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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.

Exclusive CEO Q&A: Get Ready For VR Saturation In Retail By 2028

With the ability to “take the best of the store experience and customize it for the individual…VR will be how people shop in 10 to 12 years,” said Lyron Bentovim, President and CEO of New York City-based The Glimpse Group. In this exclusive Q&A, Bentovim shares his insights and expertise, based on his work with technology entrepreneurs and startups. The Glimpse Group is a platform company comprised of 10 startups focusing on a variety of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) products.

B8ta Launches Interactive ‘Made By Google’ Experience In 7 Flagship Locations

The software-powered retail-as-a-service company b8ta has partnered with Google to showcase an interactive in-store shopping experience featuring Made by Google products. Shoppers in seven b8ta flagship locations will be able to test out and shop Google’s Home products in interactive home-like vignettes. These experiences are part of the b8ta mission — to get shoppers to try out new tech products in brick-and-mortar stores before they buy them. All b8ta stores “are designed for software to be a primary component that drives the experience,” said CEO and Co-Founder Vibhu Norby in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.

3D Face Authentication: The Future Of Grab ‘N Go

As businesses investigate new ways to automate redundant tasks at a macro level, retail is a vertical ripe for disruption. There has been a lot of buzz in the press this year about hamburger-slinging robots and automated baristas creating machine-made mochaccinos, but one new approach to automation has gotten the attention of retailers: the introduction of the Amazon Go concept. Eliminating checkout lines and cashiers using next-gen tech is ushering in the era of frictionless retail that more and more shoppers, especially the smartphone-obsessed Millennials and their younger Gen Z cohort, are expecting. Amazon Go opened their first store in Seattle in January of this year. There are now three in that city with plans to open others in San Francisco and Chicago. A total of six are in the works. Shoppers use a smartphone app with a unique QR code that gets scanned outside a set of glass doors, similar to the kinds of entryways many corporate employees pass through every day on the way to work. Once inside, shoppers have a range of food choices like grocery essentials as well as grab-and-go breakfast, lunch and dinner options including salads and sandwiches. The store is set up with a…

Wegmans Combines Mobile App, Human Assistance To Guide Visually Impaired Shoppers

Wegmans, a supermarket chain based in the Northeast, has implemented a combination of technology and human assistance for blind and low-vision shoppers, to make their shopping experience easier across all its 97 stores. All Wegmans stores are now Aira Access Locations, giving any member of the blind and low-vision community free access to Aira’s service while in Wegmans stores.

Birchbox Pilots In-Store Beauty Experiences In 11 Walgreens Stores

Birchbox is piloting new beauty experiences in select Walgreens stores in the next few months, signaling that the retailer is realizing the benefits of expanding its brick-and-mortar presence. The pilot will debut in six stores in December in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, and will extend to five more stores in early 2019. Walgreens will take an undisclosed minority stake in Birchbox as part of the partnership. Earlier this year, one of Birchbox’s existing investors, Viking Global, acquired a majority stake in the company by investing an additional $15 million into the brand.

Walmart Will Train 1 Million+ Associates Using VR Technology

Walmart will distribute 17,000 Oculus VR headsets to all U.S. stores beginning in October 2018, to train more than 1 million Walmart store associates on how to use the technology, according to a company blog post. With this expansion of the VR training program, every associate — including those on the floor — will have access to the same training that their managers and department managers get at the company’s 200+ training Academies. The company first started training store managers in 2017.

Snapchat Introduces Snap-To-Buy Capabilities For Amazon Shoppers

  • Published in Mobile
Snapchat is bringing a new visual search tool to its app, enabling users to search for products on Amazon from the Snapchat camera. The visual search will allow Snapchat users to point the app's camera at an item or barcode, find it on Amazon and buy it straight from the social messaging app, the company said in a blog post. When the item or barcode is recognized, an Amazon card will appear on-screen, surfacing a link for that product or similar ones available on Amazon.

Macy’s, Cosmopolitan Bring Makeup Try-On Experience From Print To Digital

Macy’s has partnered with Cosmopolitan magazine and Perfect Corp., the creator of the YouCam AR-powered makeup app, to deliver a virtual try-on feature through an eight-page native content package. The pages will showcase select Juicy Couture products. Using a smart device, readers can snap a photo of a special QR code, which will bring them to a destination on Cosmopolitan.com where they’ll be able to choose a try-on experience, test out the look using YouCam Makeup facial mapping technology and shop the products directly from the page.

10 Women-Led Startups Compete For Grants In European Event

  • Published in News Briefs
Women Who Tech, which showcases and funds women-led ventures around the world, has selected 10 finalists for the Women Startup Challenge Europe. Hundreds of female-led startups from 35 countries competed for the chance to pitch to top investors and tech leaders. The final 10 will compete at an event co-hosted…
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Amazon Reportedly Plans 3,000 Go Stores; Unveils Recommendation-Based ‘Scout’ Shopping Site

Amazon is reportedly considering a plan to open as many as 3,000 new Amazon Go cashierless stores by 2021, with more than 50 locations in major locations by 2019, according to Bloomberg. The e-Commerce giant would not comment on the report. The challenge to Amazon’s potential growth plan, regardless of how many checkout-free stores they end up building, is the high cost of opening each location. The original Amazon Go in downtown Seattle required more than $1 million in hardware alone, according to Bloomberg.

Standard Cognition Opens Cashierless Store In San Francisco

Yet another cashierless store has opened in the San Francisco Bay Area, ramping up the heated battle to see who can deliver frictionless checkout the fastest. Standard Cognition, an AI-powered autonomous checkout company that has labeled itself as “an alternative to Amazon Go,” has opened a concept called Standard Market. Standard Market is the third cashierless store that has popped up in the region within the past month. Two competitors of Standard Cognition, Zippin and Inokyo, have both opened similar stores, and Amazon Go is reportedly building one of their own.

Exclusive Q&A: Which Retail Jobs Are Safe From A Robot Takeover?

Retail, hospitality and other service-oriented industries have been seen as relatively immune to the job-killing effects of robotics, automation and AI. But as these technologies grow more sophisticated, retail’s resistance is weakening. Futurist Martin Ford, author of Rise Of The Robots: Technology And The Threat Of A Jobless Future, notes that robots are already reducing (or eliminating) the number of humans needed to do many jobs, including: • Warehouse work;• Checking in-store inventory;• Providing customer service; and• Staffing points of sale. In an exclusive interview with Retail TouchPoints, Ford identifies the advances in robotics and AI that are accelerating the fastest. He also identifies a selection of job categories that are safe from the march of automation — at least for now.

L’Occitane Experiential NYC Concept Store Accents Social Media, Sustainability

The L’Occitane Group is opening a L'Occitane En Provence experiential store on 555 Fifth Avenue in New York City, designed to highlight the brand’s seasonal campaigns through social media, VR and merchandising-based experiences. The store has a dedicated social media area that includes a video live feed of the company’s U.S. Instagram account, according to Glossy. Additionally, the location leans heavily on visual experiences, such as a “bike through Provence” where shoppers can ride stationary bikes against a scenic French background, and a 360-degree VR-powered hot air balloon ride over France where shoppers can get a free hand massage.

Forever 21 Increases AOV 20% With AI-Powered Visual Search And Navigation

Forever 21 is taking steps to move beyond text-based online search, offering shoppers AI-powered visual search and navigation developed by Donde Search. The features are designed to enable shoppers to search for dresses, pants, shorts, jeans and tops, and will appear as a standalone “Discover Your Style” module on the Forever 21 web and mobile web home pages. The “Discover Your Style” function already launched on the Forever 21 iOS app on May 18, 2018, and was initially available for the dresses and tops categories. In the first month after launching the feature, Forever 21 saw an increase in sales conversions and a 20% increase in average purchase value for the two test categories.

Can Conversational Commerce Fulfill Its Potential In Retail?

The remarkable growth of voice-assisted devices over the past year has expanded what “conversational commerce” truly means for retailers. While the term had largely been used to describe chatbot activity just a few years ago, voice now gives retailers yet another shiny toy to fulfill consumer needs — and hopefully create a new shopping channel. As such, there are high expectations around the technology: voice shopping is expected to account for $40 billion in U.S. consumer spending by 2022, according to a study from OC&C Strategy Consultants. However, for such a figure to be achieved, retailers must still surmount some high barriers. It’s true that enthusiasm for the technology itself is high— voice-activated devices are set for 50% U.S. sales growth from the 2016-2017 period to the 2018-2019 span, according to NPD Group. Yet despite this popularity, interest in — or even awareness of — their commerce functionalities remains low.
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