(Author : Marianne Wilson)
Walmart continues to explore new ways to make it easier for customers to pick up goods purchased online. 

Walmart installing automated vending machines for online order pickup

The discounter is expanding its deployment of a giant self-service kiosk, which it calls a Pickup Tower, that spits out online orders to users of Walmart’s buy-online-pickup-in-store service. Walmart debuted the technology last fall, in a store in Bentonville, Ark., close its headquarters.

“Much like a high-tech vending machine for your online orders, this feature…allows you to pick up items in less than a minute by scanning a barcode sent to your smartphone,” stated Mark Ibbotson, executive VP of central operations, Walmart U.S., in a blog on the company’s website. “The pilot phase has been so successful we’re expanding it to other locations across the country.”

Walmart is also testing a self-service kiosk for pickup of groceries ordered online. The retailer installed a 20-ft.-by-80-ft. kiosk, or small building, in the parking lot of its supercenter in Warr Acres, Oklahoma. According to a report by Mashable, the kiosk has refrigerators and freezers to keep the groceries fresh. Customers type in a code at the kiosk and their groceries appear within a minute. The service is only available to customers who spend at least $30 per order. 

Source : chainstoreage.com

(Author :  Retail in Asia)
Decathlon has opened its debut store in The Philippines, as the French sporting retailer plans to ramp up its store presence in the Southeast Asian nation.

Decathlon opens first store in The Philippines

Located in Manila, the new 3,000-square-metre store occupies the ground floor of Festival Mall in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. As well as stocking sporting goods for 70 different types of sports, this new Decathlon will also sell items that reflect The Philippines’ love of its traditional sports such Arnis and Sipa. “We have been interested in the Philippines for quite some time now,” Hans Iff, CEO of Decathlon Philippines, told local media. “As the country’s economy has gotten more robust and consumers are becoming more wellness-conscious, it is the right time to invest.”

The store also contains a large playground, which will be free for all customers. Sports activities will also be organised onsite to promote health and fitness.In addition to the physical stores, Decathlon has also opened a local e-commerce website, allowing customers to purchase items online.

Over the next 10 years, Decathlon plans to expand to other Filipino cities such as Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, and Legazpi to tap the burgeoning local market. According to a McKinsey report, the sports industry in the Philippines is set to multiply four times over the next twenty years, reaching US$1.3 billion by 2026.

Strengthening its Asian presence, the French sporting goods retailer has already set up shop in Thailand and Malaysia in 2015 and 2016. It plans to enter Australia this October.

Source : retailinasia.com

(Author : Cate Cadell)
The “Tmall Genie” costs 499 yuan ($73.42), significantly less than western counterparts by Amazon and Google, which range from $120 to $180.

Alibaba Launches Low-Cost Voice Assistant Amid AI Drive

China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd launched on Wednesday a cut-price voice assistant speaker, similar to Amazon.com Inc’s “Echo”, its first foray into artificially intelligent home devices. The “Tmall Genie”, named after the company’s e-commerce platform Tmall, costs 499 yuan ($73.42), significantly less than western counterparts by Amazon and Alphabet Inc’s Google, which range from $120 to $180.

These devices are activated by voice commands to perform tasks, such as checking calendars, searching for weather reports, changing music or control smart-home devices, using internet connectivity and artificial intelligence. China’s top tech firms have ambitions to become world leaders in artificial intelligence as companies, including Alibaba and Amazon, increasingly compete for the same markets.

Baidu, China’s top search engine, which has invested in an artificial intelligence lab with the Chinese government, recently launched a device based on its own Siri-like “Duer OS” system. The Tmall Genie is currently programmed to use Mandarin as its language and will only be available in China. It is activated when a recognised user says “Tmall Genie” in Chinese.

In a streamed demonstration on Wednesday, engineers ordered the device to buy and deliver some Coca Cola, play music, add credit to a phone and activate a smart humidifier and TV. The device, which comes in black and white, can also be tasked with purchasing goods from the company’s Tmall platform, a function similar to Amazon’s Echo device.

Alibaba has invested heavily in offline stores and big data capabilities in an effort to capitalise on the entire supply chain as part of its retail strategy, increasingly drawing comparisons with similar strategies adopted by Amazon.

It recently began rolling out unstaffed brick-and-motor grocery and coffee shops, using QR codes that users can scan to complete payment on its Alipay app, which has over 450 million users. Amazon launched a similar concept of stores in December.

Source : businessoffashion.com

(Auteur : 
While the beauty department at Neiman Marcus is associated with luxury brands like Natura Bisse, Chanel, Eve Lom and Yves Saint Laurent, the high-end department store recently debuted a Wellness Shop at its Northpark and Willowbend locations (Dallas and Plano, Texas respectively) on June, 9. 

Neiman Marcus debuts wellness beauty shop

The Wellness Shop is an extension of the activewear department (NM Active) that is stocked with wares from brands like Tory Sport, Alo Yoga and Blanc Noir. “With the opening of the The Wellness Shop at Northpark and Willowbend, within our NM Active apparel and lifestyle areas, we’ve added an edited assortment of unique natural, organic, and clean beauty brands,” Jim Gold, Chief Merchandise Officer, Neiman Marcus, told FashionNetwork.com. “NM Active serves as a one-stop-shop for customers seeking a fashionable, healthy and active lifestyle.”

Of the 23 products on offer, 21 are new to Neiman Marcus and are classified as either natural, organic, eco-cert or clean and green—8 Greens, Tata Harper and Kiehl’s were already available. Products are organized by type (think serums, masks, supplements) rather than by brand, and the retail setup is open-sell, so customers can shop at their leisure. Some highlighted brands include Grown Alchemist, French Girl Organics, Hum, Joanna Vargas and Clean Fragrance.

The first NM Active shop opened at NorthPark (Dallas) in Fall 2015. There are currently 23 Active shops, with 14 additional stores opening in August this year. When it comes to The Wellness Shops, so far there are only plans to expand to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago in August.

Source : us.fashionnetwork.com

(Author : Gary Peeters)
The ambitious French fresh produce formula Grand Frais is set to open a first store in Italy, hoping to mimic its local success abroad. It will be its second foreign excursion, after opening a single store in Belgium.

Grand Frais targets Italy for expansion

Very popular
The Grand Frais formula has been around since 1992 and has become very popular in France, ranking fourth after Amazon, Picard and Yves Rocher. Currently, it has more than 170 stores, with five separate specialties (fruit and vegetables; herbs and spices; cheese; meat; fish) and a real focus on price, quality, local manufacturers and experience. The brand has one store abroad, right across from the French border, in Belgium, which may just very well have been a pilot for possible expansion abroad. Now, the chain will venture into Italy, near Turin. Other retailers have already expressed concern. Italian retailer Conad’s CEO, Francesco Pugliese, said other retailers “will die” if they do not act on the news of the fruit and vegetable store chain’s arrival.

Source : retaildetail.eu

(Author : Gayathree Ganesan)
The company said it would launch a pilot program with Amazon to sell a limited product assortment on its website, confirming earlier reports.

Nike to Launch Pilot Programme with Amazon

Nike Inc , the world’s largest footwear maker, said on Thursday it would launch a pilot program with Amazon.com Inc to sell a limited product assortment on its website. Shares of the Dow component, which also reported quarterly profit and sales that topped estimates, were up 8.2 percent at $57.54 in trading after the bell.

Nike‘s comments confirmed an earlier report, which said the footwear maker was seeking to directly sell its products on Amazon, rather than through third-party and unlicensed dealers.

“We’re looking for ways to improve the Nike consumer experience on Amazon by elevating the way the brand is presented and increasing the quality of product storytelling,” Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker said on a post-earnings call.

Nike‘s revenue could increase by $300 million to $500 million in the United States, or 1 percent in global sales, if the pilot turns into a more meaningful partnership, Goldman Sachs analyst Lindsay Drucker Mann said in a client note.

Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike, which saw greater demand for its core brands including Jordan, and in sportswear and running categories, said its selling, general and administrative expenses fell 4 percent to $2.7 billion in the fourth quarter ended May 31.

In the face of intense competition in North America, Nike has been focusing on its new and core brands such as ZoomX, Air VaporMax and Nike React. The company earlier in June said it would cut 2 percent of its global workforce and trim a quarter of its shoe styles as it looks to become nimbler. While Nike‘s North America sales were flat, sales in Western Europe, its second-biggest market, were up 4 percent in the fourth quarter. Sales in Greater China jumped 11 percent, the company said.

In China, Nike has revamped stores and increased online efforts with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Tmall in a bid to reinvigorate demand in the world’s No. 2 economy. Revenue rose 5.3 percent to $8.68 billion, beating analysts’ average estimate of $8.63 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Excluding certain items Nike earned 60 cents per share, well ahead of analysts’ average estimate of 50 cents.*

Source : businessoffashion.com

(Author : Retail in Asia)
The A.S. Watson Group plans to open 1,400 new outlets globally this year – 60 shops will be in Hong Kong – but it will not expand the electricity group Fortress, says chief operating officer Malina Ngai Man-lin.

Watson group planning new shops

The group doesn’t have a plan for an initial public offering for the moment, Ngai added. Watson plans to invest HK$500 million in the next three years to improve its technology platform as well as enhance big data analysis. Managing director Dominic Ngai Kai-ming said MoneyBack, a member reward program under the Watson Group, has been rebranded with a new mobile app, which allows member to manage their accounts more conveniently.

The scheme has rewarded points with a value equivalent to HK$800 million to their members since the establishment in 2007. Meanwhile, Hong Kong retail sales growth turned positive in May, up 1.8 percent year-on-year, said a Mastercard report.

The increase in grocery sales and the health and beauty sector were the strongest. Groceries were up 2.3 percent and health 5 percent, driven mainly by domestic consumption.

Jewelry sales fell 44 percent in May, which was below the 2013 level. “Discretionary sectors historically driven by tourist spending continue to be a drag, despite stabilization and some recovery in visitor arrivals in recent months,” the group said.
Source : retailinasia.com

(Author : Springwise)
The Good Hotel, which can be moved by barge intact, is giving back to the local community by offering a unique economic programme.

New hotel has the community at its heart

After making its mark on the people of Amsterdam, the Good Hotel has set up home for five years on English waters. Aiming to provide job opportunities and training to the local community by reinvesting its profits back into the business, the Good Hotel is the first of its kind.

It’s the brainchild of two Dutch designers, art director Remko Verhaagen and lead designer Sikko Valk, who took on the challenge to build a community project that literally floated on water. Unlike other well known chains, this hotel works with its local community to help disadvantaged people get back into work and opens the door to a variety of options for people to learn new skills. It offers a long-term programme and, after completion of training, candidates will be offered paid work and then the opportunity to integrate back into the wider community.

As well as its workforce, the Good Hotel also sources its produce and materials locally, and works with partners in the community to do business. Its neighbours include new flat developments and it is located in the hotly anticipated Crossrail area which will increase links from Reading and Essex to London. The hotel has been designed with clean, minimalism in mind and of course, the cause is at the forefront. The design shows a blend of natural and the industrial, and visitors will definitely get the feeling of ‘locally sourced’. Charities have not been forgotten and the hotel donates GBP 5 to their NGO partner, Niños de Guatemala, from every direct booking, and local charities receive support building their businesses and a platform for new development.

The Royal Victoria Docks will now house the floating structure for the next five years. It was carefully transported to London from Amsterdam by barge. Similar projects include the Port X houseboat which was created in the Czech Republic as a home that can be customised to order and anchored both on land and water and the Waterspace H2Office, in the UK. Another similar concept, was the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, which is also giving back to the community by getting guests involved in community projects during their stay.

Could this be a platform for other hotels, where buying a plot of land or renting a building or existing shop is a thing of the past?

Source : springwise.com

(Author : Ellen Smith)
Beauty industry titan Sephora lets consumers pitch their own beauty product ideas in a new consumer-driven initiative that’s attempting to revolutionize product development.

Sephora Lets Consumers Pitch Their Own Beauty Product Ideas

By teaming up with its online platform, Volition, consumers were enabled to submit their ideas for beauty products. The ideas are encouraged to be things users have searched up and not been able to find, or products they’d like to see undergo a makeover. Users are encouraged to ‘shop’ through other people’s idea submissions, voting for the best ones to increase Sephora’s awareness of the demand. The consumer-led project aims to result in the conception of high quality beauty products people really want.

Community-driven beauty is a new industry innovation speaking to the growing market for personalized beauty products and customized skincare routines

Source : trendhunter.com

(Author : Deena M. Amato-McCoy)
While Amazon expands its physical presence, Walmart Canada is taking its own swipe at the online giant — by moving in on its turf. 

Walmart Canada’s digital channel takes on Amazon
Eager to retain shoppers — and attract new ones — Walmart Canada is bolstering its online services. First, the retailing giant will spend the next two months expanding the product assortment available on its Walmart.ca website by opening it up to third-party marketplace sellers. Creating what it calls an “endless aisle” concept, the retailer is giving shoppers access to more merchandise from outside brands and small businesses, according to the Financial Post.
In the report, Walmart Canada CEO Lee Tappenden said, “We will double the SKUs we have online at the launch date, and by early next year we will have millions of SKUs online.”
The retailer is supplementing this service by launching a “click-and-collect” program that will enable shoppers to pick up their online purchases at one of 100 dedicated Walmart Canada locations. The retailer plans to roll out the service to all 410 stores by Christmas, according to Global News. Both services are in retaliation to Amazon’s aggressive moves to become an offline player. And the online giant’s efforts are across the board.
The company giant launched Amazon Go last year, a checkout-free convenience store, as well as two AmazonFresh Pickup grocery stores in Seattle. It also continues to bolster its Amazon Books division, which currently features six locations, and has plans to open additional locations this year. Amazon’s biggest blow however, was its announcement to purchase Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion. Besides extending its physical store footprint even further, this move also muscles in on Walmart’s grocery business. In fact, the category accounts for about half of the chain’s approximately $25.5 billion in annual sales in Canada, Financial Post reported.
Despite Amazon’s gains, Walmart continues to fight back. Its strategy: to continue bolstering online offerings. For example, the retailer acquired jet.com in September, followed by Shoebuy in December. In February, it acquired outdoor apparel retailer Moosejaw, followed by ModCloth in March. Earlier in June, the chain announced it would purchase Bonobos for $310 million in cash.