Retail Innovations

(Author : Katherine Pendrill)
Earlier this year, Taco Bell announced the opening of its first shipping container outpost in South Gate, California.

Taco Bell Has Opened Its First Permanent Shipping Container Outpost

While the brand originally came up with the idea back in 2015 with a shipping container pop-up at SXSW, the newest store is meant to be a permanent location. Taco Bell’s new shipping container outpost is a 1080-square-foot retail space, housed inside a series of old cargo containers. Designed by SG Blocks, the new Tex-Mex restaurant consists of a kitchen, a walk-up service counter and outdoor seating. While the popular Tex-Mex chain is no stranger to creative retail concepts, the new shipping container store is meant to serve as part of a company-wide green initiative to create more sustainable spaces.

Source : trendhunter.com

 

(Author : Dan O’Shea)
Lowe’s has announced its latest Lowe’s Vision mobile app, which leverages Google’s Tango augmented reality technology on the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, the first smartphone enabled with Tango, to help customers with in-home design needs, according to Lowe’s Innovation Labs.

Lowe's unveils augmented reality app for in-home projects

“The Lowe’s Vision app enables customers to easily measure any room in their home with the touch of a finger, and style it with virtual Lowe’s products in real-time through augmented reality,” according to a statement on the Lowe’s Innovation Lab’s website. “This is a big step forward into our vision for how customers will use these technologies to design, build and enjoy their homes, from the comfort of home.” This latest mobile app comes on the heels of the March unveiling of the Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app, which is intended primarily for in-store navigation, product search and related in-store shopping functions.

Dive Insight
A video on the Lowe’s Innovation Labs page explains the Phab 2 Pro with Tango technology has multiple cameras that allow app users to create 3-D experiences that show a highly realistic view of how a re-imagined living space will look. That really is the name of the game here, as there is no point in putting augmented reality technology into this sort of mobile app unless it is going to virtually imitate the experience of seeing the products in the customer’s actual home.

Lowe’s has been aggressively developing new technologies, and this isn’t its first augmented reality solution. In fact, just a few months ago Lowe’s announced a Vision app leveraging Tango, but that app was targeted more at in-store navigation and needs.

This app is targeted for use outside of the physical Lowe’s store, and while it’s not described as a mobile shopping app, that’s really what it is. It’s also much more advanced than most mobile shopping apps, allowing users to drop a new stove into a space in their kitchen where the old stove still sits. That’s about as close as you can get to buying the thing, having it delivered, installing it and seen it in the space — except the app takes all the nervousness, risk and mystery out of the equation. If shoppers don’t like how it looks in the app, they can drop in an image of a different stove.

The only negative here is the fact that a lot of people who might want to use the app don’t have the Phab 2 Pro smartphone. Tango is a pretty impressive 3-D technology with a lot of potential uses, and Google is sure to work hard to get it into more devices. (The upcoming Asus ZenFone AR actually looks to have some pretty major implications for retail.) For Lowe’s shoppers, wider availability of this particular app, regardless of device, can’t come soon enough.

Source : retaildive.com

(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 : Darrell Etherington)
Lincoln is testing a new service for owners of its vehicles that supply a driver on demand. The service is like a very upscale Uber, in which you supply the car, and Lincoln supplies a professional driver – one who is actually a Lincoln employee, not a spot contractor – to ferry you around, return your car to your home, and basically make you feel like a VIP.

Lincoln Chauffeur provides drivers on demand, while you supply the car

The service will launch first in Miami, reports Autoblog, and will let Lincoln owners order up a chauffeur via a smartphone app. The chauffeur will not only be able to drive you around, but will also return your car to your home in case others in the household need to use it, will fill it up if so required, and can even run light errands like picking up some groceries.

Costs, as you might expect, are not cheap: During the pilot program, Lincoln Chauffeur will run around $30 per hour, which is actually not terrible compared to Uber until you remember you have to supply the car as well. On the plus side for Lincoln owners, they’ll get eight hours free of Chauffeur service included in the purchase price of their vehicle.

This is only a limited test at the moment, but Lincoln tells Autoblog that it would like to expand the service to San Diego next, and then additional markets after that. It’s likely a decent challenge to scale, since Lincoln’s actually employing the drivers it’s using.

Lincoln Chauffeur may be a bit of a departure from other mobility service offerings automakers are exploring, which include on-demand vehicle rentals and even white glove delivery of said cars to a renter’s door, but it still sounds like an interesting way to add value while driving new revenue sources in the luxury segment.

Source : techcrunch.com

(Author : Deena M. Amato McCoy)
Lowe’s is making it even easier for in-store shoppers to locate home improvement necessities.

Home improvement retailer launches AR in-store navigation app

By tapping the power of augmented reality, the home improvement retailer introduced its Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app. Called the first retail application of indoor mapping using augmented reality, the app is designed to simplify the home improvement shopping experience.

The solution, which is the newest creation developed in Lowe’s Innovation Labs, leverages Google’s augmented reality technology Tango, allowing shoppers with Tango-enabled smartphones to search for products, add them to a shopping list and locate the product within the store.

Specifically, the navigation tool uses Tango-enabled motion tracking, area learning and depth perception to guide customers through the store using a mixed reality interface. When a customer enters a Lowe’s store, they can use their Tango-enabled smartphone to create a list of their required items in the app and access product reviews and information to make an informed decision. Directional prompts overlaid onto the real-world setting guide the customer to each item using the most efficient route around the store, the retailer explained.

Our research shows that helping make it easier for customers to find products in stores not only makes for a better shopping experience, it allows our associates to spend more time advising on home improvement projects,” said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. “With Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation, we’ve created a more seamless experience using breakthrough technology so customers can save time shopping and focus more on their project.”

The technology will be launched in Sunnyvale, California and Lynwood, Washington stores in April.
This is Lowe’s second app based on Tango. Lowe’s first Tango app, Lowe’s Vision, uses spatial perception to help customers embark on a home improvement project. The technology enables the user to measure spaces and visualize how products like appliances and home décor will look in their home.

Source : chainstoreage.com

(Author : Weronika Jurkiewicz)
The garment goes from design to shelf in four hours thanks to interactive technology and custom-made robots.

Adidas In-Store Machine Knits A Custom Sweater

Making clothes that people want to buy and cutting the time it takes for new designs to hit the stores are the two major challenges for any fast fashion manufacturer.

With its new pop-up, adidas might have just solve them both. Opened in Berlin, the ‘Knit for Youconcept store lets shoppers design a sweater and get it knitted by the state-of-the-art machines within four hours, not only reducing the trend-guessing from the design process, but also substantially cutting the typical manufacturing time of 12 to 18 months.

The tech-infused shopping experience is innovative in its own right and brings to mind an interactive video game. First shoppers enter a darkened room where different designs are projected onto them with an option to switch between pattern using hand gestures. After choosing the final version, customers move to a computer where they pick the color combination. To ensure the perfect fit, the shoppers can get a laser body scan. The custom-designed merino wool sweater cost 200 euros.

Adidas has been exploring localized production and customization in efforts to sell more products at full price and to bring its operating profit margins closet to its biggest rival, Nike, by 2020. Supported by the German government, the Knit for You pop-up will be used by adidas to evaluate the profitability of the concept, before potentially introducing it in other locations.

Source : www.psfk.com

(Author : Laura McQuarrie)
Self-checkout stations can be found across many grocery stores, and some forward-thinking fashion retailers are also adopting this system, provided that they have come up with a solution to deal with the issue of loss prevention.

Imperial Cars Introduced the First-Ever Automotive Self-Checkout

Considering that consumers leaving a store with large-ticket items is a concern, the idea of a self-service checkout for cars seems unheard of, but Imperial Cars recently implemented one in its showroom.

After shopping around for a new car and filling out any necessary legal paperwork, those who want to use ‘The Fast Lane’ may drive straight up to the kiosk. At this station, they are able to touch the screen of a tablet to enter their personal details and have the system verify that they car they are driving away with is indeed their new purchase.

Source : trendhunter.com

(Author : Ryan Lawler)
Wheelys, a startup that got its start selling an all-in-one cafe on a bike, is pushing forward with another crazy local commerce idea. The company is opening up an unmanned retail store in Shanghai that will allow customers to buy chocolates, cigarettes or potato chips at any time, day or night.

Wheelys is launching an unmanned convenience store in Shanghai

“We’ve been thinking about how to make shopping more innovative, effective and cheaper for people to start a cafe or retail in general,” Wheelys cofounder and CEO Maria De La Croix told me.

With that in mind, the company’s new project builds upon the work Wheelys had done for its coffee bikes in enabling mobile purchases, while also leveraging inventory management software it built for its mobile cafe owners. The company makes money for its Wheelys Cafés not just through the sale of the hardware, but by making sure its coffee bike entrepreneurs are well stocked with goods for sale. Since Wheelys keeps tabs on all items sold through its mobile app, it knows when to resupply owners of its bike cafes. That same technology will be used to track sales of unmanned retail locations.

Dubbed Wheelys 247, the new store is connected to a mobile app that customers will use to scan and purchase items. To deter theft, the store will require the mobile app to enter, and is outfitted with video cameras to watch patrons inside. As a result, the store won’t require anyone to man a register or check customers out, although it will need someone to occasionally restock items.

Of course, Wheelys isn’t the only company looking to reduce the friction of local retail. Most famously, Amazon is testing a cashier-free retail location in Seattle called Amazon Go. But Wheelys is one of the first startups to get in on the action, and the company’s Shanghai location isn’t the first unmanned store it launched. Early last year, it debuted a cashier-free shop in a small town in Sweden.

With offices in Sweden and Shanghai, Wheelys is able to test in different retail environments — whether it’s a rural area where the nearest store is a 20-minute drive away or a location in a densely populated city. Regardless, the company sees a future where unmanned stores aren’t the exception, but the norm. “I believe in five to 10 years, all stores will look like this,” De La Croix said.

In the same way it allowed pretty much anyone to become a cafe owner, Wheelys thinks it can usher in a new era of local retail shops. Rather than allowing the big brick and mortar retailers to get all the benefit from unmanned shops, Wheelys wants to license to other entrepreneurs who will be able take advantage of its technology.

And all that could mean more stores where users can buy grab-and-go food and other goods coming to a town near you.

Source : techcrunch.com

(Author : Springwise)
Waitrose, in partnership with CNG Fuels and Scania, have introduced 10 trucks that run on biomethane, which produces 70 percent less pollution than diesel.

UK supermarket debuts delivery trucks fueled by food waste

Waitrose’s 10 new delivery trucks are fueled by biomethane, a renewable fuel made from food waste. Supplied by CNG Fuels, the trucks are able to cover 500 miles without refueling, which is 200 miles more than previous capacity allowed. Swedish transport company Scania and the United States’ Agility Fuel Systems designed a new carbon fiber fuel tank that is not only lighter than previous versions, it is able to hold more fuel.

Biomethane gas is a much more environmentally friendly option than diesel and costs up to 35 percent less while emitting 70 percent less carbon dioxide. Previously, biomethane-powered vehicles had much lower ranges than traditionally powered cars and trucks, making transport businesses less interested in using them. Now, the latest versions of biomethane trucks could generate up to GBP 100,000 savings over five years of use.

Finding ways to make transport work harder by introducing dual functionality is one way to improve its sustainability. Trucks in Germany use e-ink signs on the backs of trailers to display local ads, road information and weather updates. And office shuttle buses in Belgium turn commutes into work opportunities.

Source : springwise.com