From robots at Walmart to how Burger King is sending customers to McDonald's -- these are the top stories we're reading this week in the world of commerce, retail, and technology.

Dining Key to Brick-and-Mortar Success?
We know the world of retail is changing drastically. But, just what are the current trends that are impacting how, when, and where American consumers shop? There's some evidence from that we can learn a lot about how retail is transforming and being reshaped by the current brick-and-mortar vacancies that are in neighborhoods around New York. And, one writer believes the answer to that question is in the businesses that are able to solve for the Amazon delivery problem. As e-commerce stores have moved from entertainment and electronics into clothing and pharmacy staples, the biggest winner has been the one thing you definitely can’t get from a warehouse: a hot meal—or an iced coffee. “Food & Beverage” has been the largest category of new retail leases for the past three years in New York City, according to data shared with me by Cushman & Wakefield. “Fast casual” restaurants that combine quick service with high-quality ingredients, like Sweetgreen and Chipotle, have grown by 105 percent in the past 10 years.
Read more via: The Atlantic

Ikea Going Smaller, Urban
Ikea is meticulous about where future stores will open. For their 50th retail warehouse in Norfolk, VA, the company was evaluating the location for more than two years. Part of the appeal for them there was seeing the number of shoppers, topping more than 35,000, who were traveling from the Norfolk area to Woodbridge (in Northern Virginia) or even Charlotte in neighboring North Carolina. But, with recent news about Ikea cutting staff and closing two stores in North America, it appears their next strategy is developing small-format stores that can more quickly be seeded in urban locations. Some of these smaller locations already exist in Europe.
Read more via: Bloomberg

Burger King Trolls McDonald's for App Installs
What would you do for a one-penny burger? Well, Burger King, ever the expert troller and social media powerhouse, is betting that you'll not only pay a cent for a Burger King burger, but that you'll head to the nearest McDonald's to do it.
Find neighborhood McD's + download the app and get your reward. Read more about this next-level trolling and app strategy via: Business Insider

Changing World of Digital Publishing
If you're a digital native brand, or even a retailer who has scaled content publishing efforts of your own, chances are you've invested in publishing on Facebook. In the last five years, it's become almost a requirement as the Facebook Feed has changed the way people find and read content, and it's changed the way some publishers do business. In fact, never has it been easier for a new entrant to the space been able to ramp up publishing efforts and turn into a powerful publishing force because of the Facebook model. But, it turns out there are consequences when you factor in things like ad spend, audience, and the vaunted and much-debated read and watch metrics.
Read the very fascinating thread from Matthew Ball, formerly head of strategy at Amazon. H/T to It's 2pm for the Twitter link.

Key To Success: Reading
When Warren Buffet was once asked the key to his success, he pointed to a stack of books and said, "Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…" Sounds like quite the challenge, but as one writer suggests, we just have to overcome our addiction of the other things that occupy too much of our time, from social media surfing to television viewing. When you look at the numbers of how long we spend in front of screens and social media, it's pretty eye-opening.
Read more via: Quartz

YouTube's $22 Million Dollar Kid
"Unboxing" is the name for the wildly popular practice of opening merchandise and products on video. One first-grader is making tremendous amounts of money and is currently YouTube's highest earner, besting musicians and other celebs. It's interesting that a child is doing so well in the unboxing world when you consider his peers are not even close to buyer, but it's the aspirational joy that comes from the process that is key. As founder/CEO of Bottle Rocket Management and agent to many “unboxers,” Chas Lacaillade, puts it: “Unboxing provides the proxy for actually experiencing the joy of receiving and opening something you really desire.”
Read more: BBC (H/T: Hustle Daily)

Brands That Owned The Year
What brands owned 2018 and what key lessons can we learn from their performances?
Read more: Morning Consultant

Retail Best of 2018
This year has been one of many changes. From brands undergoing complete overhauls, or retailers undergoing grand transformation. From Target to Macy's, here's a list of the top brands for this year.
Read more via: Retail Dive

Influencers Pay More At PayLess
Would you pay $600 for a pair of shoes? Well, if you were an Instagram-ready fashion influencer, you may. A series of videos released by the retailer showed their guests waxing lyrical over the "sophisticated" footwear, which they could tell was "made with high-quality materials." What do you venture to guess they paid for shoes ranging from $19.99 to $39.99? Well, some plunked down $200 to $600.
Read more via: Business Insider

Robot Starts Work At Walmart
The world’s largest retailer is rolling out 360 autonomous floor-scrubbing robots in some of its stores in the U.S. by the end of the January, it said in a joint statement with Brain Corp., which makes the machines. The autonomous janitors can clean floors on their own even when customers are around, according to the San Diego-based startup.
Read more via: Bloomberg