TECHNOLOGY

Delhaize America division goes mobile

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Food Lion is stepping up its digital engagement game.

A banner under Delhaize America, Food Lion launched a mobile app. Available to customers across its 10-state footprint, the app streamlines and personalizes the shopping experience.

At the core of the app is the integration of the grocer’s MVP loyalty card. In addition to enabling cashiers to scan the digital card from customers’ smartphone screens, customers can electronically load coupons to their MVP card. In an average month, Food Lion offers more than $250 worth of “MVP Load to Card Coupons” available through the mobile app and online, according to the retailer.

Other features include access to an integrated barcode scanner, a digital version of Food Lion's weekly ad, and a recipe finder that suggests meals based on items scanned at home or in the store. Customers can also create and populate digital shopping lists by scanning items at home, clicking on products in the digital weekly ad, coupons and recipes. A store navigator tool helps shoppers view items by aisle in their preferred store.

The free app can be downloaded in the App Store or Google Play Store.

“With the launch of the Food Lion mobile app, we strive to make it easy to shop while making it even easier to save,” said Deborah Sabo, VP of marketing at Food Lion. “This convenient tool is packed with features to make customers' lives easier, including the ability to tell a shopper the exact aisle where products on their shopping list are located.”

Food Lion operates more than 1,000 stores in 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.

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TECHNOLOGY

Stitch Fix, Trunk Club and Le Tote upping the ante on online apparel retailing

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

When it comes to brands that stand out in online apparel shopping segment, subscription services are leading the pack.

Apparel subscription services, like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club, and introduction of Amazon’s Prime Wardrobe are disrupting the apparel segment. While the subscription method of shopping for apparel is still in its infancy, consumer reach — and interest — is growing, according to research from The NDP Group.

Stitch Fix, Trunk Club and Le Tote subscription membership grew to nearly 5% of online shoppers. Their average annual spend per purchase increased 5% to $170, according to NPD’s Checkout Tracking E-commerce information.

The Stitch Fix subscriber gave one-third of their online apparel wallet to Stitch Fix. Trunk Club subscribers gave 40% of their online apparel wallet to Trunk Club.

“We have entered a new world of retail where the traditional leaders are faced with unconventional channel competition, and subscription services are the newest player,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NDP Group.

“Consumers are more critical about the purchases they make today and no longer purchase just for the sake of purchasing,” he added. “The personalized approach of subscription services complements the shift toward more prioritized spending.”

While only 15% of consumers have ordered subscription boxes, another 14% haven’t yet ordered them but plan to. However, 35% don’t even know what these services are — which presents an untapped customer segment for subscription-based retailers.

Some subscription services are also adding an additional dimension to the emerging retailing genre. From Amazon’s Prime Wardrobe to Stitch Fix, Trunk Club and Floravere, these retailers are giving shoppers the opportunity to “try before you buy.” With no upfront charge or added fee, shoppers can return unwanted pieces and pay only for the items they keep. One feature that gives Amazon’s soon-to-launch service a leg-up on its competition however, is that it enables shoppers to pick out their own clothes — without paying a styling fee.

“There is a great deal of room to grow within the subscription model, and the competitive field will continue to expand as online retailers develop subscription services and options for auto-replenishment of fashion basics,” added Cohen. “This kind of innovation, delivering personalization and convenience, will continue to change the face of retail for fashion.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Brick-and-mortar retail is hot in this specialty segment

BY Marianne Wilson

Multi-brand and vertically integrated beauty stores are shaking up the beauty industry — and growing at a rapid rate.

With hundreds of new doors opening in various formats, cosmetics specialty and vertically integrated stores, such as Ulta, Sephora, Bluemercury, NYX, Kiko Milano, and e.l.f., have grown at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 19% over the past five years, according to a report by research and consulting firm Kline. Such stores now account for an estimated 20% of total beauty market sales.

Kline's "Beauty Retailing USA: Channel Analysis and Opportunities Report" cites such examples as Bluemercury, which recently opened a digitally enhanced flagship location in New York City, with plans to open 40 more stores by the end of the year, and Sephora, which recently opened its largest store in North America, in New York City, and its smallest location, the 2,000-sq.ft. Sephora Studio, in Boston.

"This concept (Sephora Studio) is one step towards creating more curated and digital experiences for consumers in the real world. Alongside digital tools, increasingly demanding younger generations require one-on-one services, including 15-minute facials and 45-minute makeovers that drive consumers seeking a spa-like experience into stores," the report said.

In addition, vertically-oriented boutique -styled beauty stores, such as NYX, e.l.f., and Kiko Milano, are conquering local malls with unique concepts targeted to younger consumers at lower price points. These brands are increasingly offering digital enhancements, such as NYX's iPads that help create different looks with beauty influencers/vloggers walking consumers through the replication while in store.

"Enhancing a customer's experience with a brand is one of the key reasons for the incredible growth of these free-standing beauty stores," the report stated.

Meanwhile, department stores are mimicking tactics applied by successful multi-brands specialty stores to draw more traction, according to the report. In early 2017, Bloomingdale's launched its first Knockout Beauty boutique composed of prestige brands with a natural/organic slant. Nordstrom's beauty area continues to evolve, bringing in brands with limited distribution. Nordstrom also added beauty concierges in remodeled locations to help guide consumers across brands, showcasing the top products in each beauty category. Neiman Marcus' interactive Memory Mirrors to help consumers remember the steps and products used during the in-store makeover.

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