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News Briefs

Staying on top of breaking news in the retail industry is a commitment Retail TouchPoints editors take seriously. Each day, we publish the latest information in this News Briefs section. Up-to-the-minute stories cover retail implementations, new product announcements, financial updates, executive appointments and overall global updates affecting every aspect of the retail industry.

Kwik Raises $3 Million As It Vies With Amazon Dash Buttons

Tel Aviv-based startup kwik is out to prove that Amazon’s buy button dominance is not buttoned up. The company, which has designed its own version of the Amazon Dash, recently raised $3 million in funding through Norwest Venture Partners. Kwik is working with Domino’s, Budweiser, Huggies and other brands to make ordering a pizza, beer or box of diapers as easy as pressing a button, offering a veritable Homer Simpson trifecta. “kwik is entering this market at the right time,” said Sergio Monsalve, Partner of Norwest Venture Partners. “The concept of pushing a branded smart button to re-order a product has already been popularized by the Amazon Dash Button, but now the market is ready for more choice. kwik’s value proposition is that it takes an open approach to the order and delivery process, which provides consumers with a wider selection of home delivery options and brands with a turnkey…

Does Anyone Want Sports Authority's Stores? Dick’s Bids On Only 17 Locations

Dick’s Sporting Goods took another step to become the dominant player within sporting goods retailing, submitting a bid for 17 Sports Authority stores, according to Reuters. Sports Authority’s future has been embroiled in uncertainty since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March and then liquidating its 450+ stores after failing to agree with creditors on a reorganization plan. The auction for Sports Authority’s assets will take place June 29, with 320 of the retailer’s stores up for grabs.

Tractor Supply Doubles Down On Pricing Optimization

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Tractor Supply Company, a rural lifestyle retailer with more than 1,500 stores in 49 states, has extended its partnership with Revionics to use additional pricing solutions including the Revionics Markdown Suite and Revionics Advanced Analytics. As part of the contract renewal, the partnership between Revionics and Tractor Supply will last until 2019.

Beauty Retailer Boots UK Deploys IBM Analytics-Powered Mobile Sales App

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Boots UK, a pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer that is part of the Walgreens-Boots Alliance, has partnered with IBM to deploy a new app for sales associates. The company is the first retailer to offer IBM’s analytics-powered Sales Assist app, which is designed to help turn every salesperson into a personal shopper for in-store customers. The service is available in more than 2,300 stores. The app uses beacon technology to locate and identify shoppers on the store floor, look up online inventory and suggest products based on previous purchases. Using deep analytics combined with customer data, it can provide real-time product and location information straight to the associate’s mobile device.

Macy's CEO Resignation: Planned Succession Or Response To Recent Results? Featured

  • Published in News Briefs
After 13 years at the helm of Macy's Inc., CEO Terry Lundgren will hand the reins over to Jeff Gennette in the first quarter of 2017. Lundgren will continue as Executive Chairman and will work side-by-side with Gennette, who will take the titles of President and CEO of the iconic department store retailer. While Lundgren's resignation is being framed as part of a long-term succession plan, Macy's (along with other department stores) has had its share of struggles recently as it faces fierce competition from Amazon and a long-term shift in consumer buying behaviors. In Q1, Macy's same-store sales dipped 6.1%, the fifth quarter in a row this figure has declined.

EBay Taps Crowdsourcing To Inspire Purchases Via Mobile App

As presidential election season heats up, eBay is giving consumers a chance to vote for one of two mobile offers on apparel, technology and home products. Starting June 24, shoppers can visit twitter.com/eBay to vote on their preferences for “Summer of Choice” mobile deals. For example, the first vote will feature a Char-Broil Classic Grill at 70% off versus a Nutri Ninja Auto-iQ Blender at 50% savings. Consumers can then purchase the winning “Summer of Choice” mobile deals within the eBay mobile app. There will be four polls throughout the summer months:

Online Activewear Retailer Selects RetailNext For Planned Stores

RBX Active, currently an online-only activewear brand, has plans to stretch into brick-and-mortar retailing by opening stores across the U.S. As its first step, RBX has signed a multi-year contract with RetailNext for in-store analytics services. "Integrating RetailNext into our new store locations allows us to test concepts and layouts, similar to what can be done with our online store, in the interest of delivering true inspiration to our community of passionate, active customers," said Adam Hanan, Director of Retail at RBX Active in a statement.

Potential Modell’s, Sports Direct Bid For 200 Sports Authority Stores: Home Run Or Error?

Modell’s Sporting Goods and UK-based Sports Direct are in talks for a potential joint deal to buy as many as 200 Sports Authority stores, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sports Authority filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March, liquidating all of its 450 stores. Since the bankruptcy filing, there has been speculation around what would happen to Sports Authority’s remaining locations before they officially close, with sporting goods players Dick’s, Academy Sports + Goods and Modell’s all being identified as potential buyers.

Walmart Seeks Faster China Growth Path In Deal With Alibaba Rival

Walmart has agreed to sell its Chinese online operations to the country's second-largest e-Commerce company, JD.com, as it attempts to compete with retailing behemoth Alibaba. JD.com will take ownership of Walmart's Yihaodian marketplace platform, although Walmart will continue to operate the Yihaodian direct sales business and will be a seller on the marketplace. As part of the deal, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer will take a 5% stake in JD.com. While Walmart's brick-and-mortar stores are not part of the deal, the planned strategic alliance is designed to drive traffic to both these stores and Sam's Club China locations. Sam's Club will open a flagship store on JD.com and offer same- and next-day delivery through JD.com's warehousing and delivery network, which covers a population of 600 million consumers, according to a company statement.

Drugstore.com, FreshDirect And Instacart Join Digital CPG Marketing Network

Health and beauty retailers Drugstore.com and e-Grocers Instacart and FreshDirect can now reach high-intent shoppers, drive traffic to their site and correctly attribute the resulting sales via a closed-loop system, through a partnership with the CPG marketing network HookLogic.  The retailers are looking to tap into what Business Insider Intelligence forecasts will be an $18 billion market in U.S. online grocery sales by 2018, as consumers become more accustomed to buying groceries and consumable goods online. “We’re excited to partner with HookLogic to provide our brand partners with an innovative opportunity to amplify their brand presence within the FreshDirect shopping experience,” said Michelle Harmon-Madsen, SVP Brand Partnerships for FreshDirect. “Additionally, the cross-category promotion allows customers to discover new products as well as great favorites across every shopping page.”

Aptos Celebrates One-Year Anniversary of ‘Engaging Customers Differently’

Retail technology solution provider Aptos is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its spin-off from Epicor Software Corporation. During this time, the company has: • Increased its cloud capabilities and cloud deployments; • Increased its staff by 25%; and • Added a significant number of new customers to its roster of leading retail brands.  “We set out to forge a new company with a focus on ‘engaging customers differently’ by delivering a Singular Commerce platform in the cloud that supports one view of customers, experiences, inventory, orders and information,” said Noel Goggin, CEO and Culture Leader of Aptos. “ We believe engaging with our customers in a manner that is collaborative, authentic, sincere and transparent is essential to our mutual success, and we have seen powerful outcomes stemming from this approach to partnership.” The shift in Aptos customers choosing cloud over traditional on-premises deployments has been significant. Overall, the company experienced…

Labor Issues At Walmart And Macy’s Reveal Need To Value Employees

Much of the commentary about retail’s Q1 financial results focused on the underperformance of brick-and-mortar stores, particularly department stores, and their struggle to match consumer demands. But recent events at two leading retailers spotlight the vital roles played by store employees in affecting a brand's performance. With Walmart shifting back-office employees into store positions and Macy’s narrowly avoiding an employee strike in New York, industry players must recognize their employees’ value to the organization and identify ways that they can improve the retailer’s experiences, and vice versa.

Amazon Cuts Shipping Fees 67% On Small Items, Taking Aim At Asian Competitors

Amazon will be cutting its shipping fees for small envelope packages effective July 1, another indication that the retailer likely means serious business in Asia, according to Bloomberg. An internal email to marketplace sellers revealed that merchants using the Fulfillment By Amazon Small and Light Program would pay $1.61 to ship three, flat, 1-ounce packages, 67% less than the current price. Speculation is that the price cut represents a shot at Alibaba and other competing marketplaces, especially as the Chinese e-Commerce giant attempts to further expand its influence in the U.S. Chinese merchants have direct shipping access to U.S. shoppers using Alibaba's ePacket program — an affordable courier service created via an agreement between the U.S. Postal Service and China Post — to ship packages weighing 4.4 pounds or less.

UPS Study: Online Purchases Top 50% Among Avid Digital Consumers

  • Published in News Briefs
Online purchases have for the first time pushed past the halfway mark among the most avid online shoppers, according to the fifth annual UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study: More than half (51%) of all these consumers’ purchases are now made online, up from 48% in 2015. While the growth of e-Commerce has become an inescapable reality fed by shifting consumer preferences, it's still true that the overwhelming bulk of monetary spending remains in brick-and-mortar stores. The U.S. Commerce Department revealed that only 7.8% of all retail spending took place online in Q1 2016. However, the proliferation of technologies and more accessible channels for both browsing and buying indicates that e-Commerce will only continue to make a bigger impact.

Unata Achieves 350% YOY Revenue Growth

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Toronto-based tech startup Unata, a one-to-one digital solutions provider for grocers, has reported 350% year-over-year revenue growth in 2016. This follows an equally impressive 700% revenue growth rate in 2015.
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