Morning Brew - ☕ Welcome to the machines

The future of robotics in retail.
February 01, 2023

Retail Brew


Rabbit, rabbit. Welcome to February. Between Valentine’s Day, the Super Bowl, and Glossier’s debut at Sephora, it’s gonna be a busy—and expensive—month.

In today’s edition:

—Katishi Maake, Erin Cabrey, Katie Hicks


Man and machine

Robotic arm and Earth Francis Scialabba

We’re not quite at Ex Machina yet, so humans can still use robots to help improve society without consequences.

The last decade has been rife with upgrades, from seamless checkout to delivery drones, geared toward making companies’ and consumers’ lives easier, and integrating robotics has become more common among retailers, grocery stores, and restaurants—both on the front and back ends.

But before robots reach sentience, what’s the next step in the evolution of automation? Retail Brew spoke to a handful of industry experts to get their thoughts on how the industry will evolve in 2023.

Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity.

Jonathan Morav, head of product strategy, Fabric

Where do you see robotics becoming more common in retail?

In the future, there won’t be a single element of the retail ecosystem that is not impacted by the adoption of automation and robotics at some level. Retailers will have robots surveying shelves and counting or replenishing inventory to e-commerce order fulfillment where robots will be used to pick, pack, or deliver orders out of warehouses or even in the backs of retail stores in dense urban areas. This will ultimately extend downstream toward last-mile deliveries, where robots and autonomous vehicles will be making deliveries to end customers.

What are some of the barriers to adoption for retailers?

Historically, the three barriers to adoption have been cost, complexity, and the ability to integrate robotic solutions into the retailer’s existing process and operational framework.

What are some ways robotics can enhance the customer experience?

In e-commerce, fulfillment robotics can enable retailers to more effectively pick and pack customer orders, enabling customers to receive their orders faster with better order accuracy and inventory visibility.

Keep reading here.—KM



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Coworking with Nicole Bohorad

Nicole Bohorad Nicole Bohorad

On Wednesdays, we wear pink spotlight Retail Brew’s readers. Want to be featured in an upcoming edition? Click here to introduce yourself.

Before landing her most recent gig as customer experience advisor, retail, at software company SAP, Nicole Bohorad held roles at Rite Aid, Under Armour, Capital One, NBA, and ESPN over the last 25+ years, focusing on areas like omnichannel commerce, customer engagement and feedback, and brand and performance marketing.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in retail? I analyze and assess retailers’ end-user customer experience across entry, path to purchase, customer data, and retention, and determine how to fix key gaps to create a seamless, frictionless experience that impacts business goals in the most efficient way possible.

One thing we can’t guess about your job from your LinkedIn profile? I am an official emoji creator, having launched the lacrosse emoji in 2018, and consult on new ones. You can see this on my profile, but you can’t guess it from my job.

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on? Launching a retail Covid-19 testing and vaccines program as a new business in 2020. From scheduling, to marketing, customer experience, and customer insights, it was a complex and rewarding undertaking that took continuous iteration to improve.

Which emerging retail trend are you most excited about this year, and why? Personalization based on accurate customer data. It’s certainly being done, but there’s much room to improve. The more customers can trust brands with their data and consent for brands to use it, the more open customers are to receiving and responding to messaging that is relevant to them.

What’s your go-to coffee order? Jot concentrated iced coffee (subscription) with Silk creamer.

Worst piece of advice you’ve received? “It’s going to be too hard to...change careers, learn data visualization, etc.” I’ve created these opportunities by setting educational goals with a desire to always be learning new skills.

What was your favorite retail product when you were 15, and what’s your favorite retail product now? Favorite product at 15 was my Walkman for running with cassette tapes! Now, it’s Spotify on my Libratone wireless speaker.



Text big thing

a gif of a Love Island USA contestant with the phrase 'i got a text' Love Island/Paramount via Giphy

“It feels like just about every brand out there seems interested in customers’ phone numbers: Bloomingdale’s, Anthropologie, Victoria’s Secret, Lee, UGG. Even Outback Steakhouse has a texting program,” writes Marketing Brew’s Katie Hicks:

Brands can build loyal followings and potentially boost traffic while offering consumers coupons and incentives, which could be why it appears to be on the rise.
According to [Megan Trinidad, VP and executive creative director of product and experience at R/GA], there could be a future where texts become “the new inbox, where you’re just inundated and it’s no fun anymore.”

Read the whole story here on Marketing Brew.



Today’s top retail reads.

Junk mail: As third-party sellers with weird names and excessively SEO-friendly descriptions proliferate on Amazon, a look at the “junkification” of the platform. (NY Mag)

Extra freeze: As frozen food sales surge, artisanal pizza makers are looking to innovate in the category dominated by brands like DiGiorno. “If we aren’t pushing to be better, why are we even getting up in the morning?” one pizza maker said. (the New York Times)

On the right foot: Inside the creation of Oatly’s climate footprint labels, which just hit its Oatgurts in the US after debuting in Europe in 2020. (Bloomberg)

Free event alert: Join us 2/8 for a conversation with Kevin Quealy, editor of the NYTimes' The Upshot. He’ll be talking all things analytics—and you don’t want to miss it. Sign up now.

Build or buy: We don’t know how much your next choice will cost you, but Recharge does. Weigh upfront costs + hidden expenses for your subscription platform before you commit, right here.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.


  • Nike is suing Lululemon over its sneaker designs.
  • Whole Foods is asking food suppliers to lower their wholesale prices.
  • McDonald’s fourth-quarter earnings beat estimates, thanks in part to higher menu prices.
  • Canada Goose and Francesca’s both debuted new resale programs.
  • Skims hired its first chief commercial officer.
  • Ariana Grande bought the assets for her r.e.m. beauty brand for $15 million after its parent company Forma Brands filed for bankruptcy.


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Written by Katishi Maake, Katie Hicks, and Erin Cabrey

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