Morning Brew - ☕ How you bin?

Managing the avalanche of e-commerce returns.
June 04, 2024

Retail Brew

Listrak

It’s Tuesday. Prices are top of mind this week: Wendy’s and McDonald’s are engaged in a price war. Big box retailers such as Target and Walmart are lowering prices on essential items. Rolexes are getting more expensive due to the cost of gold, and the biggest corporations are tapping into new technology to gouge customers. It’s all a lot to process—let alone pay for.

In today’s edition:

—Andrew Adam Newman, Alex Vuocolo, Kelcee Griffis

STORES

Bin there, done that

 A shopper holds up a BinStar shopping tote inside a BinStar store. BinStar via Facebook

When BinStar opened its third location in Saugus, Massachusetts, on May 11, the scene was “crazy,” founder and CEO Jack Laughlin told Retail Brew. Cars orbited the lot, whose ~200 spaces were filled, and as many as 500 shoppers lined up outside the store.

“I went to Walmart three times just across the street to get water, snacks, drinks [and] sodas to give to people waiting,” Laughlin—who volunteered as a copy editor and writer for Morning Brew while in college—told Retail Brew.

It was in keeping with what Laughlin described as the “loosely organized chaos” of BinStar, which opened its first store in Avon, Massachusetts, in June 2023, with plans to open its fourth, in Kingston, Massachusetts, on June 8. Like bin stores across the country, BinStar is making lemonade out of particularly mouth-puckering lemons: the avalanche of e-commerce returns.

  • Returns for US retailers were valued at $743 billion in 2023, according to the National Retail Federation.
  • The returns rate was 14.5% of sales for 2023, NRF found.

Many retailers find the challenge of reselling returns so intractable that they throw them away, with returned inventory accounting for 9.6 billion pounds of landfill waste annually, according to Optoro, a returns management company. Bin stores aim to divert those returns from trash bins to their bins, which in BinStar’s case are wheeled metal crates that look like the offspring of a shopping cart and dumpster.

Keep reading here.AAN

   

PRESENTED BY LISTRAK

In the thick of it

Listrak

Poof! And just like that, it’s already June. We’re halfway through 2024, and that means it’s time to check the charts and see if you’re on track to crush your goals.

Numbers got you sweating? No worries. Listrak can help.

Their unified digital marketing platform does pretty much everything. It powers email, SMS, identity resolution, and push notifications. Prepare to say goodbye to siloes and clunky flows, too. With Listrak, expect unified customer data and seamless cross-channel flows.

Listrak’s customers are loud and proud. Retailers and brands of all sizes—we’re talkin’ TOMS, LeCreuset, Untuckit—are partnering with ’em and scaling their marketing to heights unrivaled.

Upgrade your marketing mojo.

OPERATIONS

Dollar days

Dollar General Scott Olson/Getty Images

Dollar stores may have their value proposition spelled out in their names. But that doesn’t mean they can rest on their laurels when it comes to getting increasingly cautious consumers in the door.

Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos told shareholders on Thursday that “softness in sales” in Q1 reflected “continued pressure” on its core consumers. He added that shoppers are “very value-oriented,” which was evident from an uptick in sales of private label brands and items priced at or below $1.

But the discount chain isn’t just waiting around for shoppers to get their mojo back.

While rival Dollar Tree is making big moves such as shutting down hundreds of stores and acquiring hundreds more from the recently bankrupt 99 Cents Only, Dollar General is working behind the scenes to adapt its operations with the goal of attracting cost-conscious customers.

Cutting inventory: CFO Kelly Dilts said the company continues to cut back on inventory, reducing its nonconsumable stock by 19.1% compared to last year, which is freeing up cash for the business and mitigating the risk of shrink. She added that shrink continues to be “our most significant headwind.”

This goal relates to another ongoing initiative at Dollar General: a commitment to achieve a net reduction in 1,000 SKUs by the end of the year.

Keep reading here.AV

   

E-COMMERCE

Retrying connection

T-Mobile phone illustration Nurphoto/Getty Images

T-Mobile will buy the majority of UScellular’s wireless business, the major carrier announced Tuesday, shrinking the number of smaller retailers that cater to more value-conscious customers. Depending on who you ask, this is either great or terrible news.

Washington-based T-Mobile said it will pay roughly $4.4 billion to take over most of UScellular—including its customers and some of its valuable wireless spectrum licenses—and that it aims to close the deal next year following regulatory review. It also includes access to many UScellular tower sites, although UScellular will retain ownership of them.

For T-Mobile, the deal represents a way to break into a different part of the wireless market without curating an entirely new customer base, Chris Stafford, an M&A partner at West Monroe, said.

“It just provides T-Mobile with a greater market share of the broader cell market,” he told Tech Brew. “The other route for them would be to compete in that space on their own and develop their own products and offerings to kind of serve that end of the market. But UScellular has already done that.”

The deal serves up several positives, according to a press release from T-Mobile, including increased wireless coverage for T-Mobile customers, more plan choices for UScellular customers, and expanded home internet options. For some consumer advocates, however, this consolidation doesn’t translate into an easy win.

Keep reading at Tech Brew here.KG

   

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VIRTUAL EVENT

Standout CX

Retail Brew: NICE Event promo Morning Brew

If you aren’t using AI to optimize your CX, it’s sorta like you’re riding a unicycle in the Tour de France. With AI on your side, you can get deep customer insights and improved decision-making—and customers get a personalized experience.

Join us this Thursday, June 6, to dig into how AI is transforming retail—and why it should be a part of your CX strategy ASAP. Register now.

SWAPPING SKUS

Today’s top retail reads.

Fast fashion resale: Ahead of its IPO on the London Stock Exchange, Shein is launching a resale platform in Europe and the UK. (Fashion Network)

Regulating BNPL: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in May that buy now, pay later methods should fall under the same regulations as credit cards, but one expert says the guidance doesn’t go far enough. (CNBC)

Pay disparities: AP breaks down the pay gap between CEOs and their employees, highlighting that the disparity is particularly high at discount retailers. (the Associated Press)

Silo smasher: Isn’t it time to bring all your flows and channels together? Listrak is ready. Their seamless digital marketing platform can help get you unified in no time. Start here.*

*A message from our sponsor.

JOBS

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