Latest Retail News, Strategies, & Trends - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Sat, 23 Sep 2017 17:25:54 -0400 RTP en-gb Target Expands Partnership With Kaiser Permanente, Plans 31 More Health Care Clinics Target Expands Partnership With Kaiser Permanente, Plans 31 More Health Care Clinics

Target and Kaiser Permanente, an integrated health care provider, are expanding their partnership with the launch of 31 additional Kaiser Permanente-staffed retail clinics in Target stores across Southern California. The sites will offer services such as pediatric care and management of chronic health conditions.

The two companies began their partnership with a pilot test in 2014, with Kaiser employees staffing four retail clinics located in San Diego (Mission Valley), Vista, Fontana and West Fullerton, Calif. Four more Kaiser Permanente-staffed Target Clinics, in San Diego (Chula Vista, Santee), Orange County (North Irvine) and Riverside (Hemet) will open this November, with additional clinics set to open in existing Southern California stores over the next three years.

The expanding partnership brings health care to consumers in an environment away from hospitals, emergency rooms and primary care physicians’ offices, which are often overcrowded and provide long wait times.

The clinics offer Target guests a broad array of services including: pediatric care; women’s health care; monitoring and care for chronic conditions including diabetes, cholesterol and high blood pressure; basic dermatology services; and treatment for minor illnesses including strep throat, vaccinations, sinus pain, earaches, asthma, and cold and flu.

MinuteClinic, the retail medical clinic of CVS Health, provides administrative services to support the four existing Target clinics. MinuteClinic will provide the same services to the new Target Clinics when they open to patients. After a clinic visit, eligible Kaiser Permanente members will be able to receive a one-time medication fill at the CVS Pharmacy co-located with the Target Clinic.


]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 22 Sep 2017 12:43:26 -0400
Mojix And CXignited Merge To Expand Global Solution 0aamojixMojix, an RFID and IOT platform solutions provider, has merged with CXignited, a product digitalization application provider.

The combined entity will operate under the Mojix name, with Dan Doles remaining as President and CEO. CXignited CEO Alain Fanet will become Chief Strategy Officer of Mojix and will lead the company’s global growth strategy.

The merger creates a global company offering solutions designed to automate inventory management processes and boost in-store customer experiences. The combined company seeks to create a worldwide footprint with expanded resources and scalability.

The combination of the Mojix RFID technology and IoT platform solutions with CXignited’s “inception to in-store” digitalization applications is designed to drive real-time product digitalization, locationing, authentication and personalization, for retailers, brands and manufacturers.

Based in Paris, CXignited had rebranded itself from Tagsys RFID in 2016.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Mergers & Acquisitions Fri, 22 Sep 2017 11:01:35 -0400
Radius8 Expands Management Team, Adding New Senior Operations VP 0aadonnyaskinRadius8 has appointed Donny Askin to the newly created position of Senior VP of Operations.

Askin has more than 40 years of experience in retail and commerce technology. He currently serves on the Board of Directors at Texbase, a cloud-based compliance, quality and materials management software solution provider.

Askin most recently served as the Interim CEO of 4D Technologies, and previously was Senior VP and General Manager for Yunique Solutions at Gerber Technology from 2011 to 2014. Prior to his tenure at Gerber Technology, he served as CEO and Chairman of Arigo, a venture-backed company providing private label, global sourcing and trade management supply chain solutions.

As CEO of OrderMotion from 2006 to 2007, Askin orchestrated the company’s acquisition by NetSuite, which subsequently became part of Oracle. Earlier he founded CommercialWare, Inc., which was acquired in 2006 by MICROS Systems and subsequently became part of Oracle as well.   

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:32:10 -0400
Albertsons-Plated Acquisition: Will It Create A Domino Effect For The Meal Kit Segment? Albertsons-Plated Acquisition: Will It Create A Domino Effect For The Meal Kit Segment?

Albertsons Co., the second largest supermarket chain in the U.S. by store count, is jumping into the $5 billion meal kit delivery market, acquiring Plated for an undisclosed sum. Plated will continue to sell its meals directly to consumers through its online subscription service, but in the coming months the company also will sell the kits in Albertsons stores.

In an interview with Retail TouchPoints, Michael McDevitt, CEO of healthy meal kit delivery service Terra's Kitchen, noted that he sees the Albertsons-Plated acquisition as one of the “lead dominoes” that will fall, enabling the entire meal kit segment to thrive and expand going forward.

The deal represents the latest fusion of brick-and-mortar and online grocery sales, which kicked into overdrive when Amazon announced it had acquired Whole Foods Market in July. In combining two separate yet complementary business models, Albertsons and Plated are seeking to reel in more consumers and provide them with meal solutions at cheaper prices.

“From a business side, this provides the Plated organization with tremendous amounts of new potential customers and customer data,” said McDevitt. “There’s a lot of research of what’s moving in food that they can incorporate into their business model. A trusted brand like Albertsons, and the different brands they’re affiliated with, can offer the consumer better pricing options as well. The buying power Albertsons possesses offers Plated a lot of advantages. As a smaller organization, your buying power is of course much smaller and your margins are lower. This combination could offer the Plated consumers the ability to have cheaper prices, which is definitely a huge barrier to entry for a lot of consumers in this segment.”

Albertsons certainly stands to gain a lot from this deal as well, especially since it drives revenue primarily from its approximately 2,300 stores across 35 states. The grocer would learn more about the transactional behavior of e-Commerce consumers and the demographics of groups it should be catering to — data that could help bolster its own online offerings. Additionally, the deal could help revive Albertsons’ long-dormant IPO plans.

E-Commerce grocery is expected to grow from $33 billion in 2016 (4% of the food and beverage market in 2016) to $70 billion (which will represent 8% of the market in 2021), according to the Future of Food Report from Inmar. The report estimated that Amazon will hold 33% of this market by then, providing a further incentive for Albertsons to work with an established meal kit player.

Driving Awareness To Meal Kits

Despite Blue Apron’s underperforming IPO in the wake of Amazon’s own meal kit entrance, the continued interest in these services from major players such as Kroger and Publix is a positive sign. Both retailers have built their own in-house meal kits offerings, demonstrating that there is more awareness and consumer interest within the segment as a whole.

“The hardest challenge about creating a new industry, especially the meal kit, is that it’s very expensive to create consumer awareness about it,” McDevitt said. “You’ve had companies like Plated, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Terra’s Kitchen. We spend a lot of marketing dollars to drive awareness to a consumer base. What we’re trying to sell could be a very similar product to what could be on grocery shelves, we’re just doing it in a different manner. To have a grocery partner integrate this correctly…that partner, due to having consumers walking through their aisles on regular basis, can drive massive awareness to their brand, which would be terrific for the meal kit. It drives those that aren’t familiar with the meal kit into the meal kit space.”

The Albertsons-Plated acquisition also could be a landmark test of how major supermarkets and grocers streamline their business models going ahead. McDevitt predicted that other large grocers and CPG players will continue to either acquire or partner with meal kit providers and other e-Commerce grocery services. He also has considered the possibility of his own company, Terra’s Kitchen, getting purchased by or partnering with a major grocery partner down the line.

“We’re about to see the world of grocery advance faster than the speed of Moore’s Law,” McDevitt said. “That’s due to Amazon throwing that first gauntlet down [in buying Whole Foods]. You’re going to see companies either adapt and succeed, or not adapt and fail. There’s two ways you can adapt and it really depends on the culture and the skill set. You can build your own innovation internally, and companies like Kroger are known for taking that path; they build it vertically. Albertsons has shown that it’s open to the concept of acquiring innovation. That’s often where you see a lot more success, because organizations that are these large behemoths are wise enough to understand what they don’t know. The challenge lies in the integration of the organization they’re bringing on board.”

Will Albertsons Revive IPO Chatter After The Investment?

Privately owned Albertsons Co., which operates stores under 20 brands including Albertsons, Safeway, Jewel-Osco, Acme and Shaws, put its IPO filing plans on hold in July after the Amazon-Whole Foods merger, two years after initially postponing such a listing.

The grocery giant may feel it needs this acquisition to get its IPO plans back on track, especially given that comparable store sales dipped 2.1% in Q1 2017 (worse than the 0.4% decline throughout all of 2016), according to an SEC filing. And with the company expecting to spend approximately $1.5 billion in capital expenditures in 2017, Albertson already has taken a massive $204.9 million net loss in Q1.

In a RetailWire discussion, Ken Cassar, VP and Principal Analyst at Slice Intelligence, noted that the decision to go after Plated was a smart one, especially when the company’s spending habits are taken into account.

“They didn’t buy Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, which would’ve cost a fortune, but they’ve got a foot in the meal kit delivery space,” Cassar said. “I’d advise Albertsons to focus the current Plated mail order business on serving niches of customers with narrow dietary needs (vegan, low fat, Paleo, etc.) and target less expensive, more mass-oriented meals to store shoppers.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Mergers & Acquisitions Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:04:13 -0400
Zulily Launches Private Label Credit Card Zulily Launches Private Label Credit Card

To kickstart the launch of its first private label credit card, zulily is offering one year’s free shipping for customers who sign up by midnight Pacific time on Friday, September 22, 2017. Shoppers must apply through a link in this Facebook post and be approved by zulily’s partner Synchrony Financial.

Cardholder benefits include Smart-pay, a flexible payment option that allows shoppers to buy an item now and pay for it in three monthly payments.

“The launch of our zulily credit card is just one special way we will continue to surprise and delight our customers,” said Darrell Cavens, President and CEO of zulily in a statement. “With roughly 93% of purchases coming from existing customers as of Q2 2017, we believe they will be delighted with a new financing option and compelling customer benefits that provide added value to their daily shopping experience.”

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:29:48 -0400
Mobile First: Harnessing The App Lifecycle For Transformative Business Success Mobile First: Harnessing The App Lifecycle For Transformative Business Success

Make mobile-first a key part of your digital strategy in order to:

  • Gain insights via the daily digital data trail;
  • Shape decisions on marketing strategy, media investments and operations planning;
  • Drive purchase conversions; and
  • Generate revenue through in-app advertising and mobile marketing automation campaigns.

Download this report to understand why a mobile-first approach is essential to optimizing the mobile opportunity.

]]> (Devin McDonnell) White Papers Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:31:10 -0400
The State of Omnichannel Commerce The State of Omnichannel Commerce

A Mystery Shopping Study

This mystery survey report assesses 30 different retailers based on 57 different metrics. Findings highlight best practices in four key areas of retail strategy:

  • Fulfillment and Inventory;
  • Personalization;
  • Pricing; and
  • Signage.

Download this report to uncover the 4 vital components of a great omnichannel experience.

]]> (Devin McDonnell) E-books Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:23:47 -0400
Innovators Point The Way To The Store Of The Future Pano Anthos XRC LabsThe so-called “retail apocalypse” may have been debunked, but there’s still no question that the industry is in the midst of profound change. Retailers aren’t just looking for ways to tweak the shopping experience; many seek to reimagine every aspect of how they will interact with consumers.

Pano Anthos, Founder and Managing Director, XRC Labs, brings a perspective that is both future-oriented and grounded in today’s retailing requirements. He has identified five key themes that are reshaping store-based retail:

  1. Bringing The Store To The Customer;
  2. The Store As Experience;
  3. The Store As Platform;
  4. Stores As Part Of The Circular Economy; and
  5. The Store As Manufacturing Plant

Anthos delved into the themes in detail, and provided examples of how they are being brought to life by several of the companies that were part of the recent “graduating class” for XRC Labs, an innovation accelerator that runs two 14-week programs each year bringing together entrepreneurs, brands, retailers and investors.

1. Bringing The Store To The Customer

The most valuable commodity in the world now is time. Driving to the store, wandering the aisles and going to the point-of-sale to check out is all time that’s being absorbed by the store. They’re also examples of things that have been eradicated by Amazon, which has focused on expediting the efficiency and effectiveness of shopping. From the retailer’s point of view, if the store is waiting for people to show up, that’s a pretty poor customer acquisition vehicle. Retailers need to go to the customer and entice them with some sort of retail experience.

Several companies in our recent XRC Labs Cohort are working to solve this issue. Wondermile is a proximity commerce platform that aggregates the inventory of local stores and exposes it to customers in a way that simplifies the buying process. Say the category is shoes — it would give you the availability of all shoes within a given radius. This is useful if you know specifically which shoe you want, or the kind of shoe you want, because it will tell you ‘Here are the vendors that have this shoe in-stock, available now.’ The solution can even manage the pickup and delivery process for the stores to bring the merchandise directly to the consumer.

Another innovative company connecting consumers with retailers is Cherry Pick AI, which monetizes social media comments. Most companies now have some kind of listening capability with social media, but these listening tools do nothing to convert expressed interest into purchases. Cherry Pick AI is using natural language processing and machine learning to distill purchase intent from social media comments. They can operate all the way from the top of the funnel, with a consumer simply expressing interest, to further down — someone saying ‘I want this now’ on a social platform. The program ties social media logons and personalities to an existing email identity; it can launch email campaigns or ads to the consumer through the enterprise database, and target them right away through the comments that are being shared, down to the product level.

Kid Things uses text-based messaging to provide a communications channel between parents and a concierge/online stylist, to help people buy things without having to churn through multiple e-Commerce sites. It uses AI to capture 90% of requests and provide responses that are based on the consumer’s profile and purchase history, and it’s already showing conversion rates of 40%. For example, if a parent says ‘I need a pair of shoes for my four-year-old,’ the program will understand sizes for kids that age, and also be able to identify that a consumer is more of a Keds customer than a Balenciaga shopper.

The last one in this category is Affinity, which bring the power of customer surveys to e-Commerce platforms, much in the way that Stitch Fix does. Consumers fill out a quick style survey — they have completion rates of up to 90% — to distill a ‘fashion genome’. Essentially, they are distilling the entire content of an e-Commerce site down to what you, the individual customer, would like, and providing a virtual stylist as well.

2. The Store As Experience

Being able to identify customers within the store is the biggest gap in today’s merchandising and consumer interface, but one way to address it is via facial recognition. The new Apple iPhone is selling this as a way to simplify the login process. Facenote expands this principle by allowing customers that opt in to submit a selfie via various channels. Within 10 seconds, you can be recognized anywhere the software is being deployed in the cloud. This isn’t for everyone, but retailers using this solution could identify and greet their VIPs as they walk into the store with specific information: ‘How did you like the new shirt you bought last week?’ That’s far more effective than the rote ‘How may I help you?’ query, and it’s certainly more effective for someone that has spent $10,000 in the store within the past three months. The technology is already out there; Facebook uses facial recognition technology for tagging people.

3. The Store As Platform

This relates to stores becoming places that don’t simply house owned inventory, but that provide access to the products customers want. We’re seeing this with electronics retailers like Best Buy — they are carrying products that they don’t own, and when a customer buys them, they are drop-shipped from a third party while Best Buy takes its cut of the transaction.

The solution here, from Trade Monday, is specifically for marketplace sellers. The company already has more than 200 customers in Hong Kong alone that are using this platform. Trade Monday provides reporting to these sellers, on a product level, not just about what is selling in different marketplaces but what their profitability is. They can manage profit margin visibility across multiple marketplaces, including Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, etc. For example, a Nikon camera might be selling well on eBay U.S., but it’s selling even better on eBay UK, and because the duties and total landed costs of fulfilling are lower for the latter, the margins are much better. Previously, this kind of calculation had to be done manually with Excel spreadsheets.

4. Stores As Part Of The Circular Economy

I believe stores should participate more in the rental/leasing economy. Outside of a Lowe’s or a Home Depot that allow you to rent tools or a leaf blower, stores are mostly transactional. But the circular economy opens up new opportunities. A company called Convey has an apparel leasing program that’s the equivalent of the Certified Lexus leasing program for cars. I could see there being a Certified Coach or a Certified Tory Burch program. The way it works is the consumer returns lightly used merchandise after they are done with it and gets a store credit for it. The store then leases it again, getting cash up front, and also gets a customer coming into their store with a credit, opening up the possibility of other sales. Rent The Runway already has pioneered a variation on this concept as a subscription service.

5. The Store As Manufacturing Plant

The future of supply chains isn’t in China or Vietnam; I believe it will be local, literally in the store itself. We’ve already seen some of the potential of 3D printing; Nimbly provides an on-demand 3D knitting platform to create knitwear apparel. Its solution powers the Shima Seiki machines, which can generate whole garments in 30 minutes or less. Ministry of Supply uses the machines, which are approximately six feet long and four feet high, to showcase how their garments can be created with no waste or pollution. There are personalization capabilities for consumers; they can specify that they want yarn from Italy rather than Argentina, for example.

This is on-demand manufacturing that pushes the supply as close to the consumer as possible, So instead of building a forecast 18 months in advance and having it produced in China, then shipped and sold — or not sold, as 30% of some items are not —now you only build what is demanded. While this won’t cover all aspects of knitwear, it does address the odd sizes and outlier colors that end up at off-price retailers because they don’t sell. Nimbly also prices this the same way that Amazon Web Services does, on a per-use basis. So, the retailer doesn’t have to buy or even lease the machine, they just pay for what they actually use.

Applications for the next XRC Labs 14-week program, which begins in January 2018, are now being accepted.

]]> (Adam Blair) Trend Watch Thu, 21 Sep 2017 09:21:00 -0400
Happy Returns Adds 5 Retailers, Opens 40th Return Bar Site Happy Returns Adds 5 Retailers, Opens 40th Return Bar Site

Happy Returns, which provides customers with locations for in-person returns in 14 major metropolitan areas, has added five retailers to its network. Chubbies, City Chic, Jaanuu, Paul Evans and Yosi Samra join existing partners that include Everlane, Carbon 38, Eloquii, Shoes of Prey and Tradesy.

The service and logistics company also has significantly expanded its network of Return Bars. Happy Returns now operates 40 locations, staffed by trained Returnistas and located in shopping centers and other accessible locations, up from three locations in two metro areas during the 2016 holiday season.

Additionally, Happy Returns has secured $4 million in Series A financing in a round led by Upfront Ventures. Upfront partner Greg Bettinelli is joining the Happy Returns board of directors along with Brian Spaley, a former co-founder of Bonobos and Trunk Club.

“With the recent announcement that Amazon will be accepting returns at Whole Foods, as well as the increasing demand by shoppers for free return shipping, retailers know offering a frictionless and even delightful return experience is quickly becoming a must-have to remain competitive,” said Happy Returns CEO David Sobie in a statement. “This additional financing will enable Happy Returns to continue to grow our in-person service and remain the leader in transforming returns.”

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:06:15 -0400
Whole Foods Becomes Lab For Amazon To Test Pricing Strategies 1blairEven for a company that routinely generates big headlines, Amazon made quite a splash with its purchase of Whole Foods in June. The retailer got even more attention when it lowered prices on key items at the grocer-formerly-known-as-“Whole-Paycheck” in late August. But Amazon is after more than just a public relations spike, or even the 25% customer traffic increase that it generated, according to Bloomberg.

What Amazon got from buying Whole Foods was a real-world testing lab for its pricing strategies. This strategy could be a boon for competing retailers, which have traditionally had difficulty tracking the multiple price changes Amazon is capable of making online. Moving its price changes into the open air of a supermarket, where they are by nature quite visible, could give competitors a clearer view of the e-Tail giant’s tactics.

Competitors also might take some comfort from the fact that Amazon’s actions acknowledge the continuing relevance of brick-and-mortar retailing, but in reality, their feelings of worry may far outweigh their feelings of satisfaction.

Whole Foods: A 456-Unit Testing Lab

Industry experts have been quick to call out Amazon for its experiments with Whole Foods. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Hermann Simon, founder and chairman of Simon-Kucher & Partners, noted:

“Last month, [Amazon] bought a network of 456 customer-friendly testing facilities which welcome roughly eight million ‘volunteers’ each week. Amazon’s relentless price testing in the online world anchors its competitive advantage. Its unrivaled base of knowledge allows it to use price as a communications tool, a recruiting tool, a psychological weapon, and a value driver in ways that transcend the basic mechanics of supply and demand and profit and loss. Now Amazon can supplement that knowledge with direct, proprietary insights about the offline retail world.”

Simon added that he sees Amazon’s price strategy, “fueled by constant testing and experimentation,” as evolving in three steps:

  • Changing price perception;
  • Growing the market for healthy foods; and
  • Applying insights to other offline retail sectors and services.

He noted that Amazon announced its price changes in stores with large, eye-catching posters showing the former (higher) price, the new (lower) price and a message reading “more to come” at the bottom. Including both prices, rather than showing a percentage decrease figure, reinforced the fact that the changes had crossed the psychologically important “whole dollar” thresholds, e.g. avocados went from $2.50 to $1.99.

Alibaba Has A Head Start In Price Testing

Alibaba, the Amazon of China (or is Amazon the Alibaba of America?) also has expanded its brick-and-mortar presence, with the announcement that construction of a five-story mall near its headquarters in Hangzhou, China was well under way (completion is slated for April 2018). What caught my eye in this story was that the mall would contain a Hema supermarket.

There are only 18 Hema stores, a fraction of the number of Whole Foods locations, but Alibaba can make up for the lack of scale with the depth of data it’s able to gather from consumers. Hema was essentially designed around the mobile experience: the Hema supermarket app connects customers to Alibaba’s e-Commerce platform, allowing them to shop for groceries online, for delivery or pickup. Customers can pay for their purchases using Alipay, Alibaba’s online payment platform.

“Alibaba also sees itself as a data company, having captured a significant amount of user data with more than half a billion people shopping on its platform that buy something at least once a month,” wrote Brian Deagon in a recent Investor’s Business Daily article titled “Alibaba Expands Into Groceries To Corral The Digital Consumer.” The article noted that at the end of June 2017, Alibaba reported that it had 466 million annual active customers and 529 million people visiting Alibaba sites via mobile devices.

So it’s highly likely that Alibaba is already years ahead of Amazon when it comes to understanding the impact of pricing on consumers, not to mention their product preferences, delivery vs. pickup patterns, grocery products vs. fresh prepared foods, etc. Whether such data is unique to the China marketplace is irrelevant; the point is that Alibaba has the tools and templates in place for such data gathering when it does expand into new markets.

It’s logical that both Amazon and Alibaba have chosen grocery stores as their testing “labs,” even though they have built-in disadvantages — including the challenges of handling fresh items, razor-thin profit margins and a group of well-entrenched competitors. Since everybody eats, supermarkets provide both brands with a constant supply of hungry test subjects.

]]> (Adam Blair) Editor's Perspective Tue, 12 Sep 2017 13:42:23 -0400