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Retail Innovaiton

In today's digitally empowered business environment, retailers must stay on top of the latest technology and marketing trends in order to remain competitive. The companies that will thrive moving forward are actively testing and implementing innovative ideas and solutions. Retail TouchPoints stays on the cutting edge of retail innovation by hosting the annual Retail Innovation Conference, interviewing industry leaders, and tapping our collective experience to deliver insightful reporting on the most important retail stories.

Starbucks Purchases Clean Energy To Power 3,000 Stores By 2021

Starbucks has closed a deal that will supply clean power to the electricity grids serving 3,000 of its stores by 2021. A three-project, 146-megawatt renewable energy portfolio will tap wind and solar farms in North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. The portfolio was constructed with the help of LevelTen Energy, a technology-enabled power procurement platform. “As we continue to strive towards building and operating the world’s largest green retail business, we know we need to find innovative business models to achieve our renewable energy goals,” said Patrick Leonard, Energy Manager for Starbucks company-operated stores in the U.S. and Canada in a statement. “Not only does this portfolio model allow us to support new solar and wind farms that will deliver the clean energy equivalent to the electricity powering over 3,000 stores, it also opens the door for many new buyers to cost-effectively source smaller amounts of renewable energy.”

Sofia Kaman Debuts ‘My Treasure’ Try-It-On App For Jewelry Shoppers

  • Published in Mobile
Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels has debuted a new augmented reality (AR) app on its web site called My Treasure, which enables customers to upload photos of their hand from their mobile device to virtually try on any ring or to curate a ring stack within the app. The feature is designed to be user-friendly, enabling shoppers to simply click the top left corner navigation icon on their phone to sign in or create an account and use the My Treasure app. Shoppers can immediately select a ring and scroll the photos to the My Treasure hand icon. Once they tap the hand image, they can take a photo of their hand or upload a new image.

Two Paths To Innovation: Kroger Debuts Investment Firm For Brands; Lowe’s Acquires Analytics Tech

Two of the biggest traditional players in U.S. retail, Lowe’s and Kroger, have each made major pushes in the past year to ensure they are keeping up with major industry innovators. But this week these retailers made even bigger splashes, with Kroger launching an accelerator fund for consumer brands and Lowe’s acquiring retail analytics technology from Boomerang Commerce. Kroger has partnered with Lindsay Goldberg, a private equity firm, to form PearlRock Partners, a platform designed to identify, invest in and help grow emerging consumer product brands.

Amazon Opens First ‘Go’ Store In NYC…And It Accepts Cash

Amazon is opening its first Amazon Go store in New York City in lower Manhattan’s Brookfield Place, marking the twelfth Go store overall. The 1,300-square-foot space also is the first Amazon Go store that will accept cash for payment. The cash option is a major departure from other Amazon Go stores that have opened in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago, which include no checkout points. Shoppers seeking to pay cash will have to be swiped in by an employee, then have their chosen products scanned by a staffer, who conducts the checkout process for them.

Farmstead Launches Predictive Behavior-Based ‘Smart Shopping List’

  • Published in E-Commerce
Farmstead, an online grocer of locally sourced produce based in San Francisco, has introduced a Smart Shopping List feature, designed to predict what products customers need based on factors including weekly shopping history, buying signals and what’s already in their cart. The grocery company uses proprietary AI and machine learning technology to predict grocery trends and consumer purchasing habits. The technology helps Farmstead keep prices for certain products below the averages in Bay Area supermarkets. 

Sainsbury’s Pilots Cashierless Checkout Store

  • Published in Mobile
Sainsbury’s is piloting its first checkout-free location in a convenience store in London’s Holborn Circus. The store has been refurbished to remove the checkout area entirely, with employees instead working on the shop floor. The retailer is using its existing SmartShop Scan, Pay & Go mobile app, which is currently live in eight of its London stores. In these other locations, however, customers still have the option of making their purchase at a checkout.

Walmart AI-Powered Lab Store Emphasizes Real-Time Grocery Inventory Control

Nearly six months after Walmart revealed it would open an Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL) within a Levittown, N.Y. Neighborhood Market, the retail giant has offered a peek into the store’s transformation. Powered by a massive data center, the 50,000-square-foot store uses AI to ensure in-stock position and freshness of perishable items like produce and meat. IRL is set up to gather information about what’s happening inside the store through an array of weight-measuring sensors, 1,500 AI-enabled cameras and 100 data processors. These tools help the team focus on product inventory and availability, particularly by providing associates with real-time information enabling them to restock products, so items are available on shelves when they’re needed. For example, the inventory tracker for Walmart’s meat counter can identify every type of meat sitting on the product shelf.

Stance Deploys Cashierless Self-Checkout Across 14 Stores

Cashierless checkout has for the most part been limited to major grocers thus far and is perhaps most commonly associated with Amazon Go, but one retailer — best known for selling socks — is showing that this technology can be deployed just as effectively in an apparel setting. Stance has deployed self-checkout technology from Moltin within its 14 U.S. stores, designed to let shoppers skip lines and check out via a browser-based mobile progressive web app (PWA). The goal for the technology was singular: eliminating lines, according to Paul Zaengle, EVP of Direct-to-Consumer at Stance. While Zaengle had followed self-checkout technologies for years, he said it wasn’t until 2018, when Apple allowed iOS to access cameras through a web page, that the Stance team was able to envision a realistic application.

Unmanned, AI-Powered Skincare Experience Debuts In Dubai

An AI-powered beauty startup spun off by Samsung, lululab, now provides an unmanned virtual beauty experience in Dubai. The kiosk is powered by LUMINI, an AI-based skincare assistant that provides shoppers with individually tailored skin care solutions. The installation, dubbed the AI Beauty Store, is housed on the ground floor of Galeries Lafayette, a French department store. The experience helps shoppers find new products through a three-step process: A selfie is taken by the multispectral camera in the kiosk, providing information on the shopper’s skin; The LUMINI AI analyzes the results and makes recommendations, which also can include discounts on some products; and The customer receives a follow-up report on their mobile device.

Exclusive Q&A With Brian Solis: Why Innovation Is Key To Engaging ‘Gen C’

We’ve all heard about Generations X, Y (a.k.a. Millennials) and Z, but have you heard about Generation C? The “C” stands for “Connected,” and despite the “Generation” title it’s not limited to people born during a specific span of years. The common factor for members of Generation C is a simple one: their use of smartphones. Using smartphones “rewires your brain to essentially move faster, makes you a lot less patient, and has created a lot of ‘accidental narcissism’,” said Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at Altimeter. The rise of Generation C has essentially created a new type of customer, forcing all kinds of businesses to reimagine both the customer journey and key elements of the customer experience (CX).

What To Expect From #RIC19 Panels: AI, Women’s Leadership, Pop-Ups

Every year, thought-provoking panel discussions are a staple of the Retail Innovation Conference agenda, because they allow a group of industry experts to exchange insiders’ perspectives on the hottest topics in retail. In 2019, RIC continues this trend with panels that will dive deep into hot-button topics that include: artificial intelligence, women’s leadership, influencer marketing, consumer shopping habits, next-gen pop-ups and more.

80% Of Shoppers Give Thumbs Up To Chatbot Experiences, But 59% Remain Uninterested In Using Them

As many as 80% of people who have interacted with a chatbot say the experience was positive, according to a survey from Uberall. Even so, 30% of consumers have a tepid response to chatbots, saying they were “somewhat uninterested,” with 29% more indicating no interest at all. “There’s definitely growing interest in branded chatbot experiences, but most consumers still need convincing,” said Florian Huebner, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Uberall in a statement. “Many are wary, either because chatbot technology in the past was not advanced enough to ensure a good experience, or because consumers worry chatbots could easily become another spam channel. Brands have to do a better job creating AI experiences that customers find personalized, helpful and worthwhile.”

The Role Of Customization In Retail: Meeting Ever-Changing Demands With Unique Experiences

Shopping has changed. Solely meeting consumers with a traditional brick-and-mortar experience is a surefire way to become a victim of the retail apocalypse, and there are certainly enough tragic examples on record — from Toys ’R’ Us to Blockbuster Video — to prove the point. Whether surfing online from the convenience of their own smartphone or desktop, or actually stepping inside a physical location, potential purchasers are almost as interested in customized, unique experiences as the products or services they’re shopping for themselves. From interactive in-store demos to automated and personalized thank-you notes, the new retail ecosystem offers more opportunities to connect with target audiences than ever before, and those who take advantage are those that will most likely survive.

1-800-FLOWERS.com Upgrades Voice, Implements AR Ahead Of Valentine’s Day

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, 1-800-FLOWERS.com is giving shoppers additional ways to buy gifts for their loved ones at virtually any time and place. The retailer has upgraded or debuted numerous platforms to kick off February, including: Voice command-powered smart ordering and order tracking with Samsung Bixby, Apple Business Chat, Google Assistant and Facebook Messenger; A “Quick Meets Easy” gift selection tool designed to help shoppers who prefer receiving speedy, tailored floral recommendations; Augmented reality (AR) messaging through the mobile app, with a variety of filters and messaging options to choose from; A redesigned mobile site powered by progressive web apps (PWAs); and Last-minute gifting via SmartGift; shoppers can select a floral arrangement and let SmartGift notify the recipient when it will arrive, via text, email or any other messaging platform.

11 Honoré Partners With Shopify To Host ‘Runway Commerce’ Experience At NYFW

New York Fashion Week (NYFW) kicks off in the Big Apple this week, and companies such as Shopify are getting in on the action with unique partnerships to celebrate the event. For the first time, Shopify will debut a “runway commerce” experience and interactive pop-up alongside 11 Honoré, a luxury, size-inclusive…
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