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E-Commerce is no longer a standalone channel for most retailers. What happens online is co-mingled with what happens in the store and through other shopping channels. Many forward-thinking retailers are revamping their business structure so that the e-Commerce executives can work closely with other-channel executives. Yet, the online environment continues to present unique challenges to merchants, around efficiency of page click-throughs, addition of interactive elements and improvement of the checkout process.

Exclusive CMO Q&A: Storytelling Drives Disruptive Apparel Retail Model

Two of the most important areas of responsibility at any retail company are Marketing and Merchandising, but at Matilda Jane Clothing they are handled by one hard-working executive: Chief Marketing and Merchandising Officer Allison Flatjord. At another company, this might be a tale of competing priorities and siloed departments, but that’s not the case here. Matilda Jane bridges the gap by maintaining an unrelenting focus on its customers and a commitment to a unified brand message. “Our whole brand revolves around storytelling,” said Flatjord. “Every season we tell a different story, and in order to effectively tell those stories, we have to be really tight on marketing and product — everything that supports that story. So, for us it makes much more sense to have marketing and merchandising combined, to ensure the product supports the story you want to get across.”

#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: 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: 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.

Walmart Beats Amazon To $16 Billion Flipkart Deal, Brings E-Commerce Battle To India

UPDATE:  Walmart officially announced it has acquired an initial stake of roughly 77% in Flipkart for approximately $16 billion. The remainder of the business will be held by existing investors, including Flipkart's co-founder Binny Bansal, Tencent, Tiger Global and Microsoft. In a statement, Walmart said it would support Flipkart's transition into a publicly-listed, majority owned subsidiary in the future. “As Flipkart is expected to generate meaningful losses for at least the next few years, this is clearly an investment for the future,” said Charlie O’Shea, VP and Lead Retail Analyst at Moody’s in commentary provided to Retail TouchPoints. “When viewed in tandem with the recently-announced sale of a majority stake in Asda, is indicative of Walmart’s long-standing strategy of shifting resources into higher growth potential markets and segments when opportune.”   A weeks-long tug of war and speculation as to which U.S. retail giant would win out to acquire Indian e-Commerce company Flipkart appears to have been decided. Flipkart’s Board of Directors has reportedly approved Walmart’s $15 billion bid for a roughly 75% stake in the company, outdoing Amazon’s offer for a 60% stake. The deal makes Walmart’s 2016 $3.3 billion acquisition of Jet.com look tiny in comparison, and it well may be…

#RIC18: 17 Quick Quotes Provide Taste From Smorgasbord Of Retail Topics

The 2018 Retail Innovation Conference featured more than 50 retail industry executives and experts speaking on a wide range of the hot topics — from the sometimes-difficult move from online to brick-and-mortar to optimal use cases for AI, voice and personalization. These 17 quick quotes provide a “tasting menu” for those that couldn’t make the conference, which was held April 30-May 2 in New York City. “If you want the rewards of creativity and innovation, you have to take the risk. Comfort zones are great, but nothing actually grows there. They’re deserts.” — Ken Hughes, Award-Winning Shopper BehaviouralistCreativity can’t be cultivated by simply creating the right environment — you have to work personally to generate fresh ideas and innovations. Trendy accoutrements like beanbag chairs or coffee bars are what Hughes calls “lipstick on a gorilla” — they’re superficially attractive, but don’t actually improve the creative process, which is ultimately a personal responsibility.

Mercatus Updates Integrated Commerce Platform To Support Digital Coupons

Mercatus, a digital solutions provider for grocers, has enhanced its Integrated Commerce Platform to support digital coupons. The new offering integrates with the leading coupon platforms, including Inmar and Quotient, to serve personalized promotions for customers. Whether a grocery order takes place through click-and-collect or delivery, customers will be presented with all available digital coupons, along with any other offers that involve the additional purchase of other products.

Forrester Analyst: Retailers Are Still Catching Up To Customer Expectations

On the second morning of Aptos Engage 2018, held April 16-19 in Las Vegas, Brendan Witcher, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester, took the stage to deliver his keynote and kicked off the presentation with two scary statements for retailers: You’re not behind your competitors; you’re behind your customers — behind their expectations. Your products don’t matter anymore. Those are shocking statements to make, but Witcher made a great point. Experiences such as Netflix and Uber have reset consumer expectations to new levels. “We are in the state of hyper-adoption and hyper-abandonment,” he said. “Retailers are missing the mark on getting customer expectations right.

Canadian Sneaker Brand Launches Universal VR Sneaker Store

Six Hundred Four, a Canadian sneaker brand that creates shoes based on commissioned art pieces, has launched a VR sneaker store that merges VR and e-Commerce. The VR experience allows consumers to virtually stroll around the brand’s flagship store to view original art pieces and add shoes to their shopping cart, without needing a headset.

UPS Study: U.S. Consumers Shopping Across Borders Climbs To 47%

It’s an increasingly small world in e-Commerce: Almost half of U.S. online shoppers, and a majority of online shoppers outside the U.S., choose e-Tailers that are based outside their own countries. Around the globe, consumers are embracing mobile commerce, online marketplaces and diverse shipping options, although adoption rates and satisfaction vary (in some cases dramatically), according to the latest UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper report. Based on a comScore survey of more than 18,000 consumers, the study captured the differing behaviors and preferences of online shoppers in the U.S., Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

Exclusive Q&A With Gartner L2’s Amazon Guru: Watch Out For Total Vertical Integration

Jeff Bezos’ ambitions for Amazon go well beyond becoming the world’s number-one retailer, according to Cooper Smith, Director of Amazon Research at Gartner L2. “That’s a means to an end,” said Smith in an exclusive interview with Retail TouchPoints. “I believe his vision is for Amazon to be the ultimate purveyor in the marketing, selling and transportation of goods.” Smith revealed key insights into both the omnichannel retailer’s latest moves and its long-term plans, including: • The likeliest targets for Amazon’s next brick-and-mortar acquisition after purchasing Whole Foods;• How these acquisitions will help Amazon crack higher-end markets, particularly in apparel;|• The likelihood that Amazon will introduce Amazon Go-style cashierless technology in its brick-and-mortar stores;• Which “strange bedfellow” combinations may be needed to challenge Amazon; and• The potential location of Amazon’s HQ2.
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