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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.

McKinsey & Co. Debuts Combination Store-Learning Lab In Mall Of America

McKinsey & Company has opened its first brick-and-mortar retail store in the Mall of America near Minneapolis, which includes Elevé Cosmetics, Kendra Scott, ThirdLove and type:A Deodorant. The nearly 3,000-square-foot concept, called Modern Retail Collective, is designed to serve as both a retail store and a learning lab — a place where brands can test new technology and learn what resonates with their customers prior to implementing at scale. “For the first wave, we wanted to pick a couple of brands that we thought were going to have an integrated experience for the customer,” said Tiffany Burns, Partner in McKinsey’s Atlanta office and leader of the consultancy’s retail stores practice in North America. “If you think about the store as it is today, with the combination of jewelry, intimates and beauty products throughout the store, it’s targeted towards a younger female demographic.”

Walgreens, FedEx Will Launch On-Demand Drone Delivery Pilot

Walgreens will partner with Wing, a drone technology subsidiary of Google, to launch a trial delivery program in Christiansburg, Va. Local retailer Sugar Magnolia also will take part in the pilot, and FedEx Express customers who live within designated areas will be able to receive some packages in a special box that can be dropped off via drone. Walgreens will offer over-the-counter medicine and other health and wellness items on-demand, while Sugar Magnolia will send cards and small gifts. Drones are expected to fulfill the orders in minutes, demonstrating how this form of delivery can improve access to health care products, create new avenues of growth for businesses and enhance the efficiency of last mile delivery service.

Bean Bag Chair Seller Pilots AR Across E-Commerce, Mobile Sites

Fatboy, a company that manufactures and sells premium, high-quality indoor and outdoor lifestyle products, including the Fatboy Original bean bag chair, has an average basket size between $250 and $300, with shoppers buying an average of 1.5 products per purchase. Since shoppers often have long gaps between site visits and purchases, the company turned to augmented reality to showcase some of its best products on its desktop and mobile web sites. Fatboy became one of the first retailers to adopt CGTrader ARsenal, an AR platform designed to leverage 3D modeling to enable online shoppers to experience lifestyle products immediately in their home environments.

Brazilian Retailer Plans Checkout-Free Stores

  • Published in News Briefs
Lojas Americanas S.A. will deploy checkout-free technology from Zippin in stores throughout the country. The Brazilian retailer will use the technology in its Ame Go convenience store locations. Customers gain entry by scanning the company’s Ame Digital app. The stores will range from 250 to 3,000 square feet in size…
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Betabrand Turns San Francisco Store Into A Podcast Studio Complete With Live Audience

Betabrand is no stranger to forward-thinking experiential retail: the company leverages a crowdfunding platform that enables online shoppers to decide what clothes get designed, manufactured and sold on Betabrand.com. In 2019, Betabrand has expanded on its experiential roots with a very nontraditional store feature — a “Podcast Theater” that hosts podcasts in front of a live audience. The company brings small- to medium-sized podcasts to its San Francisco store every Thursday and invites nearly 100 guests to listen in, well above the average of 20 to 30 people who visit the store on a typical Thursday night. Podcast booking became so popular that Betabrand ended up with three months of shows programmed in just three days, booking through the summer.

Lead Innovation Summit Report: If Shopper Habits Are Fluid, Flexibility Is A Retail Must

Rapid, dramatic changes in shopping habits have pushed retailers to transform their businesses in a variety of ways. But if there’s one thing all merchants should agree on, it’s that innovation is fluid and must be a continuous process. “There’s always going to be a ‘work in progress,’” said Matt Alexander, Co-Founder and CEO of Neighborhood Goods during a panel at The Lead Innovation Summit, held in the Brooklyn EXPO Center July 9-10. “You have to have a general sense of self-awareness and willingness to acknowledge that you don’t necessarily have a finished product and the answer to every problem,” Alexander added.

Lowe’s Picks Charlotte, N.C. Location For Global Tech Center

Lowe’s is putting its money where its mouth is as it continues to invest in technology. The retailer will occupy a 357,000-square-foot global technology center in Charlotte, N.C. dedicated to employing 2,000 of the company’s tech professionals. The home improvement retailer is investing $153 million in the project and will occupy 15 of the 23 floors within the tower, which will serve as the “epicenter for the team Lowe’s is hiring to help modernize its IT systems and build future retail experiences,” according to a statement. The tech center will create 1,600 new jobs, with 400 employees relocating from the company headquarters in Mooresville, N.C.

Exclusive Q&A With Scott Emmons: ‘Open Innovation’ Requires Collaboration And Cross-Pollination

Upon leaving his position as Director of the Neiman Marcus iLab, which he founded, to become CTO of retail innovation consultancy Current Global, Scott Emmons noted that the culture of legacy organizations can often hold back the progress of retailers’ internal innovation labs. “For fashion and retail brands to succeed, they need to shift from an internally driven culture to one focused on open innovation with the world’s top technology and talent,” Emmons said in a statement. At Retail TouchPoints Live!, June 25-26 in Chicago, Emmons will expand on the reasons why retailers must focus on “open innovation,” and what makes an agile, nimble retail innovation strategy.

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.
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