New Employee Perk – Superhuman Strength!

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: Lowe’s is testing robotic exoskeletons to arm its store workers with superhuman strength; data scientists are anticipated to be more in demand as companies increase investments in predictive analytics; and according to a recent study, creating an emotional connection is key to reaching millennial consumers.

Empowering store workers with superhuman strength

An exoskeleton suit that gives store workers superhuman strength is just one of the inventions coming out of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, in partnership with Virginia Tech university. In Fortune’s Lowe’s Goes High on Innovation, Phil Wahba looks at how the robotic suit is designed to give store workers bodybuilder strength, and increase workers’ productivity. The exoskeleton is one of many tech advancements the retailer is exploring to boost store operations and customer experience.

The rise of the data scientist

Understanding consumer behavior, and how that drives category sales, is top of mind for category management professionals. Spend Matters’ Sydney Lazarus reports that Predictive Analytics Named Top Priority in New Survey of Category Managers. The article details the latest findings of JDA’s Voice of the Category Manager survey. Investments in predictive analytics technology, along with hiring data scientists, are ways in which companies can better understand their target customer segments and ensure that they are meeting the needs of those highly valuable customers.

Reaching the elusive millennial consumer

The secret’s out: creating an emotional connection is key to reaching millennial consumers, according to a recent study by the Fashion Institute of Technology. The study found that millennial consumers are drawn to brands that are more humanized and transparent, with a focus on experience and community instead of just quality. The Retail DIVE article, Millennials seek emotional connections before purchasing, reported by Cara Salpini, highlights insights from the research, as well as recommendations for retailers looking to cater to the millennial market.

How Amazon’s stake in grocery could squeeze big food brands’ profits

Amazon has made a significant play for the grocery sector, with the recent announcement of its acquisition of Whole Foods Market. The Wall Street Journal’s Annie Gasparro and Laura Stevens look at how this acquisition will impact packaged-food companies in their article, Amazon’s Grocery Ambitions Spell Trouble for Big Food Brands. Amazon’s history of driving down prices and development of its private-label brand has the potential to further cut into food brands’ profits, which are already being squeezed by shifting consumer preferences for fresh and natural foods, as well as increased competition from store brands and upstarts.

The rising risk of cyberattacks

Cyberattacks continue to make headlines, as many major companies have been impacted by a ransomware attack that has spread among corporations in more than 65 countries this week. In FedEx unit’s delivery service slowed by cyberattack, USA Today’s Roger Yu reports on the “information system virus” that affected FedEx’s Dutch unit, TNT Express. This is the second cyberattack in two months for the leading logistics provider, as it was one of the many companies affected by a global ransomware attack in May.

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