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Supply chain challenges are mounting for many retailers, especially those operating in multiple regions of the country and abroad. Consumers expect to be able to order and purchase products via any channel, then have them delivered to their channel of choice – and quickly! New technologies are providing the ways and means for merchants to deliver on the promise of omnichannel excellence. Now retailers must find the best ways to implement new solutions to stay competitive.

Is The Sky The Limit For Amazon Prime Now?

Amazon is taking the next step in expanding its Prime Now same-day delivery service, officially launching an e-Commerce site to pair with its mobile presence. The web site will function similarly to the mobile site, giving Amazon members the ability to place orders on items that can be delivered within one or two hours.

The expansion of the service, which specializes in sales of food, groceries, health, beauty and household products and is offered in more than two dozen U.S. cities, further indicates Amazon's intentions of increasing its focus on Prime Now going forward.

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Analyze This: 6 Ways Retailers Put Artificial Intelligence To Work

1VP NutonianWhen a shopper walks into a retail store or visits a retailer’s website, data science isn’t likely top-of-mind. But everything — whether it’s physical or online — is strategically placed to optimize the customer experience and maximize sales for the retailer, or at least it should be. From store location, product placement, items on sale, which employees are working, etc., there is strategy behind these seemingly simple things to ensure the retailer makes the most out of every aspect of its operation. And the early adopters are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to solve their most pressing data-driven problems.

Here are six ways retailers are putting AI to work.

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SmartCommerce Empowers One-Click Purchasing, Product Visibility For CPG Brands

1SS SmartCommerce ImageSmartCommerce has launched an integrated suite designed to empower brands to own and drive their customer experience, from discovery through purchase. The commerce suite includes two solutions: SmartLink and SmartCart.

SmartLink is a dynamic product asset library designed to monitor product information across all digital touch points in one location. The solution enables brands to:

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Consumer Behavior Shifts Keep 77% Of Retail CEOs Up At Night

What really grays the hair and wrinkles the brows of retail CEOs? For 77%, it's the ongoing impact of shifting consumer spend and behavior, according to a recent report from PwC.

However, even in this era of rapid and profound change, retailers appear confident about the future overall, especially when compared to leaders in other industries. In fact, 45% of retail CEOs believe their revenues will grow in the next 12 months, compared to only 35% of CEOs in other industries.

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Centralized Data Streamlines Collaboration For Happy Family

Though it's owned by a multinational conglomerate, Happy Family Brands still maintains the attitude — and the staffing levels — of a scrappy, agile start-up. That means collaboration and communication are always at a premium, particularly when it comes to managing complex multi-stage tasks like introducing a new product.

To raise the stakes even higher, because its products are organic baby foods, numerous regulatory, food science and quality assurance (QA) requirements must be met along the way from original ideation to delivery to the retailer's shelf.

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European On-Demand Grocery Platform Expands to U.S.

Online grocery shoppingFinland-based Digital Foodie, an on-demand grocery platform encompassing the user experience as well as digital commerce, order management and fulfillment, has received a strategic investment from Enterworks that will fuel its expansion into the U.S. The combined company is focused on all aspects of the grocery supply chain, including serving CPG and manufacturing companies with a food-focused Product Information Management (PIM) solution.

The Digital Foodie solution, which has been deployed in more than 1,100 stores in Europe, will allow U.S. grocery retailers to more easily move into e-Commerce while still maintaining their brand and loyalty relationships with shoppers.

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Jenny Yoo Grabs Real-Time Data With PLM Solution

Awful, garish bridesmaid dresses may be a staple of comedic films, but they're not so funny in real life. Since 2002, Jenny Yoo Collection has offered stylish, understated apparel for all members of the bridal party.

The designer recently selected a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution from NGC that provides real-time visibility to product data, along with the ability to share information with planning, merchandising, design, costing, sourcing, manufacturing and logistics departments.

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Impact Power Technologies Batteries Minimize Device Downtime

1SS IPT ImageImpact Power Technologies (IPT) has manufactured a series of batteries designed to help retail businesses save money on power, and prevent mid-shift battery failures that can result in device downtime and unplanned work stoppages. The IPT Productivity+ Series includes:

  • IPT-MC9000-Li;

  • IPT-MC75-Li;

  • IPT-WT4090-Li Standard and Extended Batteries; and

  • IPT-CN50-Li.

The Productivity+ Series batteries fit a number of popular retail devices including those made by Motorola, Symbol, Intermec, Honeywell, LXE, Zebra, O’Neil and Vocollect. IPT also manufactures chargers to keep batteries powered and mobile devices running.

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Retail Success In The 'Era Of I'

Era of I OracleRetailers know that they need to be focused on pleasing the individual in order to be successful in what is called the "Era of the Individual – Era Of I," according to Oracle's recent survey of 300 C-level executives across a number of industries. And "I" includes employees as well as customers.

But although executives across industries acknowledge the importance of the individual, just 13% of retailers gave themselves an "A" grade for these efforts (more than 50% gave themselves a "C" grade), as noted in the survey report, titled: The Era I Enterprise: Ready For Anything.

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Big Apple Buddy Concierge Connects U.S. Tech Retailers With Global Shoppers

International shoppers often have to wait weeks or even months to purchase the hottest technology products recently released in the U.S. Personal shipping concierge service Big Apple Buddy is carving out a service niche by both expediting and personalizing the process. Through partnerships with FedEx, DHL and UPS, each shipment takes approximately two to four business days to ship to global consumers.

The service also addresses shopper concerns about buying counterfeit products, purchasing only from reputable retailers to guarantee product quality and authenticity. Since launching in 2014, the New York City-based service has expanded its shipping to more than 75 countries, and doubling its sales in 2015.

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Virtual Reality Product Testing Improves Merchandising For Baby Food Brand

Consumers faced with too many choices can easily become confused — and a confused customer is an unhappy (and unprofitable) customer. But how do retailers find that perfect balance, between ample choice and careful curation?

For organic baby food manufacturer Happy Family, consumer testing using virtual reality (VR) technology provided the actionable insights that its retail partners were seeking, delivered quickly and cost-effectively. Key benefits included:

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Nordstrom Hires Former Amazon Exec To Lead Technology Team

1nordstromNordstrom has appointed former Amazon exec Kumar Srinivasan as its new Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Srinivasan will be leading the next phase of innovation and growth in shaping the technology agenda across Nordstrom.

As CTO, Srinivasan will help optimize engineering and software productivity and effectiveness across Nordstrom’s four Technology teams, supporting initiatives such as service & experience, loyalty & marketing, engineering and supply chain. 

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BIC Selects SIS Group International To Represent Cello Pens

1BICLate last year, stationery manufacturer BIC finalized its acquisition of Cello Pens, India’s manufacturer and distributor of writing instruments. Now BIC has selected SIS Group International to act as the representative of Cello Pens products in the U.S.

SIS Group International will work directly with Cello India to handle all aspects of the product supply chain in the U.S. Cello runs seven ISO 9001 factories in India, and also is a recognized presence in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

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#CCSeries Webinars Chart Roadmap To Retail's Future

In the fast-changing world of retail, the future is never very far away, and preparing for it is a full-time job. The Retail TouchPoints Connected Consumer Series, held March 14 to 17, featured nine webinars that provided attendees with a detailed, data-filled roadmap to a fast-arriving future.

Speakers from Accenture, RSR, EKN Research, Bronto, Aptos and other industry leaders shared actionable insights into such hot topics as:

• Personalization;

• Bringing Digital Convenience Into The Brick-And-Mortar Environment;

• Leveraging The Internet Of Things (IoT) in Real-World Retail; and

• Using New Tools To Engage With Connected, Time-Starved Consumers

Recaps of the sessions' highlights follow this complete list of the #CCSeries 2016 sessions, which are available on-demand:

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The Future Is Now: The Power Of In-Store Fulfillment

1rogerfalkensteinIndustry analysts have predicted that the next phase of transformation for retail will entail business processes and IT catching up to tackle the omnichannel challenge with tangible, systematized solutions. This will lead to retail channels becoming blurred and, in many cases, irrelevant. The current state of many retailers’ supply chains is channel-specific, and channel-specific distribution centers (DC) are responsible for maintaining their inventories. This has largely determined the requirements of retail systems.

According to Forrester Research, 40% of retailers report that they have difficulty integrating back-office technology across channels. One example of this is the need to have a consolidated, accurate view of real-time inventory across stores and distribution centers. Executing on this capability, however, is complex and requires a retail order management system to be integrated with existing legacy POS, e-Commerce, ERP and other retail systems.

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