For Retailers, Secondhand Clothes Are a Threat – and An Opportunity

Friday in 5 – interesting news bits from around the supply chain horn, served up in one spot to keep you up to date.

This week: Secondhand clothing stores create a challenge for off-price retailers; Albertsons plans to roll out Plated meal kits at many stores; retailers are getting more aggressive in tracking customer returns; manufacturing jobs see strong growth; and SoftBank and Alibaba bet big on e-commerce.

Secondhand Clothes Are a Threat – and An Opportunity

Despite challenges in brick-and-mortar retail, off-price retailers have seen trends moving in their favor. Consumers want more products, more brands are available for sale in stores and the future looks good. But secondhand stores could provide a challenge, as online businesses like ThredUp, TheRealReal, Poshmark and more are attracting consumers from other channels. How will retailers respond?

Albertsons to Roll Out Plated Meal Kits at Hundreds of Stores

Albertsons announced plans on Thursday to roll out its Plated meal kits to hundreds of its stores this year, after acquiring Plated last summer. The meal kits will also be made available through Instacart delivery for same-day online ordering and home delivery. Plated co-founder and CEO Josh Hix said this type of unified commerce experience was the driving force behind last year’s deal. The grocery store chain already offers Plated meals in 20 Safeway stores in Northern California and 20 Jewel-Osco stores in the Chicago area.

Stores Get More Aggressive in Tracking Customer Returns

More customers are learning that the stores they shop use a third-party service, Retail Equation, to monitor their behavior and limit the number of returns they can make – leading to a rash of complaints on Facebook, Yelp and other online forums. The same service is used by a variety of other retailers, some of whom only penalize shoppers if they bring back merchandise without a receipt – but others also add a black mark to a customer’s record if they bring items back with a receipt. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Retail Equation develops a “risk score” on each customer based on their shopping behavior, which can be used to issue warnings and denials for returns.

Manufacturing Industry Has Strongest Jobs Increase in Three Years

Hiring at private U.S. employers grew more than expected in March as the manufacturing industry showed the strongest increase in more than three years. The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. firms added 241,000 workers in March as a tight labor market continues to tighten. The job growth crossed industry lines, led by construction, professional business services and trade, transportation and utilities. In addition, the February jobs figure was revised up to 246,000 from 235,000.

SoftBank, Alibaba to Invest $445 Million in Paytm E-Commerce

SoftBank Group is investing $400 million in India’s Paytm E-Commerce in a funding round that will value the online retailer at roughly $1.9 billion, a regulatory filing showed on Monday. Alibaba, an existing investor, is putting in $45 million, while SoftBank – which is among major investors in India’s fast-growing e-commerce sector and already owns a stake in Paytm’s parent – confirmed investing in Paytm Mall, the brand name under which Paytm E-Commerce operates an online marketplace.

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