(Author : Retail in Asia)
In conjunction with Lotte Card and Lotte Data Communication, 7-Eleven has launched its first smart convenience store equipped with a BioPay system at Lotte World Tower.

7-Eleven tests hand-scanning Biopay in Korea

BioPay is a payment method that allows consumers to make transactions by identifying themselves with a part of their body linked to a preassigned credit card. It is the first such store to be opened by 7-Eleven in the world, the company said. The HandPay system, in which individuals are recognized by their veins, was chosen over other types of BioPay — such as iris or fingerprint recognition — to maximize convenience, added the company.

Customers place their purchases on a conveyor belt at an unmanned counter, where the items are then scanned 360 degrees to locate their barcodes. The prices are then tallied and appear on a screen. The system will be further improved through an artificial intelligence system that can identify products without barcodes.

The store also has other high-tech features, including a refrigerator that automatically opens and shuts, electronic price tags, a smart CCTV system, and a Smart Safe Cigarette Vending Machine.

Jung Seung-in, president of Korea Seven, said, “7-Eleven Signature, as a premium smart convenience store with a cutting-edge IT system suitable for the fourth industrial revolution, will be remembered as an innovative icon in Korea’s distribution industry.”

Korea Seven is a joint venture by Lotte and 7-Eleven. The 7-Eleven Signature store will be open exclusively to employees of Lotte for the next one or two months as a pilot program before it opens to the public. The company also said that it would make efforts to extend the HandPay system to payment methods other than Lotte Card by the end of August.

While the company refused to reveal specific mid- and long-term plans, the technology used in the 7-Eleven Signature store is likely to be expanded to other subsidiaries of Lotte in the future.

Source : retailinasia.com

(Author  : Deena M. Amato-McCoy)
A home improvement chain is taking a page from science fiction to keep employees safe.

Lowe’s employees have a new uniform — a robotic suit

Lowe’s and Virginia Tech have joined forces to develop an exosuit — a wearable robotic suit with lift-assist technology — for Lowe’s store employees. The lightweight exosuit, which is designed to help employees lift and move product throughout the store more efficiently, and aids against muscle fatigue, is being piloted in Lowe’s Christiansburg, Virginia, store.

If the new suit sounds like something found in a science fiction novel, there’s a reason. The idea evolved in the company’s disruptive technology hub, Lowe’s Innovation Lab. One concept within the hub’s narrative-driven approach is the ability for the design team to work with science fiction writers to envision the future, and use storytelling as inspiration for innovative initiatives. The Lab envisioned a future where the use of technology could provide special “superpowers” to employees and maximize performance.

To bring this narrative to life, Lowe’s engaged Dr. Alan Asbeck, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and a team of eight graduate and undergraduate students from Virginia Tech’s Assistive Robotics Laboratory. Together, Lowe’s and Virginia Tech designed and developed an exosuit prototype after months of lab testing.

“Our employees ensure our stores are always ready for customers,” said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. “As a way to support them, we found a unique opportunity to collaborate with Virginia Tech to develop one of the first retail applications for assistive robotic exosuits.”

The key elements of the lightweight suit include the reinforcement of proper lifting form, and support for movements intended to make lifting heavy objects easier. The exosuit is designed to accomplish this by absorbing energy and delivering it back to the user, enabling them to exert less force to complete certain movements.

As they bend and stand, carbon fiber in the suit’s legs and back act like a taut bow ready to launch an arrow, helping them spring back up with greater ease. As a result, commonly lifted objects, like a bag of concrete or a five-gallon bucket of paint, feels significantly lighter to the user, according to the chain.

The first four suits are currently in use by the stocking team at the Christiansburg store. During the coming months, Asbeck and his team will work with Lowe’s to assess the physical impact of the suit. Lowe’s will also lead employee engagement studies to better understand the impact of the exosuit on the work experience.

Source : chainstoreage.com

(Author : Retail in Asia)
Since launching in early January 2017, WeChat mini programs offer brands an alternate avenue to develop advanced functionalities, whether it’s making purchases, finding up-to-the-minute information, or editing photos.

Swarovski launches WeChat Mini program for mother’s day campaign

Conceptually similar to Google’s instant apps, WeChat mini programs take away the barrier to download additional apps from an app store, and instead allow brands to offer users new and additional functionalities without having to leave the WeChat ecosystem. While it may not be relevant to serve all purposes, Swarovski is the first watch and jewelry brand to find a way to leverage the technology of mini programs and complement both their social and retail activities.

To celebrate Mother’s Day, Swarovski launched a social media campaign on May 5, that speaks to all sons and daughters to celebrate their mother’s eternal beauty and share with them well wishes to continue living youthfully and differently. A vivid and beautiful garden design features Key Opinion Leaders’ (KOLs) wishes to their mothers and brilliant Swarovski products to inspire gift ideas among online audiences.

The mini program can be shared like a contact and pinned like a chat, keeping consistent with native WeChat behaviors. Staying within WeChat means that users can also pay with their WeChat Pay for a complete consumer journey. Zhu elaborates that “thinking about the user experience at every step is a top priority. We are continuously striving to develop connections between brand products and services with users.”

Additionally, leveraging their vast retail footprint in China, Swarovski stores are supporting the launch by driving foot traffic with key visuals featuring the scannable mini program QR code in stores.

In the future, Swarovski plans to leverage further on its WeChat mini program and make it a sustainable component of the brand’s social media strategy. For WeChat, Zhu says they “hope to take this successful collaboration encourages more brands to leverage WeChat mini programs in their brand activities.”

Source : retailinasia.com

(Author : Retail in Asia)
Sporting goods retailer Decathlon‘s biggest store yet in Singapore has opened its doors on Saturday (May 13) morning.

Decathlon opened its biggest Singapore store

Already boasting two mega stores here in the Republic – one at City Square Mall and another at Bedok, its third and largest outlet is located at the FairPrice Hub, Joo Koon. Spanning 4,000 square metres of sporting retail space, the outlet will also be the site of Decathlon’s new e-commerce hub which will provide a multi-channel sales experience. Shoppers can order items online through its new website which will be launched in June. Sports advisers on site will pick the items directly in the store and package them for delivery within the same day. It is aiming for delivery within six hours. Shoppers can also opt for the “Click and Collect” option and pick items up from any of Decathlon’s three stores.

Additionally, the store has 10 experience zones and Singapore’s first slack line, golf-putting green, mini-football arena and a running track with two different surfaces. Customers will be able to test equipment before purchasing them, and can return equipment if unhappy with the product.

“Since we launched our first e-commerce and retail store in Singapore, we have seen a remarkable response from Singaporeans,” said Bastien Grandgeorge, Decathlon Singapore’s country leader. “Here we have 62 sports, and all under the same roof. We want the best experience for our customers and accessible sport for all. “Even if you’re not wealthy, anyone should be able to access sport.”

Source : retailinasia.com

(Author : European Supermarket  magazine)
The first MyAuchan neighbourhood supermarket has opened in Italy, offering what the company says is a ‘modern shopping experience in line with changing needs of consumers’.

First MyAuchan Supermarket Opens In Italy

Located in Piacenza, the 633 square metre store replaces the PuntoSimply format, and offers a wide range of about 9,000 references, including many healthy and quality products. Fresh products are at the heart of the offer, with an extensive seasonal fruit and vegetable area, local products and ready-to-eat meals, an assortment of fresh fish with daily arrivals and a meat department with traditional and ready-to-cook products.

Another strong point is the assortment devoted to new consumer trends – gluten-free products, lactose, cholesterol control, fitness, vegan and vegetarian, organic and fibre-rich products. The MyAuchan store also has a coffee area, where consumers can pick up an in-store tablet for internet browsing and enjoy free Wi-Fi access.

The concept is described as a ‘multiservice‘ point of sale: in addition to providing food and non-food products, the MyAuchan store also enables customers to print photos from mobile phones and tablets, buy tickets for events, order a birthday cake, and get specific cuts of large meat or fish for dinner at home.

Source : esmmagazine.com

(Author : Laura McQuarrie)
The ‘Package Free’ shop was recently opened as an online shop and pop-up store destination in New York City that offers a variety of zero waste goods without packaging.

NYC's Package Free Shop Offers Products That Minimize Waste

Like many other stores, the shop offers a wide variety of personal and home care items, but what sets the pop-up apart is that there is little to no packaging in sight. Since it is estimated that the average American makes more than four pounds of trash per day, Package Free helps to bring awareness to the issue, and empower consumers to make alternative choices when it comes to producing a variety of goods.

Package Free was created by fashion designer Daniel Silverstein, who only uses discarded fabric to make new clothes and Lauren Singer of the Trash is for Tossers blog and The Simply Co.

Source : trendhunter.com

(Author : Caroline Baldwin)
Waitrose is testing an app which inspires customers with recipes ideas as well as generating a shopping list of ingredients.

Waitrose prototypes recipe inspiration app

Waitrose is developing a recipe inspiration app linked to loyalty card data which can alert customers to grocery items they have bought recently. Using content created by the grocer’s Waitrose Kitchen magazine over the years, the app will provide customers with meal suggestions. Customers can filter recipes by main ingredient, cooking time and how difficult the meal is to cook.

Speaking at RBTE 2017, Matt Clifton, head of customer experience at Waitrose, said: “Something like 40% of us don’t now what we’re going to eat tonight by 4pm, that drives people to the store who want to get in and get out quickly, but not knowing what they are going to buy.”

Clifton described how the prototype app provides visual images as well as information such as what cooking utensils are needed to make the dish. The app can also generate a shopping list so customers can remember which ingredients to buy when they visit the store.

“But what’s really clever is it also offers up information, such as ‘you’ve got curry powder here, but we know you bought that three days ago so you don’t need to buy it again’,” explained Clifton. “You might think that isn’t sensible as we want to drive sales, but people value that and come back to us.”

The app has already been tested on a select number of customers for a couple of weeks in two London stores, and the grocer is now evaluating whether to roll it out widely. If rolled out, Clifton said the recipe inspiration offering would be part of the wider MyWaitrose app. “We want to build it all in one capability,” he said. “And we don’t want it just for in-store online.” Clifton said the prototype has been designed so customers can choose how they want to have it fulfilled.

“We know Sainsbury’s are doing very similar things and we’re not claiming this to be revolutionary,” he said, noting how it’s the right thing to do in order to give customers choice to maintain sales and profitability.

He also said Waitrose is looking at how to combine shopping lists from multiple MyWaitrose members living under one roof so online shopping lists can be shared.

“Rather than having multiple lists, we can link the MyWaitrose accounts and all those people can see the same list,” explained Clifton. “It saves the texts I frequently get which say: ‘don’t forge to pick up bananas’ and I have to go home and fess up.” These lists will also inform the customer if they’ve purchase an item recently, reminding them they don’t really need to buy it.

Source : essentialretail.com

(Auteur : Marianne Wilson)
Target Corp. is taking a cue from Hollywood to help shoppers create the living room of their dreams.

Target debuts 360° shopping

The discounter is using the same type of computer generated imagery that figures in movie blockbusters to create a 360-degree, virtual reality-like experience on its website. And it’s shoppable. 

The experience, created in-house at Target, requires no special app or platform. On Target’s site, customers can choose one of four curated living room looks (modern, farmhouse, mid-century or traditional). From there, they can browse about 140 featured products — from rugs and sofas to wall hangings and decorative throws — in a virtual living room designed to help customers visualize size and scale of items, and also provide some tips on styling. Shoppers can click on items they want to buy and add them to their cart.

“We’re constantly searching for new ways to inspire our guests and make shopping at Target an easy and inspiring experience,” said Mike McNamara, chief digital officer, Target. “And we’re just beginning to tap the power of CGI with this virtual reality living room—there’s a ton of potential to create even richer, engaging digital experiences for our guests.” Target plans to more than double its CGI team this year by hiring more than 40 CGI professionals.

Source : chainstoreage.com

(Auteur : Laura McQuarrie)
Participating Timberland stores are now offering a new kind of in-store activity called ‘Flex in the City’ that gives visitors the chance to get a first-hand experience of its Sensorflex footwear technology.

Timberland's 'Flex in the City' Introduces an Interactive Adventure

In-store consumers are invited to put on a pair of Sensorflex shoes of their choosing and take them for a test run on a treadmill that will guide them through a virtual city. Throughout the experience, participants are able to use a touchscreen to personalize their experience by choosing where they would like to go, as well as what they would like to do. Their choices in the interactive activity work like a quiz to suggest the best pair of Sensorflex footwear for their needs.

As part of the virtual travel-themed excursion, consumers also have the chance to win a multi-day stay for two in New York.

Source : trendhunter.com

(Author : Retail in Asia)
Uniqlo said it plans to take its European store count to 100 outlets over the next three years, in a bid to strengthen its retail presence outside of Asia.

Uniqlo wants to double EU store count by 2020

In doubling its current store number from 50 to 100, the fast-fashion chain will make its first foray into Spain and Italy, according to local media. A planned Barcelona location will mark Uniqlo’s entry into Spain this autumn, while a Milan store will open in Italy, according to a report by the Nikkei Review. The Fast Retailing-owned brand already operates some 50 stores in France, Russia, Germany, the UK and Belgium.

The firm said it would be opening new locations in regional cities in some European countries too, those it is already selling in. This includes regional stores in smaller French cities such as Bordeaux and Toulouse. With the store openings in the EU, Uniqlo will be facing stiff competition from two global fast-fashion moguls. Namely Zara, which is operated by Spain’s Inditex, and Sweden’s H&M, both of which have a solid history on the continent and a loyal consumer following.

The Japanese chain told the Nikkei Review that demand for its highly functional basic apparel, however, is strong enough to warrant such fast-paced and vast expansion. This is particularly apparent now, given the Japanese firm’s domestic sales growth has plateaued.

“Overseas operations are what our growth hinges on,” said Fast Retailing CEO Tadashi Yanai.

However, Uniqlo is heavily reliant on Asia. Overseas sales came to 655 billion yen in 2016, with China accounting for half of the firm’s fiscal 2016 revenues made in foreign markets. Yanai said Uniqlo is eyeing global sales of 3 trillion yen ($26.6 billion) by the fiscal year ending August 2020. Japanese sales lifted just 3% to around 800 billion yen in fiscal 2016. Meanwhile, the number of stores in Japan has remained steady at around 840 for several years.

Source : retailinasia.com