Omni Channel Retailing

Will Amazon decide to sell prescription drugs online? will be deciding before Thanksgiving whether to move into the online selling and delivery of prescription drugs, and the news that the e-commerce giant could be entering the market sent shares of drug retailers Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid tumbling on Friday.

“We are convinced that AMZN will almost certainly enter the drug distribution value chain within 2 years, evolving into a more disruptive offering over time,” brokerage firm Leerink analyst Ana Gupte wrote in a note to clients.

Will Amazon Sell Prescription Drugs Online?


Face Recognition

You’re at an electronics store. You check out a few TVs and head home after being scanned by store cameras. This data is then cross-referenced with other databases that already contain your facial data. Your face is now the epicenter of a retargeting campaign. You don’t need to sign up or consent, you just need to have a face and be as indifferent as we all are on terms of use.

This isn’t some far-off scenario. It could play out within months. Apple is introducing facial ID capabilities with its iPhone X, due to ship next month.While Apple has asserted that your face data will stay on your phone, not in the cloud, terms of service can change. And Apple isn’t the only player in our selfie-obsessed society looking to leverage our facial data. Brands have been playing with face-changing games for ages — games that capture your facial data and use it to generate some kind of fun image or illusion. Any time your facial data is stored, there’s a possibility for resale and reapplication powered by machine learning through AI. So, what are some of the ramifications of giving up your face data?

AI-powered facial recognition will soon track us while we shop


Subscription Models

Under Armour is jumping on the fashion subscription box bandwagon with its latest offering, ArmourBox.

It’s the Baltimore brand’s first-ever subscription service, along with the lines of others such as Stitch Fix, Le Tote, Fabletics and Rent the Runway.

Under Armour’s box works like this. An “official outfitter” will pick four to six pieces of Under Armour gear that fits a customer’s profile, based on needs, style and goals, then send it out, either monthly or every 60 to 90 days.

Unlike some services, though, there’s no monthly fee, and no shipping or return fees, Under Armour says. Customers can take a week to try it all on, then pay for what they want to keep and ship the rest back. A 20 percent discount will apply if a subscriber buys everything in the box.

Under Armour Subscription Box


Retail Technology

Walmart has spent billions buying up websites like Jet.com and ModCloth, and is investing in new technology as it goes head-to-head with Amazon.com.

Now, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is setting its sights on virtual reality.

Imagine this, says Katie Finnegan, who heads Walmart’s tech incubator: You need a tent for your next camping trip. If all goes to plan, you could one day virtually swoop into your campsite and see any given tent in action. “You could unzip it, lay down, look left and right and say, ‘Oh, this is supposed to be a two-person tent? It’s kind of tight,’ ” she said.

And then you could move on to the next tent — without leaving your couch.

Walmart’s Virtual Reality Investment

Trading Business

The Wall Street Journal reported that Goldman Sachs is mulling whether to launch a new trading business that is focused on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. If the firm moves ahead with these plans, it will be the first high-profile Wall Street company to deal directly in the bitcoin trading market.

While big Wall Street firms have embraced blockchain, the technology that enables cryptocurrency, they have yet to make a big push into cryptocurrency trading. If Goldman does decide to enter the market, it would be a completely different response to growing demand for bitcoin than what came from rival JPMorgan.

Goldman Sachs & Bitcoin Trading


Inflation

For the last several years, economists have been trying to crack the mystery of low U.S. inflation.  Despite being ten years out of the financial crisis, U.S. inflation stubbornly refuses to resume normal growth and remains below the Fed’s 2 percent target.

The “Amazon effect” is thought to be a culprit — it prevents brick-and-mortar retailers from raising prices, and instead forces them to “cut prices in a desperate bid to stay alive” to compete with online retailers

Is the “Amazon Effect” depressing inflation?


Online Grocery Shopping

Walmart is seeking an edge against Amazon with a push from their online grocery service. Order your groceries online and have them delivered straight to your car. Customers never have to step inside the store.

Walmart, which is one of the largest food retailers in the United States, sees grocery pickup as a way to marry its e-commerce business with its gigantic network of stores — a goal that has eluded many other retailers. The company started ramping up the service two years ago, and it is now available in about 1,000 of Walmart’s 4,699 stores across the country.

Walmart’s Grocery Delivery Service 


Beauty Industry

If you want to understand Macy’s ongoing sales slump, look past the market share lost to Amazon, the explosion of off-price chains like T.J. Maxx, and slow mall traffic to see one of the most devastating culprits: Macy’s shrinking status as a leading purveyor of beauty products.

Beauty is one of the only categories in retail showing consistently strong growth. But Macy’s has been losing ground at the cosmetics counter to leaner, hipper competitors, including strip-mall stalwart Ulta Beauty and Sephora.

Now, as it looks to end a streak of 10 quarters of comparable sales declines, Macy’s is more forcefully taking advantage of a weapon it acquired two years ago: the fast-growing, upscale Bluemercury chain of neighborhood beauty stores and spas. In addition to 155 stand-alone Bluemercury stores, there are now 20 full-size Macy’s (out of 670) that incorporate one of the brand’s shops, with more to come.

Macy’s Beauty Segment

Global Retail

Cutting costs, and taking advantage of their third-largest market in China, Nike has reported higher-than-expected second quarterly sales. Nike has always had athletic endorsers to help their direct-to-consumer presence. In the U.S., Nike has been running a pilot test program on Facebook and Amazon. In China, they have spruced up store layouts and have increased e-commerce effort through the partnership with Alibaba.

The company’s sales in China rose 9 percent in the first quarter ended Aug. 31.

Nike’s Quarterly Profits


Omnichannel

While online and mobile commerce has transformed the shopping experience, 91% of all retail sales are still generated in brick-and-mortar stores. As a result, merchants are investing in improving the customer journey via the digitization of the in-store experience, getting “phygital,” so to speak.

Retailers are on a mission to streamline the shopping journey for consumers and mitigate shopping pain points that have long bedeviled store associates, like tracking down inventory. Stores are banking on the shift to these “phygital” upgrades to provide an unprecedented, real-time picture of the actual inventory in the store — whether it’s on the shelf or in the back room while upgrading the customer experience.

Zebra Technologies Retail Vision Study


Connecting With Consumers

Today there are all sorts of ways to connect and reach consumers, but how do you know if you’re reaching them on the right platform?

In an age where consumers are drawn toward social media, it only makes sense that social media is the best way to connect with them. Today, 60 million businesses are on Messanger, and there are 2 billion messages sent between users and businesses every single month. 

This shows just how well both users and businesses are taking to the new trend. And, with more people sending private messages rather than uploading traditional, star-rated reviews on Facebook, the app is making a positive impact on real-time sales.

Facebook Messanger


Wearables

Over a year ago, Google announced a “connected” jean jacket that will allow bike commuters to use their phones. For instance, a bike commuter could instead touch their jacket’s cuff and use gestures to control various functions that they would otherwise have needed to pull out their phone for – like handling calls and messages, adjusting the volume, or navigating with Google Maps.

Google partnered with Levi’s to create this jacket that is now available to purchase for $350. The new smart jacket takes advantage of technology from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), which involves weaving multi-touch sensors into clothing.

Google’s “Connected” Jacket

Department Stores

Nordstrom family members are closing in on an agreement with a private equity firm to assist in a buyout of the luxury retail giant. It was reported in June that the Nordstrom family, which collectively owns 31 percent of the Seattle-based luxury retailer’s shares, had formed a group to explore a potential “going-private transaction” that would involve the acquisition of 100 percent of Nordstrom’s outstanding shares.

The company has struggled with poor traffic trends, due in large part to eCommerce competitors like Amazon. In 1999, the department store had total sales of $230 billion. Last year, that was down to $155.5 billion.

Nordstrom To Go Private


In-Store Experience

Target is in a massive store remodel and they’re focusing on the in-store experience. After testing in small urban stores, Target plans to play background music in all of their newly remodeled locations to help keep shoppers in the aisle a little longer.

Marketing researchers have long explored the effects of background music in retail settings. In the 1980s, a Loyola University marketing professor found that supermarket shoppers spent more time and money in stores when the background music was at a slow tempo.

Target Is Playing Music


Internet


Brick-and-Mortar

Toys “R” Us filed Chapter 11 documents late Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Virginia.

The company said its approximately 1,600 Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores around the world – the “vast majority of which are profitable” – and its web portals continue to operate as usual.

The chain also said it had secured US$3-billion in financing to stay open while it restructures its outstanding debt and establishes a sustainable capital structure to invest in long-term growth.

What will restructuring look like? “The restructuring is intended to facilitate the continued success of our iconic brands; building a stronger company for our customers, business partners and team members,” Melanie Teed-Murch, president of Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us Canada said in a statement.

Toys “R” Us

Brick-and-Mortar

Add Kohl’s to the list of brick-and-mortar retailers signing deals with Amazon.

The department store chain unveiled plans to roll out a “smart home experience” in 10 stores, ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Beginning in October, shoppers at the designated locations in Los Angeles and Chicago will be able to purchase Amazon devices, accessories and smart home products directly from the e-commerce giant.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/06/kohls-partners-with-amazon-to-sell-echo-devices-and-smart-home-items.html


Ecommerce

BJ’s Wholesale Club is launching two e-commerce websites for its Berkley Jensen and Wellsley Farms brands, the first time it has created dedicated sites for its private labels.

The sites two sites will showcase a broad assortment of both brands, showcase the stories behind the products and create a shoppable, dedicated experience for both brands. Members will also be able to access BJ’s Pick Up & Pay click-and-collect service to reserve select nonperishable products online and retrieve them in-club in as little as two hours.

https://progressivegrocer.com/bjs-develops-dedicated-sites-pl-ecomm


Acquisitions

In its fourth attempt, Walgreens Boots Alliance clinched regulatory approval for a deal to buy Rite Aid Corp. stores after a last-minute reduction of the number of stores and price.

The Deerfield-based drugstore chain said Tuesday it secured clearance for a revised deal under which it will buy 1,932 Rite Aid stores for $4.38 billion. That’s about 250 fewer stores than under a previous proposal, which totaled $5.18 billion.

Walgreens Buys 1,932 Rite Aid Stores


Retail Technology

With a growing number of automated machines performing jobs and tasks that could eliminate jobs, one San Francisco official is pushing a statewide “tax” in California on robots that put people out of work. Is the time to think about how people will earn a living as more U.S. jobs are lost to automation?

Jane Kim is launching a statewide campaign to bring revenue-raising ideas to the state legislature or directly to voters. She is also considering using revenue from the robot tax to supplement the low wages of people whose jobs can’t be automated, like home healthcare aides.

http://www.pymnts.com/innovation/2017/san-francisco-jane-kim-knightscope-robot-tax/

Social Media Habits

Like most adults, marketers do their best to understand teens, but it’s not easy to follow their changing digital habits and preferences. Twenty-year-old Tiffany Zhong recently left the University of California, Berkeley, and founded Zebra Intelligence to do just that—help marketers keep up with this cohort.

What’s going on with Facebook? Are teens still using it?

Facebook has become a place where everyone posts everything. There’s no filter to it anymore. When teens go on Instagram or Snapchat, they know what to expect. Facebook has become a mixture of low-quality, random things. Often it’s content that’s just irrelevant to their lives.

Marketers Need To Understand Social Media Habits


Natural Disaster

Retailers are struggling to meet the need. Harvey is slated to cause $1 billion in lost sales for retailers, according to an estimate by the Planalytics weather analytics firm.

Many people spent the day in a fruitless search in parts of the city, as stores remained closed due to flooding or power outages, but some bigger stores, like WalMart, were starting to get back to business.

WalMart Stores Inc. is reopening many stores in the Houston area, some on a limited basis, and trucks are coming from across the country to quickly restock shelves, says Todd Manley a regional vice president for WalMart in Texas who lives in the area.

WalMart Lends A Helping Hand


Digital Age

Traditional grocers must address a key aspect of their business in order to keep up with the digital transformation. The results of transforming to a digital business include the ability to deliver distinctive experiences that delight and engage the shopper, driving advocacy and loyalty, and delivering revenue and profit.

Digital shoppers and the information they generate have opened doors to an amazing transformation that can bring things into light that past grocers only dreamed about. Access to orders, customer profiles and buying habits, accurate predictive analysis, real time inventory visibility (even at the consumers’ pantry), and much more are now available in a digital world.

Read 7 Key Areas for Digital Transformation 


Ecommerce

China’s Alibaba Group Holding has invested at least $8 billion since 2015 in a push to expand from e-commerce into retail via physical stores. China became the world’s biggest retail market in 2016 with sales of $4.9 trillion, and 80% of those sales happened at brick-and-mortar locations, according to eMarketer.

Alibaba wants to change that. It is developing algorithms to analyze customer data such as brand membership information, purchasing history and store visit time to better understand shopper preferences and predict changes in consumption habits. The results can then be used to adjust product offerings, design fresh marketing campaigns as well as build faster supply chains that are free of layers of distributors.

Alibaba Is Betting On Brick-And-Mortar


 

The Industry

As home improvement spending surges, Home Depot hit their highest quarterly sales yet. Revenue for the period increased to $28.11 billion topping the $27.84 billion analyst forecasted.

In June, Americans signed more contracts to buy homes, snapping a three-month decline in pending sales. That same month, U.S. sales of new homes rose slightly, a sign that more would-be buyers are seeking newly built properties. In May U.S. home prices reached a new high for the sixth straight month.

Home Depot Is Booming


Brick- and-Mortar

The migration to the skies represents the latest volley in a clash between Walmart and Amazon to grab shoppers’ attention, loyalty and dollars.

The world’s largest retailer has applied for a U.S. patent for a floating warehouse that could make deliveries via drones, which would bring products from the aircraft down to shoppers’ homes.

The blimp-style machine would fly at heights between 500 feet and 1,000 feet (as much as 305 meters), contain multiple launching bays, and be operated autonomously or by a remote human pilot. Amazon was granted a patent for a similar vessel in April 2016.

Walmart Looks For Patent On Floating Warehouse


International Business

Estée Lauder is tackling the market from all angles by embracing the opportunities in China. After opening its own e-commerce sites for its top three brands (Clinique, Estée Lauder and Mac), the company turned to Alibaba’s consumer marketplace.

They launched brand storefronts where shoppers can browse brand content and purchase items directly through the site.

Dennis McEniry, president of the brand’s online business, said “China is a unique market. Product preferences and descriptions used in marketing are different. Social media and influencers are important, but the way to navigate that space is nuanced.”

Estee Lauder Grows E-Commerce Business in China


Fast Fashion

Can fast fashion companies keep up with the growing e-commerce competition? Analysts argue, they aren’t moving fast enough.

H&M and Zara-owner Inditex disrupted the fashion industry with lightning-fast production, trend-led products and a vast retail footprint. But today a new wave of digital disruption is coming from e-commerce players like Asos, Boohoo, Zalando and Amazon, and the fast-fashion behemoths are being uncharacteristically slow to catch up.

Is Fast Fashion Fast Enough?