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

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.

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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.

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Why Retailers Are Upgrading Their Retail Management And POS Systems

1starfleetGenerally speaking, retailers have three primary objectives in mind when it comes to new technology deployment. The first is to streamline business operations with the goal of increasing management and staff productivity and overall efficiency across the organization, leading to greater cost savings. The second is to drive revenue growth, which is accomplished through improved marketing and sales effectiveness.

The third objective is to enhance the customer experience, which should improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and brand advocacy — and, ultimately, of course, increase revenue and profitability.

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Speed Commerce Announces New Ownership, $150 Million Investment

1-Speed CommerceE-Commerce technology and omnichannel solution provider Speed Commerce has completed a restructuring process that has resulted in new ownership and fresh investment in the company. 

The company’s new owners, led by Garrison Investment Group, are investing approximately $150 million through a combination of debt restructuring and new growth capital, allowing the company to capitalize on the e-Commerce marketplace. Significant additional capital to support expected future growth has also been earmarked.

Along with the financial restructuring actions, Speed Commerce announced three new C-level additions to the management team:

  • Hari Pillai, CEO;
  • Jyoti Kapoor, COO; and
  • Jochen Vogt, CFO

The new leadership team plans to expand the company by 20% to 40% annually over the next several years via organic growth and selective acquisitions. To support the expansion, the company also has a goal of increasing its employee base of approximately 1,500 by 20% to 40% per year over the next three to five years.

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PureFormulas Bulks Up AOV 25% With Personalized Engagement

PureFormulas makes every effort to match the right health and supplements products with every customer. "In the supplement world you don't like a product based on looks, and it's important to get the one that is right for you," said Lars Furtwaengler, VP of Ecommerce and Merchandising for the online retailer.

At PureFormulas, personalization efforts go beyond matching people and products. The brand uses a range of techniques from the moment a customer lands on its site through checkout and beyond. The retailer manages products and promotional offers that it presents based on broad categories like gender and age as well as specific actions taken by users, including their browsing and purchase behaviors.

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Survey: 45% Of Shoppers Shun SMBs With Poorly Designed Web Sites

With more and more shoppers using digital channels to discover, interact with and rate real-world businesses, the value of a strong online presence is unquestioned. It's even more vital for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). A recent survey by Vistaprint Digital Services spotlights just how important it is for SMBs to not only have an online presence, but to have a good looking one as well.

The Digital Impact Report On Online Identity surveyed more than 2,000 people in the U.S. “We set out primarily to go one step beyond what we’ve historically done,” said Scott Bowen, VP and GM of Digital Services at VistaPrint. “This time we reached out to our customer’s customers, and tried to understand how they would view a small business’ online presence, to help inform how consumers are ultimately evaluating the SMBs as it relates to online marketing.”

One of the key findings from the survey showed that having an online presence/web site, or some way to have people find the SMB on the web (for example via social media), is critical. More than one third (36.7%) of respondents said they discover small businesses for the first time online. This is “virtually the same” as the percentage of respondents who reported that word of mouth was the most common discovery channel, according to Bowen.

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Blink Inc. Raises $3.6 Million To Expand Affordable Omnichannel Photo Studios

1blinkincBlink Inc., a photo shoot studio that offers affordable, professional digital photography delivered in real time, has raised $3.6 million in series A funding to accelerate expansion plans. The finance round was led by Chris Cook and partners from Riata Capital Group, Chris Hansen of Valiant Capital Partners and David Zoba, former Head of Global Real Estate at Gap Inc.

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#RIC16 Spotlights Retail's Most Creative Disruptors

The retail model that has held sway for the last 2,000 years — build a store, stock it with appealing products and wait for customers to come in — is broken, and Ken Hughes knows who broke it. The consumer and shopper behaviorist was the keynote speaker at the second annual Retail TouchPoints Retail Innovation Conference, held May 9-11 in New York City.

Hughes identifies the "Blue Dot" consumer as the culprit behind today's industry upheaval. To make his point he spread out a paper road map and noted that in order to use one of these, an individual had to know where she was in relation to the wider world. But smartphone map apps now do this for us automatically, creating a "you are here" Blue Dot. "That consumer is not a small part of a big world; they are the world, and they are at its center," said Hughes. "Today in retail, everything is about the shopper."

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Top Takeaways From #RIC16 Innovation Labs

This year's Retail Innovation Conference, held May 10-11 at Apella in New York City, brought together 185 of the industry's most innovative retail executives, who shared uniquely valuable retail disruption and innovation trends.

Also featured at #RIC16 were eight Innovation Labs, highly focused workshop sessions covering a wide range of current "pain points." Presentations were led by the industry's leading solution providers and their customers.

Here are some key takeaways from these sessions:

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True Religion Adds Clienteling to Associate-Facing Apple Watch Experience

It’s easy to get lost in the glitz and glamour of new technologies and engagement touch points. While the latest gadgets may look great on the surface, they may not be appropriate for a retailer’s brand image, business goals or even their target audience.

With its associate-facing Apple Watch App, True Religion has somehow managed to have it all: Robust functionality, a powerful user interface and accessible back-end data to improve customer experiences. During Aptos’ inaugural ENGAGE user conference in Las Vegas, John Hazen, SVP of Direct to Consumer & Omnichannel for True Religion, took the stage to reveal the next phase of the brand’s Apple Watch experience: CRM and clienteling.

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