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.

EBay, Cosabella, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Lead The Next Wave Of AI Implementation

Retailers are beginning to share more about both the benefits and the limits of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Major benefits often include higher customer satisfaction, increased conversions and higher revenues. At NRF 2018, Deborah Weinswig, Managing Director of Fung Global Retail and Technology, hosted a panel featuring three success stories from eBay, Cosabella and 1-800-FLOWERS.COM that showcased how and where AI can help retailers bolster the customer experience. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM ‘Human-Nurtured’ Approach To AI Deployment Chris McCann, CEO of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, pointed out that his company’s GWYN (Gifts When You Need) AI-powered gift concierge, still needs a human touch in order to function correctly. The technology, powered by IBM Watson, enables shoppers to enter a conversation with a bot that adapts and learns human language with every interaction. “We often say automation for automation’s sake would clearly deliver the wrong message,” McCann said during the session. “To some degree, we take a human-nurtured augmented intelligence approach. How do you get that balance to make sure that the technology is making the right decision? It’s a learning process, and it’s what we’re going through with GWYN. We need to show that GWYN is understanding what to look for, what attributes need to be put into…

NRF 2018 Recap: Positive Economic Forecast, The ROI Of AI, China’s Fast Growth

The National Retail Federation Big Show 2018 is in the rear-view mirror now, but the insights that were shared will make their mark throughout the coming year. The good news is that, judging by the crowds and overall excitement at New York City’s Javits Center, the retail industry is definitely not in an apocalyptic — or even a post-apocalyptic — phase. In fact, a roundtable of economists pointed to strong holiday sales, high consumer confidence levels and the recent tax cuts as reasons for optimism in the coming year. The Retail TouchPointseditorial team shares some of the major headlines from the show, which was held January 14-16, including:

Unata Acquisition Adds Digital Coupons, Voice Shopping To Instacart

Instacart has acquired Unata, a digital grocery solutions provider, boosting the capabilities of a key player in the online grocery market as it tries to fend off Amazon. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Bloomberg reported that the acquisition is valued at approximately $65 million. Instacart expanded from 30 to more than 190 markets after raising $400 million in 2017, and the company hopes to continue its growth pace with a new set of offerings. The Unata product, unlike Instacart’s, is designed to enable grocers to create apps and web sites for consumers to order products, and includes features such as digital coupons, purchase tracking, online circulars, push notifications and deal suggestions. Additionally, Unata uses proprietary algorithms to create personalized experiences for shoppers, based on machine learning and data analysis.

How Amazon Flexes Its Private Label Muscle

Amazon has a number of powerful assets, from logistics expertise and one-click payments to its quasi-captive audience of Prime members. But one of its strongest weapons flies almost under the radar: the retailer’s growing “muscle” in private label. “Amazon has access to more customer search and purchase data than anyone else,” said James Thomson, Partner, Buy Box Experts. “This data, properly analyzed, gives Amazon a huge advantage over all brands, most of which can at best buy scanner data from the odd retailer. With its own customer data, Amazon is able to know the product gaps and price points that are likely to succeed.”

Walmart CEO McMillon Champions Employee Training And Business Transparency

The headlines last week focused on Walmart raising its starting minimum wage to $11 per hour, adding benefits and offering a one-time bonus to employees. But the most important long-term investment in its people is the retailer’s commitment to training, according to President and CEO Doug McMillon. “We know what every retailer knows — that this is a people business,” said McMillon, who was interviewed by National Retail Federation President Matthew Shay on Jan. 14 at the NRF Big Show in New York City. “What customers feel when they leave our stores determines how many times they will come back.”

1:1 With CIO McNamara: How Target Achieved 25% Digital Growth In 2017

With mobile devices in the hands of employees across all 1,800 stores, Target was able to boost its digital business by more than 25% during 2017, said Mike McNamara, Chief Information and Digital Officer, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. After a quick trial in late 2016, Target has now distributed upwards of 50,000 new mobile devices to all stores, with about 25 to 45 per store. “They were a big hit with the stores immediately,” said McNamara. The devices — TC51 mobile computers— are supplied by Zebra Technologies.

Whole Foods Centralizes In-Store Merchandising

Whole Foods continues to exert more central control over its operations, naming SAS Retail Services, a division of Stamford, Conn.-based Daymon, as its single provider of in-store merchandising services, according to a recent report in the Washington Post. The retailer’s larger suppliers (those selling more than $300,000 worth of merchandise…

STRATACACHE Creates Interactive ‘Store’ On NRF Show Floor

  • Published in News Briefs
Visitors to the STRATACACHE booth #2074 at the NRF Big Show Jan. 14-16 will be able to see how marketing technology, sensors and artificial intelligence can combine to improve in-store experiences for consumers in an immersive “store” environment. The booth’s back wall features a persona-building visualization technology demonstration, highlighting real-time…

NRF Big Show Preview: Editors Pick The ‘Hot’ Sessions

When people call the National Retail Federation’s annual gathering at New York City’s Javits Center the Big Show, they are not exaggerating. From Jan. 14-16, a total of 35,000 attendees from 95 countries will tour the booths of 600+ exhibitors, and more than 3,500 retail companies will be represented by 18,000 retailers. Beyond the Expo floor, there are hundreds of educational sessions to choose from, with speakers ranging from keynoter Arianna Huffington to retail’s own gallery of movers and shakers. A very partial list includes Macy’s Terry Lundgren, Marvin Ellison of JCPenney, Tommy Hilfiger, Hubert Joly of Best Buy, Karen Katz of Neiman Marcus and Lee McCabe of Alibaba Group.

Walmart Will Expand Cashierless Checkout To 100 Stores

The industry’s top retailers are continuing their quest to make cashierless checkout within physical stores more of a reality. Walmart is expanding its "Scan & Go" technology to an additional 100 locations across the U.S. in 2018. The app allows customers to scan and bag items, including produce, while they shop and pay directly with their phones. Customers see the price of individual items as they scan them, along with a running total, enabling them to gauge their total costs ahead of checkout. As part of the test, some Walmart stores have been outfitted with Scan & Go kiosks, where customers can pick up handheld devices, allowing them to try out the service before downloading it to their phones.

Omnichannel POS Solution Bridges Online-Offline Service Gap

  • Published in News Briefs
The new “Shopping” omnichannel point-of-sale solution from Cegid is designed to unlock actionable intelligence for retail associates about a customer’s online journey prior to their visit. With this information, staff members can offer a range of omnichannel services to shoppers while they are in the store. “Shopping” allows store personnel…

The Truth Behind The AR/VR Hype

With smartphones paving the way for easy access to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), real opportunities are emerging for retailers and e-Commerce companies to engage with their consumers in new and creative ways. Both technologies are already shaking up retail. The AR/VR market is projected to amount to $120 billion by 2020, according to forecasts by Digi-Capital. Even now, companies are working on creating AR/VR platforms for experiential shopping online. Yet despite the obvious promise of AR and VR, there are still many barriers to widespread consumer adoption of these technologies. Chief among them are fragmentation and a lack of standards for sharing data. Google, Facebook and many other technology titans are now engaged in what will likely be a multi-year battle to become the company to fix this and control this emerging space.

Google Unites Payment Offerings As Google Pay

  • Published in News Briefs
Google is rebranding all its multiple payment methods — which include Android Pay, Google Wallet and the auto fill-in functionality on the Chrome web browser — under a single name, Google Pay. “With Google Pay, it’ll be easier for you to use the payment information saved to your Google Account,…

New Kantar Consulting Firm Encompasses Retail, Brand And Marketing

Kantar has launched an integrated retail, sales and marketing consultancy, Kantar Consulting, by merging its four founding brands: Kantar Retail, Kantar Added Value, Kantar Futures and Kantar Vermeer. The new firm employs more than 1,000 analysts, thought leaders, software developers and expert consultants. Kantar Consulting will provide a range of…
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