It’s the time of year when retail gets brought into the forefront of the national consciousness. Today’s episode of the MarketScale Retail Podcast tackles some of the big issues facing the industry: returns, diversification, and employee management.

Three thought leaders from the industry join this week’s episode to share their expertise on these topics.

How Retailers Are Beating the Post-Holiday Return Hangover

 Host: Shelby Skrhak

You’ve heard about the dangers of drinking and Amazon shopping, right? That hazy feeling the next morning when you remember ordering something, but forget about it until it shows up on your doorstep courtesy of free two-day shipping. But, why did I order this, again?

With that buyers remorse, so begins the return journey of a package. There are plenty of reasons why customers return merchandise, but retailers know there’s no busier time for returns than post holiday. Eric Moriarty, Vice President of California-based B Stock Solutions, says returns are a $400 billion dollar problem.

“What we do is provide a solution to capture a higher price on that return inventory,” Moriarty says.

Walmart’s Art.com Acquisition is More About Marketshare than Art

 Host: Maggie Shein

Walmart’s recent acquisition of online creative site Art.com is hardly the retail giant’s first foray in the online retail world. The company has made many strategic online retail acquisitions over the past few years and Gene Munster, co-founder and managing partner of research-driven venture capital firm Loup Ventures, says it won’t be the last. Munster sits down with Marketscale to discuss Walmart’s acquisitions strategy, its competition with Amazon, and what he thinks we can expect to see going forward.

To Combat Employee Disengagement, Borrow This Tactic From Marketing

 Host: Shelby Skrhak

Are your employees on auto-pilot? In the retail industry, experts call it retail hypnonsis, where sales associates fall into routines of average customer service and fail to meaningfully engage with customers.

That’s a problem when so much of the sales associates job is being automated by AI, but there’s an antidote that is borrowed from marketing. Retail marketing expert Ryan MacInnis says the smart companies focus on internal marketing, and make their employees stewards of the company brand.

“The human approach is not the transaction but the experience,” MacInnis tells Marketscale. “At the end of the day it’s hard to beat a great sales associate.”

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