(Author : Power Retail)
IKEA Australia has today launched the IKEA Virtual Reality store. The virtual store is a first for a large format retailer in Australia, providing a unique digital experience that allows customers to ‘walk’ the iconic IKEA store and browse products.

IKEA Australia Launches First VR Store

IKEA customers can now visit the home furnishings retailer wherever, whenever via its new virtual reality store. The innovative technology is designed to enhance customers’ online shopping experience following the successful launch of online shopping in the ACT and surrounds, Tasmania, North Queensland and the NT. For customers in areas with online shopping, purchases can also be made through the virtual store on a desktop device. IKEA Australia multichannel specialist Malcolm Haylett said the IKEA Virtual Reality Store was about bringing online shopping to life in a new, interactive way.

“The IKEA Virtual Reality store has been developed to support our online shopping service. We know that it’s important for customers to see and experience our home furnishings range. IKEA has recently made a move towards online retailing, but we want to offer the full IKEA store experience to our online shoppers,” says Haylett.

We know that IKEA customers like to look online for inspiration before making a purchase. The IKEA Virtual Reality Store is simply a different and more immersive tool that allows you to do that. Through the innovative tool you can stand in a room-set and visualise it as if you were there in person, and you can for example, see our full range of sofas or beds at a glance. In the IKEA Virtual Reality Store you self-navigate the experience as if you walking an IKEA store.”

“Online shopping at IKEA is all about giving more accessibility to customers who want to shop with us wherever, whenever. Our unique Virtual Reality experience will support our current online shopping offering through our Canberra store and 10 collection points around the country.”

The IKEA Virtual Reality Store will be officially launched in Townsville this weekend, on the back of a successful online shopping store and collection point coming online in the area earlier this year.

Source : powerretail.com.au

(Author : Robert Williams)
Walmart, the biggest discount chain in the U.S. with more than 4,600 stores, added a feature to its mobile payment application to let people immediately start using store branded credit cards, according to a blog post by the company.

Walmart updates app for fast store credit access

The Walmart Pay electronic wallet now gives nearly instant access to Walmart credit cards at all store locations and online after customers are approved — even before a plastic card arrives by mail. Walmart Pay works with any iOS or Android device in stores and with any credit, debit, prepaid or Walmart gift card that users upload to the mobile app. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company cited a study that found that Walmart Pay is the third-most frequently used mobile wallet in the U.S., behind Samsung Pay and Apple Pay, but ahead of Android Pay.

The company rolled out its mobile pay app in early 2016. Walmart’s credit cards offer 3% cash back on online purchases, 2% on purchases from Murphy USA and Walmart gas stations and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Walmart is embracing the ways in which today’s consumers want to shop, expanding beyond its focus on squeezing out distribution costs in an effort to offer low prices. That strategy worked for more than 30 years, but other retailers are demonstrating that shoppers don’t have to waste time roaming endless aisles in search of deals, a key part of how Walmart transformed the cost structure of retailing.

Walmart Pay’s new ability to offer instant credit cards comes as analysts and studies say more incentives are needed to boost the usage of mobile wallets. A survey in March found that consumers who were offered incentives use mobile payments inside stores an average of 4.6x in a one-week period compared with 3.1x for people who didn’t receive those incentives. Incentivized in-app purchases were greater at 4x a week, compared with 2.4x without them, according to the study by Auriemma Consulting Group. Mobile pay users, according to the study, are a “highly covetable demographic,” consisting mostly of employed, affluent and college-educated consumers.

For Walmart, coupling its branded credit card with its payment app is likely to provide the retailer with valuable data about its most loyal customers so that it can optimize its marketing efforts to them. 

This latest move exemplifies Walmart’s push for a more convenient shopping experience — like adding in-store pickup and free shipping on many items. Now, customers can access funds almost instantly without the hassle of waiting for a card in the mail. This feature seeks to meet consumers where they already are and offer a seamless payment process that will likely save customers time.

Source : retaildive.com

(Author : Retail in Asia)
International direct-to-consumer and eCommerce apparel brand Grana has joined 7-Eleven as their exclusive partner in Hong Kong to roll out convenient free returns for customers, in a move to enhance the online shopping experience for customers with anytime, anywhere drop offs to suit their fast-paced lifestyles.

Grana introduces free returns at 7-Eleven outlets in Hong Kong

The new offering makes returns simple and easy, with Return Sheets and Prepaid Labels included in all hand packed Grana boxes at 330+ select 7-Eleven stores. Removing the need to get in touch with its Cheetahs (customer service team), and no more costs involved for returns. Customers are welcome to contact the team through its Live Chat channel on the website or directly on the Cheetah line.

“Hong Kong is our first market to introduce anytime, anywhere returns with 7-Eleven. As a young tech startup operating in the eCommerce space, elevating the post-purchase experience is important to keep our millennial customers satisfied. Consumers want their experience with retailers to be authentic, convenient, and simple.

One bad experience, especially with returns can negatively impact brand love and have a ripple effect online and offline. We’ve been working behind the scenes to implement new ways to improve our return processes,” said Luke Grana, CEO & Founder at Grana.

Simple Free Returns Process
1. Fill out returns sheet from inside your Grana box
2. Stick on your pre-paid label on the return package
3. Drop your package at a Fitting Room or any authorized 7-Eleven
4. Our Cheetahs’ will send a confirmation email and update on the return item

Customers can still choose to drop off returns, within 30 days of receiving the modern essential(s) to Grana’s centralised warehouse in Wong Chuk Hang. The total refund process will take approximately 14 days. Hong Kong customers can visit Grana’s flagship showroom to feel it’s finest fabrics directly sourced from around the world, try items offline, find the right fit and place orders online. Orders can be picked up on the same day or delivered within 1-2 business days.

Source : retailinasia.com

(Author :  Retail Design Blog)
In the 1950s in New Zealand a few men got together to sell fish. So far, there is nothing unusual about this. However, their idea was to only sell top quality fish. This principle has reaped rewards and continues to be the company philosophy of Lee Fish to this day: respect for and in harmony with nature, the sea, the fish and the fishermen is their top priority.

El Pescador fish market

Today, Lee Fish is an international company with branches in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Asia and the US and sells products from partners in Australia, Japan, the Philippines, the Maldives, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The El Pescador fish market in Sihlbrugg in Switzerland is part of the Lee Fish group. El Pescador is much more than just an ordinary fish shop. It includes a shop, a small restaurant, and even a cookery school. El Pescador’s passion for quality fish and sustainable fishing is reflected throughout the 450-square metre shop.

El Pescador fish market1

As soon as you enter, you will be blown over by the truly spectacular interpretation of the world of Lee Fish. The dark environment envelops the products like the depths of the oceans. Skewed reflective foil on the walls create reflections on the floor that are reminiscent of the play of the sunlight on the surface of the water. El Pescador is the Spanish word for fisherman. The English translation of the word parts Pescad and Or is golden fish. The large, almost golden illuminated ring above the central round cooling counter is a true eye-catcher. This impressive structure is complemented by large-size fish prints, smoked oak, a concrete floor and white tiles.

Source : retaildesignblog.net

(Author : Daphne Howland)
A slew of products from Ikea, including lamps, furniture and home goods, are now available for sale on Amazon, with many if not most products available to Prime members with free two-day shipping.

Ikea sets up shop on Amazon

Just last week, a spokesperson told Retail Dive that Ikea was “curious” about third-party sales and wants “to explore new areas and get new insights on how to reach and serve more of the many people. One part of that is that we are open to the idea of piloting and testing making IKEA products accessible through other online platforms than our own.”

The Swedish furniture retailer has been slow to e-commerce, a fact that former Ikea CEO Peter Agnefjall​ last year attempted to spin as a positive, saying that the late entry could allow more nimble mobile capability from the outset.

For Ikea, things have apparently swiftly gone from the idea stage to showcasing products on the world’s biggest e-commerce retail site. Earlier this month, observers speculated about possible Ikea e-commerce partners, floating the possibility of Walmart’s new Hayneedle online furniture unit, which was acquired along with Jet.com last year, and Walmart.com’s own marketplace, among others, as possibilities. Amazon, as it so often does, appears to have won, though it’s not clear that the tie-up is an exclusive one.

The idea that made Ikea the global phenomenon it is today — flat-packed furniture that fits into a car — was to have the customer take care of the final stages of manufacturing and the last-mile of delivery. The company known for its cheap-but-chic furniture now operates some 300 stores in 27 countries, and does roughly $36 billion in sales annually.

But the logistical sweet spot may be why the company has been so slow to e-commerce. Unlike many retailers that have long relied on catalogs to drive home delivery, Ikea has leveraged its catalog to build the brand and make it easier for customers to navigate its massive stores, probably because the size and weight of furniture delivery makes it particularly expensive to sell online.

“This is an area where shipping fees can really take a toll because you’re moving furniture,” Jaimee Minney, VP of marketing and public relations at Slice Intelligence, told Retail Dive last year. “The big challenge, unique to e-commerce, is how best to maximize the shipping and handling aspect. When you have gigantic stores you don’t have to think about it as much.”

The partnership helps further both Amazon’s and Ikea’s aims. Online furniture sales have emerged as a major growth area in e-commerce, rising 18% in 2015, second only to grocery. Some 15% of the $70 billion U.S. furniture market is now online, according to IBISWorld data. In this environment, Amazon and Target are each reportedly looking to boost their furniture sales, in a challenge to online retailer Wayfair, which does offer free shipping for all orders over $49.

Source : retaildive.com

(Author : Daphne Howland)
Walmart’s latest e-commerce acquisition will be a takeover of menswear site Bonobos for $310 million in cash, a deal that’s been rumored for months, the brick-and-mortar retail giant announced Friday.

Walmart buys Bonobos for $310 million

Unlike many startups, Bonobos, founded in 2007 by co-founders Andy Dunn (who in 2015 returned as CEO) and Brian Spaly (who founded Trunk Club and this year left the concierge service, now owned by Nordstrom) generates a profit and enjoys $150 million in annual sales, raising about $127 million to date from investors including Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Nordstrom.

Dunn will remain to oversee the Walmart’s collection of digitally-native vertical brands, reporting to U.S. e-commerce chief Marc Lore, according to a Walmart press release. The startup joins online shoe retailer Shoebuy (a challenge to Amazon’s Zappos), online outdoor retailer Moosejaw, and vintage-inspired online women’s apparel seller Modcloth in a string of acquisitions by the brick-and-mortar retail giant under Lore since its $3.3 billion purchase of Lore’s Jet.com last year.

The payoff from Walmart’s recent acquisitions, starting with Jet, has been swift: In its most recent quarter, Walmart’s e-commerce sales ballooned 63% with an attendant 69% rise in digital gross merchandise volume. But the new numbers that Wal-Mart is delivering in the digital space aren’t just thanks to Jet or its widely heralded pricing algorithm. The brick-and-mortar stalwart, with Jet founder Marc Lore at the helm as its new U.S. e-commerce chief, has also been gobbling up pure-play specialty retailers at a rapid clip.

These new brands help Walmart improve the experience for existing customers and extend its reach to new customers, Ravi Jariwala, senior director of public relations at Walmart.com, told Retail Dive last month. Bonobos in particular has branched into brick and mortar, devising Bonobos Guideshops that provide opportunities to see, feel and try on clothes; Bonobos now has 35 Guideshops across the United States and in 118 Nordstrom stores and on Nordstrom.com. 

“We’re seeing momentum in the business as we expand our value proposition with customers and it’s incredible to see how fast we’re moving,” Lore said in a statement Friday. “Adding innovators like Andy will continue to help us shape the future of Walmart, and the future of retail. I’m thrilled to welcome Andy and the entire Bonobos team. They’ve created an amazing product and customer experience, and that will not change. In fact, Andy will be a great influence on the company, especially in leading our collection of exclusive brands offered online.”

For Dunn’s part, the acquisition is an opportunity to work with a mentor and “become the market leader in all of premium menswear,” Dunn wrote in a blog post. “Marc is the best in the world at building upstart third-party brand e-commerce properties. He and I will now leverage our combined know-how and, with the biggest company in the world behind us, take on creating the leading vertical e-commerce platform.”

Those new customers are in demographic groups that don’t generally frequent Wal-Mart stores; the average Wal-Mart customer is less wealthy and quite a bit older than those typically shopping at Target and Amazon. The company has had difficulty in the past moving beyond that core base.

In addition to more digital sales and an expanded customer base, the startups are providing talent and technology, Keith Anderson, VP of strategy and insights at retail intelligence firm Profitero, told Retail Dive. “They have access to brands, buying teams … they have merchants and software engineers that might not move to Bentonville or Silicon Valley,” he said. “It probably has as much to do with creating a safe landing for companies that didn’t have a path forward as independent entities, but had a nice search authority.”

Indeed, as with Dunn’s planned role at Walmart, Shoebuy CEO ​Mike Sorabella now heads up footwear for all of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce, including Jet.com and Walmart.com, while Moosejaw CEO Eoin Comerford similarly runs the company’s outdoor e-commerce vertical. That means that brands that may want to sell through Wal-Mart have enhanced opportunities too, with options to sell through one site or another (or more), Jariwala said.

Walmart has made it clear that the brands will continue as standalone sites, and executives from those companies have sought to ensure loyal customers that little will change. And it’s not likely to, Kelly-Jo Sands, EVP of marketing technology at marketing firm Ansira, told Retail Dive. “If you tie [Wal-Mart and Modcloth] too closely together, you might see a fanatic backlash, but you might also see expectations of the prices to come down.”

The new brands are unlikely to take part in some of Lore’s e-commerce solutions. To combat high last-mile delivery costs, for example, Wal-Mart now provides discounts on items bought online but picked up store. While it’s very likely that many Bonobos or Modcloth customers live near a Wal-Mart store, however, offering in-store pick up could invite branding and pricing conundrums for the “always low prices” juggernaut.

Source : retaildive.com

(Author : China Retail News)
Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba and the Internet fresh food platform Yiguo signed an equity transfer contract, under which Alibaba will purchase 18% shares of Lianhua Supermarket from Yiguo.

Alibaba To Acquire 18 Stake In Lianhua Supermarket

According to a report published by Bailian Group, Alibaba will gain 201,528,000 Lianhua domestic shares, making it the second largest shareholder of Lianhua. Meanwhile, Yiguo will still hold a 1.17% stake in Lianhua.

Lianhua Supermarket is a related company of Shanghai Bailian. It was launched in 1991 and it mainly operates hypermarkets, supermarkets, and convenience stores. By December 31, 2016, Lianhua Supermarket and its subsidiaries had a total of 3,618 stores, covering 19 provinces and municipalities in China.

In February 2017, Alibaba Group and Bailian Group announced a strategic cooperation in Shanghai. The two parties said that based on big data and Internet technologies, they would seek full cooperation in six sectors, including full business integration and innovation, new retail technology development, high-efficiency supply chain integration, membership system interoperation, payment and finance interconnection, and logistics system collaboration. However, they did not mention capital cooperation at that time.

Alibaba Group said that they will rebuild new retail smart stores with big data in the future to improve consumer experience and business operation efficiency.

At present, the two parties are discussing specific plans for their supermarket business cooperation. Lianhua Supermarket’s 3,618 stores around China are expected to be the first to have new retail distribution and transformation.

Source : chinaretailnews.com

(Author :
Amazon is buying American supermarket chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, the online retail giant announced today. The acquisition is technically happening as part of a merger agreement that will see Amazon will pick up the supermarket’s net debt and purchase its stock at $42 per share.

Amazon is buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion

The brick-and-mortar stores will continue to operate under the Whole Foods brand once the deal is complete, which is expected to happen later this year, but is subject to approval by the supermarket’s shareholders.

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, said in a statement. “Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

Whole Foods will keep its headquarters in Austin, Texas, and the company’s CEO John Mackey will remain in his post. “This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers,” Mackey said in a statement.

Amazon has opened its own brick-and-mortar locations in recent years, including bookstores and a small, experimental market with no cashiers or checkout lines. And while it has been delivering groceries for years under the label of Amazon Fresh, the company hasn’t been shy about wanting to expand those efforts by way of establishing a physical presence across the country. In December, for example, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was exploring ways to open up to 2,000 grocery store locations under its own brand.

Source : theverge.com

(Author : : Ellen Smith)
Grocery vending machines have taken over a Walmart parking lot in Oklahoma as the superstore chain experiments with alternative grocery shopping methods.

Walmart Has Implimented a Giant Grocery-Dispensing Self-Serve Kiosk

The giant self-serve kiosk allows customers to pick up their groceries without waiting in lines, or interacting with employees. Customers pick and pay for their groceries online, while store employees gather and pick the selected items, placing them in storage bins. When the customer arrives at the kiosk, they simply enter their pick-up code, and their groceries will appear within a minute.

This grocery vending machine is open 24/7 and can fulfill hundreds of orders a day. The kiosk provides convenience and efficiency, limiting a sometimes hours-long excursion to just a few minutes. Ideal for busy families, or lovers of efficiency, Walmart’s kiosk could revolutionize the grocery market, creating an experience with as little human interaction as possible.

Source : trendhunter.com

(Author : Sarah Ahssen)
One year after a first opening in Paris, Guerlain has inaugurated its second fragrance boutique, dedicated to the perfumery art the maison has been practising for 190 years. The store is located at 52 avenue Louise in Brussels.

Guerlain deploys fragrance boutique concept internationally

Inside the store, the Guerlain perfume collections are grouped into four olfactory families, for a total of 110 different scents.

A digital consultation service is available for customers, to discover their olfactory profile and make the ideal choice. Once a fragrance has been selected, the customer is invited to the personalisation atelier, where they can choose their preferred bottle shape and colour, engrave a message and select ribbons and bows to decorate the bottle, making each perfume a unique creation.

The LVMH group’s fragrance label has already announced an “ambitious” international deployment plan for its perfume showcase.

Source : us.fashionnetwork.com