(Author : Cassidy Mantor)
In an effort to meet consumer demand for immediate product deliveries, Nordstrom is launching 24/7 curbside pickup at ten stores over the holidays in a move designed to compete more aggressively with Amazon.

Nordstrom launches 24 7 curbside holiday pickup

From December 16 to 24th, customers who use the online purchase, in-store pick-up option will be able to text or call for their items ten minutes before they arrive to pick them up regardless of the time of day. An employee will then bring the order to the customer’s car.

Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s SVP of Customer Experience, said “Customers increasingly want to shop where, how and when they choose and 24/7 Curbside Pickup is one service we’re offering to support their experience.

Nordstrom is rolling out the service at ten locations across the country. Stores include Nordstrom’s flagship in downtown Seattle, Nordstrom in Bellevue, WA, Chicago’s Michigan Avenue store, Valley Fair in San Jose, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, and Fashion Valley in San Diego. The service will also roll out in Dallas, NY, and Northern Virginia.

Nordstrom spokesperson Brenna Sussman said “We strive to serve our customers when, where and how they are shopping.” Nordstrom’s holiday curbside pickup service is currently available for eight days leading up to Christmas this year. Sussman did not rule out the possibility of expanding the service year round if consumer feedback is positive.

Source : us.fashionnetwork.com

(Author : Kinsey Grant)
Lowe’s will open up smart home mini-stores at 70 locations nationwide in a partnership with software-powered retailer b8ta.

Lowe's Makes Push for Smart Home Retail With New Store-Within-a-Store Setups

The home improvement retailer is making a push to sell more smart home software by opening up 70 pop-up shops focused on connected home technology at Lowe’s stores across the country, the company said in a statement.

The “store-within-a-store” concept is a partnership with software-powered retailer b8ta. Lowe’s piloted the smart home concept at three “Smart Home powered by b8ta” locations last fall. This expansion comes after the three test spots enjoyed successful runs.

“The store-within-a-store offers an innovative shopping solution for customers interested in smart home devices,” Lowe’s said. “Each destination features a curated selection of top-rated smart home products and offers consumers onsite support from specially trained experts known as ‘b8ta testers.‘”

The pop-up stores are meant to offer a “lab-like” atmosphere so shoppers can test out smart home devices or ask questions about purchases. The items offered at the smart home locations include security systems, thermostats, cameras and lighting solutions from brands such as Alphabet Inc.’s, Google and Nest, Sonos, General Electric Co., Iris and Samsung Electronics.

Source : thestreet.com

(Author : 
French selective perfumery retailer Sephora has launched its app on Google Assistant, a virtual personal assistant capable of helping its users in a number of tasks, by searching for information on a smartphone or the web. 

Sephora launches voice assistant app

Sephora’s is one of the first apps available on Google Assistant, after the launch in France of the Actions on Google platform, which allows certain apps to be voice-controlled, without installing them on a smartphone.

“The use of voice assistants and more recently of voice-activated loudspeakers has turned out to be more than just a fad. It’s paving the way to a minor digital revolution, of which Sephora wants to be a pioneer. With these first functionalities, and the collaboration with Google, we plan to test the potential and the customers’ reactions to voice-assisted retailing,” said Anne-Véronique Baylac, in charge of digital at Sephora Europe and Middle East. As evidence of the major role that virtual assistants could play in the future, Sephora underlined how in 2016, in the USA alone, 49 million people used voice assistants, and 10 million voice-controlled speakers were sold.

The first functionalities available on Google Assistant for Sephora are the possibility to book beauty services, to play quiz games and to listen to beauty podcasts, curated weekly by influencers chosen by the retailer. Further functionalities will be introduced in 2018.

Source : us.fashionnetwork.com

(Author : Fitz Tepper)
Walmart and Hudson’s Bay-owned department store Lord & Taylor just announced an interesting partnership — Lord & Taylor will start selling its catalog of high-end fashion merchandise on Walmart.com this Spring.

Lord & Taylor will start selling on Walmart.com

Of course this deal doesn’t mean you’ll see designer pants on the same page as $19.97 Wranglers. Instead, Lord & Taylor will have its own “flagship store” on Walmart.com — which essentially will be a section on Walmart’s website dedicated to goods sold by Lord & Taylor.

For Walmart, this partnership is a way to drive traffic from customers looking for high-end items that otherwise may not be shopping on Walmart.com.

And for Lord & Taylor the deal is also about traffic — department stores are struggling, and opening a store on Walmart.com will give them a bunch of new eyeballs (and potential shoppers) they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. It’s almost like the modern-day version of renting retail space on 5th Avenue in NYC. Lord & Taylor will keep their existing e-commerce site at lordandtaylor.com, so this new store is really just to attract new customers that wouldn’t otherwise shop with them online.

 High-end fashion has been a category notorious for being hard to sell online, especially as expensive brands have been reluctant to let sites like Amazon and Walmart carry their items. Of course, this doesn’t mean the e-commerce giants aren’t trying — Amazon just launched Prime Wardrobe and Walmart recently bought fashion sites Bonobos and ModCloth.

So this digital store within a store approach is interesting, and could be the best way for for high-end fashion retailers to take advantage of the online traffic and sales being generated by sites like Amazon, without sacrificing their own brand by just listing their items in a sea of millions of alternatives.

If the deal proves to be successful look to see a lot of copycats doing the same thing — because there’s certainly no shortage of department stores and brick and mortar retailers struggling for sales today.

Source : techcrunch.com

(Author : Cission)
Cutting-edge Unmanned Stores Now Spreading across the Country.  Suning Commerce Group, a Fortune Global 500 company owned by Suning Holdings Group (“Suning” or “the Group”), a commercial giant in China, has announced to open four new unmanned automated stores in China, close to the country’s largest annual shopping spree, the “11/11 Shopping Festival.

Suning to Open Four New Unmanned Stores in China

After rolling out the first self-service store “Suning Sports Biu” in Nanjing in August, Suning launched its second cashier-less store in Shanghai earlier this week. Also, three more stores will be opened soon in Beijing, Chongqing and Xuzhou. With richer product categories, the new stores will not only sell sports products and souvenir items of well-known football clubs, such as F.C. Internazionale Milano, consumers could also find gadgets, personal electronics, food and FMCG goods to fulfill more unique purchasing demands.

“The ‘Biu’ store is the latest innovation of Suning’s ‘Smart Retail’,” said Zhang Jindong, Chairman of Suning Holdings Group. “Suning has more than 1,500 brick-and-mortar stores which have been upgraded to big data-driven smart stores years ago. With extensive offline experience and advantages in O2O retail, Suning’s unmanned store model has undergone the concept and trial stages, and is now ready to scale up. These stores are launched for business, and are reproducible, cost-wise and technology-wise. As today’s tech-savvy consumers expect different shopping experience, we see more opportunities in the industry and Suning is dedicated to create best services for our customers,” convinced Zhang.

Powered by facial recognition technology, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), big data analysis and its owned online financial services, Suning’s unmanned stores offer a frictionless shopping and a paying process quicker than other similar stores to optimize the user experience. Highlights include:

  • Facial recognition – After linking a bank card and going through the facial recognition on Suning Finance app, customers will be able to enter the store simply by letting the camera scan their faces at the entrance.
  • Effortless shopping experience – To check out, shoppers only need to carry their goods along the payment pathway. The system will automatically recognize the shoppers and their items with the facial recognition and RFID technology – making the entire check-out process shorter than 15 seconds.
  • Customer traffic and flow analysis – The surveillance cameras and an algorithm system developed by Suning is used to calculate and analyze customer flow in the stores to help optimize the product placement and enhance the shop operation.

With its years of experience in running approximately 4,000 self-managed stores and outlets targeting on different communities, Suning plans to expand its offerings of Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) in the unmanned stores to cover more diversified product lines. The unmanned stores will also feature Augmented Reality (AR) technology to display creative items, optimizing the space usage.

About Suning Holdings Group
Founded in 1990, Suning is one of the leading commercial enterprises in China with 180,000 employees and two listed companies in China and Japan. Through decades of growth and transformation, Suning has established a business presence in six industries. In 2017, Suning was ranked second on the list of China’s top 500 non-state owned enterprises, and for the first time in corporate history, Suning Commerce, under Suning Holdings Group, was named to the 2017 list of the Fortune Global 500.

Source : prnewswire.com

(Author : Daphne Howland)
Zappos this week unveiled a retail concept it’s calling “The_ONES,” highlighting classic sneakers, with a dedicated website landing page at FindTheOnes.com and pop-ups in the New York City area, according to a company press release. The pop-up locations include one designed by footwear guru Tarek Hassan at the Arlo Hotel in Manhattan, and another at the Brooklyn boutique Bird Brooklyn.

Zappos goes up against Adidas and Nike with sneaker shops

The online hub features interviews with sneaker icons like Stan Smith, original videos and illustrations, as well as features on artists, musicians, and makers who “live their lives in these shoes,” according to the release. The campaign also includes a shoppable Instagram, the company said.

For more than a decade, thanks to superb customer service and smooth logistics (including free shipping both ways), Zappos has helped acclimate American consumers to the especially tricky process of buying shoes online.

“Zappos single-handedly built consumer trust in online shoe sales and was so successful that Amazon spent $1.2 billion to buy the company in 2009,” Nathan Rigby, a partner at One Click Retail who leads sales and marketing, noted in a report emailed to Retail Dive.

That has allowed Zappos to avoid heavy discounting in an era where consumers are focused on deals, especially online. With the new campaign, Zappos is ramping up curation to help customers navigate its wide assortment. The concept will not be relegated to classic sneaker curation, but will also serve as a launching pad for future collaborations and exclusives, the company said.

“The launch of The_ONES marks the beginning of a new era of sneakerhead,” Jeff Espersen, Zappos’ VP of merchandising, said in a statement. “From the passionate collector to the casual street-chic fashionista, there’s an underserved consumer who loves the closet classics as much as we do. The_ONES is our way of bringing inclusivity back to the sneaker community and celebrating the shoes we reach for time and time again.”

Along with the sneaker and concept launch, Zappos has unveiled renewed efforts within its Zappos for Good charitable arm, including donations of new and used footwear worldwide, animal advocacy and adoption, and environmental advocacy and sustainable businesses practices, the company said in a press release.

The brand is also well known for its customer service — and that is amplified in its new video series. The videos highlight a young girl who refuses to wear traditional ballet slippers to her recital, a husband who flubs a request from his wife and burly men unsure about their significant others’ admiration of a flexible dude from yoga class — all situations made better in the end by Zappos’ customer service.

Source : retaildive.com

(Author : Laura McQuarrie)
In an effort to cut costs and better compete with other discount retailers, Sainsbury’s is introducing a new ‘SmartShop’ service that will introduce a more streamlined checkout experience for customers. 

Sainsbury's 'SmartShop' Enables Checkout Via a Mobile or Handset

With SmartShop at Sainsbury’s, consumers will be able to quickly and easily scan the items they would like to purchase with a handset or a mobile device at the checkout.

As there are now a growing number of stores that are going staffless and cashless, many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are adopting streamlined checkout services. As well as doing away with long lines, these self-checkout apps remove the need for expensive checkout terminals and staff. At the same time, making it possible for customers to take advantage of self-checkout with a smart device also frees up valuable retail space for more in-store merchandise.

Source : trendhunter.com

(Author : Josh Kolm)
A new app brings additional experiences for kids to the retailer’s catalogue and stores. Kids might not need extra reasons to get excited about visiting a toy store, but Toys “R” Us is tapping into AR to give them more fun experiences while browsing its catalogue and exploring its stores.

Toys ‘R’ Us chases engagement with AR app

This year’s edition of the retailer’s holiday toy catalogue allows kids to animate products on the pages in 3D using the “Play Chaser” mobile app and add them to an interactive wish list. The AR experience extends into stores, where the app can scan special signs spread throughout the aisles, unlocking games and experiences like basketball, fishing, monster truck driving, nurturing a baby doll and going on a virtual safari.

The company has also said that the app will be updated in the future with additional experiences, including possibility integrations with well-known toy and game brands.

In September, Toys “R” Us Canada sought creditor protection largely due to the fact that is U.S. parent company filed for bankruptcy (the Canadian business was performing well financially). However, the local arm appears to be taking on its parent company’s stated commitment to developing new and tech-forward experiences in its stores in order to compete with online retailers like Amazon.

On top of mixed-reality experiences, Toys “R” Us Canada opened a new store concept in B.C. this July that featured dedicated, interactive play areas for kids, as well as WiFi connections that extended into store parking lots that made mobile payment and pickup easier for parents.

Source : strategyonline.ca

(Author : Dominique Muret)
Woolrich has shifted to a higher gear by opening its first flagship store, featuring both a full immersion into all the label’s collections and a unique shopping experience. The oldest of the US outdoor brands invested nearly €1.5 million for the 700 m2 flagship located in the heart of Milan, at Corso Venezia 3.

Woolrich unveils in Milan its first experiential megastore

The store’s bright, roomy interiors take customers on an experiential journey, making them gradually discover the Woolrich world. The entrance reflects the hustle and bustle of the city, and showcases the brand’s urban collections, while a winter garden and the complete outdoor range await at the end of the route. The entrance welcomes customers in a lounge bar area, where they can browse through magazines, surf the web or recharge their devices at leisure, and enjoy an espresso of course. Next to it, the store’s museum area, exhibiting many of the brand’s signature items, including the famous red-and-black Buffalo checked shirt.

Inside the store, there is also a customisation atelier, where an expert is available to make alterations or to decorate and personalise items. Another surprise is the Ice Room, where customers can experience first-hand the comfort and protection offered by the Woolrich parkas at -20º C temperatures!

The customer’s journey through the store ends in a stunning winter garden, managed by the Green Fingers organisation of Japanese florist Satoshi Kawamoto. “We will regularly introduce new installations and launch collaborations specific to the store,” said Andrea Cané. Woolrich’s Milan flagship already offers a plethora of co-branded accessories and exclusive items.

Woolrich unveils in Milan its first experiential megastore1

As for the Woolrich apparel collections, they are on display in an enfilade of rooms with white parquet flooring: the outdoor range, the men’s, women’s and children’s urban range, the latter within a dedicated area, the accessories and the famous Woolrich woollen blankets, still manufactured at the brand’s long-established Pennsylvania factory.

The store will of course be fully integrated with our online promotions and services. It must change its look constantly, and come alive especially through events. It is our calling card,” said Andrea Cané. Woolrich plans to open another four international megastores like the Milanese one, in New York, London, Tokyo and Paris.

Source : us.fashionnetwork.com

(Author : 
The hotel chain is exploring ways to improve customer service through voice — while working with Amazon to ensure absolute privacy.

How Marriott Plans To Use Amazon Alexa To Improve The In-Room Experience For Guests

Marriott is set to test out Amazon Alexa in a number of its hotel properties, Toni Stoeckl, global brand leader for lifestyle brands at Marriott, revealed in a panel at Advertising Week. The move is a bid to provide increased personalization and improved in room service for guests. As voice-activated connected device usage has jumped 130 percent over the past year, brands have begun to explore how the technology can be used to drive engagement and improve customer service — and the hospitality industry is in many ways leading the charge.

Why? As Stoeckl put it, “as a hotel brand, we’re in the experience business. This means [taking advantage of technology that can] connect our consumers to the local experience in the hotel or the neighborhood — as well as removing some of the friction of transaction in hotels.”

The idea is that, as consumers have become increasingly comfortable with the technology, it’s now easier for a guest to ask, “Alexa, what’s a good restaurant nearby?” than to flip through a lengthy guidebook — or call down to the concierge.

Plus, as we wrote earlier this year, Marriott has been particularly aggressive in experimenting with technologies that meet guests’ needs for personalization, including the use of beacons and tablets in rooms to better connect and build loyalty with travelers who stay with them.

“Having Alexa in the room lets you personalize the room experience,” Stoeckl said. “That could be with music, or with other means. It’s also about just having the ability to ask Alexa for more towels rather than having to call down to the front desk.”

But in doing so, the hotel chain is continuing to work with Amazon on ensuring privacy in the hotel environment, since the in-room devices will, of course, serve different guests each visit.

“Of course, your voice is scrambled and there’s no way to connect it back to [the guest] on the backend,” Stoeckl said. The idea is that if a guest in room 304 asks for towels or room service, hotel staff will be notified and it will be sent upstairs — but none of this information is stored to be identifiable. “Working with Amazon [on privacy] is always a top priority.”

Beyond that, it’s still early days for exploring all of the ways that voice-controlled assistants can improve customer service. But one classic technology maxim still holds true, Stoeckl said: “Don’t do anything for the sake of technology. Do it to give your consumers what they want where they’re already interacting and engaging.”

Source : geomarketing.com