Retail TouchPoints - Your Source For The Latest Retail News And Trends - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Sat, 18 Aug 2018 22:02:55 -0400 RTP en-gb DoorDash Raises $250 Million; Now Valued At $4 Billion DoorDash Raises $250 Million; Now Valued At $4 Billion

DoorDash, a last mile logistics platform, has raised $250 million in a growth round co-led by investment management firms Coatue Management and DST Global. The round comes just five months after the company raised $535 million in Series D funding led by SoftBank Group, boosting the company’s valuation from $1.4 billion to approximately $4 billion. DoorDash has raised $978 million to date.

The company has generated significant growth in a short period, seeing sales grow 250% year-over-year, according to a blog post. While the company has now extended its delivery services to more than 100 major restaurant chains, including Wendy’s, Chipotle and IHOP, its biggest coup has been its recent partnership with Walmart that has expanded to 300 stores in 20 states. As Walmart continues to push into online grocery delivery, it will rely more on third parties such as DoorDash and Postmates to achieve its goal to extend these services to 40% of U.S. households by the end of 2018.

With the Walmart partnership beginning in April — a month after DoorDash received its Series D funding round — the latest funding round likely correlates with the company’s continued expansion via the retail giant. But DoorDash appears to have no issue extending to new markets on its own. Since January 2018, the company's geographic footprint has nearly doubled, to more than 1,000 cities across the U.S. and Canada. The company is on pace to reach 2,000 cities by the end of 2018.

DoorDash also just launched two services this month. The DashPass subscription service enables shoppers to pay $9.99 per month to get unlimited free deliveries from partner restaurants on orders of $15 or more, while the DoorDash Pickup feature enables customers to order ahead at partner restaurants and skip the lines.

The funds will help DoorDash expand to new cities and develop new products, CEO Tony Xu said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. DoorDash makes money through an approximately 20% commission fee to restaurants, as well as delivery and service fees.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Fri, 17 Aug 2018 12:22:10 -0400
Wayfair Adds Professional Designer Service To Platform Wayfair Adds Professional Designer Service To Platform

Wayfair has launched an e-design platform called Design Services, which allows shoppers to interact with interior designers with both online and phone collaboration.

The personalized process begins with a style survey about the customer’s preferences and goals, followed by the choice of a designer to work with. The shopper and designer work together throughout the process to review concepts and room designs, then create a shopping list.

The service comes in two tiers: the Lite Package has 30 minutes of phone time, while the Classic Package includes 60 minutes of phone time, a 2D design rendering and a custom floor plan. Both tiers offer unlimited online messaging with the designer and a customized shopping list, among other features.

Wayfair also has enhanced its home improvement offerings through the introduction of an alternate reality (AR) feature on Android devices. The software lets shoppers move virtual items around the screen to determine how they would fit and look in a given room.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Fri, 17 Aug 2018 13:01:46 -0400
Nordstrom Digital Sales Rise 23% In Q2, Now Accounting For 34% Of All Sales Nordstrom Digital Sales Rise 23% In Q2, Now Accounting For 34% Of All Sales

Digital sales led a strong quarter at Nordstrom, rising 23% in Q2 2018, up from a 20% increase in Q2 2017. Digital sales now account for 34% of all sales at the retailer, up from 29% a year ago. Other highlights of the financial results include:

  • Comparable sales increased 4.1% at full-price locations, such as Nordstrom and Trunk Club;
  • Comparable sales at off-price locations, including Nordstrom Rack, were up 4%;
  • Net revenue was $4.1 billion, up 7.1%; and
  • Fiscal 2018 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) reached $3.50 to $3.65.

The retailer’s loyalty program was part of the growth: Nordstrom Rewards shoppers represented 58% of all sales during the quarter, up from 56% in 2017. The company’s anniversary sale was also a success, with the first day’s digital demand surpassing the previous record by 80%.

The good quarter was a reversal of Q1 2018, when disappointing results resulted in a 10% stock price dip. The retailer also was coming off a failed bid to be taken private by members of its founding family.

Nordstrom continues to reinvent itself through new initiatives, including plans to open nine Casper mattress stores-within-a-store. The retailer’s digital initiatives include the acquisition of two tech startups: BevyUp, a platform that helps sales associates communicate with each other, and MessageYes, a solution that enables retailers and brands to text their customers and ultimately, let them make purchases from their phones.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Fri, 17 Aug 2018 11:58:05 -0400
Retail Remix Of 'Love Will Keep Us Together’: Takeaways From Etail East customer loveRetail today is all about getting the customer to fall in love with products and brands. In personal relationships and in retail, love is complicated and must be nurtured. In retail that means delivering unique and compelling experiences; personalized messaging and offers; and relevant marketing and communications — consistently across all channels.

When thinking about writing this article, I could not get this song out of my mind: "Love Will Keep Us Together," from 1975 by Captain and Tennille. Yes, I’m dating myself, but indulge me for a few minutes and listen to it. It pretty much lays out the strategy retailers should be thinking about as they are planning new customer strategies and technology implementations.

During the 2018 eTail East event in Boston this month, many conversations and presentations were focused on how to win the hearts and minds of consumers. Clicktale, which offers Experience Analytics solutions, is working with a cognitive psychologist to better understand customer behavior in the digital world. Liraz Margalit, PhD has conducted studies covering the “Mobile Mindset” triggered by smartphone use; “Stress Shopping,” and “Emotions in the Digital World.” She explained: “Emotions are a gateway to our memory” about a brand.

So how are retailers working to get consumers to fall in love with their brands? Here are some examples shared at eTail East:

Loyalty Is The ‘Diamond Of The Ring’ At

Discussing the evolution of consumer loyalty, Maquel Shaw, Chief of Staff, Marketing at referenced the progression of a relationship from the first date to the engagement:

  1. Friend referral = product awareness
  2. Successful first date = first purchase
  3. Social media sharing = initial loyalty
  4. Changing Facebook relationship status = repeat purchase
  5. Engagement = long-term loyalty

“When thinking about loyalty, is focused on making sure customers are happy and ensuring their safe shopping journey,” Shaw said.

But Overstock did stumble along the way, damaging the consumer relationship by not keeping up with the competition when Amazon Prime arrived on the scene in 2005. In 2010, in response the company lowered its Club O loyalty club price and changed an up-front discount to a reward after purchase to motivate repeat purchases.

There have been other stumbles along the way, but Shaw and his team continue to work on the relationship: “We learn from wins and failures,” he noted. “When you ask for loyalty you must give it in return.”

Brookstone And Betabrand Focus On Customer Lifetime Value

During a panel moderated by Yoav Susz, VP of Revenue for Optimove, retailers at different ends of the industry spectrum shared their insights on the best ways to acquire and retain customers, and achieve improved Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

“We are looking at purchase behavior over time,” noted Caroline Culbertson, Director of Marketing at Betabrand, a retailer selling clothing selected by crowdfunding. “Right now we’re focusing the majority of marketing dollars on acquisition.” To achieve results, Betabrand relies on its core values: “People who engage with crowdsourcing and crowdfunding have 35% more CLV than consumers who are just buying the products.”

Brookstone is working to improve conversations and engagement with customers by improving channel integration, noted Howard Blumenthal, VP of e-Commerce: “It is most important to get people to use more than one channel to improve CLV,” he explained. Additionally, in the midst of a bankruptcy, the retailer is refocusing on its airport stores, while shuttering more than 100 mall stores. Blumenthal explained that Brookstone is working to enable shoppers to buy at one airport and pick up at another (potentially when they land at their destination).

Tractor Supply Implements CARE Program To Improve Customer Relationships

“We are very focused on customer needs,” said Letitia Webster, Vice President of Omnichannel at Tractor Supply. The 1,700-store chain implemented its CARE program to better serve customers:

C = Customer understanding and insights;
A = Architect for the enterprise;
R = Repeatedly test and learn; and
E = Expand the implementation.

A new program that is addressing CARE is Buy Online/Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS). “Over 60% of online shoppers said they had picked up an order in the store during the past year,” Webster noted.

One of the key elements of Tractor Supply’s BOPIS program is giving the stores credit for the BOPIS orders. “They are store sales, not e-Commerce orders,” explained Webster. “That has driven some of the success we have seen.” Stores also get credit for returns in-store, she added.

BOPIS also has delivered a 20% uptick in in-store sales when customers come in to pick up their orders.

New Balance Builds Personalized Experiences And Products

Moving from a wholesaler to a direct-to-consumer brand has been a challenge for New Balance. “Interaction with the consumer is still somewhat new to us,” said Mary Halliday, Director of Global Consumer Experience Strategy and Solutions, “but I’ve tried to instill within the company that we need to think about the consumer experience the same way we think about the focus on our shoes.”

In one example, the company had developed a customized shoe experience, but it took 16 steps to configure a shoe, which was a problem for shoppers using mobile devices. Also, New Balance initially offered the shoe customization on tablets in-store, but “we pulled that back,” said Halliday. “It was not a great in-store customer experience.”

Moving forward, New Balance is looking to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help drive better personalized experiences. “We are looking at innovation in the context of what the business is trying to accomplish,” Halliday noted. For example, New Balance is working to answer the question: “How can AI replicate the one-on-one conversation with a customer service rep? Can a voice experience deal with different types of consumers?”

]]> (Debbie Hauss) Trend Watch Fri, 17 Aug 2018 08:45:41 -0400
Kroger Selects Arizona Site For Automated Delivery Pilot Kroger Selects Arizona Site For Automated Delivery Pilot

Kroger will launch its self-driving delivery pilot in Scottsdale, Ariz. The company is partnering with Nuro, a driverless delivery vehicle company, to begin testing the concept at a Fry’s Food Stores location. Nuro will initially use a self-driving Toyota Prius before introducing its custom R1 driverless vehicles in the fall.

Customers can place orders either through Fry’s web site or mobile app, and schedule them to be delivered to their homes either the same day or the next day based on available slots. There is a $5.95 delivery fee with no minimum order requirement.

The automated delivery program could reduce the direct labor costs associated with grocery delivery, according to Sylvain Perrier, President and CEO of Mercatus. The trial could provide shoppers with a more efficient service while saving money and improving the bottom line for Kroger.

“This is a significant wake-up call for delivery services who rely on the gig economy for fulfilling deliveries and for retailers who are hesitant to enter the online fulfillment space,” said Perrier in commentary provided to Retail TouchPoints. “We are no longer asking the question ‘will retailers enact online grocery options?’ Retailers have gone well past the initial adoption phase and are already creating the future’s more efficient and productive online grocery fulfillment options.”

The launch of the automated delivery pilot closely follows the introduction of Kroger Ship, the retailer’s new direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-Commerce platform. The service is initially offering a curated selection of 4,500 Our Brands private label items, as well as 50,000 center-aisle grocery and household products.

Kroger acquired meal-kit company Home Chef in May, which also provided a boost to its delivery options: Home Chef's distribution centers reach 98% of all continental U.S. households within a two-day delivery window.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) E-Commerce Thu, 16 Aug 2018 15:01:39 -0400
With $100 Million In Net Losses, Is It Time For JCPenney To Panic? With $100 Million In Net Losses, Is It Time For JCPenney To Panic?

JCPenney slashed its full-year outlook for 2018 after the department store experienced significant net losses and poor revenue growth in Q2, again raising questions of whether the company will ever be able to bounce back. The company saw Q2 net losses of $101 million, doubling its loss of $48 million the year prior, with net sales decreasing 7.5%, from $2.99 billion down to $2.76 million, and a comparable sales lift of only 0.3%.

The department store downgraded its 2018 guidance from an initial range of expectedlosses between $0.07 to $0.13 per share all the way down to expected losses between $0.80 to $1.00 per share. Wall Street reacted to the earnings report accordingly, with shares plunging more than 25% after the market opened on Aug. 16. The retailer’s stock price dipped below $2.00 per share for the first time ever.

JCPenney said in the report that it now had just $182 million in cash left, a more than 40% drop from a year ago. Although the retailer has $2.2 billion in total liquidity, it also reported having nearly $4 billion in long-term debt.

Department store rival Macy’s is slowly engineering a turnaround of its own, in large part with disciplined inventory management. JCPenney has had opposite results on this front and hasn’t figured out how to curb these losses. Inventory buildup at JCPenney is outpacing sales due to prior purchase commitments, the department store’s CFO Jeffrey Davis revealed in a statement. In other words, the company has a lot of unsold goods within its stores and has to rely on markdowns to try and move the merchandise.

“It is not enough simply to buy less,” wrote Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData Retail in a research note. “JCPenney needs to have a clear view of who it is buying for and then relentlessly focus on producing a well-targeted range that is differentiated and inspiring. In our view, JCPenney is a long way from getting this right. As such, even with modest improvements, the results from fashion are unlikely to improve significantly over the balance of this year.”

In the midst of this chaos, the company still is searching for its next CEO — three months after former chief exec Marvin Ellison departed to head up Lowe’s. There hasn’t been much news about who the next CEO may be, but JCPenney Chairman Ronald Tysoe said that the Board has “met with highly qualified candidates” and that hiring the next chief exec is the brand’s “top priority.”

JCPenney has tried to reinvent itself in recent years via partnerships with companies such as Sephora and Fanatics as part of its pivoted focus to beauty products and stores-within-stores, and will launch expanded baby shops within 500 stores starting Aug. 30. Additionally, since the beginning of 2017 the company has closed 140+ stores and laid off more than 5,000 employees to cut costs. Yet despite these massive changes, nothing appears to have given JCPenney the consistent boost necessary to get the retailer back on its feet.

The company’s top performing divisions during Q2 included children's, jewelry, Sephora, women's apparel and salon products, so there are a handful of categories to work with. But if neither the inventory issues nor the identity crises plaguing the retailer are figured out, JCPenney is going to have a hard time returning to profitability.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 16 Aug 2018 14:59:24 -0400
Weblinc Secures $6 Million In Funding To Scale Up Platform Development Weblinc Secures $6 Million In Funding To Scale Up Platform Development

Weblinc, a commerce and operations management systems provider, has secured a $6 million investment led by Montage Capital and Partners for Growth (PFG). Weblinc offers the SaaS platforms Workarea and Orderbot.

In the past year, numerous international brands such as Reformation,Lonely PlanetandBuzzfeed have adopted Weblinc’s platforms into their systems. The new funding will enable Weblinc to expedite the scale required to meet increasing demands for the platforms in North America and globally.

"The investment will go directly toward our cloud commerce products, including improvements in content, search and insights; things retailers and brands actually need,” said Darren C. Hill, CEO and Cofounder of Weblinc in a statement. “We'll also further grow the sales and marketing teams, and we do anticipate to bring on new talent soon."

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) Financial News Thu, 16 Aug 2018 12:47:00 -0400
Walmart Same-Store Sales Up 4.5% in Q2, Marking Strongest Growth In 10 Years Walmart Same-Store Sales Up 4.5% in Q2, Marking Strongest Growth In 10 Years

Walmart experienced its most robust same-store sales growth in a decade during fiscal Q2 2019, led by the strong performance of grocery, apparel and seasonal items. Highlights of the results include:

  • Comparable sales at stores open for at least 12 months increased 4.5%, supported by traffic and ticket growth each exceeded 2%;
  • Sam’s Club comparable sales grew 5%, the biggest increase in six years;
  • Net revenue of $128 billion, up 3.8%;
  • E-Commerce sales grew approximately 40%; and
  • Fiscal 2019 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) reached $4.90 to $5.05 expected, excluding Flipkart.

The retail titan’s e-Commerce growth was partially driven by its expanded online assortment, which included the introduction of 1,100 new brands. Walmart is currently in discussions to add even more brands to the site, and is on track to provide grocery delivery to 40% of the U.S. population by the end of 2018.

Walmart has been making other substantial changes to its e-Commerce experience as well. The retailer:

Partnerships with technology firms have helped Walmart further enhance its online presence. The company recently signed on with Microsoft to work on cloud and AI innovations, and joined forces with to invest $500 million in Dada-JD Daojia, a Chinese grocery delivery company. Walmart ended its grocery delivery relationships with Uber and Lyft, but now offers the service in Japan through Rakuten.

“We continue to partner in the areas where it makes sense,” said CEO Doug McMillon in a statement. “The recent announcement with Microsoft is related to our ongoing digital transformation. Our ongoing relationships with Google, Rakuten and are productive and we enjoy building win/win collaborations to serve customers more effectively.”

Overall net sales at Walmart International were $29.5 billion, an increase of 4% for the quarter. Sales from outside the U.S. currently account for 24% of all revenue, according to Moody’s. International revenue has been growing approximately 3% annually.

The realignment of the international business has included Walmart’s acquisition of Flipkart and the sale of majority stakes in British subsidiary Asda and Walmart Brazil. Taken together, these moves prepare Walmart to tap the explosive online growth expected in India, giving it an advantage over Amazon, according to Moody’s.

“The strategic shift will be expensive, at least initially,” said Moody’s in a research note. “Walmart is taking a $4.5 billion charge to exit Brazil, and is paying $15 billion for the unprofitable Flipkart. But these major moves, which vastly reduce its presence in two significant markets — and going 'all-in' in India — show that Walmart is not wedded to assets that don’t fit with its growth strategy.”

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Thu, 16 Aug 2018 12:33:45 -0400
eBay ‘Retail Revival’ Brings Akron Entrepreneurs To New York City eBay ‘Retail Revival’ Brings Akron Entrepreneurs To New York City

eBay is giving SMBs from Akron, Ohio an opportunity to display and sell their products on a much bigger stage.

The e-Commerce giant sent 17 SMBs to set up shop in The New Stand, a retail concept store in New York City with locations in Brookfield Place and the Union Square subway station, to bring shoppers a new collection of original items from Akron. The products will remain on sale at Brookfield Place through Aug. 24.

Earlier this year, the city of Akron and eBay piloted Retail Revival, a mentorship program designed to support the growth of more than 100 of the city’s local businesses by providing its entrepreneurs with the tools and resources to keep their businesses running online.

"We're bringing the best of Akron's entrepreneurs and artisans to New York City to help them expand their reach to new audiences," said Chris Librie, Head of Global Impact at eBay in a statement. "Through the power of eBay's platform and shoppers in New York and beyond, we're committed to making a positive impact on the growth of local retailers and their communities."

For shoppers who can’t make it to either of the locations, eBay is offering a “Taste of Akron” — limited edition boxes that include fair-trade coffee beans, hand-drawn cards, sustainable fruit snacks, augmented reality (AR) gaming devices, and an all-natural beeswax moisturizer, all of which are produced by companies in Akron. The limited-edition boxes, which retail for $35, will be given away to the first 10 shoppers who visit each New Stand store.

eBay also plans to expand the Retail Revival program to its second city, Lansing, Mich. in the coming months.

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) News Briefs Thu, 16 Aug 2018 10:46:16 -0400
Backbone PLM Raises $8 Million In Series A Funding Backbone PLM Raises $8 Million In Series A Funding

Backbone PLM, a cloud-based collaborative product development platform provider, has closed an $8 million funding round that includes $6.7 million in Series A funding. Signal Peak Ventures led the round, with participation from Grotech Ventures, Spider Capital, Novel TMT Ventures, Beanstalk Ventures, Brainchild Holdings and Peterson Ventures.

With the funding, Backbone PLM plans to accelerate its growth and support continued innovation of its product lifecycle management platform.

Founded by brothers Matthew Klein and Andrew Klein, who have more than 30 years of combined experience in product development, Backbone PLM seeks to automate the design and production process for consumer goods companies launching new products, enabling them to reduce lead times throughout the supply chain. Additionally, Backbone PLM is designed to enable retailers and brands to manage milestone calendars, iterate designs, and track factory communications, samples, approvals, cancellations, actions and purchase orders through to the end product.

The company currently works with more than 100 direct-to-consumer brands, including Allbirds, Kith, Outdoor Voices, Parachute Home, Stitch Fix and Warby Parker.

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) Financial News Thu, 16 Aug 2018 09:39:57 -0400