All the news that’s fit to print from the frontlines of retail technology

Subscription summits, bath stores that can’t keep up, and a new Google app are just some of the biggest trends in retail news lately.

Boxed In

In New Orleans last month, Bulu Inc. partnered with Clorox, Crayola, and Scotts Miracle Grow to discuss why big brands are — or should be — launching subscription boxes. The team led the closing panel at SubSummit, a three-day conference on the subscription industry. They discussed how subscription boxes are an influential innovation and e-commerce tool for brands that used to rely on brick-and-mortar stores, solidifying the idea that personalized sub services aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

[Yahoo Finance]

Express Checkout

Google announced that it’s revamping its Shopping feature to introduce a universal cart that will stay open as consumers browse Search, Shopping, Images, and YouTube. Google Express, the tech giant’s current delivery service, will merge with Shopping to produce a new app that allows Googlers to browse different Google-owned pages, compare and discuss prices, and let them seamlessly check out using their Google account at the end of their experience. Naturally, Google plans to track searches and views into even more specific data to convert clicks into purchases.


Shaving Down the Competition

Three years ago, Unilever bought famed shaving industry disruptor Dollar Shave Club. Last month, Schick’s parent company, Edgewell, followed suit by acquiring Harry’s, another highly successful shaving startup.

“It’s very, very hard to enter the razor business,” said Davis Pakman, a VC at Venrock Partners who invested in Dollar Shave Club during its early days. “If you try, you will be sued for 3 to 5 years with a battery of patents. All the razor guys have tons of patents.”

So far, the transactions seem to benefit both the purchaser and the purchased, as razor giants have been able to monitor the competition without damaging the integrity of the startups’ positioning. In Dollar Shave Club’s instance, for example, management stayed the same and the company continues to run itself.


Subscription boxes are an influential innovation and e-commerce tool for brands that used to rely on brick-and-mortar stores.


Vitamin subscriptions are one of the latest trends in the industry, and the question for many consumers isn’t “Should I order a vitamin subscription?” as much as, “Which vitamin subscription is right for me?” CNet offers a guide to the companies competing to offer varying degrees of personalization, pill vs. powder vs. even gummy form, and different levels of professional support. They all boast clean, aesthetically pleasing packaging, and monthly box-to-body delivery. Wellness is a highly personal, often vulnerable issue, and vitamin subscription companies have tapped into a prime audience of consumers who are used to the subscription model and prioritize self-care. Individualized self-care? Even better.


Beyond the Bed & Bath

Bed Bath & Beyond’s top officials got the boot after the company was unable to keep up with changing retail technology. Many blamed Amazon’s easy-to-purchase, delivered-in-no-time model for the overhaul, but former employees say the company was simply stuck in the past. Its former leadership was known for saying “We’re not in a rush to make mistakes,” a philosophy that may have served them well before retail boomed online, but left them out of the innovative retail experiences like same day shipping and BOPIS that their competitors were embracing. However, the company is hopeful that brand loyalty and a new leadership’s rush to catch up will place them among the big players in no time.