(Author : Andrew J. Hawkins)
Charging an electric car isn’t like refueling one that runs on fossil fuels. The entire process can sometimes take 30 minutes or longer, and if you’re somewhere with spotty cell service, the wait becomes even more interminable.

Tesla wants to turn some of its Supercharger stations into convenience stores

Tesla is eyeing a possible solution: small stores that sell cold beverages and salty snacks, located adjacent to its Supercharger stations, so you can fill your belly while the charging station powers your car. Yep, Tesla wants to build gas stations (minus the gas, of course).

According to GrubStreet (citing a report in trade publication Restaurant Business), Tesla’s chief technology officer J.B. Straubel gave a presentation at FSTEC, the industry’s biggest food tech conference, about the company’s plan to attach convenience stores to some of the Supercharger stations across the US. Straubel even showed off what’s been described as “an aerial depiction of a recharge center that included what looked exactly like a c-store.” (C-store is industry-speak for “convenience store.”)

“People are coming and spending 20 to 30 minutes at these stops,” Straubel explained according to GrubStreet. “They want to eat, they want to have a cup of coffee, and they want to use the bathroom.”

He insisted, though, that Tesla has no interest in managing a full-service food operation. “We already have been working with restaurants,” he explained. “That can only start scaling up.” Indeed, in 2016, Tesla formed a partnership with US-chain Ruby Tuesday to build electric car chargers in the restaurants’ parking lots.

Investing scarce capital dollars in a nationwide retail construction project may not make a ton of sense — especially right in the middle of the rollout of the Model 3, its first mass-market vehicle — but I’d be lying if I said that the idea of a Tesla-branded Slushee didn’t sound super appealing.

Source : theverge.com

(Author : Paul R. La Monica)
If you can’t beat Amazon, partner with it. Kohl’s is doing another deal with Jeff Bezos. The department store chain said Tuesday that 82 stores in the Chicago and Los Angeles areas will soon accept return items from Amazon. 

Kohl's will let Amazon customers return stuff for free

Kohl’s will pack and ship the merchandise back to the online retailing giant for free. Earlier this month, Kohl’s announced a plan to sell the Alexa-enabled Echo home speaker, Fire TV, tablets and other Amazon-branded devices in 10 of its stores.

The latest partnership between Kohl’s  and Amazon comes as traditional retailers try (and often fail) to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. Toys ‘R’ Us filed for bankruptcy protection late Monday. Toys ‘R’ Us has been hurt by Amazon, as well as Walmart and Target. But other retailers are following the lead of Kohl’s and have decided to work more closely with Amazon to boost sales. Sears, which also owns Kmart, has been one of the worst-performing retailers of the past decade. But the company announced in July that it would sell Kenmore appliances, including some that are compatible with Alexa, on Amazon.

Cooper Smith, director of Amazon research at L2, a firm that tracks the digital performance of brands, says he expects more retailers to partner with Amazon — but they will need to be wary at the same time. “Doing deals with Amazon makes sense. They can help get consumers to come back, especially around Black Friday,” he said. “But these retailers will have to tread a careful line when partnering with Amazon.”

That’s because Amazon isn’t just working with other retailers. The company has opened its own physical stores, Amazon Books, that sells best-selling books and Amazon devices. And in its biggest brick-and-mortar move of all, Amazon bought Whole Foods this year for nearly $14 billion.

The deal recently closed, and now you can buy Amazon gadgets at the grocery store along with kale and quinoa. It should come as no surprise, then, that investors in Barnes & Noble and Kroger aren’t too pleased with Amazon’s increased clout in the real world. The stocks of both companies have plunged nearly 40% this year, while Amazon is up 30%.
L2’s Smith notes that Amazon has its sights set on clothing, too. That could pose a problem for Kohl’s and Sears.
“Amazon is launching private label apparel brands of its own,” Smith said, adding that this could hurt sales of bargain-priced fashion at Kohl’s, Sears and other department stores.

Source : money.cnn.com

(Author : Yimian Wu)
Alibaba has taken another step in its quest to become ubiquitous in the daily life of every Chinese consumer, this time taking a page out of the play book of international retail giant Ikea. Three days ago, Alibaba opened a bright, colorful, all inclusive home furnishing flagship store in Hangzhou that looks and feels very much like an IKEA store, but is fully augmented by Alibaba’s online e-commence technology.

Alibaba’s IKEA-like Super Store Marks Next Step In Offline Retail Expansion

Named Home Times, the store represents the Chinese E-commerce giant’s second major offline push into the US$130 billion Chinese home furnishing market. Alibaba launched designer home product store, House Selection, in Hangzhou last December. Alibaba is reportedly planning to open three more Home Times stores by the end of 2017 and 15 in 2018.

The more than 20,000 items on sale in the cavernous store, including furniture, kitchenware and stationery, are the most popular items sold on Alibaba’s online shopping channels. Each item has an electronic price tag, similar to Kindle’s paper-like screen, which allows staff to match the price to the online retail price if necessary.

The barcode on each price tag also allows customers to check and order the item on Tmall.com if they chose, saving them the trouble of taking bulky products home by car or mass transit. Tmall.com also shows the products in different colors and formations via a touch screen, so consumers can view their options without the store needing to place all the different models of product on shelves.

As consumers generally like to see and feel furniture before deciding to buy, the offline store may help reduce product return rate for Alibaba’s e-commence platforms. In China, more than 30% of customers buy their furniture in a furniture shop or at malls, while 21% purchase online, according to a report by Fang.com, a Chinese real estate portal.

Alibaba’s other recent offline expansions include a plan to transform mom-and-pop convenience stores to into offline Tmall shops, and launching an offline Hema Supermarket to blend online and offline retail of fresh produce and seafood.

Source : chinamoneynetwork.com

(Author : Marianne Wilson)
Japanese fast-fashion retailer Uniqlo is going all out for denim in Los Angeles.

Uniqlo to debut new specialty store concept

The company, part of Fast Retailing Group, will open a special store dedicated to denim in the Arts District of Los Angeles this fall/winter. The new “denim concept” shop will be Uniqlo’s 47th location in the U.S., and ninth in the L.A. region following the opening at Westfield Santa Anita mall earlier in September. The denim store will take its inspiration from Uniqlo’s new Jeans Innovation Center, a sustainable R&D facility located in Los Angeles. It will highlight Japanese craftsmanship and the fabrics that go into the development of the brand’s jeans.

Every element of the shop will be an homage to denim and the L.A. community. Upon entering, customers will be introduced to the brand’s heritage in Japanese textile innovation, showcasing the research and development that comes from parent company Fast Retailing’s Jeans Innovation Center through visuals and prototypes.

The latter part of the store will feature an area for customers to test, try and shop the full range of Uniqlo’s denim offerings. Each fit will be highlighted within mini-concept areas styled with complementary Uniqlo apparel, including T-shirt collaborations, sweaters, blouses and outerwear. Included in the lineup will be product from L.A. denim brand, J Brand, which is also a part of Fast Retailing Group.

Source : chainstoreage.com

(Author : Deena M.Aamto-McCoy)
Aldi is making it easier for customers to pay for purchases. The fast-growing deep-discount grocer now accepts all forms of contactless payment, including Apple Pay and Android Pay. Both options are available across Aldi’s nearly 1,700 stores nationwide.

Contact-free payment speeds up checkout at discount grocer
Shoppers can pay for their groceries by tapping their contactless-enabled bank card, smartphone or other wearable device on a dedicated payment terminal.

“We’re continually innovating to provide our customers a faster, more efficient shopping experience that saves them time and money,” said Jason Hart, CEO of Aldi. “We build and run stores customers can shop quickly. Contactless payment makes shopping at Aldi that much faster and more convenient.”

This is the latest move the grocer has made to streamline how customers purchase merchandise. In August, Aldi announced a pilot partnership with grocery delivery service Instacart. Shoppers can access the service on Instacart’s website or the Instacart app, and add merchandise to their virtual carts. At checkout, they can choose a delivery window from an hour away, up to a week later. The service is available in Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles, and the company is already evaluating future expansion.

Source : chainstoreage.com

(Author : Sarah Perez )
Walmart announced today it will begin testing a new service that will allow customers with August smart home devices, like the August doorbell and security cameras, to have their packages delivered inside their home instead of left on the doorstep.

Walmart partners with smart lock maker August to test in-home delivery of packages and groceries

This test will also include online grocery orders, which won’t just be placed inside the house like the packages, but will be put away in the fridge and freezer, when appropriate. The retailer says it will soon start this test in the Silicon Valley area with select customers who have opted into to try the new service. The customers will utilize an August smart lock to allow delivery drivers a one-time entry into their home. By using these smart home devices, the customer can see the entire delivery process from start to end, beginning with a notification sent to their mobile device.

The deliveries themselves are being handled by Deliv – a service that Walmart-owned Sam’s Club began testing last year for last mile deliveries in Miami. The Deliv driver will use a one-time passcode to enter the customer’s home with the package or grocery order, then put the cold and frozen groceries away, if need be.

While August is the first smart home partner that Walmart is working with on this effort, presumably, if the tests were successful, Walmart would add other smart home device makers to the list of supported device in the future.

The company didn’t say what this new service would cost, instead noting that pricing is something that the experiment will focus on. In other words, Walmart will try to determine what price a customer is willing to pay for this added convenience.

This is the first time that Walmart had trialed a service where delivery personnel would directly enter a customer’s home, but its subsidiary Jet.com recently struck a deal with smart access provider Latch to improve deliveries in urban markets. In that case, however, residents living in 1,000 apartment buildings were receiving a free Latch system for the exterior door of their building, which would allow them to securely allow access to delivery personnel. With the August partnership, Walmart customers both inside and outside cities could take advantage of the service, if they were also August device owners.

“We’re excited to be running this test in Silicon Valley with a handful of August Home customers, all of whom have opted-in to participate in testing this new concept,” said Sloan Eddleston, Vice President, Walmart eCommerce Strategy & Business Operations, in Walmart’s announcement. “And we want to do more in the future by delivering groceries and other orders in whatever location works best for our customers – inside the house for some and in the fridge/freezer in the garage for others,” Eddleston added.

The effort is one of many e-commerce innovations the retailer has developed as it continues to battle with Amazon.

In recent months, Walmart has also introduced a membership-free, 2-day shipping program; a pickup discount for those who ship-to-store; curbside grocery pickup and, in some places, delivery through a partnership with Uber. It has been testing other initiatives, too, like using Walmart store staff to drop off customers’ online orders while on their way home. Walmart didn’t say how long it will run this latest test, or if it plans to expand it in the future to more cities.

Source : techcrunch.com

(Author : Paul Sawers)
After years of speculation, Microsoft finally confirmed plans to open its first physical retail store in Europe.

Microsoft to open its first European retail outlet in London… next to Apple’s flagship store

The tech giant revealed that it will open a store by Oxford Circus in London’s Regent Street, a prestigious thoroughfare in the heart of the U.K. capital. Interestingly, the new Microsoft store will be situated just a stone’s throw from Apple’s flagship outlet, which reopened with a redesign just last year. Microsoft already operates online stores in Europe, of course, selling everything from hardware such as Xbox One and Surface Book to software, including Office and games.The company has long flirted with a European brick-and-mortar presence, with rumors of a European launch dating back to at least 2012. But for one reason or another, it has never quite come to fruition.

A history of Microsoft stores
The Seattle-based firm first debuted an “on-the-ground” retail experience in 1999 at the Sony-owned Metreon shopping complex in San Francisco, but it exited the space in 2010. Microsoft then kick-started its serious retail store chain efforts in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2009. The company now claims almost one hundred retail stores across the U.S., including its New York flagship, which opened in 2015. It has since gone international, with retail stores opening in Canada, Puerto Rico, and Australia.

A growing trend we’re seeing is “online” and traditionally software-focused companies shifting further into the brick-and-mortar realm. Amazon has been opening physical bookstores in the U.S., where it also has a growing presence on university campuses, allowing students to try out the company’s own-brand devices. Oh, and then there’s its $13.7 billion acquisition of supermarket chain Whole Foods.

Google, too, has dabbled increasingly in physical outlets, though it has yet to go full-throttle into retail stores. However, with yesterday’s news that it is buying HTC’s Pixel smartphone team for more than $1 billion, that could change in the future.

With Microsoft edging deeper into the hardware realm and now selling a bunch of own-brand Surface laptops, tablets, all-in-one PCs, consoles, mixed reality headsets, accessories (there’s even a long-rumored phone reportedly in the works), having a physical presence is more important than ever.

Our customer experience in our physical stores generates confidence and trust in our products and services,” noted David Porter, head of Microsoft Stores. Visitors can expect to see a range of products not just for sale, but also for show across computing, gaming, mixed reality, and artificial intelligence (AI), he added. The London store has been a long time coming, though a firm date for its opening hasn’t been given yet.

Source  : venturebeat.com

(Author : Retail in Asia)
Nestlé and bed company Caspar have teamed up for a second time this year, launching a ‘nap café’ in Tokyo to promote power-sleeps across the Japanese capital.

Nestle opens a nap cafe in Tokyo’s Ginza

The food and beverage giant and the sleeping specialist retailer had bowed the nap café in the Ginza shopping district. The Ginza Nap Café at the Ginza Chairs complex is aimed at people needing to catch up on their rest. Inside the café, customers will find dozens of beds, set at varying angles to each other to promote privacy. Guests can buy a short 30-minute power nap or settle in for a three-hour long sleep.

In addition to the beds, there are sleeping tables equipped with special foam pillows that support the head and neck. Each sleep session comes with a timer and light activated eye mask.

The initiative was trialled in Harajuku in March 2017 and was deemed a success. According to reports, Japan is the second most sleep-deprived nation on earth, second only to Koreans. The Ginza Nap café runs through September 2017.

Source : retailinasia.com

(Author : Ellen Smith)
Forever21 recently announced the launch of its new cosmetics store, ‘Riley Rose,’ which is set to open in California at the end of September.

'Riley Rose' is Forever21's Newest Conceptual Beauty Store

This new vibrant space will open 13 stores in the US, carrying “accessories, cosmetics and home goods for the millennial consumer.” Stacked with popular beauty brands and serving as a “wonderland for millennials and Gen-Zs,” this experimental store encourages social media engagement, offering a vibrant, selfie-friendly environment that adds a unique dynamic to the standard shopping routine.

As the convenience of e-commerce stands as retail’s biggest competitor, Forever21 continues to expand its efforts into conceptual spaces which aim to draw more consumers into physical stores. The storefront’s appearance serves as a prominent example of the apparel brand’s attempt to offer consumers a better overall in-store experience.

Source : trendhunter.com

(Author :  Retail in Asia)
AmorePacific Corp., South Korea’s top cosmetics maker, has opened a shop for its premium skin care brand at the upscale department store Galeries Lafayette in France, expanding its presence in the European market.

AmorePacific opens store at Galeries Lafayette in France

The Sulwhasoo store opened in the upscale department store of Galeries Lafayette in Paris on 8 September 2017, according to the company. Galeries Lafayette is famous for selling numerous designer labels and luxury beauty brands that are favored by customers with deep pockets. Galeries Lafayette, also known as ‘The Holy Land of Beauty’, is a tourist attraction crowded with not only French customers but also many tourists. As interest in K-beauty continues to grow in the French market, Sulwhasoo plans to make the Galeries Lafayette a popular spot for visitors to Paris.

It is the first time for Sulwhasoo to be launched in the European market, according to the company. It is also the only Korean brand that has an independent outlet in the French department store. On the 8th day of opening the store, customers from various nationalities such as Middle East, China visited the store. Mainly, consonant cream light, yunjo essence, perfection cushion were purchased.

Sulwhasoo’s signature products ‘First Care Activating Serum EX’ and ‘Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream EX’ is the most popular. Customers showed their great interest in Sulwhasoo’s brand story and main ingredient ‘Ginseng’. Sulwhasoo offers a holistic skincare range inspired by Asian wisdom. Harnessing the benefits of Korean herbal medicine, it is described as the ‘first science-based Korean luxury medicinal skincare system’.

Indigenous medicinal herbs native to Korea are used in the products to balance the energies of the skin for a healthy complexion. Many of the products contain the concentrated extract of ginseng, long revered for its anti-ageing properties.

The Sulwhasoo brand has spent 50 years researching the skincare benefits of ginseng. AmorePacific’s high-end beauty product lineup has successfully expanded its market presence in key Asian markets, including China, Singapore and Thailand, and branched into the United States and Canada. Sulwhasoo’s first overseas foray was made in Hong Kong in 2004.

Source : retailinasia.com