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Kroger Says: Houston, We Have Autonomous Delivery

Kroger is expanding its self-driving delivery pilot to two Houston stores in spring 2019. Kroger and robotics company Nuro have operated a self-driving grocery delivery service in Scottsdale, Ariz. for a Fry Food Stores location since August 2018, serving a single zip code with an autonomous vehicle fleet and completing thousands of deliveries, according to a company statement.

Customers in four Houston ZIP codes served by the new program will be able to place orders for same-day or next-day delivery via Kroger.com or the Kroger mobile app, based on time slot availability. The service, to be available seven days a week, will carry a $5.95 flat fee, with no minimum order requirement.

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Exclusive Q&A With Brian Solis: Why Innovation Is Key To Engaging ‘Gen C’

Brian Solis Altimeter 240pxWe’ve all heard about Generations X, Y (a.k.a. Millennials) and Z, but have you heard about Generation C? The “C” stands for “Connected,” and despite the “Generation” title it’s not limited to people born during a specific span of years. The common factor for members of Generation C is a simple one: their use of smartphones.

Using smartphones “rewires your brain to essentially move faster, makes you a lot less patient, and has created a lot of ‘accidental narcissism’,” said Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at Altimeter. The rise of Generation C has essentially created a new type of customer, forcing all kinds of businesses to reimagine both the customer journey and key elements of the customer experience (CX).

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What To Expect From #RIC19 Panels: AI, Women’s Leadership, Pop-Ups

Every year, thought-provoking panel discussions are a staple of the Retail Innovation Conference agenda, because they allow a group of industry experts to exchange insiders’ perspectives on the hottest topics in retail. In 2019, RIC continues this trend with panels that will dive deep into hot-button topics that include: artificial intelligence, women’s leadership, influencer marketing, consumer shopping habits, next-gen pop-ups and more.

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80% Of Shoppers Give Thumbs Up To Chatbot Experiences, But 59% Remain Uninterested In Using Them

As many as 80% of people who have interacted with a chatbot say the experience was positive, according to a survey from Uberall. Even so, 30% of consumers have a tepid response to chatbots, saying they were “somewhat uninterested,” with 29% more indicating no interest at all.

“There’s definitely growing interest in branded chatbot experiences, but most consumers still need convincing,” said Florian Huebner, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Uberall in a statement. “Many are wary, either because chatbot technology in the past was not advanced enough to ensure a good experience, or because consumers worry chatbots could easily become another spam channel. Brands have to do a better job creating AI experiences that customers find personalized, helpful and worthwhile.”

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Walmart, Walgreens Are Among Retailers Piloting In-Store Hair Coloring Through AR

Walmart, Walgreens and other retailers will build out their augmented reality (AR)-based experiences through Garnier’s Virtual Shade Selector technology with MODIFACE, a tool that lets shoppers virtually try out new hair colors. The Shade Selector, which is designed to help shoppers find a hair color match in 60 seconds, will initially roll out at 37 stores in 2019, including:

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Walmart Launches Traveling VR Entertainment And Shopping Experience

Spatial&, Walmart’s virtual reality (VR) platform and content studio, will use VR technology at Walmart stores across the country to offer a virtual experience titled, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Virtual Tour.” The retailer and solution provider created the VR-driven retail experience in collaboration with DreamWorks Animation and sponsorship from HP, Intel and Positron.

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1-800-FLOWERS.com Upgrades Voice, Implements AR Ahead Of Valentine’s Day

  • Published in Mobile

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, 1-800-FLOWERS.com is giving shoppers additional ways to buy gifts for their loved ones at virtually any time and place. The retailer has upgraded or debuted numerous platforms to kick off February, including:

  • Voice command-powered smart ordering and order tracking with Samsung Bixby, Apple Business Chat, Google Assistant and Facebook Messenger;
  • A “Quick Meets Easy” gift selection tool designed to help shoppers who prefer receiving speedy, tailored floral recommendations;
  • Augmented reality (AR) messaging through the mobile app, with a variety of filters and messaging options to choose from;
  • A redesigned mobile site powered by progressive web apps (PWAs); and
  • Last-minute gifting via SmartGift; shoppers can select a floral arrangement and let SmartGift notify the recipient when it will arrive, via text, email or any other messaging platform.
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NRF2019: Innovation Lab Showcases Frictionless Self-Checkout, Facial Recognition And Last Mile Transparency

Photo credit: NRF

For the third year the NRF Big Show put a spotlight on its top innovators, giving attendees tools and ideas for solving consumer needs in 2019 and beyond. The eclectic, hand-picked group of 50+ startups — broken out into customer convenience and customer experience sections — showcased new ways for retailers to manage some of their most pressing concerns, including:

  • Removing friction from checkout;
  • Providing targeted content to shoppers using facial recognition;
  • Offering personalized assistance, whether in-store or online; and
  • Adding transparency to last mile delivery.
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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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