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Store Operations

Store Operations examines the issues and challenges facing today’s store operators. From workforce management to merchandising and new store openings, this section is designed to help retailers improve the bottom line while holding the line on costs. Subscribe to the feed and stay in touch with the latest retail happenings.

Nurturing The Customer-Brand Relationship: Emotion Is Everything

It’s no secret that the consumer-brand relationship has changed, and continues to evolve. Consumers expect — and demand — more, particularly from the brands they’re loyal to. And in a competitive retail environment, it’s up to brands to deliver the kinds of experiences their customers expect. Across all platforms. This means it’s no longer enough to rely on products to attract and retain customers; in fact, the products brands produce and sell are rarely what define them anymore. Instead, it’s the experiences customers have with brands in-store, online, or through various marketing and communications channels that determine whether a consumer-brand relationship is healthy and profitable, or ultimately disposable.

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.

NRF2019: Ahold Will Deploy 500 Robots To Create More Spill-Proof Supermarkets

Ahold Delhaize has launched nearly 500 robots at its GIANT and Stop & Shop stores to patrol the aisles for spills and, eventually, out-of-stock items. The retailer discussed the capabilities of these six-foot machines, which have been outfitted with googly eyes and nametags that read “Marty,” at a Jan. 14 NRF Big Show session, titled Why There A Robot In My Store?

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.

As DTC Sales Rise, Retailers Should Leverage Smart Promotions And Instant Gratification

Retailers can’t afford to ignore the rising ubiquity of direct-to-consumer (DTC) options — 81% of American shoppers will make at least one purchase from a DTC brand in the next five years, according to the 2018 Direct-To-Consumer Purchase Intent Index from Diffusion PR. Additionally, 33% of all shoppers will make 40% of their purchases directly from brands during this period.

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.

Walmart Harnesses Apps And AI To Fuel Associate Efficiency

Walmart is putting the power of e-Commerce in its associates’ hands, letting them use their devices to place orders for out-of-stock items on the spot. The retail giant will further increase associate efficiency with the use of AI-powered floor scrubbers that will be able to handle floor cleanup on their own.

E-Commerce Sales Help Department Stores Start Holiday 2018 Strong

Coming off a solid Q3 that saw overall top-line revenue growth, department stores are finally reaping the rewards of their e-Commerce investments. These retailers appear to have grabbed a sizeable slice of the $20.8 billion consumers shelled out online over the Thanksgiving Weekend. Sales totals for Cyber Monday alone show that the “big four” department stores significantly improved their online offerings at the start of the season, according to analysis of 3 million anonymized and aggregated email receipts from Edison Trends: Kohl’s boosted revenue 42% on Cyber Monday; Macy’s improved revenue 30%; Nordstrom revenue climbed 33%;and Even struggling JCPenney saw a slight sales boost (3%).

Multiple Pop-Ups, One Roof: Neighborhood Goods Tells A New Kind Of Retail Story

Today’s retailers try to tell a story that shoppers can “read,” using the grammar of visual merchandising, interior design and displays, and the products themselves. Consumers may not be aware of all the nuances at work, but they know when a shopping journey makes sense to them. Neighborhood Goods is attempting to tell a story, but with a bigger and more complex set of building blocks: a changing collection of pop-up stores, all housed under one roof.

Walmart Opening AI-Focused Retail Lab In A Long Island Store

(Editor’s note: This article has been updated with information provided by Walmart since it was initially published.) Walmart is planning to open an in-store Intelligent Retail Lab, but not at its usual Store No. 8 tech incubator located near the company’s Bentonville, Ark. headquarters. The lab will operate inside a Levittown, N.Y. store, according to TechCrunch. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to empower associates and improve the shopper experience, for example by better calculating when stock needs to be replenished, identifying when items are on the wrong shelf and quickly reporting spills.
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