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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 Q&A: Brian Solis Reveals Five Keys To Real Retail Innovation

As a digital analyst, anthropologist and futurist, Brian Solis strives to get to the heart of not just how the art of doing business has changed, but more importantly, why. In his latest report, titled: Leading Trends In Retail Innovation: Insights from Some of the Most Progressive Retailers Changing The Game, Solis, a Principal Analyst at Altimeter, a Prophet Company, investigates how the “Retail Armageddon” and other headline-dominating trends are changing the industry as we know it. The report was “shaped based on my experience in innovation and transformation,” Solis explained. “When I’m interviewing people responsible for retail innovation, I’m often surprised, even disappointed, in how very little innovation is taking place. There is no sense of urgency around the topic. So, I put myself in the shoes of someone in this role. If I’m tasked with finding ways to better compete in the digital economy, who would I want to talk to? Who would inspire me to think differently?”

Marks & Spencer-Microsoft Partnership Will Leverage AI In Retail Operations

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is turning to AI to sharpen its appeal to customers through a partnership with Microsoft. The UK-based department store plans to integrate Microsoft AI technologies into M&S stores and wider operations to improve the customer experience. A team of AI engineers and product personnel from Microsoft will partner with the M&S Retail Labs team to accelerate digital transformation at the retailer. In November 2017, M&S unveiled a five-year transformation program, which includes technology improvements designed to enable the retailer to become a digital-first business.

Las Vegas Shopping Complex Debuts Chatbot With Personality

Visitors to the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas now can interact with an AI-powered shopping guide through Facebook Messenger whenever they need better information to enhance their shopper journey. The chatbot, “Jules,” showcases a witty and sassy personality designed to reflect the mall’s audience of chic and lively shoppers. Jules is available 24/7 to address a variety of guest inquiries that pertain to the center’s stores, restaurants and shows, and can provide specific answers based on where users are in the 475,000-square-foot mall.

Macy’s Acquires Minority Stake In B8ta, Will Deploy Platform In Pop-Up Concept

A month after acquiring experiential retail concept shop Story, Macy’s is investing in another innovative retail industry player. The department store acquired a minority stake in b8ta, a “store-as-a-service” concept that enables shoppers to try new tech products before they buy. Additionally, b8ta is designed to collect data about consumers’ behavior while they shop. Macy’s has not disclosed the amount of the investment. The department store will leverage b8ta to scale up The Market @ Macy’s pop-up concept more quickly, according to a statement from Hal Lawton, President at Macy’s. Launched in February 2018, The Market @ Macy’s, currently open at 10 U.S. Macy’s locations nationwide, is designed to help emerging and established brands reach new audiences. Each shop brings customers a rotating selection of offerings in apparel, accessories, beauty, entertainment, experiences, decorative home, stationery, technology and gifts.

Exclusive Q&A: ‘Experience Is The Way Forward In Retail Stores’

You won’t find two more passionate advocates for experiential retail than Laura Davis-Taylor and Ed King, the co-founders of The HighStreet Collective. “Experience is the way forward in retail stores, and that’s no longer a theory — it’s absolutely mandatory,” said Davis-Taylor, the Collective’s Principal Consultant for Retail Experience Strategy. “My hope is that it doesn’t become a cliché term rather than an active strategy for retailers.” Davis-Taylor and King, who is Principal Consultant for Retail Customer Experience at HighStreet Collective, discussed just how crucial experience is to the future of stores in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. This was also a key theme of the Digital Experience Forum they co-hosted in conjunction with the Digital Signage Expo in March, and their presentation at the 2018 Retail Innovation Conference.

#RIC18: Marketing/Customer Engagement, Retail Innovation And Customer Experience Sessions Coverage

The 2018 Retail Innovation Conference featured more than 20 breakout sessions, organized into six tracks: Digital Strategies Omnichannel Commerce Operations Marketing/Customer Engagement Retail Innovation Customer Experience These small-group sessions allowed attendees to dive deeply into hot topics and hear in-depth case studies from retail executives, as well as analysis and best practices from consultants and industry experts. Here’s a quick recap of the sessions from the Marketing/Customer Engagement, Retail Innovation and Customer Experience tracks, with live links to videos for a more detailed look. Recaps of the remaining three tracks were published on May 29.

How A Digital Storefront Enhances The Physical Experience At Mizuno

Designed to “capture the new digital savvy customer and showcase Mizuno product cross-sport,” the digital solutions in place at Mizuno flagship stores are driving global customer engagement and loyalty. Mizuno operates one flagship store in the U.S., as well as others in key markets worldwide. The digital display merchandising solution, provided by Perch, features self-serve technology that brings the digital online experience into the brick-and-mortar store. This technology is a key focus of the Mizuno Experience Center, located in The Battery, the U.S. flagship store in Atlanta. Here, shoppers can immerse themselves in digital experiences to book custom fittings for golf clubs or running shoes, assess their baseball swing, get gloves steamed and more.

Symphony RetailAI Releases Virtual Store Remodeling Platform

Symphony RetailAI has unveiled the SR Virtual Store Remodeling solution for grocery retailers and suppliers. The VR platform is designed to optimize existing and new store layouts based on customer-driven design, research and testing analysis. The solution allows CPG companies to analyze products’ shelf performance, helping to promote better shopper experiences, operational efficiency and supplier collaboration without significant resource investment from retailers and CPGs.

Ahold Delhaize USA Forms Digital Innovation Lab For E-Commerce Growth

Grocery giant Ahold Delhaize USA, the parent company of supermarkets including Stop & Shop, Giant, Food Lion and Hannaford, is launching a division focused on innovation within e-Commerce. Peapod Digital Labs is designed to accelerate growth in digital and personalization capabilities for the six Ahold Delhaize USA brands. Ahold Delhaize USA will build up Peapod Digital Labs in the coming months and expects to have the new organization fully operational by year end, according to a company statement. Kevin Holt, CEO of Ahold Delhaize USA, referred to the new venture as “the engine that powers our U.S. e-Commerce and digital strategies.”

#RIC18: Adore Me And Bedgear Take Divergent Paths Into Brick-And-Mortar

In an omnichannel world, innovators can choose multiple avenues to break into an existing market. Because of its relatively low cost of entry, many upstarts gravitate to e-Commerce first. Other startups choose to work with existing retailers to take advantage of their brand recognition, customer base and operational capabilities. At the Retail Innovation Conference, speakers from two companies that are less than 10 years old — Adore Me and Bedgear — explained why (and how) they took different routes to become players in the lingerie and mattress/bedding businesses, respectively.

#RIC18: 7 Steps To Cure ‘Boring’ Retail

Although physical stores aren’t going away any time soon, consolidation within brick-and-mortar retailers is accelerating. This means struggling companies only have two choices: stand out or get knocked out. In a 2018 Retail Innovation Conference session: A Really Bad Time To Be Boring: Reinventing Retail In The Age Of Amazon, Steven Dennis, President of SageBerry Consulting, noted that physical retailers should focus on one of two directions, in order to prevent themselves from falling into the abyss of “boring” retailers. They can pivot toward convenience, great price or a vast assortment, or they can build experience-focused stores. It’s the inability to choose a side that prevents brick-and-mortar brands from standing out and becoming remarkable in the eyes of the shopper.

#RIC18: How 1-800-Flowers Stays One Step Ahead Of Disruptive Technology

Monika Kochhar, SmartGift, interviewed Chris McCann, CEO of 1-800-Flowers Three decades ago, the company now called 1-800-Flowers.com Inc. was a small array of florist shops in New York City and Long Island. That was before the purchase of a telemarketing business called 800-Flowers. “By creating a brand around a phone number, we disrupted the floral industry,” said Chris McCann, 1-800-Flowers President and CEO, at the 2018 Retail Innovation Conference session, Reinventing The Customer Experience. “We realized then that if we had that ability, then another technology could come along and somebody could do that to us.” To make sure a newer technology would not have the chance to disrupt 1-800-Flowers’ business, management instilled a culture of exploring, testing and deploying new technologies. “We established a process we call ELAC,” McCann explained. “It stands for engage early when a technology is emerging, learn along with the consumer, adapt those learnings and innovate with new products, and bring it to a stage of commercialization.”

#RIC18: For Dunkin’ Brands, Data Identifies CX Pain Points

Paul Murray, Director of Digital Experience, Dunkin' Brands   Data can provide retailers with a lot of answers — but in some cases, its most useful function is identifying which questions the retailer needs to ask. Paul Murray, Director of Digital Experience at Dunkin’ Brands, shared several real-world examples of how the retailer used surveys, analysis and AI technology to figure out why the expected didn’t happen or the unexpected occurred. At the Retail Innovation Conference session titled Closing The CX Chasm, Murray was joined by ERDM Founder Ernan Roman. “Customers have unprecedented and unmet expectations about personalized value,” said Roman. “There’s a chasm between the customer experience (CX) fantasy that brands have versus reality.”

#RIC18: How TechStyle Optimizes Personalization With Continuous Testing

For most retailers, one-to-one personalization is a goal to work towards rather than an actual achievement — but TechStyle Fashion Group is an exception. The retailer, which includes the Fabletics, JustFab and ShoeDazzle brands, has succeeded in making personalization practical. At the 2018 Retail Innovation Conference, Traci Inglis, Brand President for JustFab and ShoeDazzle, shared some key statistics that chart TechStyle’s progress: • The retailer sends unique emails to each of its 2.5 million members;• The emails utilize dynamic one-to-one merchandising across thousands of styles, individualized based on the customer’s preferences, clicks and purchases;• Targeted subject lines highlight the customer’s first name and the email offer; and• TechStyle personalizes the web pages members see based on their fashion and style preferences as well as their location.

21 Innovative Solutions Showcased At #RIC18

At the 2018 Retail Innovation Conference, innovation wasn’t limited to the educational sessions. Sponsors showcased solutions for some of the retail industry’s most pressing concerns, including marketing personalization; mobile applications; making loyalty and referral marketing programs more effective; deepening connections between retail associates and shoppers; and the latest in design and digital signage. Following is a roundup of the sponsors’ offerings.
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