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Around the Web: American Production, The Personalization Effect and Demand-Driven Retail

This week’s headlines focused on how shifts in consumer tastes demand changes in sourcing including bringing it closer to home, developing more customized collections and making it more responsive to what shoppers want now.

For retail workers concerned about the great automation takeover, e-commerce could be the light at the end of the tunnel. The Dallas Morning News shared how digital retail growth is leading to more job opportunities and better pay for retail workers nationwide, due to companies, like Amazon, that are opening fulfillment centers and hiring employees to operate software and handle physical inventory.

(Related on SJ: February US Job Growth Strong, but Retail Employment Shrinks)

WeChat could be the new hub for China’s online luxury market. The Wall Street Journal noted how WeChat’s parent company, Tencent Holdings Ltd., is using the social media network as a digital marketplace for top luxury brands, including Burberry and Longchamp. This business shift could be a threat to Alibaba Group and other e-commerce companies that are trying to increase the nation’s interest in luxury goods.

(Related on SJ: Bain: Luxury Market Set to Rally on China Recovery)

Innovations, including mass customization, are shaking up the future of fashion. The Washington Post visited Boston-based clothing retailer, Ministry of Supply, and talked about how its 3-D knitting machine could majorly disrupt the mass-production apparel model of retail. Unlike standardized stores, Ministry of Supply is making personalized garments and enabling consumers to take part in the apparel manufacturing process.

(Related on SJ: Analyst’s Take: How J. Crew & Yoplait Became Dinosaurs)

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It’s the end of a supply-driven era as we know it. Loose Threads explained how many merchandise-centric brands, like J. Crew, are on their last limb because of the shift to a more demand-focused retail scene. Emerging technology and the ability of consumers to access millions of products on the internet have led many retailers to generate faster lead times and decentralize their operations.

(Related on SJ: J. Crew to Get Cheaper as Drexler Admits to Missing the Mark)

Relocating manufacturing to the U.S. comes with a hefty price tag. According to Fox Business, companies that shifted to domestic production, including hat tycoon Kangol, are experiencing higher labor costs and less profit. Although AAFA data indicates that U.S. apparel production has increased by 50 percent over the past seven years, it could take some time for clothing companies to benefit from “Made in America” initiatives.

(Related on SJ: Logistics: The Chain That Binds for Small Businesses)

E-commerce may be to blame for vacant retail spaces, but The Real Deal showed a different perspective. Retail real estate experts spoke with the news outlet about how brands must integrate their brick-and-mortar stores and online presence to stay afloat. They also noted how the uptick in e-commerce could lead to more shopping centers focused on experiences, personalized in-store services and convenience-centered branding campaigns.

(Related on SJ: Fitch: Mixed Use is the Future of Retail)

Walmart could be stealing the spotlight from Amazon in the e-commerce space. The Seattle Times reported how the retailer is making progress with its online presence, including a 63 percent increase in sales for the first quarter. Also a new shipping strategy and core focus on essential products pits the company head to head with Amazon.

(Related on SJ: Financial Roundup: Walmart E-Commerce Up, Alibaba Revenue Spikes, L Brands Sales Slump)