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Global Perspective - News Worth Sharing

  • Retail sales in Britain were down sharply in June, but The Guardian blames the measly sales data on uncharacteristically “soggy” weather, rather than the country’s controversial vote to leave the European Union.

    The Guardian says that sales figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that June sales were off even before the majority of Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum on June 23.

    Sales in Britain decreased by about 0.9 percent between May and June, after rising about that same percentage between April and May.

    Although the figures were compiled from May 29 until July 2, they are also the first economic sampling on what impact the reaction to the Brexit vote has had on the British economy, even though it is only looking at sales data from a little over a week after the vote.

    Sales on clothing and footwear took the biggest hit in the month of June, with sales down almost 2 percent when compared to May, possibly because it was too damp for anybody to even imagine buying new ones.

    Howard Archer, an economist at IHS Global Insight, told The Guardian that the June sales slump had “little to do” with Brexit, but rather, it was a natural market reaction to several months of higher-than-usual sales.

    “Some correction in retail sales was always likely in June after they had seen very strong growth in May and April, and there was also a significant falling back in clothing sales due to unhelpful weather,” Archer said. “The Office for National Statistics indicated that retailers had not given any evidence of the Brexit vote having a major dampening impact.”

    Still, it should be interesting to see what impact the Brexit vote does have on the British economy when those numbers finally start coming in.

  • Verizon aims to bolster its content and advertising offerings with its acquisition, which may prove enticing to some online retailers.
  • Amazon Prime launched in India

    The much anticipated Amazon Prime services have been finally launched in India. Right now, users can get free 60 day trial after which Amazon Prime would cost Rs 499 a year.

    In case you don’t chose this free trial of 60 days, then the same Amazon Prime would cost you Rs 999 per year.

    The strangeness of Amazon’s consumer logic doesn’t end here because the launch offers are really disappointing to say the least.

    Once you get free 60-day trial, these are the services which Amazon will offer right now:

    • Free One day and Two day deliveries
    • Early access to ‘lightning deals’ and more (early access means 30 minutes prior to non-Prime customers)

    With such nominal offers, Amazon could have waited before launching Prime services in India.

    Besides, Prime delivery promises is not applicable to all products and all cities. Only those products which have Prime mentioned in description would be eligible for faster delivery.

    Customers in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai can get some more additional delivery related services like same-day delivery, scheduled delivery and more.

    The hype around Amazon Prime had really exploded in the last few weeks, as speculations were rife about something really big.

    We showed evidence that Prime is indeed coming to India and even connected mass hiring within Amazon to launch of Prime. Reports of new fulfillment centers across India was easily linked with launch of Prime; so was their commitment of $5 billion investment.

    However, considering the fact that Amazon is planning to invest Rs 2000 crore for creating original videos under Prime services; it is indeed shocking that they have not mentioned anything regarding Prime Videos and Prime Music, the two unique differentiators for their US customers (atleast)

    Right now on their landing page, Amazon has simply stated that exclusive videos under Prime would be coming soon.

    Some more details pertaining to their launch and Prime services:

    • Lookout for ‘Prime’ logo with a tick mark; because these products would be eligible under Prime services for faster delivery
    • ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ products should be eligible for free shipping under Prime services, but it’s not yet clear
    • Right now, Amazon charges Rs 40 for standard delivery (between 2-10 days)
    • One-day deliveries are charges Rs 100 extra and Two-days deliveries are charged Rs 80 extra.

    Unless Prime promises some cool, exclusive content and Amazon Music ensures top of the class songs, at faster streaming, there isn’t much attraction in choosing Amazon Prime. If we compare with Flipkart’s just launched ‘F-Secured’ services, then there isn’t much differences as of now.

    Are you opting for the free 60-day trial of Amazon Prime? Do let us know by commenting right here!

    The post Amazon Prime Finally Debuts In India; Offers 60-Day Free Trial But Launch Features Are Disappointing first appeared on . Mobile Apps: Android | iOS.

  • In some corners of the retail world, the mere utterance of the word “automation” conjures up images of Amazon fulfillment centers buzzing with self-sufficient robots, personal assistant androids that follow shoppers through stores and increasingly sophisticated self-checkout counters. It’s almost an imagined insistence that, if humans are going to be transformationally removed from the retail environment, it better be because there is some crazily futuristic technology to make the leap worth it.

    Or so automation pundits thought. But now that consumers are not just familiar but intimate with their smartphones when in stores, retailers have started slowly turning the dial up on automation through other means.

    Namely, the smartphone.

    The story starts with an unusual partnership between Macy’s, IBM and intelligent engagement firm Satisfi. The three companies announced on Wednesday (July 20) that they had integrated IBM’s artificial intelligence engine dubbed “Watson” into Macy’s mobile webpages. Without downloading an app, Macy’s shoppers can now punch up the Macy’s help page and, à la Siri, speak in English or Spanish to the AI, dubbed “Macy’s On Call.” At the moment, Macy’s On Call is optimized to help shoppers find their way around Macy’s stores with questions like “Where are the women’s shoes?” or even the specific names of products. However, IBM hinted at the potential of even more functionality to come in the future.

    “Bringing Watson into a retail store setting presents an opportunity to engage with the consumer on a variety of levels,” David Kenny, general manager of IBM Watson, said in a statement. “This particular use case takes Watson beyond helping consumers evaluate purchasing decisions and influences another, equally important aspect of the in-store experience — ease of use in locating products, facilities and services. As more developer partners like Satisfi continue to build with the technology, we see Watson more frequently being delivered into the hands of consumers, and we’re looking forward to learning more from this pilot with Macy’s and Satisfi.”

    Macy’s On Call can perform some other tricks. It can list out a store’s special features or connect shoppers with a personal stylist for a little help, but they all roughly fall into the category of taking interactions consumers used to have with in-store employees and redirecting them to their phones instead. It’s a genius sleight-of-hand trick for retailers that want to dip their toes into the waters of in-store automation without emptying their pockets for, at best, beta models of humanoid robot shopping assistants and other outlandish examples of the unattended retail revolution.

    It’s not just Macy’s that has realized smartphones’ potential backdoor into lower labor costs and a more streamlined and customized experience for consumers. JCPenney, CVS and even Mastercard have upgraded their own proprietary apps and mobile webpages in the last few weeks in an attempt to make the act of pulling out a phone in a store not just convenient but also beneficial to the purchasing process.

    It’s hard to blame retailers for wanting to pursue automation-esque projects, like Macy’s On Call, considering the expected cost of buying an entire brand’s worth of whatever unit happens to emerge as a market leader. With automation-via-smartphone, the only startup costs are software, and more importantly, consumers have less of a learning curve with emergent in-store AI like Watson when allowed to use their own personal devices.

    But for as promising of a development as this shift could be for retailers, it looks the opposite for their employees. The easier merchants make their apps to use and the greater they integrate them into the shopping experience, the more consumers are going to rely on the sales associate in their pocket rather than the one down the aisle. And when consumers no longer need in-store employees, stores might not need them.

Super Stars of Global Commerce

  • The GRIN is our global task rabbit. The community and coaching helped provide clarity as to which countries to target, how to evaluate our global partners and provides ongoing perspective to our most challenging questions.
  • The GRIN connected us with the right solution partners in Brazil. These connections will help us improve the service to our customers and enable us to better compete with the top ecommerce companies.
  • The GRIN workshop provided real world insight to the problems that all retailers face when going global. The GRIN community provides meaningful connections.
  • As a Chinese retailer, we made several connections in the United States that are helpful while learning the importance of brand to my growing business.
  • Best full day workshop I have attended on going global - a real eye opener.
  • I love the GRIN community. I walked away with an understanding of how to develop a business case for my C-level team to help fund my global initiatives.

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