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E-commerce sales have been growing over the past decade at a rapid rate and the online retail economy is booming. According to the US Census Bureau, 9.6% of all retail sales were from e-commerce sales during the second quarter of 2018. This percentage was only 4.4% in the second quarter of 2010. This post will discuss the reasons behind the shift from brick-and-mortar businesses to online retail stores.

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Although overall retail spending has continued to grow, factors such as e-commerce and an abundance of shopping malls are changing the way people shop.  Today, e-commerce sales are steadily increasing, with Amazon sales rising from $16 billion to $80 billion between 2010 and 2016, and nearly half of all United States households are now Amazon Prime subscribers.  Also, according to Cowen and Company’s research analysts, between 1970 and 2015 the number of shopping malls in the United States grew more than twice as fast as the population.

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Every year, millions of people go shopping the weekend after Thanksgiving.  However, people are choosing to shop online on Cyber Monday rather than visit retail stores on Black Friday. Cyber Monday was one of the biggest shopping days in the United States.  This year, Americans spent $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday alone, according to data from Adobe Analytics.  This large amount of online orders so close to Christmas puts extra stress on retailers trying to avoid late deliveries and unfilled orders.  Normally during the holiday season, the number of late deliveries to households doubles, but this year, companies are having a particularly hard time delivering all of their orders on time.  

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The U.S. retail industry has been experiencing a changing landscape in recent years due to the closing of numerous big-name, brick-and-mortar stores throughout the country. Major apparel retailers such as Sears, Kmart, Macy’s, and J.C. Penney announced the closures of several stores this year while BCBG Max Azria, American Apparel, Payless Inc., and Gymboree have all filed for bankruptcy. Earlier, this month, a Credit Suisse report predicted that 20 to 25% of U.S. shopping malls will close down in the next five years, and 8,640 stores will close by the end of the year.

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The fifth Copenhagen Fashion Summit took place on Thursday, May 11 to address sustainable development in the fashion industry. Influential representatives from apparel and textiles and retail companies spoke at the event, including the chairman of the board and interim CEO of Tiffany & Co, the President of Global Sourcing at Target, the CFO of Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH, and the head of sustainability at H&M. Eva Kruse, the CEO of the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) explained how “today's linear economic model, which sends too many clothes to landfills and incinerators, is simply not sustainable.” She called on all retail and fashion companies to support a circular fashion system and sign the Summit’s Call to Action.

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Traditional grocery shopping will be changing in a big way starting in 2017. Amazon has ventured away from their online domain to shake up the in-person shopping industry. On Monday, Amazon released a video showing off their newest project: Amazon Go. This store has eliminated checkouts, cash registers, and most importantly, lines. What better way to propel an industry into the future than fresh competition.

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As the popularity of online shopping grows in India, China, Japan, and South Korea, e-commerce companies are predicted to spend about $6 to $8 billion in investments toward logistics, infrastructure, and warehousing over the next few years. E-commerce as a whole is growing exponentially, with the retail industry being the main contributor. The need for air cargo connectivity is expected to increase as tier two and tier three cities pick up business and the supply chain becomes more complex. Specific retail companies are also working to ensure that they can account for the highest amount of revenue in terms of e-commerce.

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Three years ago, popular global brands such as H&M, Walmart, and Gap pledged to improve safety conditions in factories overseas following a multitude of deaths due to poor labor conditions. Despite the time frame, many human rights groups believe that these promises have not been kept, and more progress is needed. Safety in working environments in Bangladesh remains poor, while global retailers continue to reap the benefits of a less expensive work force.

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In the retail industry, holidays are often a huge source of revenue. Throughout the world, certain holidays have become a time for consumers to spend more money and retailers to make it. These holidays vary from country to country, and the recognition of these differences is an important issue for international retail companies. For retail companies to be successful, they often must take advantage of these holidays, through the use of marketing campaigns and possible discounts or sales. The targeting of these days across world will help international retailers grow sales and increase profits.

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A new collection of resources has come to globalEDGE: the Global Best Buying Practices Video Library. This is a collection of videos, set in several different countries, that showcases case studies in the world of international retail and global buying practices. The videos are divided into four different categories: assortment planning, pricing, product promotion, and sourcing. Check out the library today!

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The Globalization of the fur industry has given Denmark’s agricultural-based economy the boost it was looking for. Fur is used as a luxurious item for clothing, decoration, comfort, etc. Being home to about one-fifth of the world’s supply of minks, it is no surprise that Denmark is the heart of the global fur industry. With all of the growth in the industry, Kopenhagen Fur has been the leader all along.  The company has used Chinese demand to fuel growth and has focused its innovation on the Chinese consumers, as demand in Europe weakens. With the greatest passion for animal-rights, the Danes have stayed out of the way of Animal Rights activists, and the buyers feel a lot more confident and humane about their purchases.

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The Baltic countries are known as some of the most ambitious and educated countries in the world, and they also consist of some of the most liberal policies for trade and investment. Their drive for success has been a critical factor in their success after the financial crisis plagued the European Union. The Baltic countries were a hot spot for investment before the crisis, with all of their intelligence and FDI flowing in. Possessing all of these incredible characteristics and policies would allow one to assume that they would be a good match against a global financial crisis, but that person would be wrong.

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Following the call for safer labor conditions in an era of globalization, 17 major retail firms from North America have unveiled a plan to improve factory safety standards throughout Bangladesh. Bangladesh, which is the world's second-largest retail exporting nation and sends about 85% of its goods to the European Union and United States, has notoriously suffered from hazardous working conditions in its factories. Labor groups have estimated that it would take $3 billion USD to raise the safety standards of the country's factories to an acceptable level, which prompted firms from the U.S. and Canada to form the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. The Alliance's goals include donating over $42 million USD over the five years of the plan, and for inspections to be carried out in the estimated 500 factories that the North American retailers use in Bangladesh.

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As political season in China begins between the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, there have been concerns with the consumption of luxury goods. China has gone to extremes measures to prevent the issue of inequality by banning politicians to speak publicly about spending on luxury goods. With increases in social media, people have been able to show how wealthy they are by posting to websites such as Tumbler, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Recently, there was an online argument between a Chinese socialite and a member of a sports car club over who has more money. As Asian countries begin to crack down on the over the top display of wealth, could luxury goods retailers be affected?

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We are all aware that online retailers monitor our every click, but you might be surprised that brick-and-mortar stores are beginning to use a similar approach to maximize sales. Some may think that being monitored while shopping is a little invasive, but big brother is definitely watching. E-retailers are able to monitor the pattern of clicks and place similar items on the same web pages to maximize purchases. Now, there are a few new methods that brick-and-mortar retailers are using to produce similar results.

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When people think of online shopping today, paying for goods or services via the internet usually comes to mind. However, in Russia this is not the case. More than 80 percent of transactions at Russian online megastores are in cash. Russian customers are not very comfortable with online transactions so businesses in Russia have developed alternatives for the online shopping model.

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Cotton prices have recently reached record highs and have begun to cause some clothing retailers problems. Many European clothing stores import their cotton from various countries in Asia, so they are often at the mercy of their suppliers. China and India are two of the top producers of cotton in the world, and they have recently undergone some industry changes that may lead to lower profit margins for their European buyers.

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The view is a strange one for most foreign visitors to Chinese residential areas. An array of colorful fabric is draped from building to building in all directions. A local resident can often be seen reaching out of a high window to hook a cloth on the end of a long wooden stick. What is this strange ritual that appears unlike anything experienced in many Western cultures?

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As of today (July 1st), Japan has significantly relaxed the visa restrictions for tourists allowing the single fastest-growing group of overseas travelers, the Chinese, to be able to travel to Japan. These new regulations will enable another 16 million households to be able to apply for a trip to Japan. This is 10 times the amount of tourist visas that were available before the new regulations. Up to now, Japan had strict regulations regarding visitors from their neighbor to the west; only allowing wealthy Chinese with high annual incomes to travel to Japan. The massive influx of Chinese travelers will hopefully result in a jump in income for many local shopping centers in Japan.

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In recent news, the world’s second largest retailer, Carrefour, has elected to invest further in its international investment.  Known for stringent regulations in the retail industry, India has traditionally protected the smaller, independent markets and local communities that run them. Carrefour’s entrance provides a great case study of the importance of understanding the international market where a firm expands. Lets take a brief look at the conditions in India that Carrefour became familiar with before “cracking the code."

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There are a few key observations that many have noticed about consumers in this new economy:

  • Shoppers are less impulsive, more needs-based

Some say the recession made a correction in consumer behavior especially in the U.S. The means simply aren’t there for as much shopping on impulse. Those adjusting to changing consumer behavior are advised to in turn adjust their merchandise mix and price points accordingly.

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It's time for our readership to be rewarded with yet another blog series! This week's series will be focusing on contemporary issues in the retail industry  The topcs we'll be covering include an overview of the top global firms in the retail business, a look at the ever-so-fashionable fashion industry, consumers, and last-but-not-least, purchasing behavior, and how consumers are shopping in new, different ways.

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A couple of years ago, customers were delighted because they were able to order products online from their living rooms. It is easy to compare prices and products online using different websites.
 
Now, the way we shop is changing once again. Companies are not waiting for shoppers to find them; instead they are approaching people online using social media such as facebook and twitter. Imagine just making a post whether to buy a new car or not, and an offer to test drive a car is sent to you in your mail box. This is one way GM is trying to gain more customers.

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Luxury brand sales have been hit especially hard by this recession. Since people are so worried about paying their bills, that in turn makes expensive jewelry and high end hand bags seem frivolous and unnecessary. Luckily, some high end brands have had success internationally.

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Some people say Wal-Mart, others say Carrefour, but Iran is saying Hyperstar. Hyperstar, found in western Tehran, is Iran’s first large U.S.-style supermarket, financed by a businessman from the United Arab Emirates. It is becoming incredibly successful with an average of 15,000 customers a day! Shoppers consist of mainly middle-class residents who show an increasing interest in shopping and traveling.

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It’s that time of year again! All over the world workers are bustling around, working hard to prepare for the upcoming holiday season. Online retailers are rushing to get everything in order for the big day – “Cyber Monday”. This is the first Monday in December and also the most popular day for online shopping. This year, expectations are high and hopefully, so will be sales.

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As it gets colder outside and we head into turtleneck and snow pant season, it’s a good time to start thinking about what you will get your loved ones for the holidays. Many retailers are preparing for the rush of shoppers, but the suffering economy is kind of raining on their parade. The economic downturn is affecting people all over the globe. In Mongolia, factory workers were ready for the demand of their stylish and cozy cashmere sweaters, but are finding that the demand is not what it used to be.

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Many people in the international community have perhaps visited or at least heard of Adbusters.org, the Canadian anti-consumerist activist organization. I remember browsing through the site a couple years ago and watching a few videos, laughing a little bit, and happily forgetting that it existed. Recently, the self proclaimed “journal of the mental environment” and I crossed paths again when a friend of mine received an online invitation to participate in Buy Nothing Day, an international campaign supported by Adbusters in which participants refrain from spending money on absolutely anything on November 27th or 28th (depending on location) in order to create “a chain reaction of refusal against consumer capitalism … a sudden, unexpected moment of truth … the first ever global revolution.” Participating countries include Denmark, France, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

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Whether it’s a trip to the mall to buy new clothes, to the supermarket for groceries, or to the drug store for cough drops, nearly every citizen in the world is an active participant in the monster industry known as retail. As the holiday season comes upon us, stores begin preparing for what, for many of them, is the crème-de-la-crème of the fiscal year, and a large chunk of their yearly profits. Despite a raise in sales from last year, the outlook for the retail industry is dim. An article by VOA News elaborates on this. Everything isn’t all gloom-and-doom, though. There is hope on the horizon for retailers.

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A recent episode of the Oprah Winfrey show highlighted Time Magazine’s 2008 Invention of the Year: 23andMe, a Google-backed startup introducing a retail DNA test. The available-for-purchase personal test provides information on health & traits as well as ancestry, for the user to “see your genes in a whole new light.”

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In my mind, the Disney brand conjures images of children’s characters and animated movies.  Of course there is more to the brand than nostalgia but the company is looking to expand their reach even farther with high-end retail.  A New York Times article, “Disney, by Design,” author Brooks Barnes, discusses the goal of Disney to become a “lifestyle brand.”