding Claire’s accessories and jewelry to 1,200+ more Walmart locations. The products are now sold in 2,500+ stores and more than 360 shop-in-shops.

Beauty mark: JCPenney said this week it plans to take its JCPenney Beauty concept nationwide to 600 stores by spring 2023, with BIPOC-founded beauty brand Thirteen Lune accounting for 20% of the assortment. With its Sephora shop-in-shop partnership ending this year, JCPenney began testing the shops at 10 locations last fall to fill the gap.

Speaking of Sephora, Kohl’s said last month it aims to open Sephora shop-in-shops across all 1,165 of its stores. The 2,500-square-foot shops will be in 600 Kohl’s by year’s end.

Meanwhile, Sephora competitor Ulta’s shop-in-shops are also growing. On its Q2 earnings call last month, Ulta president Dave Kimbell said the beauty retailer opened 59 Ulta Beauty at Target shops in the quarter, bringing the total to 186 locations since rolling out in August 2021.

Toying around: The Toys ‘R’ Us and Macy’s shop-in-shop partnership seems to be going well, too. In its Q2 earnings presentation last month, Macy’s said toy sales tripled YoY, while 87% of Toys ‘R’ Us customers also shopped across other Macy’s categories. By October 15, all Macy’s locations will add Toys ‘R’ Us-branded shops, which will, apparently, all feature life-size Geoffreys.

Keep reading here.—EC



Oh Deere

Oh Deere Grant Thomas

If you can jailbreak a phone, you can jailbreak a tractor. And if you can jailbreak a John Deere tractor, you can play Doom on its touchscreen, writes Grace Donnelly for Emerging Tech Brew:

At DefCon in August, Australian hacker Sick Codes showed how to do just that on John Deere tractors, raising important questions about John Deere’s cybersecurity practices.
The company unveiled a self-driving tractor at CES earlier this year and is investing billions of dollars to make farming equipment internet-connected and partially automated.
Beyond security concerns, Deere’s digitization has put a new strain on a pre-existing issue: longstanding frustration that the company has limited the ability for farmers to fix their own equipment.

Read the full story here, on Emerging Tech Brew.




Sleigh your holiday sales. Reports are in, and this holiday season is set to be a blizzard. Trends suggest online retail is starting to come down from recent heights—and competition will be fierce. Learn how e-commerce execs plan to get ahead of the flurry with Rokt’s Delivering Holiday Happiness webinar.



Today’s top retail reads.

High-flying meals: From Air France to Emirates, airlines are turning to Michelin-starred restaurants and bottomless caviar to appease customers, while still trying to turn a profit. (Financial Times)

A fresh take: After spending nearly eight years as an Amazon fashion executive, Kara Trousdale has joined Beautycounter to turn around the brand’s DTC and e-commerce strategy. (Retail Dive)

Groundbreaking: Fashion’s top experts, including Rick Owens and Carla Sozzani, reflect on postwar womenswear collections that had the biggest influence. (T Magazine)

So, what’s new in tech? Want more of the latest news at the intersection of tech and retail? Emerging Tech Brew covers the latest happenings, trends, and changes hitting the tech world, all in one place. Sign up here.


Do you wish your customers were as loyal as your fluffy best friends? Well, join us for a virtual event sponsored by Bolt on Sept. 28 at noon ET, where we’ll chat with Chewy CMO Mark Eamer about building brand loyalty and how seamless CX can help your brand. Sign up here.


  • FedEx will raise package rates and employ cost-cutting measures as global demand wanes.
  • Canadian retail sales were up after a summer spending decline.
  • PVH, the owner of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, has pledged $10 million to the Fashion Climate Fund.
  • Burberry COO and CFO Julie Brown will exit her position next year.
  • Target will hire 100,000 seasonal workers and offer earlier deals leading up to the holidays.


Three of the stories below are real...and one is most definitely not. Can you spot the fake?

  1. Crocs has joined forces with 7-Eleven for a limited edition collection.
  2. The FDA has warned people of health risks after videos of people cooking chicken in NyQuil were discovered.
  3. A Seattle-based brewery launched a pumpkin beer inspired by Chucky, the killer doll.
  4. Shake Shack has shrunk the width of its crinkle cut fries by half to fight inflation.

Keep reading for the answer.



Don’t worry, your favorite crinkle cut fries are still full-sized and thicc.


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Written by Jeena Sharma, Erin Cabrey, and Grace Donnelly

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