Nevada Notes

Shopping Over Thanksgiving Weekend and Cyber Monday Tops $545 Million in Nevada   Cyber Monday Shopping Reaches Record High   In keeping with tradition during a year when many traditions have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, shoppers across the Silver State headed to stores and online retailers over the long Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday to take advantage of holiday deals and discounts. In the Silver State, the Retail Association of Nevada (RAN) estimates that over 1.7 million people spent a total of $545.7 million on gifts, decorations and other merchandise over the five-day period. Both figures were down from last year. Nationwide, an estimated 186.4 million consumers shopped over the Thanksgiving weekend and on Cyber Monday, a slight decline from the 189.6 million shoppers a year earlier, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Shoppers over the five days spent an average of $311.75, with nearly $225 going toward gifts and holiday items, according to NRF survey data.   “While this Thanksgiving weekend might not have felt like a traditional year, the ability of retailers to adapt to the situation really shined through,” said Bryan Wachter, Senior Vice President of RAN. “With retailers focusing on the health and well-being of their customers, Thanksgiving weekend shopping was a success, and shopping throughout the rest of the holiday season should follow suit.”   During the Thanksgiving shopping period, Nevadans took advantage of the competitive retail environment to find deals for the holiday season. Due to ongoing social distancing measures and public health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, shopping at traditional brick-and-mortar stores declined compared to recent years. In-store shopping on Thanksgiving Day dropped 55 percent from 2019, while Black Friday in-store shopping dropped by 37 percent, according to the NRF. On a positive note, 70 percent of shoppers said they felt safe shopping in-store due to efforts by retailers to create safe environments for consumers.   Online retail sales over the Thanksgiving weekend reflected the growth trends reported for most of 2020 due to the pandemic. In Nevada, an estimated 899,000 consumers did their Thanksgiving weekend shopping exclusively behind a computer or cell phone screen, an increase of more than 51 percent, according to RAN estimates. On a national level, online sales surpassed $29.6 billion during the Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday, a 5.0 percent increase over a year ago, according to Adobe Digital Insights. That total included $9.0 billion on Black Friday and $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday, which set a new record for online shopping volume in a single day. Adobe Digital Insights noted that social media played a big part in driving online sales this year. Over the shopping weekend, social media drove 1 in 10 visits to retail websites, a 17 percent increase from last year.   Top purchases over the long shopping weekend included clothing (purchased by 52 percent), toys (32 percent), books/music/movies/video games (29 percent), gift cards (29 percent) and electronics (27 percent), according to the NRF.

Amazon bets big on Nevada fulfillment infrastructure

Amazon is opening eight new customer fulfillment and delivery operations facilities across Nevada.

The sites are expected to create more than 2,000 permanent full- and part-time jobs. Amazon broke ground in October 2020 on an 855,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in North Las Vegas, which will create 1,500 new full-time jobs when it opens in 2021. The site will be the second fulfillment center in the state using Amazon robotic technology to help associates pick, pack and ship smaller items to customers.

The new sites also include five delivery stations that will support the last mile of Amazon’s order fulfillment process. The locations of the stations are:

•    Henderson – Delivery station opening in 2021.
•    Las Vegas – Delivery station opening in 2021.
•    North Las Vegas – Delivery station opened in September 2020.
•    Reno – Delivery station opened in October 2020.
•    Reno – “AMXL” fulfillment center / delivery station opening in 2021. This site supports the fulfillment and delivery of large products, from TVs to couches, shipped by drivers employed by Amazon’s delivery service partners or national third party carriers.

Additionally, Amazon has hired hundreds of employees to support two other facilities in North Las Vegas:
•    Merch by Amazon – opened in September 2020. This service enables brands, independent artists, and small businesses to upload custom content printed on demand on apparel and electronics products when ordered by customers in Amazon’s stores.

•    Print on Demand – opened in October 2020. This site supports authors and publishers with Print on Demand, a service through which books are made on-demand when Amazon customers place an order. 

“Amazon is proud to continue investing in the state of Nevada, where we opened our first fulfillment center in Fernley more than 20 years ago,” said Alicia Boler Davis, Amazon’s VP of global customer fulfillment. “We’re excited to create more than 2,000 new full- and part-time jobs across the state with highly competitive pay, benefits from day one and training programs for in-demand jobs.”

Amazon currently operates 11 sites in Nevada that support customer fulfillment and delivery operations, employing more than 10,500 full- and part-time employees across the state.

Chain Store Age 

Longtime, visionary CEO of Zappos dies

Tony Hsieh

The recently retired CEO of online footwear and accessories retailer Zappos has died at 46 after sustaining injuries in a house fire.

Tony Hsieh, who served as CEO of Zappos from 2000 until 2020 and became famous for his unconventional and people-centric approach to retailing and business, died on Friday, Nov. 27, at Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, Conn. Hsieh’s death was caused by smoke inhalation complications after he was injured in a house fire in New London, Conn. on Nov. 18. Police are currently investigating the cause of the fire.

Hsieh, a graduate of Harvard University, founded internet advertising network LinkExchange in 1996 and sold it to Microsoft for $265 million in 1998. He used that money to launch business incubator Venture Frogs, which was an initial investor in Zappos in 1999. Still in his mid-20s, Hsieh took the reins as Zappos CEO in 2000.

In 10 years, I would like Zappos to be a household name that people are extremely excited about and equate to excellent service. We’ve received customer e-mails asking us to please manage the IRS or take over an airline—we’re not planning on that anytime soon, but we like that customers perceive our brand to be about service, not just shoes. 

Under Hsieh’s leadership, Zappos followed a unique business strategy that produced success. He moved the company to a corporate headquarters in downtown Las Vegas, feeling the city’s fun, 24/7 culture would suit the way he wanted the company to operate. Call center employees were encouraged to stay on the phone or live chat with customers as long as the customer wanted to talk, and to discuss any topic the customer chose to bring up.

Zappos’ headquarters had an open layout designed to promote “serendipitous collisions” of people in different departments who ordinarily would not interact, including Hsieh, who did not have a private office. In 2013, the company adopted a decentralized “holacracy” management model that gave every employee decision-making power, and Zappos offers free shipping on every order and a 365-day free return policy.

In 2009, Amazon acquired Zappos for close to $930 million in Amazon shares, cash and restricted stock. Hsieh was allowed to stay on as CEO and the company continued functioning as an independent entity within Amazon. He wrote a best-selling book, “Delivering Happiness,” in 2010, describing his customer service philosophy.

Earlier this year, in August, Hsieh retired from Zappos. According to reports, he planned to focus on supporting philanthropic causes and entrepreneurs who are focused on social good — two causes that have long been close to his heart.

In 2007, Hsieh, then 33, appeared on the cover of Chain Store Age, honored as one of Ernst & Young’s Retail Entrepreneurs of the Year. His customer-centric, service philosophy was in full bloom.

“In 10 years, I would like Zappos to be a household name that people are extremely excited about and equate to excellent service,” declared Hsieh in the accompanying article. “We’ve received customer e-mails asking us to please manage the IRS or take over an airline—we’re not planning on that anytime soon, but we like that customers perceive our brand to be about service, not just shoes.”  

Social media was flooded with tributes to Hsieh on news of his passing.  

“Your curiosity, vision, and relentless focus on customers leave an indelible mark,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO and president, posted on Instagram. “You will be missed by so many, Tony. Rest In Peace.”

Chain Store Age