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Thursday, 9 January 2020

Weekend Reading

Reading across disciplines is one of the best ways to improve our investment acumen. Here is a summary of some of the best articles I read this week.



Retailers are fighting back online returns
Some in the industry that created the monster are trying to put it back in its cage. They’re taking baby steps—not providing pre-paid mailing labels, requiring a receipt unless an unwanted item is carried to a store—but also threatening to cut off serial returners, the most troublesome of the offenders. Among the others: people who wait months (or more) before returning and the so-called wardrobers, who wear articles of clothing and then ship them back.
Reverse logistics — the transport from buyers to sellers — is not only costly on its own but creates a need for lots of room for storage. Return stock is thrown into an empty space in a warehouse to pile up until someone can get to it.


And fintech startups are getting into the space to facilitate returns
Consulting firm Newmine launched its Chief Returns Officer product. Newmine says that it processes data from multiple sources and uses “data science and AI principles” to determine the cause of returns in near real time. Retailers using the service receive actionable recommendations for resolving problems during the selling season.
Supply.ai’s ReturnSense is a returns prevention platform that learns customer behavior, detects the likelihood of returns, alerts the retailer and intervenes in the purchase process to mediate with customers about their product choices. The firm says its algorithm draws from over 1,000 data variables to predict which orders are likely to be returned. The company says that its service prevents returns and makes shoppers feel more confident in their purchase choices.
Other technology providers include Returnly, a fintech platform that turns product returns into repurchases by enabling customers to buy again with instant exchanges and refunds, before they have even returned their items. Appriss Retail’s Verify service is a consumer-based returns authorization system that uses predictive algorithms and statistical models to distinguish those engaged in fraudulent and abusive behavior and deny them the ability to make returns.


A real-life thriller in the making - the escape of Carlos Ghosn
One of the country’s most famous criminal suspects had slipped past the cameras trained on his house, past the police and border guards and the Japanese citizens who for the past year have followed his every move.
Carlos Ghosn, the deposed chief of the Nissan and Renault auto empire facing charges of financial wrongdoing, had fled to Lebanon, and no one in Japan — not the authorities, the media or even the auto executive’s own lawyer — could explain how it had happened.
It was a cinematic escape, carried out just before New Year’s Day, Japan’s most important holiday, when government agencies and most businesses close for as long as a week.


The search for a distraction free environment goes back centuries!
Medieval monks had a terrible time concentrating. And concentration was their lifelong work! Their tech was obviously different from ours. But their anxiety about distraction was not. They complained about being overloaded with information, and about how, even once you finally settled on something to read, it was easy to get bored and turn to something else. They were frustrated by their desire to stare out of the window, or to constantly check on the time (in their case, with the Sun as their clock), or to think about food or sex when they were supposed to be thinking about God.


Understanding the US-Iran conflict through the lens of history
From the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of Iran's prime minister in 1953, to tension and confrontation under President Trump, a look back over more than 65 years of tricky relations between Iran and the US.

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