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.

Retail Innovators Create Landscape For Promising Israeli Tech Startups

Four organizations dedicated to retail innovation — The Shelf, Nielsen Innovate, JVP Play and Deloitte — have collaborated to create the Israeli RetailTech Landscape, mapping out 100 promising Israeli startups within the retail technology space. By grouping these companies, the landscape is designed to highlight the significant contribution that Israeli startups are making to the global commerce market. Together, the companies have raised more than $880 million, an average of $9 million per company. In fact, 19 of the companies have raised more than $20 million each, including some mega-rounds raised by companies such as Trax or Yotpo (both have raised more than $100 million).

Amazon Go Store Opens, Brings Checkout-Free Shopping To The Public

After more than a year of testing, Amazon finally let everyday consumers into its Amazon Go checkout-free convenience store in Seattle on Jan. 22. The 1,800-square-foot store was first unveiled in December 2016, but had only been open to Amazon employees. The Amazon Go store mostly sells food items, including the company’s exclusive meal kits. In the store, shoppers use the Amazon Go app, holding their smartphone near a scanner as they enter a store. Once inside, the store’s “Just Walk Out” technology — a combination of sensors, computer vision and deep learning — detects what’s taken off and returned to shelves, keeping track inside a virtual cart. Once finished, shoppers can leave the store and are automatically charged on their Amazon accounts.

EBay, Cosabella, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Lead The Next Wave Of AI Implementation

Retailers are beginning to share more about both the benefits and the limits of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Major benefits often include higher customer satisfaction, increased conversions and higher revenues. At NRF 2018, Deborah Weinswig, Managing Director of Fung Global Retail and Technology, hosted a panel featuring three success stories from eBay, Cosabella and 1-800-FLOWERS.COM that showcased how and where AI can help retailers bolster the customer experience. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM ‘Human-Nurtured’ Approach To AI Deployment Chris McCann, CEO of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, pointed out that his company’s GWYN (Gifts When You Need) AI-powered gift concierge, still needs a human touch in order to function correctly. The technology, powered by IBM Watson, enables shoppers to enter a conversation with a bot that adapts and learns human language with every interaction. “We often say automation for automation’s sake would clearly deliver the wrong message,” McCann said during the session. “To some degree, we take a human-nurtured augmented intelligence approach. How do you get that balance to make sure that the technology is making the right decision? It’s a learning process, and it’s what we’re going through with GWYN. We need to show that GWYN is understanding what to look for, what attributes need to be put into…

NRF 2018 Recap: Positive Economic Forecast, The ROI Of AI, China’s Fast Growth

The National Retail Federation Big Show 2018 is in the rear-view mirror now, but the insights that were shared will make their mark throughout the coming year. The good news is that, judging by the crowds and overall excitement at New York City’s Javits Center, the retail industry is definitely not in an apocalyptic — or even a post-apocalyptic — phase. In fact, a roundtable of economists pointed to strong holiday sales, high consumer confidence levels and the recent tax cuts as reasons for optimism in the coming year. The Retail TouchPointseditorial team shares some of the major headlines from the show, which was held January 14-16, including:

1:1 With CIO McNamara: How Target Achieved 25% Digital Growth In 2017

With mobile devices in the hands of employees across all 1,800 stores, Target was able to boost its digital business by more than 25% during 2017, said Mike McNamara, Chief Information and Digital Officer, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. After a quick trial in late 2016, Target has now distributed upwards of 50,000 new mobile devices to all stores, with about 25 to 45 per store. “They were a big hit with the stores immediately,” said McNamara. The devices — TC51 mobile computers— are supplied by Zebra Technologies.

NRF Big Show Preview: Editors Pick The ‘Hot’ Sessions

When people call the National Retail Federation’s annual gathering at New York City’s Javits Center the Big Show, they are not exaggerating. From Jan. 14-16, a total of 35,000 attendees from 95 countries will tour the booths of 600+ exhibitors, and more than 3,500 retail companies will be represented by 18,000 retailers. Beyond the Expo floor, there are hundreds of educational sessions to choose from, with speakers ranging from keynoter Arianna Huffington to retail’s own gallery of movers and shakers. A very partial list includes Macy’s Terry Lundgren, Marvin Ellison of JCPenney, Tommy Hilfiger, Hubert Joly of Best Buy, Karen Katz of Neiman Marcus and Lee McCabe of Alibaba Group.

Walmart Will Expand Cashierless Checkout To 100 Stores

The industry’s top retailers are continuing their quest to make cashierless checkout within physical stores more of a reality. Walmart is expanding its "Scan & Go" technology to an additional 100 locations across the U.S. in 2018. The app allows customers to scan and bag items, including produce, while they shop and pay directly with their phones. Customers see the price of individual items as they scan them, along with a running total, enabling them to gauge their total costs ahead of checkout. As part of the test, some Walmart stores have been outfitted with Scan & Go kiosks, where customers can pick up handheld devices, allowing them to try out the service before downloading it to their phones.

JD, Alibaba Introduce Tech-Driven Supermarkets To Chinese Consumers

Following in the footsteps of chief rival Alibaba, Chinese e-Commerce giant JD has opened its first supermarket, a 4,000-square-meter location in Beijing. The 7FRESH grocery chain will be stocked with thousands of fresh products, including fruit, flowers, imported meat and freshly-caught seafood, prepared and cooked on-site. JD may open more than 1,000 7FRESH stores in the next three to five years, according to China Daily. 7FRESH is JD’s largest brick-and-mortar endeavor yet. The launch coincides with Alibaba’s decision to expand its fleet of Hema supermarkets by opening 30 stores in Beijing in 2018. While JD maintains full control of its supply chain and sources its own inventory, Alibaba primarily acts as a platform for other merchants. But these moves into grocery widen the reach of both brands. JD And Alibaba Leverage Both Online And Offline Data Both retailers are combining e-Commerce and traditional technologies to better manage inventory and customer data, and are leveraging this data to improve their online experiences — particularly by shortening delivery times. JD is using data from 266.3 million e-Commerce consumers to craft the 7FRESH shopping experience. The supermarket integrates several technology elements designed to deliver a “personal and educational” hands-on shopping experience. For example, 7FRESH…

Is Voice The Next Advertising Frontier For Amazon?

Amazon has reportedly been talking with major CPG companies, including Procter & Gamble and Clorox, about introducing digital ads to its Alexa voice platform, according to CNBC. Early discussions have focused on whether companies would pay for higher placement when a consumer searches for a product on their Echo device — similar to the way paid searches put sponsored results higher up in Google search results. Both voice and digital advertising are becoming major forces in the retail and CPG industries. Amazon claims that millions of Prime members used Amazon Alexa to shop by voice for gifts during the 2017 holiday season, and that the Echo Dot was the number-one selling Amazon Device during this period. Amazon Echo had 70.6% of voice assistant user share in May 2017, more than triple the 23.8% of Google Home, according to eMarketer. Overall, eMarketer forecasted that 35.6 million Americans would use a voice-activated assistant at least once a month in 2017, a 129% increase over the previous year.

Kroger Expands ‘Scan, Bag, Go’ Cashierless Checkout To 400 Stores

While the “big two,” Amazon and Walmart, have jumped into their own tests of cashierless technology, the nation’s largest pure supermarket chain isn’t just standing by. Kroger plans to expand its “Scan, Bag, Go” technology to 400 stores in 2018, enabling shoppers to scan products with a provided handheld scanner or with a smartphone app, according to a report from Business Insider. The technology isn’t as sophisticated as the cashierless tests at Amazon Go and Walmart, which are designed to eliminate the concept of checkout entirely. But while Kroger shoppers still will have to visit a self-checkout register to pay for their orders, eventually shoppers will able to pay directly via the app.

Is Walmart Raising The Stakes For Cashier-Free Shopping?

Walmart is taking its war with Amazon to the store experience by testing cashier-free technology designed to rival Amazon Go, according to a report from Recode. Store No. 8, Walmart’s startup incubator, is developing a technology-heavy store experience dubbed “Project Kepler,” that uses computer vision and cashier-free checkout similar to the “Just Walk Out” technology. Mike Hanrahan, Co-Founder and former CTO of, is leading the test project out of Hoboken, N.J.

Exclusive Q&A: Salesforce Retail SVP On Why AI Is Driving The Future Of Personalization

During its annual Dreamforce event in San Francisco in November, Salesforce doubled down on its mission to help retailers create more immersive and relevant customer experiences across all channels. Touting success stories from Adidas, Party City and Suitsupply, the company’s SVP of Retail, Shelley Bransten, helped transform some of the hottest buzzwords in retail — “personalization” and “AI” — into tangible, real-world tools for retailers’ toolkits. A few weeks later, during the heart of the holiday shopping season, Bransten spoke to Retail TouchPoints to discuss:

Boxed To Roll Out AR, Chatbot And Group Ordering Early In 2018

Boxed, an online wholesaler of bulk-sized essentials and grocery products, has been dubbed the “Costco for Millennials” due to its focus on a young, tech-savvy audience. In early 2018, the company will seek to live up to that billing with the launch of three new customer-facing technologies within its online and mobile experiences, including: Augmented Reality (AR) View using the Apple ARKit framework; A Facebook Messenger chatbot; and Group ordering, enabling shoppers to share links and even split the bill through Venmo.
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