Nearly a year after announcing a revitalization effort, Starbucks is heating up once again. It has been testing large format (we’re talking 35,000 sqft) roasteries as well as smaller mobile pick-up stores to differentiate itself from competitors such as Blue Bottle in the US and Luckin Coffee in China. These new stores are just the beginning as it plans to open 600 stores in the US and 1,400 stores abroad in FY 2020. Interestingly, 600 is the number of stores Starbucks shuttered (laying off 12,000 employees) in the 2008 recession. With mounting economic uncertainty, the brand should proceed with caution and consider slowing down to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.

Retail-as-a-Service company b8ta recently closed its Series C funding round and simultaneously announced a new flagship product: Ark Marketplace. The new technology platform will allow retailers and landlords to operate their own RaaS concepts, providing them with hardware and software for onboarding, POS and analytics. Ark Marketplace makes sense given how commoditized the real estate service space is becoming (see: Appear Here, Storefront and Uppercase). Leaning into a technology platform that provides hardware and software means b8ta won’t be just another glorified landlord and puts more onus on the emerging brands to operate their stores themselves, which will benefit both b8ta and the brands in the long run.

When you combine the buzzwords “experiential retail” and “sustainability” you get Nike Live, the new concept shop from its parent brand, which just opened two new locations. The two new Nike Live stores opened in Long Beach and Tokyo and feature open seating areas, a sneaker bar and handwritten notes from store Athletes (a.k.a. Nike sales associates). On the sustainability front, Nike Live features mannequins made of ground-up sneakers and fitting room curtains made from recycled fabric scraps. Nike seems to be learning from its first Nike Live location (opened on Melrose in 2018). It has smartly replaced the many touchscreens with handwritten notes and has adjusted the product assortment to include a mix of basics and more fashion items. Nike is doing the right thing by taking it slow and testing. Other retailers would do well to take note (see: Starbucks).

Minimalist furniture brand Floyd announced its making a mattress to go with its wildly popular low slung platform bed. While we could comment all day on how crowded the mattress space is becoming, what’s more interesting is the fact that Floyd will be among the direct-to-consumer brands included on Brooklinen’s new Spaces marketplace, selling its signature bed frames on the bedding brand’s platform. This is perfectly harmonious as long as Floyd sticks to furniture and mattresses. However, as natural progressions go, we wonder how long it will take them to move into bedding and other home goods, becoming a direct competitor of Brooklinen. It will be interesting to see the evolution of these partnerships as niche brands like Floyd are pushed to expand their product offerings.