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.

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.

Zippin Opens First Cashierless Concept Store In San Francisco

Zippin, an AI-driven software platform designed to provide an autonomous checkout-free experience for shoppers, has opened a concept store in San Francisco showcasing the technology. The company currently offers access to the store through private invitation; and the shop will be open to the public for limited hours during the week beginning in mid-September. The store, located in the SOMA district of San Francisco, offers a range of lunch items, snacks and drinks, and will expand to approximately 500 square feet in the coming months.

Kroger Selects Arizona Site For Automated Delivery Pilot

  • Published in E-Commerce
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.

Exclusive Q&A With New President

Food and New York City are the primary near-term focuses for, as the shopping site homes in on an improved user experience and better delivery options. Simon Belsham, recently named President of, explained the company’s strategies during a keynote presentation at the eTail East event in Boston, followed by a 1:1 interview with Retail TouchPoints. In the exclusive Q&A, Belsham, who joined as President in March 2018, talks about the future of, the new Jetblack personal shopping service, the site’s integration with Walmart, and how a hyper-focus on food will help the company move to the next level.

Exclusive Q&A: Explosive Growth Of Direct Brands Reveals Seismic Retail Shift

Earlier this year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released a report titled: The Rise of the 21st Century Brand Economy, which examined the sputtering growth of traditional retail and CPG brands versus the rise of direct brands over the past decade. To delve deeper into the findings of the report, Retail TouchPoints recently sat down with Randall Rothenberg, CEO of IAB, a trade association for interactive marketing representing more than 600 leading media, marketing and technology companies.

Petco Debuts Cashier-Less Pilot Store

Petco is entering the cashier-less tech race by launching a new pet care store concept, PetCoach.The pilot opened in San Marcos, Calif., and was designed to highlight the customer experience by providing customers with clear visibility into each service area, casual gathering spaces for personal interactions and educational events. For a monthly fee of $9, members can access the store’s suite of services — including grooming, training, veterinary care, nutrition consultations, day care, self-wash, mobile vet house calls and dog walking — all at a discounted price and all in one location. Additionally, PetCoach offers members up to five free veterinary visits per year at its on-site clinic.

Exclusive Q&A: How b8ta Aims To ‘Fix’ Brick-And-Mortar, Starting With Macy’s And Lowe’s

While b8ta has nine standalone stores, the innovative “retail-as-a-service” concept made its biggest retail splash in late 2017 when it partnered with Lowe’s on a connected store-within-a-store SmartSpot experience in more than 70 locations. With a company mission of nothing less than to “fix brick-and-mortar retail,” b8ta is giving Lowe’s consumers the chance to try technology products before they buy them. The experiences offer a curated selection of 60+ smart home products such as security systems, lighting and cameras, but more importantly, they also are designed to emulate a lab-like experience and encourage shoppers to test the merchandise. If anything, the Lowe’s partnership revealed that b8ta is willing to partner with retailers not primarily associated with technology products to carry out its mission.

Alibaba, Guess Fuse Fashion And AI With Hong Kong Concept Store

Alibaba debuted its FashionAI concept store on July 4 at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in an effort to bring AI experiences to fashion shoppers. The pilot store was open for a limited time only, from July 5 to July 7, and featured Guess apparel on smart racks, smart mirrors and next-generation fitting rooms. In the concept store, shoppers could use a smart mirror —which displays product information on a nearby screen when shoppers are touching or picking up a garment — to add items to their virtual shopping cart. The system alerts the staff to prepare the selected garments and accessories for shoppers in a fitting room. If shoppers wanted to try an item in a different size or color, they could update their selection on the fitting room’s smart mirror and the staff would bring the new items right away.

Convenience Delivery Service Pilots VR Experience With Hershey

An on-demand convenience delivery service and a candy icon teamed up to test a virtual reality experience to explore how and where young consumers shop — while sitting on their living room couch. In March, goPuff launched a virtual reality shopping experience with The Hershey Company at the Retail Innovation Lounge at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Hershey is experimenting with a variety of nontraditional sales and distribution channels as “last-minute digital purchases and on-demand fulfillment models become more important,” said Brian Kavanagh, Senior Director of Insights Driven Performance and Retail Evolution for The Hershey Company in a statement.

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.
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