Sales Activation

(Author : Robert Williams)
Walmart, the biggest discount chain in the U.S. with more than 4,600 stores, added a feature to its mobile payment application to let people immediately start using store branded credit cards, according to a blog post by the company.

Walmart updates app for fast store credit access

The Walmart Pay electronic wallet now gives nearly instant access to Walmart credit cards at all store locations and online after customers are approved — even before a plastic card arrives by mail. Walmart Pay works with any iOS or Android device in stores and with any credit, debit, prepaid or Walmart gift card that users upload to the mobile app. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company cited a study that found that Walmart Pay is the third-most frequently used mobile wallet in the U.S., behind Samsung Pay and Apple Pay, but ahead of Android Pay.

The company rolled out its mobile pay app in early 2016. Walmart’s credit cards offer 3% cash back on online purchases, 2% on purchases from Murphy USA and Walmart gas stations and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Walmart is embracing the ways in which today’s consumers want to shop, expanding beyond its focus on squeezing out distribution costs in an effort to offer low prices. That strategy worked for more than 30 years, but other retailers are demonstrating that shoppers don’t have to waste time roaming endless aisles in search of deals, a key part of how Walmart transformed the cost structure of retailing.

Walmart Pay’s new ability to offer instant credit cards comes as analysts and studies say more incentives are needed to boost the usage of mobile wallets. A survey in March found that consumers who were offered incentives use mobile payments inside stores an average of 4.6x in a one-week period compared with 3.1x for people who didn’t receive those incentives. Incentivized in-app purchases were greater at 4x a week, compared with 2.4x without them, according to the study by Auriemma Consulting Group. Mobile pay users, according to the study, are a “highly covetable demographic,” consisting mostly of employed, affluent and college-educated consumers.

For Walmart, coupling its branded credit card with its payment app is likely to provide the retailer with valuable data about its most loyal customers so that it can optimize its marketing efforts to them. 

This latest move exemplifies Walmart’s push for a more convenient shopping experience — like adding in-store pickup and free shipping on many items. Now, customers can access funds almost instantly without the hassle of waiting for a card in the mail. This feature seeks to meet consumers where they already are and offer a seamless payment process that will likely save customers time.

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(Author : Retail in Asia)
International direct-to-consumer and eCommerce apparel brand Grana has joined 7-Eleven as their exclusive partner in Hong Kong to roll out convenient free returns for customers, in a move to enhance the online shopping experience for customers with anytime, anywhere drop offs to suit their fast-paced lifestyles.

Grana introduces free returns at 7-Eleven outlets in Hong Kong

The new offering makes returns simple and easy, with Return Sheets and Prepaid Labels included in all hand packed Grana boxes at 330+ select 7-Eleven stores. Removing the need to get in touch with its Cheetahs (customer service team), and no more costs involved for returns. Customers are welcome to contact the team through its Live Chat channel on the website or directly on the Cheetah line.

“Hong Kong is our first market to introduce anytime, anywhere returns with 7-Eleven. As a young tech startup operating in the eCommerce space, elevating the post-purchase experience is important to keep our millennial customers satisfied. Consumers want their experience with retailers to be authentic, convenient, and simple.

One bad experience, especially with returns can negatively impact brand love and have a ripple effect online and offline. We’ve been working behind the scenes to implement new ways to improve our return processes,” said Luke Grana, CEO & Founder at Grana.

Simple Free Returns Process
1. Fill out returns sheet from inside your Grana box
2. Stick on your pre-paid label on the return package
3. Drop your package at a Fitting Room or any authorized 7-Eleven
4. Our Cheetahs’ will send a confirmation email and update on the return item

Customers can still choose to drop off returns, within 30 days of receiving the modern essential(s) to Grana’s centralised warehouse in Wong Chuk Hang. The total refund process will take approximately 14 days. Hong Kong customers can visit Grana’s flagship showroom to feel it’s finest fabrics directly sourced from around the world, try items offline, find the right fit and place orders online. Orders can be picked up on the same day or delivered within 1-2 business days.

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(Author : Daphne Howland)
A slew of products from Ikea, including lamps, furniture and home goods, are now available for sale on Amazon, with many if not most products available to Prime members with free two-day shipping.

Ikea sets up shop on Amazon

Just last week, a spokesperson told Retail Dive that Ikea was “curious” about third-party sales and wants “to explore new areas and get new insights on how to reach and serve more of the many people. One part of that is that we are open to the idea of piloting and testing making IKEA products accessible through other online platforms than our own.”

The Swedish furniture retailer has been slow to e-commerce, a fact that former Ikea CEO Peter Agnefjall​ last year attempted to spin as a positive, saying that the late entry could allow more nimble mobile capability from the outset.

For Ikea, things have apparently swiftly gone from the idea stage to showcasing products on the world’s biggest e-commerce retail site. Earlier this month, observers speculated about possible Ikea e-commerce partners, floating the possibility of Walmart’s new Hayneedle online furniture unit, which was acquired along with last year, and’s own marketplace, among others, as possibilities. Amazon, as it so often does, appears to have won, though it’s not clear that the tie-up is an exclusive one.

The idea that made Ikea the global phenomenon it is today — flat-packed furniture that fits into a car — was to have the customer take care of the final stages of manufacturing and the last-mile of delivery. The company known for its cheap-but-chic furniture now operates some 300 stores in 27 countries, and does roughly $36 billion in sales annually.

But the logistical sweet spot may be why the company has been so slow to e-commerce. Unlike many retailers that have long relied on catalogs to drive home delivery, Ikea has leveraged its catalog to build the brand and make it easier for customers to navigate its massive stores, probably because the size and weight of furniture delivery makes it particularly expensive to sell online.

“This is an area where shipping fees can really take a toll because you’re moving furniture,” Jaimee Minney, VP of marketing and public relations at Slice Intelligence, told Retail Dive last year. “The big challenge, unique to e-commerce, is how best to maximize the shipping and handling aspect. When you have gigantic stores you don’t have to think about it as much.”

The partnership helps further both Amazon’s and Ikea’s aims. Online furniture sales have emerged as a major growth area in e-commerce, rising 18% in 2015, second only to grocery. Some 15% of the $70 billion U.S. furniture market is now online, according to IBISWorld data. In this environment, Amazon and Target are each reportedly looking to boost their furniture sales, in a challenge to online retailer Wayfair, which does offer free shipping for all orders over $49.

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(Author : Deena M Amato-McCoy)
Walmart has a new delivery team dropping off customers’ online orders — but they don’t work for a major shipping company or third-party delivery venture.

Walmart leverages ‘employees’ for last-mile delivery initiative

The retail giant is testing a new delivery concept that leverages its own store employees to drop off online orders right at customers’ front doors. The new program is designed to solve the challenges associated with the last-mile of delivery, which include “cutting shipping costs and getting packages to their final destinations faster and more efficiently,” said Walmart’s U.S. digital chief Marc Lore.

The opt-in program, which is app-based, enables employees to set preferences, including how many packages they can deliver, the size and weight limits of those parcels, and which days they’re able to make deliveries after their work shift ends. The app also tries to minimize the collective distance associates need to travel off of their commute when making a delivery.

“Associates are fully in control of their experience. If they don’t want to participate, they don’t have to,” he said. “They can choose to opt in, and they can update those preferences at any time.” The program is a strategic way to combat Amazon’s signature same-day delivery services. Between a network of 4,700 Walmart stores across the U.S. and more than 1 million associates, “our stores put us within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population,” Lore said. “Now imagine all the routes our associates drive to and from work, and the houses they pass along the way,” he added. “It’s easy to see why this test could be a game-changer.” The test is currently available in two New Jersey stores, and one in northwest Arkansas. Many orders are being delivered the next day.

Walmart associates are being paid to participate in the program, however the chain did not reveal their compensation, “Associates love having the option to earn more cash while doing something that’s already part of their daily routine,” Lore reported. “An unexpected benefit is they’re finding quicker routes home, thanks to the GPS built into our proprietary app.”

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(Author : 
In a bid to increase footfall and offer shoppers a more convenient shopping experience, Westfield has become the first shopping centre to partner with Uber.

Westfield unveils Uber deal to enhance shopping experience

As part of the agreement, Westfield is establishing specific pick-up and drop-off points at its two London shopping centres in Shepherd’s Bush and Stratford City. The shopping malls are among the largest in London, housing both high end and mass brands such as Burberry, Coach, Kate Spade New York, H&M, Zara and River Island. By integrating Uber’s service, the shopping centre owner aims to reduce waiting times for consumers and ensure a seamless shopping experience.

“Westfield is proud to be the first shopping centre to partner with Uber to deliver an enhanced service for our customers. This new service is an example of bringing together physical and technological solutions which are focused on delivering a real benefit to our customers,” said Paul Buttigieg, director of operations. To request a ride, visitors will be able to use the app in the centre and will receive clear instructions enabling them and their allocated driver to meet at the Uber zone, directed on the way by clear signage in both centres.

“We understand that it can sometimes be tricky for drivers and riders to locate each other in a big venue and we are excited to see the impact of our new Uber zones on shoppers,” commented Jo Betram, regional manager of Uber in the UK.

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(Author : Retail in Asia)
02Danish toymaker Lego has opened its first standalone store in Beijing this month, on the back on its successful Hong Kong store debut in August 2016.

Lego opens first Beijing store

Located on the fifth floor of Chaoyang Joy City, the Beijing store stocks the full range of Lego for adults and children including its Friends collection, targeted at young girls. The Beijing outfit boasts a ‘build your own mini-figure’ station, where shoppers can create their own lego characters piece by piece, as well as a PAB-Wall – short for “Pick-a-Brick” wall. Consumers are able to purchase the precise individual piece needed to complete their toys. The latest China store is developed and managed by Kidsland LCS Ltd, Lego’s main distribution arm in mainland China and Hong Kong.

In 2016, Kidsland opened Lego’s largest Asia store – some 4,000 square feet – in Hong Kong. Located at Langham Place in the city’s Mong Kok district last year, the flagship has proven very successful for the European kids retailer.

“Since our opening in August 2016, Lego Certified Store (LCS) Hong Kong has been pulling in the highest spending per square feet amongst all LCSs worldwide,” Dr William Lo, Vice Chairman of Kidsland International Holdings, told the Hong Kong Trade Development Council magazine, in a recent interview.

The store was designed to completely reveal Lego’s DNA. “We have been a partner with the Lego Group for over a decade,” said Lo. “As a Hong Kong-based company with a focus on developing children’s goods and toy retail business in China in the past, we are very honoured to open the first Lego Certified Store in Hong Kong. We strive to be coherent to the brand’s principles with an aim to inspire Lego fans of all age groups.”

In 2016, Lego reported revenues of 37.9 billion Danish crowns ($5.38 billion), while its Chinese sales are growing by 25-30 percent year-on-year.

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(Author : Jessica)
Citibank decided to test the use of Beacon technology in some of its Smart Banking branches in New York City. By making use of this technology, the company wants to provide their customers to make use of smartphones to access the branch ATMs 24h a day.

Citibank test the use of beacons

The use of Beacons lets the customer choose to receive location based customized messaging. This includes messages about special promotions or specific events of the branch/region.

By integrating this new technology, the company is aiming to enhance the appeal of branch banking. In the past years, this industry has been declining in popularity. According to a survey conducted by the BI Intelligence Digital Banking, 75% of millennials either never visit branches or do so once a month or less. However, the survey also showed that 62% of millennials sees value in branches. This means banks need to find a way to create a better balance between digital and in-branch services. Beacons can provide a good solution for this need of integration between the digital and offline environment.Citibank has created an infographic on how this technology will be used.

The banking industry is becoming more popular to tech-savvy customers due to the introduction of beacons, cardless ATMs, and other mobile technology. Smartphones are becoming a foundational banking channel. This offers a great opportunity for the expansion of the use of Beacons in this industry. By making use of Beacons the bank is able to collect data about the user and on its purchases. This is more reliable due to the fact that the smartphones go everywhere the user goes.

Beacons are a good technology to respond to the increasing needs of the millennial user. This user is more tech-savvy and is focused on the easiness of the use of the banking system. With the use of Beacon, technology banks are able to collect more information on their users and do better targeting.

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(Author : Riley von Niessen)
In order to spread the story of Run Signature, a campaign that celebrates individual athletic needs, Brooks Running created a mobile store that allows consumers from all over to get a look at its various sneaker styles, and even take part in physical tests to determine which is best for them.

Brooks Running Created a Mobile Space to Promote Its Offerings

The pop-up was able to be easily transported throughout the United States as it was built within a trailer, which was covered in Brooks Running’s branding, as well as a series of vivid colors to attract attention to it. As Run Signature’s intention is to match consumers with their perfect Brooks Running shoes, all of the models were clearly marked within the pop-up to designate the type of support they would offer.

In addition to the useful tests and the expansive range of shoes to choose from, the pop-up featured interactive games and giveaways to increase consumer engagement.

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(Author : Josh Constine)
Warby Parker wants to get you the right prescription glasses without forcing you to get an in-person eye test. It’s now testing its new Prescription Check app that uses your phone and computer in tandem to administer a 20-minute series of eye tests, which are then reviewed by a doctor who makes the final call on your prescription.

Warby Parker’s Prescription Check app lets you skip the eye doctor

This could let Warby Parker sell people prescription glasses on impulse rather than hoping customers come back once they get their prescription the old-fashioned way. For now, Warby Parker says only people between the ages of 18 and 40 in California, Florida, New York and Virginia who already have Warby Parker glasses are eligible for the test. And initially Warby Parker will only confirm that someone’s existing prescription is still right, before allowing the app to give users updated prescriptions in the future.

Eventually Warby Parker could roll out Prescription Check more widely to let new customers from a wider range of places get hooked up. Though one important thing to note is that Warby Parker stresses that people still need regular eye exams to check for medical conditions, so you can’t ditch the eye doctor entirely. Inc. mentioned the new feature in a profile of the startup yesterday.

Without Prescription Check, Warby Parker users had to either find a doctor on their own to get a prescription, or come in to one of the startup’s roughly 50 retail locations that are mostly just in big cities. Prescription Check’s technology works extremely similarly to startup Opternative, which has raised $9.5 million and been doing online eye tests since 2014. However, it’s met regulatory pushback from optometrist and ophthalmologist organizations trying to protect their in-store eye test businesses.

The Prescription Check test sees users stand back from their computer screen that displays the vision tests while reading instructions off the phone they’re holding. The phone’s camera can measure a credit card placed in the corner of the computer screen to determine the distance and screen size so the tests are configured properly.

A source says that Warby Parker has been working on the Prescription Check idea for a long time and considered both building and buying the necessary technology. Now Warby Parker appears to have built it on its own. “We’ve been exploring vision technology for a long time” a Warby Parker spokesperson tells me. “We weren’t able to find existing technology with a user experience that met our standards so we decided to build it ourselves.” Specifically, Warby Parker has patented a way to measure the distance to your screen with your phone’s camera rather than having to measure with your feet or another way like Opternative does.

With Warby Parker already focused on sales over the internet, the Prescription Check app and technology could give it another edge over retail stores. The whole point of e-commerce is to take away the hassle, and few things are more disruptive to an online shopping experience than having to make a doctor’s appointment first.

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(Author : Marianne Wilson)
So what’s the bottom line? By rethinking stores and testing new ideas with customers in real-life stores, we are improving customers’ experiences and making it easier than ever for them to get what they need as quickly and easily as possible.


First Look, Walmart’s next-gen test stores

Walmart is testing new features and technology in two recently-opened supercenters in Tomball, Texas, and Lake Nona, Florida. The stores were fully reimagined — from layout to building and environmental enhancements to added technology — with a goal of improving the shopping experience and making it easier for customers to get what they need as quickly as possible. Here is a peak at the changes:

New Layout: The chain used customer shopping behavior to reimagine the layout for the two stores. For example, services like the beauty salon and tech repair are adjacent to relevant merchandise. Health and wellness departments are consolidated to create a single destination. Baby, toys, kids’ apparel and kids’ shoes form a single destination to ease the shopping journey.

Scan & Go: Scan & Go technology that works both on personal smartphones and Walmart-provided handheld devices is being tested in the two locations. Customers are greeted on their way into the store by a large bank of Scan & Go wands, and new digital produce scales have been added to make scanning weighable items much easier. Scan & Go fast pass checkout lanes allow customers to bypass the traditional checkout process
SmartLife: New interactive projection technology allows customers to learn about connected devices (such as Google Home, Apple TV, Nest, baby monitors and connected thermostats) and get answers to what is important to them. Since images are projected onto tables and walls, there’s no chance of accidentally damaging a product, and the product details can be updated more quickly through this new platform. This technology is found in the entertainment section of the store, as well as in hardware, baby, and health and wellness for relevant department items.

Integrated Pickup: Shoppers can use the outside drive-thru to pick up weekly groceries and also their prescriptions and orders.

Extended Aisles: Step into the Tomball Supercenter and you’ll find interactive screens offering access to an extended curated selection of online-only items in almost 100 categories. Customers can order products, pay with the rest of their basket at checkout and pick up two days later.

Appointment Setting and Ordering Technology: The two stores are testing a new appointment and ordering kiosk system in the deli area that allows shoppers to place their order, go shopping, then come back to quickly pick it up. If the deli test goes well, the feature could be expanded to pharmacy, auto care center, beauty salon or anywhere ordering and appointment setting occurs.

Next-Gen Call Buttons: Shoppers press a Wi-Fi-connected call button and wearable GPS-enabled devices alert associates that assistance is needed. Associates wearing these devices are trained in specific store areas and are on call to help in the furniture, paint, fabrics, sporting goods and bikes areas of the store.

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