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Brandbox Gives E-Commerce Brands A Brick-And-Mortar Testing Ground

Real estate firm Macerich is best known for operating malls and shopping centers throughout the U.S., but now the company is taking a new approach to retailing: bridging “high-growth digitally native brands” with brick-and-mortar. The company launched BrandBox in November 2018, a concept designed to house e-Commerce brands in malls on a rotating basis, giving them the chance to operate storefronts at an affordable cost.

Brandbox launched its first concept at Tysons Corner Center in Tysons, Va., and it includes:

  • Flexible space and lease terms: A BrandBox store ranges from 500 to 2,500 square feet, and leases run six to 12 months;
  • Support on design and buildout, staffing and technology through partnerships with companies including Bobby Redd, FITCH, Vitra, RetailNext and Boomtown;
  • Store designs tailored to each brand;
  • Social and experiential marketing designed to drive foot traffic and brand awareness both online and offline;
  • Access to an analytics dashboard; and
  • Educational content via Brandbox.com.
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NRF19: 36% Of Shoppers Want Better Personalization, But Hesitate To Share Personal Info

Personalization will continue to be a hot-button investment item for retailers in 2019, but they will have to struggle with consumers’ cognitive dissonance to implement it effectively, according to Sucharita Kodali, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Kodali spoke during the State of Retail Innovation 2019 session on Sunday, Jan. 13 at the NRF Big Show.

Up to 36% of shoppers say retailers need to do more to offer more personalized experiences, with this percentage reaching 43% for households that earn more than $100,000 annually, according to data from Forrester Research. Yet despite the evident desire for personalization, shoppers are still hesitant to share the personal information that can steer retailers in the right direction, and are overall distrustful of the concept.

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Walmart Pilots Autonomous Grocery Delivery In Arizona

Walmart has made significant investments in its online grocery delivery capabilities over the past year, even quietly experimenting with driverless delivery. The retail giant will pilot a program to use Udelv autonomous-driving vans to deliver fresh groceries in Surprise, Ariz. Tom Ward, Senior VP of Digital Operations at Walmart U.S. revealed in a blog post that the trial is set to begin February.

Udelv will use a cargo van custom-made to deliver Walmart customers fresh groceries that are hand-picked by personal shoppers. The vans are outfitted with a cargo system designed to carry up to 32 customer orders per delivery cycle. Walmart already had announced other pilot programs with self-driving car companies, including Ford and Alphabet’s Waymo.

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Kroger Pilots Two ‘Connected’ Stores With Microsoft Partnership

In its latest push to drive forward its Restock Kroger initiative, the retailer is partnering with Microsoft to pilot a connected store experience and jointly market a commercial retail-as-a-service (RaaS) offering to other retailers. The two pilot stores are located in Kroger’s home city, Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Redmond, Wash. headquarters of Microsoft. Results of the pilot will guide expansion plans in 2019 and beyond, according to a joint statement.

To provide a guided, personalized shopping experience, the stores will leverage the Microsoft Azure cloud technology and connected IoT sensors to bridge Kroger’s proprietary EDGE (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment) shelf-edge screen technology with its Scan, Bag, Go mobile checkout feature. Customers using Kroger’s self-checkout app will be guided through the store to items on their shopping list, and will encounter personalized icons on digital shelves that are below the next relevant product on their list.

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JOANN Unveils 3D Laser Tech For In-Store Product Customization

JOANN is rolling out 3D laser printer/cutter technology in select stores as part of its investment in 3D printing startup Glowforge. Terms of the investment were not disclosed. The fabric and crafts retailer currently offers 3D laser cutting and engraving in the JOANN Custom Shop in the Natick Mall outside of Boston; the in-mall kiosk offers custom framing in addition to laser cutting and engraving.

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Saks Fifth Avenue Targets Facebook Shoppers With Holiday Gift Guide Chatbot

  • Published in Social

For the second year in a row, Saks Fifth Avenue launched a Holiday Gift Guide chatbot on Facebook Messenger. The Saks team brought back the feature after last year’s success — 55% of users who took the quiz clicked back to the retailer’s e-Commerce site, with many of them purchasing the gifts that were suggested by the AI-powered guide.

“We want to reach customers wherever they are and be a resource,” said Emily Essner, SVP of Marketing and Digital at Saks Fifth Avenue in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “1.2 billion people actively use Messenger to communicate, so it's a no-brainer to have an active presence. We decided to work with Headliner Labs to build a fluid, conversational recommendation experience in Messenger because it resonates with customers and translates into clickthrough traffic back to Saks.”

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JD.com, Alibaba Reach Outside China To Empower Retail Innovation

JD.com and Alibaba are partnering with tech companies and retailers to collaborate on new ways to drive the industry forward. JD.com joined with Intel to launch a joint lab that will explore the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in smart retail solutions, while Alibaba is working with Spanish retailer El Corte Inglés in a joint effort to complement each other’s logistics expertise.

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