Store Operations - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Retail TouchPoints provides the latest retail news and trends focusing on shopper experience, digital marketing, and retail innovation. https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/store-operations 2018-09-21T16:11:28-04:00 RTP Brick-And-Mortar Clothing Retailers: Replace Mannequins With In-Store Tech 2018-09-20T08:45:29-04:00 2018-09-20T08:45:29-04:00 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/brick-and-mortar-clothing-retailers-replace-mannequins-with-in-store-tech Susan McReynolds, CenturyLink feed@retailtouchpoints.com <div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><img style="margin: 8px; float: right;" alt="0aaaSusanMcReynolds CenturyLink" src="images/storiesv3/0aaaSusanMcReynolds_CenturyLink.png" height="200" width="200" />Once you’ve worked in the mannequin business, you become judgmental of others — other mannequins, that is. And I mean&nbsp;<em>really&nbsp;</em>judgy. You might not consider mannequins terribly significant, but they are: Brands that “get it” make hefty investments to design custom mannequins in an effort to illustrate their brand stories.</p> <p>Brands each have a unique fit, attitude and persona, and mannequins are a way to personify the brand and bring designs to life through well-crafted and thoughtful aesthetics. Consider Nike: It pushes the creative envelope time and again with custom mannequin collections, featuring poses from static to full-on active (like&nbsp;<a href="http://fusionspecialties.com/project/nike-nfl/" target="_blank">its NFL collection</a>&nbsp;from 2012, for example, created through design firm Fusion). Not only was this mannequin line aspirational, but it also brought a brand story to life, fusing Nike’s activewear with America’s love for football.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>{loadposition GIAA}And in today’s retail environment, it’s the details that matter. Luckily with mannequins, the possibilities are endless. Still, as much as I appreciate a good mannequin (and the care that goes into sculpting, posing, and using it to promote brands), its fundamental purpose is ripe for the digital disruption that’s sweeping the retail industry. After more than a century, a mannequin is still just a physical representation of the human body used to display and ultimately sell clothes. Improvements have been incremental at best.</p> <p>Disruption is necessary, but true innovation takes time, thought, and effort: the retail environment of the future must be carefully engineered to create immersive and thoughtful customer experiences to drive differentiation and brand loyalty. And we’re at a tipping point.</p> <h2>Create A Retail Space Shoppers Won’t Want To Leave</h2> <p>No matter how strongly retailers embrace being omnichannel (a new buzzword, please!) and embarking on digital transformation, rethinking brand experience in the brick-and-mortar store is the real key to staying relevant amid the retail revolution. But stores don’t have to incorporate the most cutting-edge technologies to stay ahead; they just need to go back to basics.<br /> <br /> To do that, start with your in-store experience — make your space so appealing that shoppers won’t be able to pass it by. Consider Reese Witherspoon’s company, Draper James: The Southern-inspired clothing line offers an in-store environment that makes customers feel like they’ve just&nbsp;<a href="https://www.draperjames.com/store-locator/index/list/" target="_blank">entered a modern Southern home</a>. Charm from the Deep South meets you in all directions, even down to samples of sweet tea available for shoppers to sip as they browse. Checkout areas resemble kitchen islands with barstools to represent the central hub of any Southern dream home.</p> <p>And we must not forget the importance of perhaps the most basic — yet wonderfully effective — investment any retailer can make: a dressing room with flattering light. Draper James shines in this area, going as far as touting its dressing room wallpaper “Insta-worthy.” Combined, all of these effects create a perfectly executed, intentional brand experience.</p> <h2>Inviting Tech Into The Dressing Room</h2> <p>When it comes to your in-store experience, it’s time to evaluate how the right technology can make the customer journey more enjoyable and frictionless, which got me thinking about mannequins in the first place. With the onslaught of digital disruption taking hold, will the physical mannequin take on a new role and ride the wave of retail innovation or be left behind?</p> <p>Mannequins allow brands to bring designs to life and provide inspiration and recommendations for styling options — almost like a physical Pinterest board. But new tech innovation (virtual reality, augmented reality and even mixed reality) has already arrived, and there’s more on the horizon to supplant why most mannequins are deployed in the first place.</p> <p>Although some of these technologies are in proof of concept or early adopter stages, the tools to help reimagine and personalize the retail experience are just around the corner:</p> <p><strong>1. Add value to your customer journey — and gain insights doing it.</strong></p> <p>There’s nothing like making customers happy while simultaneously learning what makes them tick. And in today’s digital world, it’s becoming increasingly easier to do — and increasingly imperative.</p> <p>To keep your physical store doors constantly revolving, “what’s always been done” is no longer enough. Thinking outside the box, keeping up on the latest tech trends and finding consistent ways to engage your customers is a must to stay top of mind. Luckily, pioneers are paving the way — take note from them.</p> <p>TriMirror is a virtual dressing room where&nbsp;<a href="http://www.trimirror.com/" target="_blank">shoppers create personalized avatars</a>&nbsp;(mannequins!) and have a fitting room experience on the go, at home, or within the physical retail environment. What if you could see how jeans might fit your body without entering a dressing room? What if you could try on and pre-order next season’s collection before it even hits the shelves?&nbsp;<br /> <br /> By scanning a QR code, consumers can try and buy; compare sizes and styles; and make more informed decisions without stripping down. The technology deploys a tension map that highlights where clothing is too tight or loose; it even shows how the material drapes through body movement. Layer on AI and machine learning-informed avatars, and instantly remove hassle and stress from the shopping experience. Here, the retailer adds value to the customer experience and also gains more intimate knowledge by capturing preferences and insights through in-store engagement.</p> <p>Even True Fit’s Confidence Engine platform,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.truefit.com/en/Products/Confidence-Engine" target="_blank">built on data-driven insights and machine learning</a>, enables retailers to offer personalized fit ratings and clothing size recommendations to aid shoppers. And with&nbsp;<a href="https://sourcingjournal.com/topics/retail/true-fit-takes-guesswork-online-apparel-shopping-td-23674/" target="_blank">81% of consumers</a>&nbsp;more likely to purchase from a brand after having a successful fit experience, personalized fit removes costly friction from the customer journey and builds brand confidence. Regardless of whether these technologies are deployed online first, fit accuracy is highly relevant to fostering a more efficient in-store shopping experience.</p> <p><strong>2. Integrate tech into your clothing retail space and watch the magic happen.</strong></p> <p>While many of us prefer testing clothes behind closed doors, imagine if retailers installed memory mirrors (like Neiman Marcus’ “<a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/3066781/can-interactive-mirrors-change-consumer-behavior-retailers-are-bet" target="_blank">magic mirrors</a>” that allow for 360-degree views and touchscreen engagement) in every dressing room. They should.</p> <p>Earlier this year, Amazon filed and was awarded a patent for a “blended reality” mirror that allows customers to try on clothes virtually against different backdrops. The mirror serves as a&nbsp;<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/03/technology/amazon-smart-mirror-patent/index.html" target="_blank">logical extension of Echo Look’s Style Check</a>&nbsp;tool that blends machine learning and styling assistance to help consumers decide what looks best on them.</p> <p>Similarly, Amazon made more headlines for its&nbsp;<a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-studies-body-sizes-to-get-that-perfect-clothing-fit-1525355115" target="_blank">3D body-scanning endeavors</a>&nbsp;to better understand how “customers’ bodies change shape over time.” Interestingly enough, 3D-body scanning to ensure fit, size and proportion accuracy has been used in the mannequin industry for at least a decade. With Amazon Wardrobe’s interest in growing private label brands, knowing how clothing will fit at the point of purchase should go a long way in reducing costly online returns.</p> <p>Also consider Magic Leap’s Lightwear (more or less&nbsp;<a href="https://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/features/lightwear-introducing-magic-leaps-mixed-reality-goggles-w514479" target="_blank">augmented reality on steroids</a>), backed by some of the biggest retail and tech names in the industry (including Google and Alibaba) — and totally shrouded in mystery. Magic Leap technology promises to add another dimension to spatial computing and reinvent the way humans interact with reality — and how they shop.</p> <p>By seamlessly blending computer-generated graphics with the real world, users wearing Lightwear goggles can experience mind-bending interactions with virtual objects — at least that’s the buzz on the street. Rumor suggests a user can simply look at clothing, immediately purchase a garment, try it on virtually, and even feel fabrics through haptic technology capabilities. With a highly anticipated consumer launch slated sometime this year, we’ll have to wait and see.</p> <p><strong>3. It’s time for IT and everyone else to play nice.</strong></p> <p>Beacons inserted inside mannequins doth not innovation make. Introducing tech for tech’s sake is never a good idea to drive long-term return on investment. Similarly, while there are many exciting applications and digital capabilities to invigorate the path to purchase, if the underlying connectivity that powers this tech is not optimized or secured, strategic customer experience investments could fall flat.</p> <p>Deploying cutting-edge customer experiences requires a prioritized investment in building the right network architecture (and an optimized infrastructure) to support increasing digital demands.</p> <p>It’s also imperative to pay special attention to security controls, especially as in-store attacks increase with new endpoints introduced through the latest technologies (like Internet of Things, mobile POS, cloud-based applications, guest WiFi, kiosks, etc.). Bypassing security controls to implement the latest digital tech allows for vulnerabilities and cyberattacks. That’s a risk no retailer should be willing to take.</p> <p>Bottom line: The future of retail demands a digital-first culture fully supported through internal alignment across IT, marketing, digital, merchandising customer experience and more. According to Gartner, “In 2017, 50% of all customer experience projects made use of IT, and [Gartner] expects this number to increase to more than 75% by 2022.” Shifting away from siloed, disconnected decision-making toward a culture of stakeholder collaboration with IT is a requirement in the digital age.</p> <p>So does the future of retail include mannequins? Being made of plastic, they should be able to weather any retail apocalypse. However, with the increasing pressure to differentiate, retail experiences must be more contextual, immersive and authentic to build brand enthusiasts. Technology is starting to give mannequins some stiff competition.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>In the role of vertical strategy manager for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.centurylink.com/" target="_blank">CenturyLink</a>, Susan McReynolds works with customers, analysts, and industry leaders to keep a pulse on the IT trends and challenges facing today’s health care and retail enterprises. McReynolds provides thought leadership on topics related to cybersecurity, digital transformation and next-generation networking strategies. Prior to joining CenturyLink, McReynolds helped guide national and global athletic brands in developing custom visual merchandising programs. She received both her MBA and undergraduate degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder.</em></p></div> <div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><img style="margin: 8px; float: right;" alt="0aaaSusanMcReynolds CenturyLink" src="images/storiesv3/0aaaSusanMcReynolds_CenturyLink.png" height="200" width="200" />Once you’ve worked in the mannequin business, you become judgmental of others — other mannequins, that is. And I mean&nbsp;<em>really&nbsp;</em>judgy. You might not consider mannequins terribly significant, but they are: Brands that “get it” make hefty investments to design custom mannequins in an effort to illustrate their brand stories.</p> <p>Brands each have a unique fit, attitude and persona, and mannequins are a way to personify the brand and bring designs to life through well-crafted and thoughtful aesthetics. Consider Nike: It pushes the creative envelope time and again with custom mannequin collections, featuring poses from static to full-on active (like&nbsp;<a href="http://fusionspecialties.com/project/nike-nfl/" target="_blank">its NFL collection</a>&nbsp;from 2012, for example, created through design firm Fusion). Not only was this mannequin line aspirational, but it also brought a brand story to life, fusing Nike’s activewear with America’s love for football.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>{loadposition GIAA}And in today’s retail environment, it’s the details that matter. Luckily with mannequins, the possibilities are endless. Still, as much as I appreciate a good mannequin (and the care that goes into sculpting, posing, and using it to promote brands), its fundamental purpose is ripe for the digital disruption that’s sweeping the retail industry. After more than a century, a mannequin is still just a physical representation of the human body used to display and ultimately sell clothes. Improvements have been incremental at best.</p> <p>Disruption is necessary, but true innovation takes time, thought, and effort: the retail environment of the future must be carefully engineered to create immersive and thoughtful customer experiences to drive differentiation and brand loyalty. And we’re at a tipping point.</p> <h2>Create A Retail Space Shoppers Won’t Want To Leave</h2> <p>No matter how strongly retailers embrace being omnichannel (a new buzzword, please!) and embarking on digital transformation, rethinking brand experience in the brick-and-mortar store is the real key to staying relevant amid the retail revolution. But stores don’t have to incorporate the most cutting-edge technologies to stay ahead; they just need to go back to basics.<br /> <br /> To do that, start with your in-store experience — make your space so appealing that shoppers won’t be able to pass it by. Consider Reese Witherspoon’s company, Draper James: The Southern-inspired clothing line offers an in-store environment that makes customers feel like they’ve just&nbsp;<a href="https://www.draperjames.com/store-locator/index/list/" target="_blank">entered a modern Southern home</a>. Charm from the Deep South meets you in all directions, even down to samples of sweet tea available for shoppers to sip as they browse. Checkout areas resemble kitchen islands with barstools to represent the central hub of any Southern dream home.</p> <p>And we must not forget the importance of perhaps the most basic — yet wonderfully effective — investment any retailer can make: a dressing room with flattering light. Draper James shines in this area, going as far as touting its dressing room wallpaper “Insta-worthy.” Combined, all of these effects create a perfectly executed, intentional brand experience.</p> <h2>Inviting Tech Into The Dressing Room</h2> <p>When it comes to your in-store experience, it’s time to evaluate how the right technology can make the customer journey more enjoyable and frictionless, which got me thinking about mannequins in the first place. With the onslaught of digital disruption taking hold, will the physical mannequin take on a new role and ride the wave of retail innovation or be left behind?</p> <p>Mannequins allow brands to bring designs to life and provide inspiration and recommendations for styling options — almost like a physical Pinterest board. But new tech innovation (virtual reality, augmented reality and even mixed reality) has already arrived, and there’s more on the horizon to supplant why most mannequins are deployed in the first place.</p> <p>Although some of these technologies are in proof of concept or early adopter stages, the tools to help reimagine and personalize the retail experience are just around the corner:</p> <p><strong>1. Add value to your customer journey — and gain insights doing it.</strong></p> <p>There’s nothing like making customers happy while simultaneously learning what makes them tick. And in today’s digital world, it’s becoming increasingly easier to do — and increasingly imperative.</p> <p>To keep your physical store doors constantly revolving, “what’s always been done” is no longer enough. Thinking outside the box, keeping up on the latest tech trends and finding consistent ways to engage your customers is a must to stay top of mind. Luckily, pioneers are paving the way — take note from them.</p> <p>TriMirror is a virtual dressing room where&nbsp;<a href="http://www.trimirror.com/" target="_blank">shoppers create personalized avatars</a>&nbsp;(mannequins!) and have a fitting room experience on the go, at home, or within the physical retail environment. What if you could see how jeans might fit your body without entering a dressing room? What if you could try on and pre-order next season’s collection before it even hits the shelves?&nbsp;<br /> <br /> By scanning a QR code, consumers can try and buy; compare sizes and styles; and make more informed decisions without stripping down. The technology deploys a tension map that highlights where clothing is too tight or loose; it even shows how the material drapes through body movement. Layer on AI and machine learning-informed avatars, and instantly remove hassle and stress from the shopping experience. Here, the retailer adds value to the customer experience and also gains more intimate knowledge by capturing preferences and insights through in-store engagement.</p> <p>Even True Fit’s Confidence Engine platform,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.truefit.com/en/Products/Confidence-Engine" target="_blank">built on data-driven insights and machine learning</a>, enables retailers to offer personalized fit ratings and clothing size recommendations to aid shoppers. And with&nbsp;<a href="https://sourcingjournal.com/topics/retail/true-fit-takes-guesswork-online-apparel-shopping-td-23674/" target="_blank">81% of consumers</a>&nbsp;more likely to purchase from a brand after having a successful fit experience, personalized fit removes costly friction from the customer journey and builds brand confidence. Regardless of whether these technologies are deployed online first, fit accuracy is highly relevant to fostering a more efficient in-store shopping experience.</p> <p><strong>2. Integrate tech into your clothing retail space and watch the magic happen.</strong></p> <p>While many of us prefer testing clothes behind closed doors, imagine if retailers installed memory mirrors (like Neiman Marcus’ “<a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/3066781/can-interactive-mirrors-change-consumer-behavior-retailers-are-bet" target="_blank">magic mirrors</a>” that allow for 360-degree views and touchscreen engagement) in every dressing room. They should.</p> <p>Earlier this year, Amazon filed and was awarded a patent for a “blended reality” mirror that allows customers to try on clothes virtually against different backdrops. The mirror serves as a&nbsp;<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/03/technology/amazon-smart-mirror-patent/index.html" target="_blank">logical extension of Echo Look’s Style Check</a>&nbsp;tool that blends machine learning and styling assistance to help consumers decide what looks best on them.</p> <p>Similarly, Amazon made more headlines for its&nbsp;<a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-studies-body-sizes-to-get-that-perfect-clothing-fit-1525355115" target="_blank">3D body-scanning endeavors</a>&nbsp;to better understand how “customers’ bodies change shape over time.” Interestingly enough, 3D-body scanning to ensure fit, size and proportion accuracy has been used in the mannequin industry for at least a decade. With Amazon Wardrobe’s interest in growing private label brands, knowing how clothing will fit at the point of purchase should go a long way in reducing costly online returns.</p> <p>Also consider Magic Leap’s Lightwear (more or less&nbsp;<a href="https://www.rollingstone.com/glixel/features/lightwear-introducing-magic-leaps-mixed-reality-goggles-w514479" target="_blank">augmented reality on steroids</a>), backed by some of the biggest retail and tech names in the industry (including Google and Alibaba) — and totally shrouded in mystery. Magic Leap technology promises to add another dimension to spatial computing and reinvent the way humans interact with reality — and how they shop.</p> <p>By seamlessly blending computer-generated graphics with the real world, users wearing Lightwear goggles can experience mind-bending interactions with virtual objects — at least that’s the buzz on the street. Rumor suggests a user can simply look at clothing, immediately purchase a garment, try it on virtually, and even feel fabrics through haptic technology capabilities. With a highly anticipated consumer launch slated sometime this year, we’ll have to wait and see.</p> <p><strong>3. It’s time for IT and everyone else to play nice.</strong></p> <p>Beacons inserted inside mannequins doth not innovation make. Introducing tech for tech’s sake is never a good idea to drive long-term return on investment. Similarly, while there are many exciting applications and digital capabilities to invigorate the path to purchase, if the underlying connectivity that powers this tech is not optimized or secured, strategic customer experience investments could fall flat.</p> <p>Deploying cutting-edge customer experiences requires a prioritized investment in building the right network architecture (and an optimized infrastructure) to support increasing digital demands.</p> <p>It’s also imperative to pay special attention to security controls, especially as in-store attacks increase with new endpoints introduced through the latest technologies (like Internet of Things, mobile POS, cloud-based applications, guest WiFi, kiosks, etc.). Bypassing security controls to implement the latest digital tech allows for vulnerabilities and cyberattacks. That’s a risk no retailer should be willing to take.</p> <p>Bottom line: The future of retail demands a digital-first culture fully supported through internal alignment across IT, marketing, digital, merchandising customer experience and more. According to Gartner, “In 2017, 50% of all customer experience projects made use of IT, and [Gartner] expects this number to increase to more than 75% by 2022.” Shifting away from siloed, disconnected decision-making toward a culture of stakeholder collaboration with IT is a requirement in the digital age.</p> <p>So does the future of retail include mannequins? Being made of plastic, they should be able to weather any retail apocalypse. However, with the increasing pressure to differentiate, retail experiences must be more contextual, immersive and authentic to build brand enthusiasts. Technology is starting to give mannequins some stiff competition.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>In the role of vertical strategy manager for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.centurylink.com/" target="_blank">CenturyLink</a>, Susan McReynolds works with customers, analysts, and industry leaders to keep a pulse on the IT trends and challenges facing today’s health care and retail enterprises. McReynolds provides thought leadership on topics related to cybersecurity, digital transformation and next-generation networking strategies. Prior to joining CenturyLink, McReynolds helped guide national and global athletic brands in developing custom visual merchandising programs. She received both her MBA and undergraduate degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder.</em></p></div> Amazon Reportedly Plans 3,000 Go Stores; Unveils Recommendation-Based ‘Scout’ Shopping Site 2018-09-19T17:30:37-04:00 2018-09-19T17:30:37-04:00 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/store-operations/amazon-reportedly-plans-3-000-go-stores-unveils-recommendation-based-scout-shopping-site Glenn Taylor feed@retailtouchpoints.com <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/10bdfa2363889b85cb427b84bffbfb06_XL.jpg" alt="Amazon Reportedly Plans 3,000 Go Stores; Unveils Recommendation-Based ‘Scout’ Shopping Site" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><b>Amazon</b> is reportedly considering a plan to open as many as <b>3,000</b> new Amazon Go cashierless stores by 2021, with more than 50 locations in major locations by 2019, according to <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-19/amazon-is-said-to-plan-up-to-3-000-cashierless-stores-by-2021?utm_source=google&amp;utm_medium=bd&amp;cmpId=google" target="_blank"><i>Bloomberg</i></a>. The e-Commerce giant would not comment on the report.</p> <p>The challenge to Amazon’s potential growth plan, regardless of how many checkout-free stores they end up building, is the high cost of opening each location. The original Amazon Go in downtown Seattle required more than $1 million in hardware alone, according to <i>Bloomberg</i>.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>{loadposition GIAA}The company has since opened another Amazon Go store in Seattle and recently opened its first Chicago location.Two of the new stores offer only a limited selection of salads, sandwiches and snacks, showing that Amazon is experimenting with narrowing the concept to meal-on-the-run options.&nbsp;</p> <p>Focusing on prepared food-to-go would reduce the upfront cost of opening each store, because it would require fewer cameras and sensors. Prepared foods also have wider profit margins than groceries, which would help decrease the time it takes for the stores to become profitable.</p> <p>The reported expansion is even more ambitious than the bullish report from <i>Business Insider</i> in October 2016, which noted that Amazon envisioned <a href="features/news-briefs/is-amazon-planning-2-000-grocery-stores-in-the-u-s" target="_blank">opening as many as 2,000 "multifunction" stores across the U.S. over a 10-year span</a>. That report came out prior to the launch of the first Amazon Go store, so any plans have likely undergone significant changes since then, but it initially indicated that Amazon proposed a launch schedule of 200 stores per year.</p> <h2>Scout Uses Machine Learning To ‘Like’ And ‘Dislike’ Home Products, Women’s Shoes</h2> <p>Reports of the Amazon Go plans overshadowed official news from the e-Commerce giant; Amazon unveiled the test of a new machine learning-powered shopping site called <a href="https://www.amazon.com/scout" target="_blank">Scout</a>. While Amazon itself is highly recommendation-based, Scout asks shoppers to “like” or “dislike” a product (via a thumbs up or thumbs down) and responds by showing other products based on their choices.</p> <p>Thus far, the service includes women’s shoes and home products such as furniture, home décor, lighting, patio, bedding, kitchen and dining. More categories are coming to the site soon, with the page showing photos of apparel, handbags and baby toys. Users can save and organize their “likes” and also save their “journeys” so they can pick up where they left off on the screen.</p> <p>The test site appears to be Amazon's latest effort to move consumers away from traditional text-based search while collecting more data on pure shopping habits and preferences.</p> <p>"This is a new way to shop, allowing customers to browse millions of items and quickly refine the selection based solely on visual attributes," an Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "Amazon uses imagery from across its robust selection to extract thousands of visual attributes for showing customers a variety of items so they can select their preferences as they go."</p> <p>Customers also can filter products by Prime-eligibility, customer rating and price.</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/10bdfa2363889b85cb427b84bffbfb06_XL.jpg" alt="Amazon Reportedly Plans 3,000 Go Stores; Unveils Recommendation-Based ‘Scout’ Shopping Site" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><b>Amazon</b> is reportedly considering a plan to open as many as <b>3,000</b> new Amazon Go cashierless stores by 2021, with more than 50 locations in major locations by 2019, according to <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-19/amazon-is-said-to-plan-up-to-3-000-cashierless-stores-by-2021?utm_source=google&amp;utm_medium=bd&amp;cmpId=google" target="_blank"><i>Bloomberg</i></a>. The e-Commerce giant would not comment on the report.</p> <p>The challenge to Amazon’s potential growth plan, regardless of how many checkout-free stores they end up building, is the high cost of opening each location. The original Amazon Go in downtown Seattle required more than $1 million in hardware alone, according to <i>Bloomberg</i>.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>{loadposition GIAA}The company has since opened another Amazon Go store in Seattle and recently opened its first Chicago location.Two of the new stores offer only a limited selection of salads, sandwiches and snacks, showing that Amazon is experimenting with narrowing the concept to meal-on-the-run options.&nbsp;</p> <p>Focusing on prepared food-to-go would reduce the upfront cost of opening each store, because it would require fewer cameras and sensors. Prepared foods also have wider profit margins than groceries, which would help decrease the time it takes for the stores to become profitable.</p> <p>The reported expansion is even more ambitious than the bullish report from <i>Business Insider</i> in October 2016, which noted that Amazon envisioned <a href="features/news-briefs/is-amazon-planning-2-000-grocery-stores-in-the-u-s" target="_blank">opening as many as 2,000 "multifunction" stores across the U.S. over a 10-year span</a>. That report came out prior to the launch of the first Amazon Go store, so any plans have likely undergone significant changes since then, but it initially indicated that Amazon proposed a launch schedule of 200 stores per year.</p> <h2>Scout Uses Machine Learning To ‘Like’ And ‘Dislike’ Home Products, Women’s Shoes</h2> <p>Reports of the Amazon Go plans overshadowed official news from the e-Commerce giant; Amazon unveiled the test of a new machine learning-powered shopping site called <a href="https://www.amazon.com/scout" target="_blank">Scout</a>. While Amazon itself is highly recommendation-based, Scout asks shoppers to “like” or “dislike” a product (via a thumbs up or thumbs down) and responds by showing other products based on their choices.</p> <p>Thus far, the service includes women’s shoes and home products such as furniture, home décor, lighting, patio, bedding, kitchen and dining. More categories are coming to the site soon, with the page showing photos of apparel, handbags and baby toys. Users can save and organize their “likes” and also save their “journeys” so they can pick up where they left off on the screen.</p> <p>The test site appears to be Amazon's latest effort to move consumers away from traditional text-based search while collecting more data on pure shopping habits and preferences.</p> <p>"This is a new way to shop, allowing customers to browse millions of items and quickly refine the selection based solely on visual attributes," an Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "Amazon uses imagery from across its robust selection to extract thousands of visual attributes for showing customers a variety of items so they can select their preferences as they go."</p> <p>Customers also can filter products by Prime-eligibility, customer rating and price.</p></div> L Brands Will Shutter Historic Henri Bendel Stores And Site 2018-09-17T12:26:05-04:00 2018-09-17T12:26:05-04:00 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/l-brands-will-shutter-historic-henri-bendel-stores-and-site Adam Blair feed@retailtouchpoints.com <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/ac24c47e0171ea2beef0a7fd98f42394_XL.jpg" alt="L Brands Will Shutter Historic Henri Bendel Stores And Site" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Calling it a move to increase shareholder value, <b>L Brands</b> Chairman and CEO Leslie Wexner will close all 23 <b>Henri Bendel</b> stores and the brand’s web site in January 2019. The iconic luxury retailer, which has operated since 1895, claims that its <a href="https://www.henribendel.com/us/girls-playground/bendel?fdid=bendel-heritage" target="_blank">namesake founder</a> was the first to hold a semi-annual sale, offer in-store makeovers and stage a fashion show.</p> <p>Known for its brown-and-white striped bags and Fifth Avenue flagship store, Bendel also brought legendary designer Coco Chanel to the U.S. and, in the 1960s, employed Andy Warhol as an in-house illustrator. The retailer was immortalized in the Cole Porter song “You’re The Top,” when “a Bendel bonnet” was identified as a superlative.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>The Fifth Avenue store and smaller-format locations in 11 states will stay open through January 2019, with new merchandise continuing to arrive throughout the holiday season, according to an L Brands <a href="https://www.lb.com/media/_press-releases/takes-action-to-increase-shareholder-value--announces-2019-closure-of-henri-bendel-stores-and-henri-bendel-e-commerce-2367403" target="_blank">press release</a>. The company estimates that Henri Bendel will have 2018 revenues of approximately <b>$85 million</b> and a <b>$45 million</b> operating loss, excluding closing costs.</p> <p>L Brands operates retailers including <b>Victoria’s Secret, PINK, Bath &amp; Body Works </b>and<b> La Senza</b>. The company reported <a href="features/financial-news/l-brands-boosts-q2-net-sales-8-3-pink-ceo-retires" target="_blank">Q2 2018 sales of <b>$2.984 billion</b>, up from <b>$2.755</b> billion during the same period in 2017</a>. Comparable sales were up <b>3% </b>for the quarter, but net income dropped to <b>$99 million</b> from <b>$138.9 million</b> in Q2 2017.</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/ac24c47e0171ea2beef0a7fd98f42394_XL.jpg" alt="L Brands Will Shutter Historic Henri Bendel Stores And Site" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Calling it a move to increase shareholder value, <b>L Brands</b> Chairman and CEO Leslie Wexner will close all 23 <b>Henri Bendel</b> stores and the brand’s web site in January 2019. The iconic luxury retailer, which has operated since 1895, claims that its <a href="https://www.henribendel.com/us/girls-playground/bendel?fdid=bendel-heritage" target="_blank">namesake founder</a> was the first to hold a semi-annual sale, offer in-store makeovers and stage a fashion show.</p> <p>Known for its brown-and-white striped bags and Fifth Avenue flagship store, Bendel also brought legendary designer Coco Chanel to the U.S. and, in the 1960s, employed Andy Warhol as an in-house illustrator. The retailer was immortalized in the Cole Porter song “You’re The Top,” when “a Bendel bonnet” was identified as a superlative.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>The Fifth Avenue store and smaller-format locations in 11 states will stay open through January 2019, with new merchandise continuing to arrive throughout the holiday season, according to an L Brands <a href="https://www.lb.com/media/_press-releases/takes-action-to-increase-shareholder-value--announces-2019-closure-of-henri-bendel-stores-and-henri-bendel-e-commerce-2367403" target="_blank">press release</a>. The company estimates that Henri Bendel will have 2018 revenues of approximately <b>$85 million</b> and a <b>$45 million</b> operating loss, excluding closing costs.</p> <p>L Brands operates retailers including <b>Victoria’s Secret, PINK, Bath &amp; Body Works </b>and<b> La Senza</b>. The company reported <a href="features/financial-news/l-brands-boosts-q2-net-sales-8-3-pink-ceo-retires" target="_blank">Q2 2018 sales of <b>$2.984 billion</b>, up from <b>$2.755</b> billion during the same period in 2017</a>. Comparable sales were up <b>3% </b>for the quarter, but net income dropped to <b>$99 million</b> from <b>$138.9 million</b> in Q2 2017.</p></div> Weis Markets Upgrades Wireless Capabilities Across 200+ Stores And DCs 2018-09-14T09:00:00-04:00 2018-09-14T09:00:00-04:00 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/store-operations/weis-markets-upgrades-wireless-capabilities-across-200-stores-and-dcs Glenn Taylor feed@retailtouchpoints.com <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/b1249df2627565f7662687dd44a3a847_XL.jpg" alt="Weis Markets Upgrades Wireless Capabilities Across 200+ Stores And DCs" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>As a grocer with more than 23,000 associates across more than 205 stores, and 1,000 employees in distribution centers (DCs) and headquarters, <b>Weis Markets </b>sought to provide a better in-store mobile experience for employees and shoppers with an improved wireless infrastructure.</p> <p>With the Aruba network in place, Weis has:</p> <ul> <li>Eliminated Internet access “gaps” throughout its stores;</li> <li>Reduced wireless deployment costs;</li> <li>Improved operational efficiencies within the DCs through more accurate product picking; and</li> <li>Centralized management capabilities, including software updates and alerts.</li> </ul> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <h2>Wireless Access Points Fill In-Store Connectivity Gaps</h2> <p>Overall, the network connects <b>11.5 million square feet</b> of retail store, warehouse and distribution center space. The Aruba infrastructure is designed to spread wireless coverage across each individual store and eliminate notable gaps in Internet access depending on specific areas of the store.</p> <p>“The future vision was to implement a solution that was redundant,” said Jacob Koch, Manager of Systems Administration for Weis Markets in an interview with <i>Retail TouchPoints</i>. “The Aruba solution allowed us to put enough access points in so that if I lost half, the wireless in the store would continue to operate. As we continue down this path in technology, retail in general is becoming more dependent on wireless infrastructure and IoT, and I don’t think that’s going to change. Actually, I think it’s going to become more dependent on it. The driver behind that is the ability for the associates and the managers out on the floor selling the product versus being behind a desk.”</p> <p>Weis replaced its Cisco wireless access points (APs) in 2014 and standardized on the Aruba WiFi service companywide, opting to select Aruba’s Gigabit WiFi Instant APs. Koch noted that the wireless upgrades are designed to cater to mobilized employees “not just from an application standpoint within an iPad, but also the ability to use a VoIP phone system that could be integrated within an iPad. It’s bringing that desktop experience to the mobile platform.”</p> <h2>Wireless Access Reduces Costs, Bolsters Picking Accuracy</h2> <p>With approximately 5,000 APs deployed mode — across the company’s 205 stores, distribution and warehouse centers, as well as a store support center in Sunbury, Penn. — Weis eliminated the need to deploy a wireless controller in every location. A controllerless model enables the grocer to quickly bring new stores online at a much lower cost, the company reported.</p> <p>Within its DCs, Weis uses a combination of wireless headsets and Honeywell’s Vocollect over the Aruba network to enable a voice-controlled product pick system designed to help associates select products quickly and easily. The increased picking accuracy resulted in a higher percentage of correct product on store shelves, improving the overall efficiency of Weis Markets’ inventory processes.</p> <p>“It was very important to ensure that the picking devices worked,” said Koch. “But we had to move away from the traditional headsets and make sure that the VoIP could be understood clear as day. We can’t afford to have a miscommunication on product orders — this is a 24/7 operation so downtime is few and far between.”</p> <h2>Network Management Centralizes Updates, Alerts Through One Platform</h2> <p>Combined with Aruba&nbsp;AirWave&nbsp;network management, the Weis Markets network administration team can make configuration changes and update software across all of their stores’ Instant APs quickly and easily. The platform’s alerting capability allows the team to identify any AP issues, rogue devices (devices that are unauthorized to connect to a wireless network) or network problems so they can be quickly resolved.</p> <p>“When we initially converted our stores, we were able to provide improved connectivity so that when employees were ordering on the floor, the Internet wasn’t disconnecting in the middle of their orders,” Koch said.</p> <h2><b>In-Store Analytics, Push Notifications Next On The Agenda</b></h2> <p>Weis Markets is preparing for various future IT initiatives. Koch noted that once the grocer fully upgrades its AP system, the company plan to adopt analytics software to monitor customer shopping habits so they can better respond to customer needs. In addition, Weis will evaluate the use of push notifications to send relevant coupons and offers to customers who opt in to the network.</p> <p>Other future initiatives might include digital product pricing on shelves, asset tracking for grocery carts, and even robots for in-store clean-ups, but no timetable has been set for the projects.</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/b1249df2627565f7662687dd44a3a847_XL.jpg" alt="Weis Markets Upgrades Wireless Capabilities Across 200+ Stores And DCs" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>As a grocer with more than 23,000 associates across more than 205 stores, and 1,000 employees in distribution centers (DCs) and headquarters, <b>Weis Markets </b>sought to provide a better in-store mobile experience for employees and shoppers with an improved wireless infrastructure.</p> <p>With the Aruba network in place, Weis has:</p> <ul> <li>Eliminated Internet access “gaps” throughout its stores;</li> <li>Reduced wireless deployment costs;</li> <li>Improved operational efficiencies within the DCs through more accurate product picking; and</li> <li>Centralized management capabilities, including software updates and alerts.</li> </ul> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <h2>Wireless Access Points Fill In-Store Connectivity Gaps</h2> <p>Overall, the network connects <b>11.5 million square feet</b> of retail store, warehouse and distribution center space. The Aruba infrastructure is designed to spread wireless coverage across each individual store and eliminate notable gaps in Internet access depending on specific areas of the store.</p> <p>“The future vision was to implement a solution that was redundant,” said Jacob Koch, Manager of Systems Administration for Weis Markets in an interview with <i>Retail TouchPoints</i>. “The Aruba solution allowed us to put enough access points in so that if I lost half, the wireless in the store would continue to operate. As we continue down this path in technology, retail in general is becoming more dependent on wireless infrastructure and IoT, and I don’t think that’s going to change. Actually, I think it’s going to become more dependent on it. The driver behind that is the ability for the associates and the managers out on the floor selling the product versus being behind a desk.”</p> <p>Weis replaced its Cisco wireless access points (APs) in 2014 and standardized on the Aruba WiFi service companywide, opting to select Aruba’s Gigabit WiFi Instant APs. Koch noted that the wireless upgrades are designed to cater to mobilized employees “not just from an application standpoint within an iPad, but also the ability to use a VoIP phone system that could be integrated within an iPad. It’s bringing that desktop experience to the mobile platform.”</p> <h2>Wireless Access Reduces Costs, Bolsters Picking Accuracy</h2> <p>With approximately 5,000 APs deployed mode — across the company’s 205 stores, distribution and warehouse centers, as well as a store support center in Sunbury, Penn. — Weis eliminated the need to deploy a wireless controller in every location. A controllerless model enables the grocer to quickly bring new stores online at a much lower cost, the company reported.</p> <p>Within its DCs, Weis uses a combination of wireless headsets and Honeywell’s Vocollect over the Aruba network to enable a voice-controlled product pick system designed to help associates select products quickly and easily. The increased picking accuracy resulted in a higher percentage of correct product on store shelves, improving the overall efficiency of Weis Markets’ inventory processes.</p> <p>“It was very important to ensure that the picking devices worked,” said Koch. “But we had to move away from the traditional headsets and make sure that the VoIP could be understood clear as day. We can’t afford to have a miscommunication on product orders — this is a 24/7 operation so downtime is few and far between.”</p> <h2>Network Management Centralizes Updates, Alerts Through One Platform</h2> <p>Combined with Aruba&nbsp;AirWave&nbsp;network management, the Weis Markets network administration team can make configuration changes and update software across all of their stores’ Instant APs quickly and easily. The platform’s alerting capability allows the team to identify any AP issues, rogue devices (devices that are unauthorized to connect to a wireless network) or network problems so they can be quickly resolved.</p> <p>“When we initially converted our stores, we were able to provide improved connectivity so that when employees were ordering on the floor, the Internet wasn’t disconnecting in the middle of their orders,” Koch said.</p> <h2><b>In-Store Analytics, Push Notifications Next On The Agenda</b></h2> <p>Weis Markets is preparing for various future IT initiatives. Koch noted that once the grocer fully upgrades its AP system, the company plan to adopt analytics software to monitor customer shopping habits so they can better respond to customer needs. In addition, Weis will evaluate the use of push notifications to send relevant coupons and offers to customers who opt in to the network.</p> <p>Other future initiatives might include digital product pricing on shelves, asset tracking for grocery carts, and even robots for in-store clean-ups, but no timetable has been set for the projects.</p></div> Standard Cognition Opens Cashierless Store In San Francisco 2018-09-07T16:40:27-04:00 2018-09-07T16:40:27-04:00 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/store-operations/standard-cognition-opens-cashierless-store-in-san-francisco Glenn Taylor feed@retailtouchpoints.com <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/bda58df36416492a0e001ad8648c1353_XL.jpg" alt="Standard Cognition Opens Cashierless Store In San Francisco" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Yet another cashierless store has opened in the San Francisco Bay Area, ramping up the heated battle to see who can deliver frictionless checkout the fastest. <a href="https://standard.ai/" target="_blank">Standard Cognition</a>, an AI-powered autonomous checkout company that has labeled itself as “an alternative to Amazon Go,” has opened a concept called <b>Standard Market</b>.</p> <p>Standard Market is the third cashierless store that has popped up in the region within the past month. Two competitors of Standard Cognition, <a href="topics/store-operations/zippin-opens-first-cashierless-concept-store-in-san-francisco" target="_blank">Zippin</a> and <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/16/inokyo/" target="_blank">Inokyo</a>, have both opened similar stores, and <a href="features/news-briefs/amazon-reportedly-picks-chicago-locations-for-two-amazon-go-shops" target="_blank">Amazon Go is reportedly building one of their own</a>.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>{loadposition GIAA}Located at 1071 Market Street in San Francisco, this is Standard Cognition’s first public store; the company previously operated a private store in Palo Alto, Calif. The store will sell a mix of food, cleaning supplies and general household and convenience store items.</p> <p>The 1,900-square-foot store will be a testing ground for the Standard Cognition technology, which relies on cameras placed within the store to identify people that walk in. Customers use the Standard Checkout mobile app to check in, and the camera identifies everything they are carrying and bills them as they exit the store.</p> <p>Starting Sept. 10, the store will initially only be open two days a week, then three days a week later in the month, a company spokesperson told <a href="https://venturebeat.com/2018/09/07/standard-cognition-beats-amazon-to-cashierless-store-in-san-francisco/" target="_blank"><i>VentureBeat</i></a>.&nbsp;Initially, only three shoppers will be allowed in the store at any one time. The number of shoppers, the range of product offerings and the store hours all are expected to increase in the coming weeks, according to a press release.</p> <p>“The public opening of our Standard Market store is the culmination of nearly two years of work by the Standard team,” said Jordan Fisher, Co-Founder and CEO of Standard Cognition in a statement. “We’re excited to be able to welcome customers to the Standard Market, and give shoppers a glimpse of the future of retail. We’ll be constantly adding new features and are excited for customers to experience the magic of autonomous checkout.”</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/bda58df36416492a0e001ad8648c1353_XL.jpg" alt="Standard Cognition Opens Cashierless Store In San Francisco" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Yet another cashierless store has opened in the San Francisco Bay Area, ramping up the heated battle to see who can deliver frictionless checkout the fastest. <a href="https://standard.ai/" target="_blank">Standard Cognition</a>, an AI-powered autonomous checkout company that has labeled itself as “an alternative to Amazon Go,” has opened a concept called <b>Standard Market</b>.</p> <p>Standard Market is the third cashierless store that has popped up in the region within the past month. Two competitors of Standard Cognition, <a href="topics/store-operations/zippin-opens-first-cashierless-concept-store-in-san-francisco" target="_blank">Zippin</a> and <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/16/inokyo/" target="_blank">Inokyo</a>, have both opened similar stores, and <a href="features/news-briefs/amazon-reportedly-picks-chicago-locations-for-two-amazon-go-shops" target="_blank">Amazon Go is reportedly building one of their own</a>.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>{loadposition GIAA}Located at 1071 Market Street in San Francisco, this is Standard Cognition’s first public store; the company previously operated a private store in Palo Alto, Calif. The store will sell a mix of food, cleaning supplies and general household and convenience store items.</p> <p>The 1,900-square-foot store will be a testing ground for the Standard Cognition technology, which relies on cameras placed within the store to identify people that walk in. Customers use the Standard Checkout mobile app to check in, and the camera identifies everything they are carrying and bills them as they exit the store.</p> <p>Starting Sept. 10, the store will initially only be open two days a week, then three days a week later in the month, a company spokesperson told <a href="https://venturebeat.com/2018/09/07/standard-cognition-beats-amazon-to-cashierless-store-in-san-francisco/" target="_blank"><i>VentureBeat</i></a>.&nbsp;Initially, only three shoppers will be allowed in the store at any one time. The number of shoppers, the range of product offerings and the store hours all are expected to increase in the coming weeks, according to a press release.</p> <p>“The public opening of our Standard Market store is the culmination of nearly two years of work by the Standard team,” said Jordan Fisher, Co-Founder and CEO of Standard Cognition in a statement. “We’re excited to be able to welcome customers to the Standard Market, and give shoppers a glimpse of the future of retail. We’ll be constantly adding new features and are excited for customers to experience the magic of autonomous checkout.”</p></div> CVS Launches Beauty Concept Stores With Glamsquad 2018-09-05T15:40:51-04:00 2018-09-05T15:40:51-04:00 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/cvs-launches-beauty-concept-stores-with-glamsquad Glenn Taylor feed@retailtouchpoints.com <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/9e7aa532e9d739524c5a6ff4ef7661a0_XL.jpg" alt="CVS Launches Beauty Concept Stores With Glamsquad" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><b>CVS </b>has debuted a new store-within-a-store beauty format called BeautyIRL in four test stores in Florida, Connecticut and Massachusetts, as part of the company’s partnership with <b>Glamsquad</b>.</p> <p>Similar to the services provided at <b>Sephora</b> and <b>Ulta Beauty</b>, CVS will now offer walk-in and on-demand beauty services with Glamsquad professional makeup artists and trained stylists, such as 30-minute makeup refreshers, dry-styling, blowouts and skin care services.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>{loadposition GIAA}The BeautyIRL format is almost double the size of a typical beauty section at CVS, and will also feature 30 new brands, an accessories shop, a bath cart and&nbsp;a Test-and-Play Hygiene Bar with testers and brand boutiques, so that CVS shoppers can actually try on a product before purchasing.</p> <p>Additional features include a Mini Must-Have boutique for customers to collect their own miniature beauty products, a #TrendingNow wall that highlights trending indie brands and an expansion of the company’s K-beauty line.</p> <p>The change comes as CVS continues to further emphasize its beauty section. In April, <a href="topics/crm-loyalty/44-of-shoppers-reward-retailers-that-share-their-values" target="_blank">the company launched its “Beauty in Real Life” ad campaign</a>, which featured unaltered imagery of a diverse group of women. The campaign was an attempt by the retailer to align itself with "an <a href="https://cvshealth.com/newsroom/press-releases/cvs-pharmacy-launches-first-campaign-featuring-unaltered-beauty-imagery" target="_blank">authentic and more realistic image of beauty</a> for its customers." The drugstore wants to <a href="https://cvshealth.com/about/our-offerings/cvs-pharmacy/cvs-beauty-mark" target="_blank">phase out photoshopped beauty imagery</a> in stores by the end of 2020.</p> <p>CVS hasn’t officially confirmed a launch date for additional BeautyIRL locations, although further expansion is scheduled for 2018. Additionally, the planned changes are expected to eventually roll out in an online format.</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/9e7aa532e9d739524c5a6ff4ef7661a0_XL.jpg" alt="CVS Launches Beauty Concept Stores With Glamsquad" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><b>CVS </b>has debuted a new store-within-a-store beauty format called BeautyIRL in four test stores in Florida, Connecticut and Massachusetts, as part of the company’s partnership with <b>Glamsquad</b>.</p> <p>Similar to the services provided at <b>Sephora</b> and <b>Ulta Beauty</b>, CVS will now offer walk-in and on-demand beauty services with Glamsquad professional makeup artists and trained stylists, such as 30-minute makeup refreshers, dry-styling, blowouts and skin care services.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>{loadposition GIAA}The BeautyIRL format is almost double the size of a typical beauty section at CVS, and will also feature 30 new brands, an accessories shop, a bath cart and&nbsp;a Test-and-Play Hygiene Bar with testers and brand boutiques, so that CVS shoppers can actually try on a product before purchasing.</p> <p>Additional features include a Mini Must-Have boutique for customers to collect their own miniature beauty products, a #TrendingNow wall that highlights trending indie brands and an expansion of the company’s K-beauty line.</p> <p>The change comes as CVS continues to further emphasize its beauty section. In April, <a href="topics/crm-loyalty/44-of-shoppers-reward-retailers-that-share-their-values" target="_blank">the company launched its “Beauty in Real Life” ad campaign</a>, which featured unaltered imagery of a diverse group of women. The campaign was an attempt by the retailer to align itself with "an <a href="https://cvshealth.com/newsroom/press-releases/cvs-pharmacy-launches-first-campaign-featuring-unaltered-beauty-imagery" target="_blank">authentic and more realistic image of beauty</a> for its customers." The drugstore wants to <a href="https://cvshealth.com/about/our-offerings/cvs-pharmacy/cvs-beauty-mark" target="_blank">phase out photoshopped beauty imagery</a> in stores by the end of 2020.</p> <p>CVS hasn’t officially confirmed a launch date for additional BeautyIRL locations, although further expansion is scheduled for 2018. Additionally, the planned changes are expected to eventually roll out in an online format.</p></div> Lessons On The Future Of Retail From The ‘Last Mall Built In America’ 2018-09-05T09:07:23-04:00 2018-09-05T09:07:23-04:00 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/lessons-on-the-future-of-retail-from-the-last-mall-built-in-america Warwick Heathwood & Stefan Tauber, SET feed@retailtouchpoints.com <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/39de64f1887e9db6814b94cee6aef83d_XL.jpg" alt="Lessons On The Future Of Retail From The ‘Last Mall Built In America’" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Have you ever been to <a href="https://www.mallatutc.com/" target="_blank">The Mall at University Town Center</a> (UTC) in Sarasota, Florida? If not, you might be missing out on a piece of history, because, by most accounts, it <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/retail/sarasotas-mall-at-university-town-center-trying-to-flourish-as-others/2248978" target="_blank">just might have been</a> the last new-build enclosed mall constructed in America. In fact, after a series of stops and starts, its opening in 2014 was the first of its kind in more than five years.</p> <p>Like many malls before it, the UTC venue was born from complicated and costly commercial agreements, property development and town planning considerations, delaying its completion for more than a decade. When it finally opened, it was already old news. Technological progress had left it behind.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>{loadposition GIAA}By 2014, the rapid development of online shopping and smartphones had damaged the central business proposition of malls — the convenience of all of your favorite stores in one place. The digital and mobile paradigm shift led to traffic drops and shuttering of mall operations before they even opened, which eventually forced developers to rethink their investment.</p> <p>Despite this, within the trials of the UTC and other malls are important insights about changes in consumer behavior and what the future holds for physical retail. Yes, physical retail does have a future, despite the <a href="https://www.vox.com/videos/2018/4/11/17220528/american-shopping-malls-death-third-place" target="_blank">constant ringing of death knells</a> for shopping malls. The advent of technology has revived a buzzword in retail, one which doesn’t neglect but validates the physical space by embracing the human element: omnichannel.</p> <h2>The Omnichannel Effect</h2> <p>While malls like UTC are a dying breed, omnichannel speaks to a desire to adapt the offerings of malls to changing consumer behavior. Traditionally, omnichannel has always referred to a single-revenue system to enable cross shopping and returning behaviors. But from a <a href="https://www.setcreative.com/white-paper-human-after-all" target="_blank">human perspective</a>, omnichannel also means that there is a choice: the consumer can now choose to transact with a brand across any number of touch points, some human, some technology-based. Making human experiences more available and more convenient for the consumer dramatically increases the effectiveness of every marketing effort.</p> <p>It also embraces the disruption at the heart of retail’s shift that led to UTC’s struggles. How could a group of property speculators, developers, builders and architects predict such tectonic changes to human behavior over the course of 10 years? How could they possibly adjust or change plans?</p> <p>During their prime, shopping malls housed well-known department stores that provided an incentive for consumers to frequently shop, which smaller, boutique stores within heavily depended on. However, with the erosion of these big-name players, mall owners had to find new ways to drive traffic while accounting for the unpredictability of digital. This is where omnichannel provides a solution for retail, as a traffic driver from social media to in-store for special product drops, fulfillment and hands-on experiences.</p> <p>However, make no mistake. While the omnichannel model integrates multiple methods of shopping, it’s still a physical retail strategy at heart. Any model that does not include a physical channel is a digital or a direct model, not omnichannel. That specific detail is the difference between retail success and obsolescence. If physical retail channels of the future thrive, it will be because they create a seamless experience from their digital presence, aligning the use of devices for browsing and online transactions with fulfilment in the store environment.</p> <h2>Take A Cue From The Top</h2> <p>Some of the world’s most familiar brands are <a href="http://multichannelmerchant.com/must-reads/5-excellent-examples-omnichannel-retailing-done-right/" target="_blank">already succeeding</a> with omnichannel strategies. Sephora, for example, has remained a mainstay of most local malls. While many malls are fading away, how has this particular brand been able to stay afloat and, more so, firmly remain <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/fashion/sephora-beauty-retail-technology.html" target="_blank">the number one specialty beauty retailer in the world</a>? Realizing early on that today’s makeup life is overloaded with products and brands, resulting in little brand loyalty especially amongst younger makeup consumers, Sephora invested heavily into a playful “try more, buy more” ethos to minimize customer confusion.</p> <p>While other retailers continue to heavily rely on in-store sales, Sephora invests in digital offerings that drive more traffic to store and e-Commerce. <a href="https://sephoravirtualartist.com/landing_5.0.php?country=US&amp;lang=en&amp;x=&amp;skintone=&amp;currentModel=" target="_blank">Virtual Artist</a>, which is the brand’s AR and AI-fueled makeup tool, is one of those breakthrough developments. Co-developed with Modiface, the Virtual Artist was first developed for mobile to make shoppers more comfortable with navigating the complex landscape of makeup. Then, to amplify the experience, Sephora implemented Virtual Artist in its in-store displays. With its ability to track facial features accurately, the physical version of the tool enabled shoppers to immediately scan any product on an endcap and “try on” to find their perfect makeup blush, foundation or lipsticks.</p> <p>Though commonly considered a traditional retail player, Sephora has been able to leverage digital tools like Virtual Artist to make the path to makeup point-of-purchase less complex and more exciting in-store and online. In turn, Sephora has been able to remain true to its brick-and-mortar roots by boosting traffic from digital to store.</p> <p>On the other hand, <a href="https://www.glossier.com/" target="_blank">Glossier</a>, as a digital-native beauty brand, uses its own unique omnichannel approach to break through the makeup category clutter. On the digital side, the brand has centered its content around the consumer, in turn creating an armada of advocates. Along with word of mouth serving as a primary driver across digital channels including editorial blogs, social media and owned web, Glossier presents personalized experiences through FaceTime tutorials and Facebook Live videos. Based on the theme of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWpusBRtNAW9CQwXDRCUo-N9D238vFEiP" target="_blank">“Get Ready With Me,”</a> Glossier’s video productions star its own employees, who walk viewers through their morning routine and break down the challenges of choosing the right morning makeup.</p> <p>The highly relatable digital experience aligns with the service offerings of <a href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/glossier-unveils-a-fabulous-brick-and-mortar-space" target="_blank">Glossier’s physical NYC showroom</a>, a pink-infused space where consumers can sample the entire makeup suite, connect with “showroom editors” and partake in Instagramable moments within a comfortable atmosphere. In the process, Glossier has easily created a balance between making consumers feel heard and selling loads of merchandise online and offline.</p> <p>By melding digital, physical and retail in seamless fashion, the aforementioned brands have shown the true potential of an omnichannel experience.</p> <h2>Where We Go From Here</h2> <p>While omnichannel isn’t necessarily a cure-all for long-suffering malls, it can play a crucial role in spurring retail success. That’s because retail is always changing and as the omnichannel experience evolves to match it, there will always be unsuccessful channels and tactics to phase out while new ones are introduced. Even now, retail is facing the death of mobile apps, the rise of mobile sites and the introduction of virtual influencers.</p> <p>There's a huge opportunity for brands, marketers and agencies to become thought leaders in creating and curating new ownable channels, while still maintaining brick-and-mortar as a primary touch point. After all, with financial pundits now claiming <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/25/cramer-foot-locker-earnings-show-the-mall-is-still-not-dead-yet.html" target="_blank">“the mall is not dead yet”</a> and the UTC mall still housing 100+ stores, it’s clear that there will still be a place for the physical space so long as the industry takes the right approach.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Warwick Heathwood is the New York-based Strategy Director of retail experience agency <a href="https://www.setcreative.com/" target="_blank">SET</a>, helping to design experiences that make the world a more interesting place. Along with his client work, Heathwood recently wrote a white paper on how the human element is still vital to retail experience. Check it out <a href="https://www.setcreative.com/white-paper-human-after-all" target="_blank">here</a>. Based in New York, Stefan Tauber is Strategist at SET, developing brand strategies for the likes of Spotify, United Airlines, BMW and Verizon. Along with his client work, Tauber recently wrote a guide to help brands navigate the omnichannel experience.</em></p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/39de64f1887e9db6814b94cee6aef83d_XL.jpg" alt="Lessons On The Future Of Retail From The ‘Last Mall Built In America’" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p>Have you ever been to <a href="https://www.mallatutc.com/" target="_blank">The Mall at University Town Center</a> (UTC) in Sarasota, Florida? If not, you might be missing out on a piece of history, because, by most accounts, it <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/retail/sarasotas-mall-at-university-town-center-trying-to-flourish-as-others/2248978" target="_blank">just might have been</a> the last new-build enclosed mall constructed in America. In fact, after a series of stops and starts, its opening in 2014 was the first of its kind in more than five years.</p> <p>Like many malls before it, the UTC venue was born from complicated and costly commercial agreements, property development and town planning considerations, delaying its completion for more than a decade. When it finally opened, it was already old news. Technological progress had left it behind.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>{loadposition GIAA}By 2014, the rapid development of online shopping and smartphones had damaged the central business proposition of malls — the convenience of all of your favorite stores in one place. The digital and mobile paradigm shift led to traffic drops and shuttering of mall operations before they even opened, which eventually forced developers to rethink their investment.</p> <p>Despite this, within the trials of the UTC and other malls are important insights about changes in consumer behavior and what the future holds for physical retail. Yes, physical retail does have a future, despite the <a href="https://www.vox.com/videos/2018/4/11/17220528/american-shopping-malls-death-third-place" target="_blank">constant ringing of death knells</a> for shopping malls. The advent of technology has revived a buzzword in retail, one which doesn’t neglect but validates the physical space by embracing the human element: omnichannel.</p> <h2>The Omnichannel Effect</h2> <p>While malls like UTC are a dying breed, omnichannel speaks to a desire to adapt the offerings of malls to changing consumer behavior. Traditionally, omnichannel has always referred to a single-revenue system to enable cross shopping and returning behaviors. But from a <a href="https://www.setcreative.com/white-paper-human-after-all" target="_blank">human perspective</a>, omnichannel also means that there is a choice: the consumer can now choose to transact with a brand across any number of touch points, some human, some technology-based. Making human experiences more available and more convenient for the consumer dramatically increases the effectiveness of every marketing effort.</p> <p>It also embraces the disruption at the heart of retail’s shift that led to UTC’s struggles. How could a group of property speculators, developers, builders and architects predict such tectonic changes to human behavior over the course of 10 years? How could they possibly adjust or change plans?</p> <p>During their prime, shopping malls housed well-known department stores that provided an incentive for consumers to frequently shop, which smaller, boutique stores within heavily depended on. However, with the erosion of these big-name players, mall owners had to find new ways to drive traffic while accounting for the unpredictability of digital. This is where omnichannel provides a solution for retail, as a traffic driver from social media to in-store for special product drops, fulfillment and hands-on experiences.</p> <p>However, make no mistake. While the omnichannel model integrates multiple methods of shopping, it’s still a physical retail strategy at heart. Any model that does not include a physical channel is a digital or a direct model, not omnichannel. That specific detail is the difference between retail success and obsolescence. If physical retail channels of the future thrive, it will be because they create a seamless experience from their digital presence, aligning the use of devices for browsing and online transactions with fulfilment in the store environment.</p> <h2>Take A Cue From The Top</h2> <p>Some of the world’s most familiar brands are <a href="http://multichannelmerchant.com/must-reads/5-excellent-examples-omnichannel-retailing-done-right/" target="_blank">already succeeding</a> with omnichannel strategies. Sephora, for example, has remained a mainstay of most local malls. While many malls are fading away, how has this particular brand been able to stay afloat and, more so, firmly remain <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/fashion/sephora-beauty-retail-technology.html" target="_blank">the number one specialty beauty retailer in the world</a>? Realizing early on that today’s makeup life is overloaded with products and brands, resulting in little brand loyalty especially amongst younger makeup consumers, Sephora invested heavily into a playful “try more, buy more” ethos to minimize customer confusion.</p> <p>While other retailers continue to heavily rely on in-store sales, Sephora invests in digital offerings that drive more traffic to store and e-Commerce. <a href="https://sephoravirtualartist.com/landing_5.0.php?country=US&amp;lang=en&amp;x=&amp;skintone=&amp;currentModel=" target="_blank">Virtual Artist</a>, which is the brand’s AR and AI-fueled makeup tool, is one of those breakthrough developments. Co-developed with Modiface, the Virtual Artist was first developed for mobile to make shoppers more comfortable with navigating the complex landscape of makeup. Then, to amplify the experience, Sephora implemented Virtual Artist in its in-store displays. With its ability to track facial features accurately, the physical version of the tool enabled shoppers to immediately scan any product on an endcap and “try on” to find their perfect makeup blush, foundation or lipsticks.</p> <p>Though commonly considered a traditional retail player, Sephora has been able to leverage digital tools like Virtual Artist to make the path to makeup point-of-purchase less complex and more exciting in-store and online. In turn, Sephora has been able to remain true to its brick-and-mortar roots by boosting traffic from digital to store.</p> <p>On the other hand, <a href="https://www.glossier.com/" target="_blank">Glossier</a>, as a digital-native beauty brand, uses its own unique omnichannel approach to break through the makeup category clutter. On the digital side, the brand has centered its content around the consumer, in turn creating an armada of advocates. Along with word of mouth serving as a primary driver across digital channels including editorial blogs, social media and owned web, Glossier presents personalized experiences through FaceTime tutorials and Facebook Live videos. Based on the theme of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLWpusBRtNAW9CQwXDRCUo-N9D238vFEiP" target="_blank">“Get Ready With Me,”</a> Glossier’s video productions star its own employees, who walk viewers through their morning routine and break down the challenges of choosing the right morning makeup.</p> <p>The highly relatable digital experience aligns with the service offerings of <a href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/glossier-unveils-a-fabulous-brick-and-mortar-space" target="_blank">Glossier’s physical NYC showroom</a>, a pink-infused space where consumers can sample the entire makeup suite, connect with “showroom editors” and partake in Instagramable moments within a comfortable atmosphere. In the process, Glossier has easily created a balance between making consumers feel heard and selling loads of merchandise online and offline.</p> <p>By melding digital, physical and retail in seamless fashion, the aforementioned brands have shown the true potential of an omnichannel experience.</p> <h2>Where We Go From Here</h2> <p>While omnichannel isn’t necessarily a cure-all for long-suffering malls, it can play a crucial role in spurring retail success. That’s because retail is always changing and as the omnichannel experience evolves to match it, there will always be unsuccessful channels and tactics to phase out while new ones are introduced. Even now, retail is facing the death of mobile apps, the rise of mobile sites and the introduction of virtual influencers.</p> <p>There's a huge opportunity for brands, marketers and agencies to become thought leaders in creating and curating new ownable channels, while still maintaining brick-and-mortar as a primary touch point. After all, with financial pundits now claiming <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/25/cramer-foot-locker-earnings-show-the-mall-is-still-not-dead-yet.html" target="_blank">“the mall is not dead yet”</a> and the UTC mall still housing 100+ stores, it’s clear that there will still be a place for the physical space so long as the industry takes the right approach.</p> <hr /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Warwick Heathwood is the New York-based Strategy Director of retail experience agency <a href="https://www.setcreative.com/" target="_blank">SET</a>, helping to design experiences that make the world a more interesting place. Along with his client work, Heathwood recently wrote a white paper on how the human element is still vital to retail experience. Check it out <a href="https://www.setcreative.com/white-paper-human-after-all" target="_blank">here</a>. Based in New York, Stefan Tauber is Strategist at SET, developing brand strategies for the likes of Spotify, United Airlines, BMW and Verizon. Along with his client work, Tauber recently wrote a guide to help brands navigate the omnichannel experience.</em></p></div> Exclusive Q&A: Which Retail Jobs Are Safe From A Robot Takeover? 2018-09-05T09:04:24-04:00 2018-09-05T09:04:24-04:00 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/trend-watch/exclusive-q-a-which-retail-jobs-are-safe-from-a-robot-takeover Adam Blair feed@retailtouchpoints.com <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/f500b2a379e0dc329e6ac3f853455422_XL.jpg" alt="Exclusive Q&A: Which Retail Jobs Are Safe From A Robot Takeover?" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><img style="margin: 8px; float: right;" alt="Martin Ford 225" src="images/storiesv3/Martin_Ford_225.png" />Retail, hospitality and other service-oriented industries have been seen as relatively immune to the job-killing effects of robotics, automation and AI. But as these technologies grow more sophisticated, retail’s resistance is weakening. Futurist Martin Ford, author of <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Robots-Technology-Threat-Jobless/dp/0465097537" target="_blank">Rise Of The Robots: Technology And The Threat Of A Jobless Future</a></em>, notes that robots are already reducing (or eliminating) the number of humans needed to do many jobs, including:</p> <p>• Warehouse work;<br />• Checking in-store inventory;<br />• Providing customer service; and<br />• Staffing points of sale.</p> <p>In an exclusive interview with <em>Retail TouchPoints</em>, Ford identifies the advances in robotics and AI that are accelerating the fastest. He also identifies a selection of job categories that are safe from the march of automation — at least for now.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p><em><strong>Retail TouchPoints (RTP): You write in Rise Of The Robots that warehouse work and fast food are two places where we’re already seeing the impact of robotics on employment. Has that trend continued since the book came out in 2015?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Martin Ford:</strong> There have been advances in both areas, but the progress has had the most practical applications in warehouse work. You can find videos on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBl4Y55V2Z4" target="_blank">YouTube</a>&nbsp;showing robots moving boxes around. Nearly all the main distribution warehouses are automated to some extent, for example by bringing shelves to workers who then reach in and grab the items they need. I really think <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-lBvI6u_hw" target="_blank"><strong>Amazon</strong>’s</a> warehouses will get more efficient and less labor-intensive, which directly impacts <strong>Walmart</strong>.</p> <p>In order to respond, traditional retailers with stores also will have to become more efficient. Walmart and others have been <a href="topics/shopper-experience/nrf-2018-wakefern-postmates-tap-next-gen-cameras-and-robotics-to-improve-logistics" target="_blank">testing robots for taking store inventory</a> by counting the things that are on the store shelves. Part of the nature of robotics is that it’s easier to make one designed <strong>just to observe something</strong>, versus building a robot that <strong>physically does something like pick up a box</strong>. Eventually, however, robots will be unloading trucks or putting items on shelves, particularly in areas where the products are standardized. That’s probably inevitable.</p> <p>In the fast food area, there are at least three startups in terms of actually preparing food. Momentum Machines, now called <a href="http://creator.rest/" target="_blank">Creator</a>, has a robot that shapes burgers from freshly ground meat and grills them to order, and it can produce 360 burgers per hour. They just opened <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/21/creator-hamburger-robot/" target="_blank">a storefront in San Francisco</a> in order to test the technology. There’s also a company called <a href="https://zumepizza.com/info" target="_blank">Zume</a> that is using robots to make pizzas. Their business model is to put the uncooked pizzas in a van equipped with an oven and have it cooked while it’s on the way to the delivery destination, so that it’s virtually right out of the oven when you get it.</p> <p><em><strong>RTP: You also write about the impact of cloud robotics, which migrates the intelligence needed to animate mobile robots to a centralized hub, as a technology that’s likely to affect jobs. Why is this technology important?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Ford:</strong> Some people say ‘Well, I might lose my job doing such-and-such, but I can get a job fixing the robots.’ It’s true that repair and maintenance will create some jobs, but certainly not as many as will be lost. Take the Redbox video boxes, which can sense when there’s a mechanical or software issue with one of them and send an alert about that. All of these types of systems will be built in a way that’s very <strong>modular and easy to maintain</strong>, probably remotely and in some cases autonomously. <strong>That’s a part of the business model.</strong></p> <p><em><strong>RTP: Are there jobs where we might be surprised to see robots, AI or other technologies replacing humans?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Ford:</strong> People have been biased toward the idea of robots taking away blue-collar jobs, like warehouse workers, or truck drivers with self-driving vehicles. There’s not enough focus on the person that sits in a cubicle, whose job is a lot easier to automate in many ways. For one thing, as opposed to a self-driving car, <strong>if the machine makes a mistake, nobody gets injured or killed</strong>. People who are analysts cranking out reports, or putting data into an understandable format, in areas like accounting, finance and banking — all of these jobs will be increasingly susceptible to becoming automated.</p> <p>We’re already seeing it in customer service. When you call a company for technical support, it’s <strong>increasingly likely that you will be talking to a machine</strong>, and it’s not clear whether that will be disclosed to the consumer. These solutions could get good enough so that people wouldn’t be able to tell, especially when the conversations are limited in terms of the topic areas.</p> <p><em><strong>RTP: Are there retail jobs that might be considered “safe” from automation?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Ford:</strong> Jobs involving <strong>creative and strategic thinking</strong> are one area. Another is jobs involving <strong>interacting with people</strong>, particularly if you need to build a sophisticated relationship, as in high-end retail. Another area is jobs where there’s a lot of mobility and dexterity involved. Outside of retail that would be electricians and plumbers, but even something like stocking shelves — particularly in a smaller store that has a lot of different products and different-sized shelves — will still need people. Also, the person that goes into the fitting room to restock shelves with clothes that are all in a jumble — pretty much anything that requires <strong>flexibility and dexterity in unpredictable environments</strong> is fairly safe.</p> <p><em><strong>RTP: What are some of the likely effects of a jobless future?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Ford:</strong> Workers are consumers, and the main way we get money into the hands of these consumers is their jobs. As these jobs go away or as wages fall, things become increasingly unequal. We’re already seeing the impact of inequality — I’ve seen surveys saying that the average person would not be able to come up with $500 in case they needed to fix a car or had medical expenses. <strong>If people have no discretionary income, they’re not driving the economy,</strong> because these people are really only buying essentials.</p> <p><em><strong>RTP: Do you feel that people are underestimating how quickly the impact of robotics and automation will be felt on a large scale in the economy?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Ford:</strong> I think there is growing awareness of these issues. When I do speaking engagements or I talk to politicians, they are very interested in the topic.</p> <p>However, I worry that with the economy doing well and with a record low unemployment rate in the U.S., people are somewhat complacent. But the economic recovery won’t go on forever. The downturns are when a lot of the consolidation and assimilation of jobs happen. Companies deploy the technology after laying people off, and then when the economy picks up again <strong>they find that they don’t have to hire people back.</strong></p> <p>Even with today’s low unemployment, many economists are mystified as to why that hasn’t led to wage growth. A tight job market should be putting tremendous pressure on wages, and we’re not seeing that. One reason is that we also have to worry about the labor force participation rate. The unemployment rate only measures those that are looking for jobs, not those that have essentially left the workforce. <strong>The downward trend there is all related to the impact of technology.</strong></p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/f500b2a379e0dc329e6ac3f853455422_XL.jpg" alt="Exclusive Q&A: Which Retail Jobs Are Safe From A Robot Takeover?" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><img style="margin: 8px; float: right;" alt="Martin Ford 225" src="images/storiesv3/Martin_Ford_225.png" />Retail, hospitality and other service-oriented industries have been seen as relatively immune to the job-killing effects of robotics, automation and AI. But as these technologies grow more sophisticated, retail’s resistance is weakening. Futurist Martin Ford, author of <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Robots-Technology-Threat-Jobless/dp/0465097537" target="_blank">Rise Of The Robots: Technology And The Threat Of A Jobless Future</a></em>, notes that robots are already reducing (or eliminating) the number of humans needed to do many jobs, including:</p> <p>• Warehouse work;<br />• Checking in-store inventory;<br />• Providing customer service; and<br />• Staffing points of sale.</p> <p>In an exclusive interview with <em>Retail TouchPoints</em>, Ford identifies the advances in robotics and AI that are accelerating the fastest. He also identifies a selection of job categories that are safe from the march of automation — at least for now.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p><em><strong>Retail TouchPoints (RTP): You write in Rise Of The Robots that warehouse work and fast food are two places where we’re already seeing the impact of robotics on employment. Has that trend continued since the book came out in 2015?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Martin Ford:</strong> There have been advances in both areas, but the progress has had the most practical applications in warehouse work. You can find videos on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBl4Y55V2Z4" target="_blank">YouTube</a>&nbsp;showing robots moving boxes around. Nearly all the main distribution warehouses are automated to some extent, for example by bringing shelves to workers who then reach in and grab the items they need. I really think <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-lBvI6u_hw" target="_blank"><strong>Amazon</strong>’s</a> warehouses will get more efficient and less labor-intensive, which directly impacts <strong>Walmart</strong>.</p> <p>In order to respond, traditional retailers with stores also will have to become more efficient. Walmart and others have been <a href="topics/shopper-experience/nrf-2018-wakefern-postmates-tap-next-gen-cameras-and-robotics-to-improve-logistics" target="_blank">testing robots for taking store inventory</a> by counting the things that are on the store shelves. Part of the nature of robotics is that it’s easier to make one designed <strong>just to observe something</strong>, versus building a robot that <strong>physically does something like pick up a box</strong>. Eventually, however, robots will be unloading trucks or putting items on shelves, particularly in areas where the products are standardized. That’s probably inevitable.</p> <p>In the fast food area, there are at least three startups in terms of actually preparing food. Momentum Machines, now called <a href="http://creator.rest/" target="_blank">Creator</a>, has a robot that shapes burgers from freshly ground meat and grills them to order, and it can produce 360 burgers per hour. They just opened <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/21/creator-hamburger-robot/" target="_blank">a storefront in San Francisco</a> in order to test the technology. There’s also a company called <a href="https://zumepizza.com/info" target="_blank">Zume</a> that is using robots to make pizzas. Their business model is to put the uncooked pizzas in a van equipped with an oven and have it cooked while it’s on the way to the delivery destination, so that it’s virtually right out of the oven when you get it.</p> <p><em><strong>RTP: You also write about the impact of cloud robotics, which migrates the intelligence needed to animate mobile robots to a centralized hub, as a technology that’s likely to affect jobs. Why is this technology important?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Ford:</strong> Some people say ‘Well, I might lose my job doing such-and-such, but I can get a job fixing the robots.’ It’s true that repair and maintenance will create some jobs, but certainly not as many as will be lost. Take the Redbox video boxes, which can sense when there’s a mechanical or software issue with one of them and send an alert about that. All of these types of systems will be built in a way that’s very <strong>modular and easy to maintain</strong>, probably remotely and in some cases autonomously. <strong>That’s a part of the business model.</strong></p> <p><em><strong>RTP: Are there jobs where we might be surprised to see robots, AI or other technologies replacing humans?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Ford:</strong> People have been biased toward the idea of robots taking away blue-collar jobs, like warehouse workers, or truck drivers with self-driving vehicles. There’s not enough focus on the person that sits in a cubicle, whose job is a lot easier to automate in many ways. For one thing, as opposed to a self-driving car, <strong>if the machine makes a mistake, nobody gets injured or killed</strong>. People who are analysts cranking out reports, or putting data into an understandable format, in areas like accounting, finance and banking — all of these jobs will be increasingly susceptible to becoming automated.</p> <p>We’re already seeing it in customer service. When you call a company for technical support, it’s <strong>increasingly likely that you will be talking to a machine</strong>, and it’s not clear whether that will be disclosed to the consumer. These solutions could get good enough so that people wouldn’t be able to tell, especially when the conversations are limited in terms of the topic areas.</p> <p><em><strong>RTP: Are there retail jobs that might be considered “safe” from automation?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Ford:</strong> Jobs involving <strong>creative and strategic thinking</strong> are one area. Another is jobs involving <strong>interacting with people</strong>, particularly if you need to build a sophisticated relationship, as in high-end retail. Another area is jobs where there’s a lot of mobility and dexterity involved. Outside of retail that would be electricians and plumbers, but even something like stocking shelves — particularly in a smaller store that has a lot of different products and different-sized shelves — will still need people. Also, the person that goes into the fitting room to restock shelves with clothes that are all in a jumble — pretty much anything that requires <strong>flexibility and dexterity in unpredictable environments</strong> is fairly safe.</p> <p><em><strong>RTP: What are some of the likely effects of a jobless future?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Ford:</strong> Workers are consumers, and the main way we get money into the hands of these consumers is their jobs. As these jobs go away or as wages fall, things become increasingly unequal. We’re already seeing the impact of inequality — I’ve seen surveys saying that the average person would not be able to come up with $500 in case they needed to fix a car or had medical expenses. <strong>If people have no discretionary income, they’re not driving the economy,</strong> because these people are really only buying essentials.</p> <p><em><strong>RTP: Do you feel that people are underestimating how quickly the impact of robotics and automation will be felt on a large scale in the economy?</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Ford:</strong> I think there is growing awareness of these issues. When I do speaking engagements or I talk to politicians, they are very interested in the topic.</p> <p>However, I worry that with the economy doing well and with a record low unemployment rate in the U.S., people are somewhat complacent. But the economic recovery won’t go on forever. The downturns are when a lot of the consolidation and assimilation of jobs happen. Companies deploy the technology after laying people off, and then when the economy picks up again <strong>they find that they don’t have to hire people back.</strong></p> <p>Even with today’s low unemployment, many economists are mystified as to why that hasn’t led to wage growth. A tight job market should be putting tremendous pressure on wages, and we’re not seeing that. One reason is that we also have to worry about the labor force participation rate. The unemployment rate only measures those that are looking for jobs, not those that have essentially left the workforce. <strong>The downward trend there is all related to the impact of technology.</strong></p></div> Walmart Expands Handy Installation Services To Online Shoppers 2018-08-30T12:04:24-04:00 2018-08-30T12:04:24-04:00 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/walmart-expands-handy-installation-services-to-online-shoppers Adam Blair feed@retailtouchpoints.com <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/25046585b448ac54f3c42bbc3617e5dc_XL.jpg" alt="Walmart Expands Handy Installation Services To Online Shoppers" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><b>Walmart</b> shoppers buying electronics and appliances online will soon be able to add on assembly and installation services provided by <a href="https://www.handy.com/" target="_blank">Handy</a>. The offering debuted this week, with plans to roll it out nationwide through September, according to <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-28/walmart-s-web-shoppers-won-t-have-to-hang-their-own-tvs-anymore" target="_blank"><i>Bloomberg</i></a>. The retail giant first partnered with the in-home services company in March 2018 in <a href="https://news.walmart.com/2018/03/19/handy-to-power-furniture-and-tv-installation-and-assembly-for-walmart-customers" target="_blank">2,000 Walmart stores</a>.</p> <p>The services are currently limited to indoor installations such as hanging televisions or assembling furniture, but they could be expanded to other categories in the future, according to Handy CEO Oisin Hanrahan.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>“You’re seeing Walmart — which is traditionally known for a price competitive approach — thinking they need to compete on services,” Hanrahan said in an interview with <i>Bloomberg</i>. “We’ve got a convenience-based economy where people value their time a lot but it’s also just a raw reality that the skills you need to do this work are in decline.”</p> <p>Walmart’s move comes as other retailers seek to differentiate themselves by adding services to product sales. <b>IKEA</b> expanded its <a href="features/news-briefs/ikea-expands-taskrabbit-furniture-assembly-services" target="_blank">TaskRabbit</a>&nbsp;services in March 2018 after acquiring the company in October 2017. <b>Best Buy</b>, long known for its <a href="features/news-briefs/will-best-buy-s-total-tech-support-service-boost-brand-loyalty" target="_blank">Geek Squad</a> tech support, announced plans in June 2018 to take the service nationwide as part of its “New Blue” growth strategy. <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Equipment-Assembly-Services/b?ie=UTF8&amp;node=10192832011\" target="_blank"><b>Amazon</b></a> offers a range of product assembly services covering both in-home and yard items such as grills, trampolines and basketball hoops.</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/25046585b448ac54f3c42bbc3617e5dc_XL.jpg" alt="Walmart Expands Handy Installation Services To Online Shoppers" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><b>Walmart</b> shoppers buying electronics and appliances online will soon be able to add on assembly and installation services provided by <a href="https://www.handy.com/" target="_blank">Handy</a>. The offering debuted this week, with plans to roll it out nationwide through September, according to <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-28/walmart-s-web-shoppers-won-t-have-to-hang-their-own-tvs-anymore" target="_blank"><i>Bloomberg</i></a>. The retail giant first partnered with the in-home services company in March 2018 in <a href="https://news.walmart.com/2018/03/19/handy-to-power-furniture-and-tv-installation-and-assembly-for-walmart-customers" target="_blank">2,000 Walmart stores</a>.</p> <p>The services are currently limited to indoor installations such as hanging televisions or assembling furniture, but they could be expanded to other categories in the future, according to Handy CEO Oisin Hanrahan.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>“You’re seeing Walmart — which is traditionally known for a price competitive approach — thinking they need to compete on services,” Hanrahan said in an interview with <i>Bloomberg</i>. “We’ve got a convenience-based economy where people value their time a lot but it’s also just a raw reality that the skills you need to do this work are in decline.”</p> <p>Walmart’s move comes as other retailers seek to differentiate themselves by adding services to product sales. <b>IKEA</b> expanded its <a href="features/news-briefs/ikea-expands-taskrabbit-furniture-assembly-services" target="_blank">TaskRabbit</a>&nbsp;services in March 2018 after acquiring the company in October 2017. <b>Best Buy</b>, long known for its <a href="features/news-briefs/will-best-buy-s-total-tech-support-service-boost-brand-loyalty" target="_blank">Geek Squad</a> tech support, announced plans in June 2018 to take the service nationwide as part of its “New Blue” growth strategy. <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Equipment-Assembly-Services/b?ie=UTF8&amp;node=10192832011\" target="_blank"><b>Amazon</b></a> offers a range of product assembly services covering both in-home and yard items such as grills, trampolines and basketball hoops.</p></div> Paper Source Expands ‘Return Bars’ Service To All 125 Stores 2018-08-27T17:16:16-04:00 2018-08-27T17:16:16-04:00 https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/news-briefs/paper-source-expands-return-bars-service-to-all-125-stores Adam Blair feed@retailtouchpoints.com <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/c261fb4af15814ca4cb0e574c817b427_XL.jpg" alt="Paper Source Expands ‘Return Bars’ Service To All 125 Stores" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><a href="https://www.happyreturns.com/" target="_blank">Happy Returns</a><img style="margin: 8px; float: right;" alt="Happy Returns-Paper Source" src="images/storiesv3/Happy_Returns-Paper_Source.png" height="333" width="250" />, which offers a combination of software, services and logistics for returning items purchased online, will place its “Return Bars” in all 125 <a href="https://www.papersource.com/" target="_blank"><b>Paper Source</b></a> stores by the end of September. The chainwide expansion follows an 18-store pilot program that began in March 2018 in Chicago and Los Angeles.</p> <p>When the Paper Source stores open, the Happy Returns network will consist of <b>260</b> locations in <b>50</b> metropolitan areas. At the beginning of this year, the company had 50 Return Bars; in early May Happy Returns marked its 100<sup>th</sup> location.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>“We’re excited to roll out Happy Returns’ innovative services to all our stores nationwide,” said Jenica Myszkowski, COO at Paper Source in a statement. “Based on our pilot program, Happy Returns visitors are new to the brand, and during their visits, they become Paper Source customers at a very encouraging rate.”</p> <p>“It took us two years to open 100 locations, but alongside premier partners like Paper Source, it took only four months to open the next 150,” said David Sobie, Co-Founder and CEO of Happy Returns in a statement. “Our growth is accelerating, and the business is driving value for retailers, locations and shoppers.”</p> <p>Online retailers offering the Happy Returns service include <b>Everlane, Tradesy, Eloquii, Jaanuu, Mizzen+Main</b> and <b>UNTUCKit</b>.</p></div> <div class="K2FeedImage"><img src="https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/media/k2/items/cache/c261fb4af15814ca4cb0e574c817b427_XL.jpg" alt="Paper Source Expands ‘Return Bars’ Service To All 125 Stores" /></div><div class="K2FeedIntroText"><p><a href="https://www.happyreturns.com/" target="_blank">Happy Returns</a><img style="margin: 8px; float: right;" alt="Happy Returns-Paper Source" src="images/storiesv3/Happy_Returns-Paper_Source.png" height="333" width="250" />, which offers a combination of software, services and logistics for returning items purchased online, will place its “Return Bars” in all 125 <a href="https://www.papersource.com/" target="_blank"><b>Paper Source</b></a> stores by the end of September. The chainwide expansion follows an 18-store pilot program that began in March 2018 in Chicago and Los Angeles.</p> <p>When the Paper Source stores open, the Happy Returns network will consist of <b>260</b> locations in <b>50</b> metropolitan areas. At the beginning of this year, the company had 50 Return Bars; in early May Happy Returns marked its 100<sup>th</sup> location.</p> </div><div class="K2FeedFullText"> <p>“We’re excited to roll out Happy Returns’ innovative services to all our stores nationwide,” said Jenica Myszkowski, COO at Paper Source in a statement. “Based on our pilot program, Happy Returns visitors are new to the brand, and during their visits, they become Paper Source customers at a very encouraging rate.”</p> <p>“It took us two years to open 100 locations, but alongside premier partners like Paper Source, it took only four months to open the next 150,” said David Sobie, Co-Founder and CEO of Happy Returns in a statement. “Our growth is accelerating, and the business is driving value for retailers, locations and shoppers.”</p> <p>Online retailers offering the Happy Returns service include <b>Everlane, Tradesy, Eloquii, Jaanuu, Mizzen+Main</b> and <b>UNTUCKit</b>.</p></div>