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Shopper Experience

Shopper Engagement delves into the latest trends and strategies retailers are using to cultivate long-term relationships with shoppers. Social media, mobile technology, in-store tablets and more are covered in this section. Subscribe to the feed and stay in touch with the latest retail happenings.

The Vitamin Shoppe Debuts Innovation Store Offering Tech-Enhanced Personalization

The Vitamin Shoppe has opened an innovation store in Edgewater, N.J. that incorporates on-demand digital product guides, enhanced mobile POS checkout and the new Only Me personalized health assessment and subscription service, among other features. The retailer plans to open five additional similar-format stores through January 2020. The shop was created inside an existing 3,185-square-foot store that was redesigned for this purpose. It combines retail and education through technology such as a complimentary body composition analysis station and a supplement sampling machine. Shoppers also can receive free nutritionist consultations through the retailer’s loyalty program, and browse specialized sections like CBD Central and Keto HQ.

Exclusive Q&A: Former Trader Joe’s Exec Brings A ‘Customer-First’ Touch To Cannabis Retailing

The retail cannabis market is still young — making it the perfect place for a retail veteran to use lessons learned from an established brand to create a whole new kind of experience. Glenn Backus, President of Mission Dispensaries, is a former Topco and Trader Joe’s executive who is drawing on the latter’s laid-back, quirky image as he blazes a wholly original trail through this up-and-coming industry. “The idea of a fun, laid-back relationship with a customer, which Trader Joe's does well, is powerful, but it's really about the emotional connection being made,” said Backus in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “If you can't have fun and connect with people in the cannabis world, you're definitely doing something wrong. So while we wouldn't do anything similar to what Trader Joe's would do, creating our own voice is really interesting and there's a little bit of a sense of humor to it.” One of the innovations Backus is bringing to the industry is the product card, which gives shoppers a physical, hands-on experience in an industry where the product isn’t found on the store floor. Additionally, the cards’ blend of information and humor is a key part of the shopping experience…

Tesco Signs Agreement To Add Cashierless Checkout

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated with new information) Tesco is entered a commercial agreement with computer vision startup Trigo to introduce cashierless checkout technology in its stores. The technology detects when a customer picks up an item and automatically handles payments, letting shoppers who have entered their payment information into the app travel through the store and leave without needing to scan anything. Additionally, the system doesn’t require purpose-built stores so it can be retrofitted into existing locations. Tesco has also made an equity investment in Trigo, which adds to earlier funding raised by the solution provider. Trigo’s computer vision technology also can help supermarkets track inventory in real time and prevent shoplifting.

Kohl’s CEO Reveals Strategies Behind Facebook, Amazon Partnerships

While the ninth annual Consensus Great Brands Show enabled some of the best and brightest young consumer brands to pitch their companies to an audience rich with private equity/venture capital, the appearance of one of the biggest names in traditional retail was the top seat-filler. Michelle Gass, CEO of Kohl’s, shared insights into the department store’s vision, particularly in working with emerging brands through its Facebook partnership and the company’s relationship with Amazon. Launching Oct. 10 in 50 Kohl’s stores in Chicago and Philadelphia and Kohls.com, “Curated by Kohl’s” will feature the retailer’s first selection of items from brands with popular social media followings. Facebook, using data related to shopper interests, will work with Kohl's to identify trendy brands on Instagram and Facebook that have never appeared in Kohl's stores or on its web site. Kohl’s will take a “test and learn” approach to understanding which brands are a fit in the Kohl’s locations, and expand the program to more stores based on those tests.

Ahold Delhaize, Pro Baseball Team Pilot Cashierless Stores

Cashierless stores are spreading as the technology begins to mature, with both traditional and non-traditional retailers taking notice. Ahold Delhaize is piloting a portable, cashier-free Albert Heijn convenience store in front of its Zaandam, Netherlands support office, while the Worcester (Massachusetts) Red Sox will open a cashier-optional souvenir shop inside its stadium. The Albert Heijn store, which was opened in partnership with AiFi, is a compact 150 square feet that allows shoppers to make purchases without any need for checkout. Instead, shoppers scan a debit or credit card to get in; then, cameras determine the customer’s position while in-store sensors determine which products are taken off or put back on shelves. Customers are automatically billed for their purchase when they exit the store, with no need to register an account or download an app. “This latest concept not only makes shopping very easy; due to its autonomous nature, this ‘plug and play’ store can be placed at locations where there is a (temporary) need for a small store, from offices or university campuses to residential areas under construction that do not yet have shopping facilities,” said Marit van Egmond, Brand President at Albert Heijn in a statement. “A second advantage…

Office Depot Lets Customer Virtually ‘Save A Spot’ In Line

Office Depot has partnered with QLess, a wait management and mobile check-in solution provider, to let shoppers remotely “save” a spot in line for print and copy services through the Office Depot app. Customers also can receive status updates and reminders regarding their expected wait time, request additional time or exit the line. The capability will be available at 600 Office Depot and OfficeMax locations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and other markets. Shoppers who want to join the line but don’t have the app can “text to join” or ask an in-store associate for help.

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.

Exclusive Coddle CEO Q&A: How Tapping Into Lifestyle Trends Built A ‘Smart Furniture’ Brand

Many brands are exploring direct-to-consumer (DTC) retail models as a way to get closer to what consumers really want and need. Furniture company Coddle saw its opportunity to solve ordinary shoppers’ real-world challenges, including small-space living and multitasking throughout their workday. With a vertically integrated supply chain, Coddle launched in 2018 with the introduction of its flagship “smart couch,” and has already achieved the feat of operating at a more than 60% gross margin. In an interview with Retail TouchPoints, Sean Pathiratne, Founder and CEO of Coddle, shared insights into: How the Coddle brand was developed to capitalize on two major consumer focuses: space and body; The infrastructure of the DTC brand, and how it leverages the supply chain of existing B2B furniture company Lifestyle Solutions to cut down supply chain costs; The company’s profitability formula, which includes keeping operating costs down to 10% of total revenue; and The iteration process behind building the flagship Coddle convertible couch, which transforms into 16 positions and includes two built-in USB ports.

Brick-And-Mortar Fights Back: How Physical Retail Is Reselling Itself Amidst Digitization

Like any self-conscious Millennial, I’m painfully aware of my addiction to my screen. I use it to do everything. I chat, I read, I work, I share, I show-off, I sleuth. But one thing I detest doing on the web is shopping. I hate it. The sizing, the returns, the product recommendation algorithms stalking my every click, the “sorry, we didn’t have the broccoli in stock so we sent you gigantic asparagus instead,” or my personal favorite, “We saw you bought this pair of jeans, opt into our subscription service to receive a pair of jeans every full moon until you die.” I can’t stand it. When it comes to shopping, I’m a traditionalist. Yet according to a Shopping FM report in 2017, 51% of Americans prefer e-Commerce over brick-and-mortar. Millennials are leading this charge: a whopping 67% prefer shopping online. Since moving to New York a couple of months ago, it’s exciting to see that the traditional brick-and-mortar experience is definitely fighting back against the digitalization of retail. It’s refusing to be relegated to the old and passé, and instead transforming itself to engage with consumers left, right and center.

CMO Q&A: How CarMax Is Bridging The Online-Offline Gap In Used Car Retailing

CarMax may be best known for a traditional in-store buying experience, but the used car retailer is delivering on a concept that blurs the lines of when and where consumers can shop for, and even test drive, their desired new car. In October 2016, CarMax launched a home delivery pilot in North Carolina using a one-hour process involving four employees. Findings from the pilot enabled the company to streamline delivery down to a 15-minute process requiring just two employees to drop off the customer’s car. In December 2018, the company launched a “customer experience center” in Atlanta, designed to enable shoppers to buy a car as well as consult over the phone or online without ever having to enter a dealership, and even to test drive the prospective purchase in their own neighborhood.

#RSP19 Webinar Series Preview: How One-Time Consumers Become Full-Time Shoppers

From Monday, Sept. 16 through Friday, Sept. 20, Retail TouchPoints will present the 2019 Retail Strategy & Planning Series, a 13-webinar series dedicated to uncovering the new ways shoppers are assessing, selecting and connecting with the brands they buy from. The #RSP19 sessions will specifically address the new tools and tactics retailers should embrace to better understand this new wave of shoppers; nurture relationships with them; and transform one-time engagement into recurring revenue.

Study: Only 12% Of Retailers Can Uniquely Identify Shoppers Upon First Engagement

Although many retailers are identifying unique customer segments and even actively investing in ID management technologies, most still need to make progress in terms of driving business benefits. Nearly half (49%) of retailers identify fewer than 50% of their web site visitors, and only 12% claim they can uniquely identify a prospect or customer if they are engaged at any point across online and offline channels, according to a survey from OneMarket and WBR Insights unveiled at eTail Boston. While 24% of retailers cannot uniquely identify a prospect or customer across online and offline channels, 26% can only identify a customer if they make a purchase.

Resale Is The New $51 Billion Retail Reality — Retailers Should Prepare Accordingly

The sale of secondhand apparel and accessories, referred to mainly as resale or “recommerce,” has gained significant traction as consumers increasingly seek out value (both from a pricing and sustainability standpoint), as well as clothing that expresses individuality and is easily shared via social media. In fact, the overall resale market has grown 21X faster than the retail apparel market over the past three years and is expected to reach $23 billion by 2023 ($51 billion when accounting for thrift stores and donations), according to the thredUP 2019 Resale Report. The rapid growth has been spurred by a group of disruptors in recent years, including Poshmark, The Real Real, Vestiaire Collective, thredUP, Threadflip, Depop, Rebag and StockX, and has convinced some of retail’s biggest traditional players to hop on the bandwagon.

How Experiential Retail Can Rescue Struggling U.S. Retailers

There have already been nearly 5,000 retail store closings in the U.S. in 2019, including Gap, Tesla, Victoria’s Secret and the discount chain Fred’s, according to some recent reports. CNBC stated that as store closures accelerate, the total may top 12,000 in 2019, and gave the shock announcement that after Barneys had filed for bankruptcy, the retailer has until Oct. 24 to find a buyer or face liquidation. What is happening and what can redeem retail?

Self-Service Technology: Best Practices Or Bust

Please place your items in the bagging area. We’ve all heard that automated voice at the self-service checkout station before. These self-service technologies (SST) allow customers to complete services independent of direct service employees. As this technology progresses and is adopted in more industries and locations, it’s important to examine how companies can utilize these technologies for maximum return.
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