Leap’s Amish Tolia on the Smart Way to Operate Stores and Physical Retail Right Now

Elva Mankin

The rate of change has never been greater — or faster — for the footwear industry, with new challenges popping up every day in nearly all corners of the business, from navigating cash crunches and supply chain issues to understanding the latest technological advances. In its “Ask An Expert” series, FN asks industry leaders — all solutions-based providers — to take on some of the most timely topics.

Physical retail has been struggling for some time, with some observers even questioning whether the channel is dead. A new surge in DTC brands opening concept stores showed there was life in the model yet, but COVID-19 is now making the selling environment tougher than ever for titans and newcomers alike. Retailers are battling changing store restrictions and a wary consumer, turning store strategy into a balancing act of risk-taking and caution.

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Amish Tolia, co-founder and

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The Capital Note: Currency Clash

Elva Mankin

Welcome to the Capital Note, a newsletter (coming soon) about finance and economics. On the menu today: Dollar Dominance, Euro Strength, and Japan’s Phillips Curve.

Dollar Dominance in Hong Kong

The dollar’s recent decline has led to predictions that the U.S. will lose its global currency hegemony. With Treasury yields at all-time lows and massive fiscal deficits increasing the risk of inflation, some commentators predict that international trade and finance will shift to other currencies, such as the euro, yen, and renminbi, at the expense of the greenback. Never mind that dollar depreciation is, as I pointed out in July, an intentional outcome of the Federal Reserve’s liquidity measures.

In times of economic weakness, a strong dollar tightens credit conditions, making it harder for firms and households to stay solvent. We should be relieved that policymakers succeeded in opening up the spigots of liquidity during an unprecedented global shutdown.

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A back-to-school shopping season like no other has parents, retailers scrambling

Elva Mankin

MILWAUKEE – The back-to-school shopping season, second only to the holiday season in terms of consumer spending, has been thrown into uncertainty bordering on chaos as parents and retailers do their best to plan for what school will look like in the coming weeks.

Set against the backdrop of a highly contagious viral pandemic and the devastation it has woven across the U.S. economy, 2020’s back-to-school season is unlike any other.

“It’s the most challenging time in history for back to school,” said Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, a consumer consulting firm in New York City.

The back-to-school season is “a critical catalyst that the country needs for an economic comeback whether it’s Wisconsin, the Great Lakes region or anywhere across America,” Flickinger added.

Whether back to school ultimately serves as a jump-start to a pandemic-ravaged economy remains to be seen.

Fall flavor: Dunkin’ bringing

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Is the Future of E-Commerce Checkout No Checkout at All? This App Is Disrupting Online Payments

Elva Mankin

More consumers are shopping online than ever before, leading a number of companies to invest in the e-commerce experience, especially the checkout. But e-commerce solution Nate has a different approach to dealing with online shopping: to eliminate the consumer payment experience entirely.

“In today’s world, every bit of mental energy matters,” said Albert Saniger, founder of Nate. “We’ve built machines that fly us across the world and machines that allow us to stay connected to those we love, at the tap of a button. The technology is there. We thought to ourselves: Why not use it to replace the tiny day-to-day tedious tasks around shopping and saving or sharing the things we want to buy?”

The checkout solution marketplace is crowded, mostly by companies looking to help retailers make online payments more efficient. At Nate, the emphasis is on the consumer. The current release phase of Nate is free and

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These tech trends defined 2020 so far, according to 5 founders

Elva Mankin

2020 has been quite a year. Almost every industry and aspect of how we work, learn, and communicate was turned upside down. The need for fast tech solutions has brought about new trends and changes on a scale we’ve never seen before.

It’s agile, fast-moving tech startups that have been leading the way by developing new solutions and features to help us adjust to this new reality. But, as different parts of the world begin opening up again, which trends will stick? How will these experiences change and shape our lives for the better?

This year Techleap.nl kicked off its Rise program for up-and-coming Dutch scaleups, with the aim to help them continue maturing into the country’s next success stories.

We caught up with five entrepreneurs from the program’s first batch of cohorts to find out what new trends emerged in their industry and how they’ve used tech to navigate

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Trump’s TikTok and WeChat Ban Could Backfire Inside China

Elva Mankin

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/Getty

HONG KONG—As Donald Trump moves to ban transactions with WeChat and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, people in China are wondering if they’ll need to ditch their iPhones to keep their favorite app, and noting that the White House’s splinternet rhetoric is straight out of Beijing’s own playbook. 

Trump’s moves against ByteDance and Tencent’s WeChat strike at two tech companies deeply entrenched in China’s social life—and, in WeChat’s case, critical to the consumer reach of American companies inside China. 

ByteDance’s TikTok, the popular short video platform that in the past weeks was in the crosshairs of Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has been one of the most downloaded apps globally for two years—even though TikTok cannot be used in China legally due to its home country’s fractured internet governance policy.  And WeChat, a “super app” that blends messaging, social network

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Women say they will fight sexism, ‘ugly’ attacks on Harris

Elva Mankin

CHICAGO (AP) — In the weeks before Joe Biden named Sen. Kamala Harris his running mate, women’s groups were readying a campaign of their own: shutting down sexist coverage and disinformation about a vice presidential nominee they say is headed for months of false smears and “brutal” attacks from internet haters.

The groups put the media on notice in recent days that they will call out bias — one campaign is dubbed “We Have Her Back” — and established a “war room” to refute sexist or false attacks as they happen.

They didn’t have to wait long. Within minutes of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s announcement Tuesday, false information was circulating on social media, claiming that Harris had called Biden a “racist” and that she is not eligible to be president.

The women’s groups say their efforts are informed by the sexism Hillary Clinton faced from Donald Trump, some of his

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