Here's the stories we're reading about the world of commerce, retail and work this week:

πŸš€ Amazon = $1,000,000,000,000
πŸ€– 7 Forces Changing Way We Work
πŸ›’ New Life For Retail
πŸ‹πŸ½ Four Words To Competitive Advantage
πŸ“ˆ Dollar General Sales Surge
🐻 There's Nothing Like A Big Bear Hug
😍 Do Your Customers Love Their Company?
πŸ’₯ Bon-Ton Collapse in Slow-Motion

News ⚑️

πŸš€ Amazon Now Worth 1,000,000,000,000
One million billiontrillion dollars.

1, πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°,πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°,πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°,πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°

Fresh on the heels of Apple's insanely high, record-breaking valuation -- another "A" company has followed suit. Just a few hours ago, news outlets began reporting that Seattle's Amazon is now worth over one trillion dollars (Try saying it out loud like Dr. Evil for full effect).

For those counting at home, that's 13 digits, 12 zeroes. Twelve.

According to CNN, contrast Amazon with the brick and mortar sector, where 90% of American retail spending still takes place. In order to get to a $1 trillion market cap, you'd have to add up the valuations of the 14 largest big box retailers ranked by 2017 revenues, from Walmart (WMT) to Autonation (AN).

πŸ’°Read more about how Amazon's valuation got to where it is today in CNN Money.

πŸ€– 7 Disruptors Impacting Way We Work
The way we work is forever changing. Fast.

It's no longer a question of when, but how. This week, research from Deloitte shows that the half-life of a skill has plunged from 30 years to 6 years. What this means is that the things we used to learn in school that would prepare us for three decades of work is no longer viable. We can no longer be expected to learn how to do at our jobs.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, reskilling is the top priority for organizations looking at their future workforce strategy. And with working lives getting longer, reskilling is important for all workers, not just the young.

Individuals, companies, and educational institutions must find collective and elegant solutions that work for everyone and must push for smart ways to promote fairness and progressive thinking at work.

The World Economic Forum lists 7 disruptors that workers will need to keep an eye on:

πŸ“± Ubiquitous technology

🌊 Wave of data

πŸ‘­ Generational change, diversity

πŸ›‘ Change in career path

πŸ€– Cognitive advances, AI, advanced computing, robotics

βš™οΈ Automation

🀝 Rise in contingent work

πŸ‘€ Read more about how our work is changing, and how reskilling will impact the future in the World Economic Forum.

πŸ›’ New Life For Retail
Today, The New York Times is reporting what we've been saying for the last year: Retail is not dead.

"Even as malls close and stores go bankrupt, it may be β€œtoo early to declare the death of retail,” the Times reported.

Last year, record numbers of stores closed from Madison Avenue to Rodeo Drive. But, it appears that the carnage that impacted nearly every vertical of the retail world, bottomed out last year and is back on the rise.

Americans are spending more and more on retail and the numbers are bearing out through hiring records, too.

According to the National Retail Federation, 50,000 jobs are being added to the retail industry every month since February.

The biggest winners in the retail game appear to be those that have invested on digital and e-commerce -- satisfying the quest of continued consumer buying confidence by meeting them when and where they want. And the digital-first strategies are paying off -- stores that haven't quite seen the writing on the wall are going bankrupt or on the verge of closing.

πŸ“–Read more at The New York Times.

The Big Idea πŸ€”

Microsoft Subcontractors To Get Paid Parental Leave
Only 13 percent of private-sector workers in the U.S. get paid parental leave. As Microsoft improves its own benefits, the company has also been trying to raise the standards for its subcontractors. In 2014, some of those workers unionized and began pressuring Microsoft to make their employer provide paid leave and other benefits.

ℹ️ Read more in Bloomberg.

πŸ™ŒπŸ» Four Words = Instant Competitive Advantage
Four simple words.

"How am I wrong?"

Curiosity, especially in one's personal endeavors, is an important element to our success. The origins and facets of creativity have been discussed and studied for decades. But, rarely do we espouse the importance of taking time each day to ask ourselves, how are we incorrect, and what that can do to improve our work.

According to a recent article, there's at least three big benefits:

  1. Remain mentally focused and sharp

  2. Earn instant respect from colleagues

  3. Make a bigger impact.

We regard luminaries like Da Vinci and Edison as creative visionaries who were way beyond their times. But, by simply asking yourself these four words each day, you'll have the ability to look at your professional growth and evolution in a new way.

πŸ“– Read more about asking "how I am wrong" can help take your work to new levels in Inc. Magazine.

πŸ’΅ Dollar General Sales Surge

Dollar General on Thursday said second quarter net sales rose 10.6% to $6.4 billion, up from $5.8 billion in the year-ago quarter, thanks to both new store and same-store sales, which rose 3.7%, and were modestly offset by the impact of store closures.

The comps rise was driven by increases in traffic and average transaction amount, with particular strength in consumables, seasonal and apparel categories, but partially offset by declines in home, according to a company press release. Net income in the quarter rose 6.3% to $407 million, from $295 million a year ago.

πŸ’°Read more about Dollar General's earnings at Retail Dive.

Heard From Around The Web πŸ’¬

🐻 There's Nothing Like A Big Bear Hug
If you're from Columbus, Ohio, you probably fondly remember Big Bear.

Known as the first self-service supermarket in the Midwest, Big Bear changed the way Ohioans shopped for food. Before the advent of the supermarket, tiny corner stores would serve your best interests and needs by fulfilling orders at counters. The founder of Big Bear sought to change that by opening large-scale shopping meccas and in the process, they became quite a significant player in the grocery space.

They also were known for their unique take on shopping. At times, they sold appliances and cosmetics. Pharmacies and counter dining were offered under one roof. Many stores became known for their incredibly intricate in-store displays -- some stacked almost two-stories tall, showcasing Del Monte canned goods and the "World's largest display of Wheaties."


In many small towns that had a Big Bear, it was the place where kids got their first job as grocery baggers or stockers. Dan Breech, one of Big Bear's past presidents, got his first job as a Big Bear bagger and rose through the ranks to the top. "I started off when I was in high school as a bagger carrying out groceries. I liked the business, liked what I was doing. I stayed in the business and left as the president and CEO of the company," Breech recalls.

πŸŽ₯ Watch the video about the history of one of Ohio's legendary smalltown grocers at Columbus Neighborhoods.

❀️ Do Your Employees Love Their Company?

It's crucial for today's hiring managers to understand what to look for as well as upper management to see how implementing even the smallest changes and simplest tactics can help to propel a brand culture to one that embraces employees and sets them up for success.

We recently talked with Jim Tincher, a journey mapper and founder of Minneapolis-based, Heart of the Customer. Jim founded his company to help brands increase customer engagement. He has led customer engagement initiatives at Best Buy, Gallup, and UnitedHealth Group. His customer journey maps help customers understand customer loyalty. He's also an active member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association(CXPA), serving as one of their CX experts, and provides advice to members worldwide.

In the webinar (the complete transcript which is published below) outlined three key points:

  1. How to hire employees who care
  2. How to maintain employee engagement
  3. Learn what a journey map is -- and why it's pivotal to your process
  4. Learn tactics to change your brand to embrace and hire engaged frontline employees.

πŸ‘€ Watch the webinar and read the full transcript of our webinar with CX expert, Jim Tincher.

πŸ’₯Bon-Ton Collapse in Slow-Motion
Indecision and lack of commitment to the evolving world of digital were the culprits in Bon-Ton's demise, according to an MIT-trained business expert.

Kay Plantes, a business model expert, author, and speaker lived for a time in Madison, Wisconsin and was able to keep closer tabs on the demise of the former retail giant. Lack of decisiveness was a big factor in their downfall For example, at one time the company couldn't decide where to plant it's headquarters: Milwaukee or Pennsylvania.

According to Plantes, there were some other misses the company did not execute on including:

  1. The company ignored omni-channel retailing. β€œ(Otherwise known) as reaching the customer where she wants to shop with the best experience possible. It is now the best practice in retail. Nordstrom is a great model β€” online sales, stores and a division of merchandise using Nordstrom Rack for value shoppers,” Plantes said.

  2. The company was indecisive on scale and tried to maintain all of its store name plates, including Bergner’s, Bon-Ton, Boston Store, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s and Younkers. β€œAs much as I miss Marshall Fields, Macy’s was smart to consolidate regional department store brands under one brand to capture synergies in marketing, operations and online channels. Maintaining so many brands as a second-tier competitor was foolish,” Plantes said.

  3. Bon-Ton failed to develop a niche. β€œIf the market consolidates, either lead, join or figure out a defensible niche. We had way too much retail even before Amazon entered with the lowest-cost business model. The company was too small to be a consolidator, but lacked the strong brands to be of highest value to the consolidators. They had to create a strong niche β€” as Duluth Trading has done, boutiques do or Nordstrom accomplished around stellar customer service and outstanding merchandising. Instead, they opted for the same old thing,” Plantes said.

πŸ’₯ Read more about Bon-Ton's collapse and lessons to be learned in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.