Retail Rundown

Retail Technology

This new device is built to expand the use of technology to improve the consumer’s experience in stores, or in the privacy of their own home. The new HiMirror has a camera that sits on top and has the ability to close in on your face and analyze your skin’s wrinkles, blemishes, dark spots, and even clogged pores. The mirror doubles as a computer screen and uses voice commands and responds to hand gestures while communicating. The mirror can even provide a weekly update on how your skin is aging and tell you what sunscreen to wear depending on the weather that day.

Top brands such as Ralph Lauren, and well as department stores like Bergforf Goodman, are investing in the technology. The goal is to keep consumers engaged and make them more confident in their purchases. The mirror does this by showing the customer what they would look like with a certain shade of eyeshadow or dress styles with out actually putting the outfit on.

The CEO, Simon Shen, of Kino Group was inspired to create the HiMirror after noticing his wife’s uneasy relationship with the bathroom scale. Did I mention the mirror tracks your body weight as well? Simon said that “Lots of people have questions as to weather their [skin care] products are really effective, but there’s no scientific measurements, so by every day taking pictures and [analyzing] their skin, they can understand where there is improvement in their skin condition.”

Interactive “Magic Mirrors” Are Changing How We See Ourselves—And Shop


Product Selection

Goodman Gluten Free introduces its gluten-free baked goods to Ahold USA this month, expanding its store reach to over 2,000 supermarkets since its 2015 launch.

The gluten-free market, initially targeting people with celiac disease and other gluten intolerances, has been showing up on Google trends reports for more than a decade. Since then, the trend has become a popular lifestyle choice for people without dietary restrictions as well, and gluten-free products are perceived as healthier — and even more premium — than traditional applications by many consumers.

The category’s broad, still-growing consumer base makes it a lucrative space for food manufacturers to expand into. Bob Goodman, who’s been associated with the bakery industry for 40 years, seems to have created a gluten-free line at just the right time.

Goodman Gluten Free’s addition of three new gluten-free product lines also suggests confidence in the staying power of this food trend, giving manufacturers who haven’t yet dabbled in the space an opportunity to get on board. According to Packaged Facts, U.S. sales of gluten-free products, estimated at $973 million in 2014, are expected to top $2 billion by 2019.

In-Store Bakeries Add More Gluten Free Options


Manufacturing

Adidas has launched a new sneaker with a 3D-printed sole that they plan to mass-produce next year, part of a broader push by the German sportswear firm to react faster to changing fashions and create more customized products.

Adidas already lets people customize the color and pattern of shoes ordered online but new 3D printing methods will make small production runs, limited edition shoes and even soles designed to fit an individual’s weight and gait economical. Rivals Nike, Under Armour and New Balance have also been experimenting with 3D printing but have so far only used the technique to make prototypes, soles tailored for sponsored athletes and a handful of high-priced novelty shoes.

Normally 3D-printing is slower and more expensive but Adidas says its new partnership with Silicon Valley start-up Carbon allows it to overcome many of those difficulties to produce a sole that can rival one made by an injection mould, and at a speed and price that allow for mass production.

Adidas Will Mass-Produce a 3D-Printed Shoe


Supply Chain

Retailers and logistics companies have been opening warehouses at a record pace to ensure online orders reach customers as quickly as possible. Now they’re struggling to find workers to staff them.

Amazon Inc., Walmart Inc. and other e-commerce giants rely on armies of “pickers” to grab items off warehouse shelves and prep them for shipment. For years they’ve drawn from a seemingly limitless pool of people willing to take these jobs, which can be grueling but require little training or education.

Starting pay for warehouse workers rose 6% over the past year to $12.15 an hour in February, according to an analysis by ProLogistix, a logistics staffing firm. Hourly earnings rose 2.8% across all professions over the same period, according to the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Booming sales mean e-commerce operations have to ship more items faster, and pay increases are imposing new costs. It estimates a $1-an-hour wage increase can raise labor costs by more than $2 million a year at “big box” warehouses employing as many as 1,000 workers.

Rising labor costs are speeding up the pace of automation and influencing where new warehouses are built. And as poaching becomes a bigger threat, employers are trying to make picker jobs more attractive, with perks like employee barbecues and holiday breakfasts, as well as more-flexible shifts.

Online Retailers’ New Warehouses Heat Up Local Job Markets


Payments

Business Insider is forecasting that in the U.S. alone mobile payments volume will increase to $503 billion by 2020 and will be used by 56 percent of the consumer population during that year. Meanwhile, Sweden, Singapore, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Belgium and the U.K. are already on their way to becoming cashless societies – with Australia, Brazil, India and much of Africa following suit.

While there are still barriers and limitations, such as security concerns and limited number of compatible vendors, digital wallets, and mobile payments are not only changing how we pay for goods and services, they also have the power to go beyond payments because of how they’re constantly being evolved – which is going to be important for both businesses and customers.

Today, however, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding digital wallets and mobile payments since these terms are interchanged so frequently. To be clear, a digital wallet is simply tokenization of data. While digital wallets are often associated with payments, they can be used to issue digital rewards, tickets or boarding passes, room keys, or identification.

For customers, digital wallets and mobile payments can replace carrying around a bulky wallet. Besides being a minor hassle, you no longer have to be concerned if you forgot your cash, credit card, or ID at home. All that information is stored on your smartphone. And, unlike your wallet, you probably never leave home without your phone.

Cashless Society

I am the Social Media Manager for the Terry J. Lundgren Center For Retailing at the University of Arizona, I also am a Junior in the Retail and Consumer Sciences major at the University. I am what you call a Retail Enthusiast, I am intrigued by the way the retail industry is evolving and what it has to offer the world. I enjoy the outdoors, yoga, and some good music.