Features - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints https://www.retailtouchpoints.com Sun, 16 Dec 2018 01:45:35 -0500 RTP en-gb Google Launches Multi-Touch Point Shopping Platform In India https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/google-launches-multi-touch-point-shopping-platform-in-india https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/google-launches-multi-touch-point-shopping-platform-in-india Google Launches Multi-Touch Point Shopping Platform In India

Google has brought its shopping service in India, allowing the country’s consumers to browse for deals on the Google Shopping home page; a mobile-friendly web app; a “shopping” tab on the Google search engine; and through Google Lens. Amazon and Flipkart will be two of the retailers initially offering their products through the platform, according to CNBC.

India has the world’s second-largest population of Internet users, at 400 million people, but only one out of three purchase products online — although the number is growing. The country’s e-Commerce market could be valued at $150 billion by 2022, according to Nasscom and PwC.

Additionally, while India has millions of domestic retailers, only a small portion of them currently have an e-Commerce presence. Google sees its presence in India as an opportunity to help retailers reach out to the country’s growing online customer base.

Google isn’t alone in its belief in India’s potential: Walmart acquired 77% of Flipkart for approximately $16 billion in May 2018, giving the retail giant a strong foothold in the country. Flipkart is India’s dominant e-Commerce retailer, with 100 million users and 100,000 merchants on the platform.

Amazon also has been active in the county: in addition to launching a version of its app in Hindi, Amazon acquired supermarket and hypermarket chain More for $580.35 million through a partnership with Indian private equity firm Samara Capital.

feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Fri, 14 Dec 2018 13:00:31 -0500
Infovista Named A Top 10 European Retail Solution Provider https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/infovista-named-a-top-10-european-retail-solution-provider https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/infovista-named-a-top-10-european-retail-solution-provider Infovista Named A Top 10 European Retail Solution Provider

Infovista has been selected by Retail CIO Outlook as one of 10 European retail technology companies at the forefront of tackling customer challenges. The chosen companies were selected by a panel of CEOs, CIOs, VCs and industry analysts, as well as the publication’s editorial board.

Infovista solutions can improve retailers’ knowledge of their own networks and applications, enabling better visibility and control and empowering retailers to improve their in-store experience and maximize efficiency.

“This enables retailers to adapt business models and adopt new technologies faster, with lower risk and higher impact,” said Neil Dunham, VP - Sales of UK and Ireland at Infovista in a statement. “Our focus remains centered on our core capabilities of automating performance improvements to provide customers with access to the business agility of new technologies.”

feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Fri, 14 Dec 2018 10:48:10 -0500
Top 10 Stories Of 2018: Mobile And Personalization Take The Lead In The Digital Revolution https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/special-reports/top-10-stories-of-2018-mobile-and-personalization-take-the-lead-in-the-digital-revolution https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/special-reports/top-10-stories-of-2018-mobile-and-personalization-take-the-lead-in-the-digital-revolution Top 10 Stories Of 2018: Mobile And Personalization Take The Lead In The Digital Revolution

The retail industry is volatile by nature, but few years have been as tumultuous as 2018. Toys 'R' Us closed its doors and Sears (finally) filed for bankruptcy, while better-positioned retailers invested in improved e-Commerce options, particularly their mobile offerings.

This list of 10 of the most popular Retail TouchPoints articles highlights many of the industry's most prominent themes, including the challenge of competing with Amazon; the growth of personalization; the promise of AI; and the urgent need to eliminate "boring" retail experiences. These are stories about survival not just of the fittest but of the most interesting, innovative and creative retailers.

feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Roman Aguila) Special Reports Fri, 14 Dec 2018 09:50:32 -0500
From E-Commerce Platforms To Microservices Omni-Commerce https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/from-e-commerce-platforms-to-microservices-omni-commerce https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/from-e-commerce-platforms-to-microservices-omni-commerce

0aaaKumod Ratana Jha WiproTraditionally, retailers have used e-Commerce platforms such as ATG, WCS, Hybris etc. to build and manage their online storefront. These monolith applications were based on three-tiered architecture. Over time, the modules were customized, integrated with many other enterprise systems and a lot of investments were made in running the operations. In recent years, however, many retailers have started to shift away from these platforms towards microservices-based commerce, which offers the flexibility to implement the customized features and scalability needed to meet omnichannel demand.

E-Commerce Modernization: Context

Customer experience is becoming truly omnichannel, contextual and personalized. This brings new challenges to web site functionalities in terms of availability and scalability. Businesses need to be quick in preparing for the ever-changing environment and in their reaction to competition. E-Commerce applications need to evolve to meet these challenges while supporting continuous delivery.

Although Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms can address some concerns, such as cost and availability, retailers often need custom differentiating features and true omnichannel capabilities that are not supported through these platforms. Businesses want to run new experiments quickly or bring efficiency to a process that is typical to their organization. Cloud offerings of traditional e-Commerce platforms do not provide that flexibility.  

As a result, the main drivers for the shift towards microservices are:

  • The ability to quickly implement changes, quick deployments and rollbacks;
  • A need for responsive UI, real-time data and immersive user experience;
  • Web site’s unavailability could greatly hurt revenue and reputation;
  • A need to scale up during sudden spikes of demand;
  • Different features require different levels of availability and scalability;
  • Keeping cost of operation low; and
  • Omnichannel personalized experience (not supported out-of-the-box and difficult/slow to customize)

Industry Trends

By moving towards microservices, cloud, CI/CD and DevOps, retailers have more control and can quickly release features that are unique to their business vision. Others will follow this trend as the need for being quicker, omnichannel and available becomes critical to their competitiveness.

While microservices can be used for almost anything, the real advantage is the ability to make quick change. For many enterprise applications (such as finance, HR etc.), the focus is usually on stability rather than agility. However, there are certain enterprise applications that have started to transform (such as driving efficiency in WMS using ML/AI/IoT) and these might be good candidates to try microservices.

However, refactoring e-Commerce platforms to microservices is a long journey. By planning ahead, following established architectural patterns and preparing the ecosystem before making major changes to a running system, the journey can be made quicker and risk-free.

With DevOps, cloud-native design and continuous integration and deployment in place, microservices can run on-premise on a private cloud or on a hybrid/public cloud. Public cloud is always a better choice for e-Commerce applications.

Decomposing a complex monolith into decoupled lightweight microservices would require an approach using a combination of 12-factor/cloud native app design, DevOps and a platform agnostic framework for cross-cutting concerns such as circuit breaker, instrumentation etc.

One of the risk mitigation strategies for large projects is to apply a strangler pattern in place of a complete cut-over. E-Commerce platforms are typically comprised of different modules such as Catalog, Cart, Promotions etc. The critical content/components need to be moved first to the cloud for availability. The home page and browse/search pages have the maximum hits. This is usually followed by product description pages.


Here is a list of domains from e-Commerce engines and a possible sequence for migrating them:

  1. Search
  2. Catalog
  3. Product Pricing
  4. Inventory
  5. Shipping
  6. Delivery
  7. Customer account
  8. Promotions
  9. Cart
  10. Associate facing tools

While this is a typical sequence, the sequence should be driven by importance. It also helps to start small with a lean team. Also, it does not necessarily have to be a complete migration from the platform, i.e. if an organization’s needs can be fulfilled by just transforming some critical functions of the platform to microservices.

With the monolith being split into different domain services, there will be a need to build a materialized view comprised of data from different microservices. For instance, a product catalog materialized view needs to be built and updated based on product, price, inventory and promotion events. By keeping it event-driven, we avoid coupling between services and also avoid latency. 


The Road Ahead

The trend from monolith e-Commerce systems towards microservices is expected to continue, especially among large retailers that feel their existing systems are inflexible. Another key driver for retailers will be their internal technical strength and their ability to onboard quality full stack developers (FSDs). Smaller retailers also are likely to test the waters by starting to build one or two microservices, maybe for a search or a browse. Irrespective of size, all of them will be careful to plan the core cart and checkout features for a move to microservices.


Kumod Ratana Jha is a Lead Architect with Wipro Limited with over 15 years of IT experience. He has worked for some of the largest retailer clients on distributed systems and emerging technologies such as cloud-native applications, microservices, domain driven design, cloud, big data and machine learning. In retail, his experience ranges from e-Commerce, fraud prevention, logistics and marketing to analytics, store applications and finance.


feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Kumod Ratana Jha, Wipro) Executive ViewPoints Fri, 14 Dec 2018 09:32:50 -0500
Farfetch Acquires Stadium Goods For $250 Million https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/mergers-and-acquisitions/farfetch-acquires-stadium-goods-for-250-million https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/mergers-and-acquisitions/farfetch-acquires-stadium-goods-for-250-million Farfetch Acquires Stadium Goods For $250 Million

On the heels of going public in September, UK-based online luxury marketplace Farfetch is expanding its portfolio to make room for more sneakers by acquiring online footwear and streetwear resale marketplace Stadium Goods for $250 million. Stadium Goods has participated in the Farfetch marketplace since April 2018 but will fully integrate its inventory into the marketplace following the acquisition.

Stadium Goods will continue to operate as a standalone brand on the Farfetch platform and will be led by its existing management team.

Sneakers are the fastest-growing category at Farfetch, according to CEO and Co-Founder José Neves. But the luxury marketplace is broadening its horizons in the U.S. by zeroing in on streetwear that appeals to younger, affluent consumers. While streetwear might not typically fit the mold of other luxury items and apparel, Farfetch sees a $70 billion opportunity within the premium sportswear market, citing Bain Capital’s 2018 Worldwide Luxury Market Monitor.

“The lines are blurring: it's pretty clear that luxury customers are very, very excited about streetwear and sneakers and streetwear guys are very excited about luxury,” Stadium Goods Co-Founder Jed Stiller told GQ.

This isn’t the first time a luxury brand has seen promise in the Stadium Goods value proposition. LVMH Luxury Ventures became a minority investor in the company in February 2018.

feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Glenn Taylor) Mergers & Acquisitions Thu, 13 Dec 2018 13:33:19 -0500
Walmart Launches E-Commerce Site In Japan With Rakuten https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/walmart-launches-e-commerce-site-in-japan-with-rakuten https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/walmart-launches-e-commerce-site-in-japan-with-rakuten Walmart Launches E-Commerce Site In Japan With Rakuten

Walmart has opened its first e-Commerce store in Japan through a partnership with Rakuten. The Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Store will offer Japanese shoppers a wide array of U.S.-branded products, including apparel, outdoor goods and toys, with more products being added over time.

Orders will be fulfilled in the U.S. and shipped directly to Japanese customers, with shipping, duties and taxes included in the product price. Walmart will provide customer support through Seiyu GK, the retail giant’s Japanese subsidiary.

“We are very excited to be working with Walmart to bring a diverse product lineup of American brands at affordable prices to Rakuten Ichiba users in Japan,” said Shunsuke Yazawa, Executive Officer and VP of the Marketplace Business at Rakuten in a statement. “Through the opening of the Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Store, we hope to make Rakuten Ichiba an even more attractive destination for online shoppers in Japan.”

The online store represents the latest development in the partnership between Walmart and Rakuten that began in January 2018. Since then, Walmart launched an online grocery delivery service through Rakuten’s online marketplace, while Rakuten began selling Kobo eBooks, audiobooks and Kobo eReaders in U.S. Walmart stores and online.

Rakuten also has worked with Seiyu to open an online delivery service called Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper. The retailer’s delivery options were further boosted by its acquisition of Curbside, a mobile ordering and pickup startup, which added Curbside’s retail partners to the Rakuten user network.

feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Thu, 13 Dec 2018 11:51:44 -0500
Sears Reportedly Hires JLL To Gauge Real Estate’s Value; Burlington, DICK’S Express Interest https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/sears-reportedly-hires-jll-to-gauge-real-estate-s-value-burlington-dick-s-express-interest https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/sears-reportedly-hires-jll-to-gauge-real-estate-s-value-burlington-dick-s-express-interest Sears Reportedly Hires JLL To Gauge Real Estate’s Value; Burlington, DICK’S Express Interest

In the wake of Eddie Lampert’s $4.6 billion bid for Sears and its assets, the retailer has hired real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to market its portfolio of approximately 500 U.S. Sears and Kmart stores, and so far has seen high interest in major markets, according to a Bloomberg report

Burlington Stores, At Home, DICK’S Sporting Goods and U-Haul are among those that have expressed interest in some Sears properties, along with potential buyers interested in converting stores into residential or office space, the report said.

“We have taken advantage of some of the Sears closures, where we'll take a piece of the building and somebody else would take another piece of the building, and they'll divide it up,” said Thomas Kingsbury, CEO of Burlington Stores in an earnings call last month. “I think Kmart is more of an opportunity for us, because they’re in very good locations. We’d have to carve up the box based on the current size of our box as we desire.”

At Home has been scouting Sears and Kmart stores for “about four years” as they became available on the market, a company spokesperson told CNBC.

Upon filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after years of financial turmoil, Sears has reportedly entertained bids from retailers, mall owners and liquidators, all of which are due by the end of the year. The bankruptcy auction for the retailer is expected to take place in mid-January 2019.

Lampert, the often-criticized Chairman of Sears Holdings, made the $4.6 billion bid through his hedge fund, ESL Investments. If the hedge fund’s offer is approved, Sears wouldn’t have to liquidate the remaining 500 Sears and Kmart stores. It could save the jobs of approximately 50,000 of the company’s 68,000 employees, Lampert wrote in a letter to investment banker Lazard Frères.

Sears presently owes $2.6 billion in loans to Lampert and his entities, which are the retailer’s largest creditors. But many of Sears’ unsecured creditors have questioned whether Sears has a viable future as an operating company. These parties believe Sears will be more valuable in pieces than as a company run under ESL ownership.

feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 13 Dec 2018 10:54:27 -0500
AUGMENTes Develops AR-Based Apps For Virtual Product Viewing, Customization https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/solution-spotlight/augmentes-develops-ar-based-apps-for-virtual-product-viewing-customization https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/solution-spotlight/augmentes-develops-ar-based-apps-for-virtual-product-viewing-customization AUGMENTes Develops AR-Based Apps For Virtual Product Viewing, Customization

AUGMENTes, a provider of comprehensive digital shopping solutions, offers customized augmented reality (AR) commerce mobile applications designed to enable retailers and manufacturers to enable their customers to:

  • Virtually try products on themselves or in their own environment;
  • Customize products and see the changes in real time;
  • Record their AR experience with the products through pictures and video;
  • Share their experience through any social media with a transactional link attached; and
  • Place orders.

The apps includes AR scanning, which enables customers to scan and recognize objects or their environment, identify them and show any relevant information a retailer wants to convey.

Additionally, shoppers can browse a digital copy of a printed product catalog interactively, view products in 3D, access complete information (availability, price, reviews, tutorials, promotions, videos, etc.) updated in real time and purchase them directly.

AUGMENTes also offers a turnkey omnichannel shopping platform that includes one dashboard designed to manage all sales channels: online, in-store, social and print media for inventory, promotion, order and fulfillment.

feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Thu, 13 Dec 2018 08:57:44 -0500
DeliveryCircle Launches KrewZen Delivery Network Builder https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/solution-spotlight/deliverycircle-launches-krewzen-delivery-network-builder https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/solution-spotlight/deliverycircle-launches-krewzen-delivery-network-builder

0aaaSS KrewZen ImageDeliveryCircle has unveiled KrewZen, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform providing retailers, 3PLs and distributors with the tools to build a local delivery network for same-day, last-mile delivery.

The on-demand solution enables B2B and B2C enterprises to offer same-day delivery of everything from retail goods to auto parts to home health care supplies. Features include:

  • Dashboard SLA monitoring, reporting and driver schedule management;
  • Online logistics track-and-trace;
  • Route optimization; and
  • Document and signature capture.

KrewZen is designed to enable quick implementation so shippers can reduce costs, increase delivery service levels and offer superior delivery service to customers. KrewZen features mobile and desktop interfaces, enabling shippers and drivers to connect for narrow pickup and delivery windows selected by the customer.

The components of the DeliveryCircle platform include software tools for driver onboarding and payment, last-mile shipping and dispatch, courier routing, visibility and reporting.

feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Thu, 13 Dec 2018 08:54:17 -0500
Six Takeaways For Globalizing Your E-Commerce Business https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/six-takeaways-for-globalizing-your-e-commerce-business https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/six-takeaways-for-globalizing-your-e-commerce-business

0aaaDavid Stellato DFOGlobalAccording to a recent report from McKinsey, China accounted for less than 1% of the global e-Commerce market in 2008. Now, 10 years later, its share is 42%. Comparatively, today the U.S. share of the e-Commerce market is 24%, down a whopping 11 percentage points from 2005.

This is a telling sign — and perhaps a wake-up call — for businesses selling products and services only in the United States. But brands that ignore the growing global e-Commerce potential outside of the U.S. are doing major disservices to their bottom lines. Prospering businesses understand that to get more eyes and hands on product and services, demand should not be stifled by borders.

For those brands ready to take their e-Commerce businesses beyond the U.S. and into international waters, here are six key topics with takeaways for each:

Global Fulfillment And Logistics

Like plate spinners at the circus, this is a delicate balancing act. Costs for fulfilling and transporting products to consumers varies intensely by geographic area. Should brands pay for top-tier shipping and tracking — the kind where consumers are notified when the delivery truck driver sips his coffee? Or is something less robust, but more cost-effective, a better solution?

The Takeaway: Brands must account for the most difficult part of a package’s journey, the “last mile” – the leg of a product’s odyssey where it leaves a localized carrier for the consumer. Many global facilities do not have tracking or delivery confirmation capabilities, which may result in disputes and, ultimately, refunds and chargebacks.

Customer Service

Some customers want to talk through issues via telephone; others prefer email and chat exchanges. Consumer demand around automation and language vary by country. Costs for email ticketing and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions are cheaper than live agents — but is it worth your customer’s satisfaction?

The Takeaway: Ensuring a healthy balance of both will likely lead to the most satisfied customers. Email ticketing is efficient, cost-effective and offers dynamic translation, while live agent support is robust and allows representatives to not only handle disputes (thereby limiting refunds/chargebacks) but upsell complementary products. Different strokes for different folks — just remember to optimize for your target consumer and your business.

International Banking And Merchant Processing

In a real estate transaction, buyers and sellers each have their own representation. Banking and merchant processing work the same way. One bank represents the consumer, one bank represents the brands, and sprinkled throughout are payment companies such as Visa and MasterCard, each with its own rules, regulations, boundaries of operation, consumer demographics, etc. It’s a complicated dance. What’s the best way to ensure all parties know the correct steps?

The Takeaway: Ensuring success when different geographies, currencies and payment methods are in play is complicated, but the rule of thumb is that brands are much more likely to get approvals from domestic entities for domestic consumers. The worst scenario brands face is finding that consumers are interested in a product but are unable to purchase because of a decline by the merchant processor. Proper processing means less fraud, more sales and happier customers and better margins.

International Tax Implications

In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can impose sales tax on online purchases even if the business doesn’t have a physical presence there. Because it’s likely to affect small retailers more than big ones, what better time for U.S. brands to expand internationally? Those taking this route should be aware of a series of choke points regarding transactional tax, as other countries use a system of Value Added Tax (VAT). How is VAT different? What nations have additional import duties and tariffs?

The Takeaway: This should be a much larger discussion, but in general: know your product catalog, tariff code clarifications and jurisdictions. Investigate flat-rate pricing for tariff code determination and don’t rely on manual calculation or shipping company estimates to determine the total landed costs of shipments. That way leads to costly mistakes and unhappy customers.

Products And Packaging Regulations

Like rules and regulations that accompany hunting and fishing licenses, it’s critical for brands to understand the product and packaging certifications required to enter a certain market. Do we need a CE certification in the U.S.? What technologies require a UL certification?

The Takeaway: Get your products the correct certifications! Most reputable manufacturers know these certifications exist and will abide by them, but it’s the brand’s job to ensure these are followed. It sounds simple, but brands make mistakes because they’ve sourced cheap parts and materials and, instead of profiting, end up with heavy fines and costly lawsuits.

Marketing And Privacy Regulations

Does most of the Internet-using public understand they’re giving a certain expectation of privacy away if they want materials and other content free of charge? How best to regulate this give-and-take?

The Takeaway: Brands should pay careful attention to the political and regulatory tea leaves. Major privacy scandals such as Cambridge Analytica or sea changes such as GDPR force action, for better or worse, by organizations, advocacy groups and even states. Ensuring consumers are opting in to be targeted — that they want to receive messages and marketing materials — and adhering to this is the next big issue brands and businesses will face.

David Stellato is a Vice President at DFO Global Performance Commerce, overseeing the company’s global e-Commerce strategy and software solutions. He can be reached at david.stellato@dfo.global.

feed@retailtouchpoints.com (David Stellato, DFO Global) Executive ViewPoints Thu, 13 Dec 2018 08:49:41 -0500