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Store Operations

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

Walmart Debuts Small-Format, High-Tech Supermarket In China

Walmart has opened its first small-format, high-tech supermarket in Shenzhen, China, according to Reuters. The store carries items that consumers also can buy on the online platform JD Daojia, an affiliate of JD.com. Walmart has not released information about the size of the store, but it will stock more than 8,000 items, ranging from stir-fried clams to fresh fruit, 90% of which also will be available online. Items can be delivered within a two-kilometer (1.2 mile) radius as quickly as 29 minutes, and customers can opt to pay with their smartphones using the WeChat platform. Walmart recently implemented WeChat Pay into its mobile offering, replacing Alipay in all its stores in the western region of China.

The 4 Steps Needed To ‘Save Our Stores’

Although more than 3,200 U.S. stores are set to close in 2018, a majority of shoppers still want to go to the store when they can: 73% of consumers still go to stores to touch and feel products, according to a report from Astound Commerce. But consumers are demanding more from the store experience. The “Save Our Stores” report revealed four keys to keeping a brick-and-mortar store viable: Stores must be inspiring and build on customer loyalty;  Stores should offer valuable promotions and exclusive products to drive traffic; Customer service is a critical differentiator, with 64% of consumers reporting poor customer service as the top reason to leave a physical store; and Retailers need to stress the efficiency of store shopping, particularly in speeding up purchase and returns processes. 

Pop-Up Rental Platform Makes Space For VR Stores

By definition, pop-up stores are meant to be ephemeral, but however short-lived they were, they did exist in the physical world — until now. Through a global partnership with Virtual Reality (VR) retail platform Obsess, Storefront is giving brands and retailers the opportunity to rent VR pop-up stores on its platform. For a monthly fee, the renter gets up to 40 products featured, customized colors and logo, choice of layout and style, and the option to collect consumer data. The VR pop-ups are currently themed to be located in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but other virtual locations will soon follow. For example, a VR store in a Manhattan penthouse “atop The World Trade Center” features expansive views of the surrounding cityscape and is listed for $3,000 per month. VR stores must be rented for a minimum of three months.

Whole Foods Cuts Store And Regional Marketing, Design Staff

  • Published in News Briefs
In another move that reflects a more centralized approach to operations at Whole Foods under the Amazon umbrella, the supermarket retailer confirmed that it has cut staff in its marketing and graphic design departments. This follows recent revelations that more than a dozen executives and managers have left the company…
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Shoptalk 2018 Secures Its Spot As A Must-Attend Retail Event

The impressive marketing and branding efforts have catapulted Shoptalk to the top of the events-on-your-radar list for retailers and brands, but the 2018 speaker lineup and massive 1:1 meeting setup has cemented the conference as one of the top “big” retail events-to-attend. As press attendees, it honestly was difficult to decide which sessions to cover and which meetings to schedule. Here’s a wrap-up of our key takeaways, in addition to the Quick Quotes article we shared last week:

Only 35% Of Retailers Effectively Train Employees; 32% Don’t Train At All

While 57% of employed adults think that training is very effective in helping them do their job well, retail employees are far less confident about its success rate than their peers, according to a survey from Axonify. Only 35% of retail employees believe training is effective, well below the averages of respondents in fields such as: Financial advising/professional sales (66%); Manufacturing/logistics (68%), and Call centers (63%). Nearly one in three (32%) of retail employees say they don’t receive any formal training at all, a higher percentage than any other industry surveyed.

Plastic Logic Unveils Freezable ESLs For Supermarkets

Plastic Logic, a designer and manufacturer of glass-free electrophoretic displays (EPDs), has launched a 11.5” x 0.5” EPD designed for rail-type electronic shelf label (ESL) applications. The displays are designed to overcome many of the problems associated with traditional paper labels, which can easily be damaged and require time-consuming manual systems to manage updates. Additionally, ESLs often have difficulty operating and updating at sub-zero temperatures.

Can The Toys ‘R’ Us Troubles Teach Valuable Lessons To Other Retailers?

Toys ‘R’ Us appears to be headed for chainwide store closures and liquidation in both the U.S. and the UK, where the retailer operates approximately 100 stores, according to a BBC News report. However, CNBC reports that the retailer is exploring a plan that would keep approximately 200 of its 800 U.S. stores open, in part by combining the stores with stronger Canadian operations. The demise (or the drastic slimming down) of this once-iconic chain raises urgent questions for other retailers seeking to avoid its fate: • How ‘special’ does a specialty retailer have to be? The merchandise at Toys ‘R’ Us is highly brand-driven, but consumers have numerous other places to buy these items — from Amazon to big box stores like Target and Walmart. Toys ‘R’ Us lacked the hands-on experience of Build-A-Bear or the private label brand power of Lego, creating a differentiation problem in a highly competitive field. • Does the store experience match today’s taste for experiential retail? Just days after filing for bankruptcy in September 2017, Toys ‘R’ Us announced plans to launch “Play Labs” at 42 stores, providing spaces for kids to test out the season’s hottest toys. Such investments can keep customers…

The Death Of Boring Retail: Exclusive Q&A With Steve Dennis

In this exclusive Q&A, industry expert Steve Dennis shares his predictions and recommendations for retailers struggling to find the best ways to survive and thrive in the age of Amazon. Dennis is the President of SageBerry Consulting, a strategic advisory firm focused on innovation and growth strategy for retail, luxury and social impact brands. Dennis will be speaking at the Retail Innovation Conference, April 30-May 2 in New York City. His session is titled: A Really Bad Time To Be Boring: Reinventing Retail In The Age Of Amazon.

How Will Gen Z Reshape Retail?

Given that the oldest members of Gen Z are just now reaching college graduation age (and the youngest are still finger-painting in kindergarten), it’s difficult to draw accurate conclusions about what this group’s ultimate impact on retail will be. Still, researchers and industry analysts have made predictions about Gen Z that have many retailers concerned about the fallout when these consumers start spending their own money, rather than their parents’: • Will anything draw these digital natives into brick-and-mortar stores, or will they rely almost exclusively on mobile and voice shopping? • Will Gen Z consumers follow in Millennials’ footsteps, spending their disposable income on experiences rather than possessions? • How will retailers meet the needs of this informed and savvy group of shoppers?

Zara To Deploy Click-And-Collect Robots In Stores

Zara has long been known as a fast fashion leader, but the retailer has been slow in one area: fulfilling buy online/pick up in-store (BOPIS) orders. The bottlenecks are a particular problem for Zara, a division of Inditex, because one third of its global online sales are picked up in store locations, including the 85 shops located in the U.S. The retailer will deploy robots operating behind the scenes in stores, according to the Wall Street Journal. Shoppers will scan or enter a code at in-store collection points, which will trigger the robot to search for the correct package in a small warehouse, then deliver it quickly to a drop box.

Exclusive CDO Q&A: BJ’s Goes All-In On Digital Transformation

In the midst of a multi-faceted digital transformation, BJ’s Wholesale Club is focused on offering convenience and value for its members. Recently appointed as the company’s first Chief Digital Officer, Rafeh Masood sat down with Retail TouchPoints for an exclusive and enlightening Q&A. Masood also will be presenting during the Retail Innovation Conference, May 1-2 in New York City, where he’ll share details on how he has been able to transform the culture and build out the digital team at BJ’s.

Walking Company Steps Into Bankruptcy, Blames Loss Of UGGs

  • Published in News Briefs
The Walking Company is seeking bankruptcy protection for the second time in a decade, and this time the blame goes to UGGs shoes. Following a 2009 bankruptcy declaration and reorganization, the company is again seeking more advantageous lease terms on its 200+ stores. The retailer already has worked out a…
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Customer Queries And Reviews Illuminate Sales For Lamps Plus

By increasing the variety and depth of UGC (User Generated Content) on its e-Commerce web site, Lamps Plus improved the customer shopping journey and armed consumers with significantly more information to guide their purchasing, both online and in-store. While Lamps Plus has sought out, collected and posted online product reviews for several years, customers’ questions and answers, visual reviews and checkout comments were put on the back burner — mainly because the retailer lacked the resources to implement the process.
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