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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.

Sportswear Retailer Integrates Payment Into VR Experience

The jury may still be out on whether virtual reality (VR) will truly take off as a shopping experience, but one forward-thinking retailer already has made VR transaction processes more seamless. Body Language Sportswear has been testing a VR app that allows shoppers to move from interactive 360-degree views of its products directly to checkout, without needing to take off the VR headset or pull out their wallets. The e-Commerce retailer is offering products via the Payscout app, which introduced a VR commerce capability in June 2017. The app integrates with Visa Checkout (VCO), allowing users to register their payment credentials within the digital wallet or access an existing VCO account. The app currently is available for the Google Cardboard hardware, but there are plans to adapt it for iOS and additional VR platforms.

Meal Kit Provider Adds AmazonFresh Fulfillment Option

  • Published in News Briefs
eMeals, which already offers integration with Walmart Grocery, Kroger ClickList and Instacart, has added AmazonFresh as a fulfillment option. Subscribers can send the shopping lists that are generated for meals they have selected to any of these services and then schedule home delivery or curbside pickup, depending on local availability.…
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Target Goes National With Google Voice-Activated Shopping

  • Published in News Briefs
Following what the retailer termed successful test programs in California and New York City, Target has expanded its partnership with home delivery service Google Express to the continental U.S. Target customers can use the Google Assistant for voice-activated shopping via Google Home devices and Android TV, with a promised expansion…
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2017 Holiday Tips: Personalize Promotions, Target Millennial Dads, Prepare For ‘Black November’

Channel-agnostic retail is shaping the 2017 holiday season, requiring merchants to readjust many aspects of their holiday planning, including marketing, experiential retail, fulfillment and workforce optimization. With a little more than a month to go, retailers anticipate seasonal sales growth of anywhere from 3.6% to 4%, which remains in line with 2016 figures. Four retail experts shared insights into the steps merchants should take this holiday season to optimize for the anticipated growth. The experts covered topics such as pricing and markdowns, the de-emphasis of in-store shopping on Black Friday, the growth of mobile shopping and the anticipated role of voice and AI platforms. Here are some key takeaways:

Will The Amazon Acquisition Be Good For Whole Foods?

Look, I understand why Whole Foods agreed to be acquired by Amazon — the traditional grocery industry is taking a beating from all sides. Competition from non-grocery retailers, new technologies and strategies designed to meet the demands of today’s time-starved shoppers are taking over, including: Subscription Meal Services; Online Grocery Ordering & Delivery; Curbside Pickup; and Big Box stores getting into the grocery game. But being swallowed up by Amazon can be good news and bad news. While price-cutting may bring in some additional shoppers in the short term, the Amazon way of not making a profit could severely hurt Whole Foods in the long run.

The Customer Knows Best: Why Retailers Need To Work Like Consumers Shop

In the digital age, consumers have been treated to a steady parade of innovations that have improved the shopping experience. From online shopping to computer-generated fitting rooms to virtual stylists, the industry has embraced technological advances at every turn to help improve sales, loyalty, transparency and ease-of-use. While it may seem like retail has left no cyber-stone unturned, there is one major boulder under which the key to retail efficiency and efficacy lies. Despite the industry’s tech affinity, many large retail brands have yet to embrace digital tools on the backend, where innovation is critically needed. Some retail executives have already started thinking beyond traditional boundaries in order to develop innovative strategies that help move the retail industry forward. However, many major players are still stuck in the mire of legacy tools and processes. The unfortunate reality for these brands is that no matter how much novelty is injected into consumer-facing resources (we’re looking at you, holographic store greeters), if the backend still relies on outdated technology, they’ll struggle to remain competitive among true innovators.

3 Retailer Perspectives On Future Business Success: Hershey’s, Jo-Ann Stores, TechStyle

The onslaught of bankruptcies and acquisitions is motivating the smartest and most innovative retail businesses to find new ways to capture consumers’ attention, build brand loyalty and deliver on the omnichannel promise. “I look at it as a time of disruption, not the end of the world,” said Brian Kavanagh, Senior Director, Insights Driven Performance and Retail Evolution, The Hershey Company. “It is waking up sleeping giants” — the traditional retailers and slow movers that have balked at innovation. “They are hard-to-move big battleships, but the jet skis are scooting by them.”

Have Retailers Killed Black Friday?

Retailers may have sensed that Black Friday has been losing its punch as the single-day sales bonanza that kicks off the holiday season, but new research confirms just how sharp the drop-off has been. Only 35% of consumers who plan to shop during Thanksgiving week will do so on Black Friday, down from 51% last year and 59% in 2015, according to PwC. “Black Friday has lost its significance,” Steven Barr, consumer markets leader for PwC, told The Washington Post. “Retailers have conditioned the consumer to believe everything’s on sale every day, which means the deals on Black Friday are not significantly different from any other time.”

Bluecore Secures $35M In Series C Funding

Bluecore, a behavioral and product data company, has raised $35 million in Series C funding. The round was left by Norwest Venture Partners with participation from existing investors Georgian Partners, FirstMark Capital and Felicis Ventures.  

Office Depot Adds Business Services With $1B CompuCom Purchase

In its first significant move away from traditional retail, Office Depot has purchased CompuCom, an IT services provider owned by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, for approximately $1 billion. The acquisition marks Office Depot’s pivot to becoming a broader business services and technology products platform, and the announcement came with a lowered outlook for Office Depot’s business for 2017. “Technology is the office supply of the future,” said Gerry Smith, CEO of Office Depot in a statement. “The combination of CompuCom’s enterprise IT services with our millions of customers and approximately 1,400 distribution points gives us the credibility and scale to build a sustainable platform and stand apart from the competition.”

Mastercard Pop-Up Experience Showcases Literal Window Shopping

I recently had the opportunity to get a sneak peek into a new pop-up in New York City, presented by Marie Claire magazine and Mastercard. The experience, called The Next Big Thing Concept Shop, brought to life a variety of unique technology innovations for retailers that can help brands merge the physical and digital shopping experience for their customers.

Ace Hardware Acquires The Grommet

Ace Hardware has acquired a majority stake in the e-Commerce startup The Grommet, which markets and sells new and innovative products created by independent entrepreneurs. Among the “Makers” discovered by The Grommet are the people behind FitBit, IdeaPaint, OtterBox, SimpliSafe and SodaStream. The Grommet has launched more than 2,500 innovative consumer products, and created a community of 3 million+ early adopters and supporters. Analytics conducted by Ace indicate that current Grommet customers visit its stores over 50% more times than the average Ace Rewards customer and spend 2.8X as much. The two companies began working together in 2016 as part of a collaboration to bring new, unique products from independent Makers into select Ace stores.

4 Retail Experience Centers That Are Gateways to the Future

What does the future of retail look like? You don't need a time machine to see it, but a few plane tickets would help. Right now, around the world, forward-looking designers, architects and retailers are building the next generation of stores and malls for the digitally oriented shopper. Mobile integration is not the whole story: online shopping can't provide immersive experiences and social interactions that are possible in a brilliantly designed real-world retail environment, energized by audiovisual experiences. At Westfield's "mall of the future" in San Francisco; at Comcast's flagship store in Chicago; at Cadillac's new corporate headquarters in New York; at the Meraas City Walk in Dubai, new ideas using integrated audiovisual experiences have come to life, to explore new retail design concepts, and to demonstrate that the future of retail belongs to those who can provide the most compelling and memorable experiences.
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