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Express Checkout #50 - the latest in CPG, Retail, and eComm

Commerce and CPG news from the week of 11/13/2023

Hello hello!

Issue #50! Almost a full year of doing Express Checkout. Insane. I appreciate you all!

I’m also pumped to say that my friend Emmy and I launchd a new site, called Shops Around The Corner! (Shout out to Andrew Bly for the amazing branding work, check out his portfolio here)

Shops Around the Corner is an online platform dedicated to celebrating and promoting independently owned shops, showcasing the charm and uniqueness of these small businesses.

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I also have some events coming up, check them out here 👇

🍿 Please join me at NOSH Live, a 2-day event for the natural food industry, on Nov. 30 + Dec. 1 in Marina del Rey, CA. My friends at NOSH pulled some strings, and got me a discount to save $500 per ticket. I hope to see you there!

(If you’re reading this email in gmail it might get clipped! You can always view full issues here.)

🔥 Big News - 10 items or less 🔥

  • I can’t believe it’s back - Circuit City announces Series A funding round and strategic partnerships called "Powered by Circuit City" which will integrate CC brand with other platforms, both online and in-store. (source)

  • Layoffs are back

    • Pet goods retailer Chewy has laid off over 200+ employees, including those in its HQ in Plantation, Florida, and other sites. (source)

    • Amazon will cut "several hundred" positions in its Alexa unit in the U.S., Canada, and India. The decision is part of the company's efforts to realign its priorities and focus on generative AI. (source)

  • The Body Shop acquired - AURELIUS has acquired The Body Shop from Natura & Co valued at $280 million, including an earn-out of $120 million. (source)

  • Sometimes money isn’t enough - Amazon aggregator Thrasio is reportedly preparing for bankruptcy. For those unaware, Thrasio raised $3.4 billion for those unaware and acquired around 500 businesses. (source)

  • Modernizing brand discovery - Instacart has announced new discovery tools, including digital sell sheets and Brand Explorer, to help emerging brands showcase their products to retailers. The sell sheets allow brands to easily showcase their product catalog to Instacart's network of retail banners, while Brand Explorer enables retailers to search and connect with innovative emerging brands. (source)

🗞️ News from the week (11/13/23 - 11/19/23)

🛍 Retail

  • Brands flock to DC’s Georgtown

    • Skims, the apparel brand founded by Kim Kardashian, plans to open a store in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood. The brand aims to occupy a 3,500-square-foot space at 3300 M Street NW. (source)

    • Athleisure brand Vuori has opened its 48th store in D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood, with three more stores set to open this month. (source)

  • Weis Markets has partnered with Amazon to offer same-day grocery delivery in select cities across New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. (source)

🛒 CPG & Consumer Goods

  • Phreshly, an Atlanta-based premium cocktail brand (and my good friend’s brand), has recently relaunched. They sell two products, Bay Lemonade and G’iddem, which are available on its website and in select retail stores. Seriously this is one of my favorite RTD cocktails on the market. Period! (source)

  • Cookware brand Caraway has expanded its partnership with The Container Store, making its full assortment of pots, pans, and bakeware available in about 80 locations. Caraway is one of several DTC brands that have signed distribution deals with The Container Store lately. (source)

  • Whirlpool Corporation has unveiled a new insulation technology. The SlimTech™ insulation reduces wall thickness by up to 66%, providing up to 25% more capacity. It also offers benefits such as improved energy efficiency, faster cooling, customizable interiors, and quieter operation. (source)

    • I for one welcome updated refrigerated tech!

  • Famous Twitch streamer Pokimane has launched a new snack food company called Myna Snacks. The first product is called the Midnight Mini Cookies, which aims to offer a healthier and tastier snacking option for gamers. (source)

  • Former Dermstore buyer Shreya Aggarwal has launched a functional candle brand called Caftari. (source)

  • The FDA has issued a recall for 28 eye drop products sold at CVS, Rite Aid, Target, and Walmart. (source)

  • Wicked Kitchen, a plant-based food brand, has expanded its line of frozen entrees with two new offerings: Hearty Rigatoni Veg Bolognese and Rockin' Chili Mac. (source)

  • Singapore-based plant-based meat brand TiNDLE Foods is launching its vegan chicken range in US grocery stores, marking its retail debut in the country. (source)

💻️ eCommerce

  • Simon Mall is launching a new gift shopping experience in New York and Los Angeles that features a team of free personal shoppers supported by Simon's new "HolidAI" gift finding tool, which is powered by ChatGPT connected to a retailer-specific gift database. (source)

🏭 Supply Chain

  • New York is suing PepsiCo over its single-use plastic packaging that is polluting the Buffalo River. The state argues that PepsiCo misled the public about its recycling efforts and failed to warn consumers about the risks of plastic packaging. This could have implications for other companies who also generate high amounts of plastic waste. (source)

  • Flexport is opening a fulfillment center in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, by mid-January, offering omnichannel services including e-commerce fulfillment and inbound cross docking. (source)

  • The USPS has announced new competitive prices for 2024. USPS Ground Advantage offers affordable shipping with 2-5 day delivery, $100 insurance, and free pickup. The prices for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express will also increase. (source)

  • UPS has unveiled its Supply Chain Symphony platform, which integrates multiple services into one platform, providing real-time visibility and the ability to generate performance reports. (source)

  • Amazon has introduced a new mobile robot called Titan, designed to handle heavy lifting in its fulfillment centers. Titan can lift up to 2,500 pounds. The first deployment of Titan is at Amazon's SAT1 fulfillment center in San Antonio, Texas. Amazon has deployed over 750,000 robots globally. (source)

  • Standard AI has introduced its Zone Monitoring program, which uses cameras and computer vision technology to monitor for empty shelves and potential theft. By comparing sales data with items taken off the shelves, the program helps identify possible shrink. (source)

  • Flow Beverage Corp. has entered into a manufacturing agreement with BeatBox Beverages, where Flow will manufacture and package BeatBox's line of Party Punch alcoholic beverages. (Source)

💸 Funding news

  • The Cumulus Coffee Company has secured $20.3M in seed funding led by Valor Siren Ventures and Valor Equity Partners, with participation from investors including Maveron, Howard Schultz (yes, the Starbucks founder), Linden Ventures, Carter Reum, and Ryan Tedder. They have a cold brew machine for making, you guessed it, cold brew at home. (source)

  • Siena AI has raised $4.7 million in seed funding from investors including Sierra Ventures, Pari Passu Ventures, Spacestation Investments, Village Global, The Council, and OpenSky Ventures. They aim to develop an AI customer service agent with empathetic capabilities, featuring AI Personas, the ability to handle multiple tasks in one interaction, and a cognitive reasoning-based engine. (source)

  • Manufacturing platform Keychain has raised $18 million in a seed round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. Keychain aims to use AI to help CPG companies find the right manufacturing partners, streamlining the process and unlocking innovation in product development. (source)

  • Trax, a provider of image recognition solutions for brick-and-mortar retail, has raised $50 million in financing from Deutsche Bank Private Credit & Infrastructure. (source)

  • Surya has acquired the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams brand, with plans to relaunch as a wholesale and trade resource in 2024. The acquisition includes intellectual property, inventory, and manufacturing equipment, but not retail leases. (source)

  • Minneapolis-based clean hair care brand Odele has secured a minority investment from Stride Consumer Partners, a growth-equity investment firm. (source)

  • UK chocolate company Hotel Chocolat Group has been acquired by Mars Group. (source)

  • Morgan Stanley has backed Huel, a supplier of plant-based food powders and meal-replacement drinks, as part of its 1GT carbon-reduction strategy. (source)

🧐 Interesting reads

💡 Data, reports, and trends

😋 Brands and things I’ve tried this week

This week I tried Thirsty Dumplings, a new vegan-friendly dumpling kit that makes around 36 dumplings. It includes everything you need and is absolutely delicious.

Thanks for reading! If you have any suggestions, feedback, or stories I missed, let me know!

Nate :)

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