ECOMMERCE

Online giant to expand its distribution network in Mexico

BY CSA STAFF

Amazon is looking to take advantage of Mexico’s growing e-commerce industry.

The online giant is planning to open a 1 million sq. ft. warehouse near Mexico City, according to Reuters. Scheduled to open next year, it would be the company’s third distribution center in the country.

The new warehouse will reside in the Tepotzotlan municipality, about 25 miles north of the Mexican capital. The facility would triple Amazon’s distribution space in the country, and help it service approximately 120 million potential customers, the report said.

Amazon’s Mexico push comes amid talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement, which could benefit the Seattle-based retailer if the United States persuades Mexico to raise a $50 limit on the value of online purchases that can be imported duty-free, according to Reuters.

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REAL ESTATE

Phillips Edison buys Chicagoland center

BY Al Urbanski

Phillips Edison & Company has acquired a center anchored by Mariano’s grocery in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates.

The 159,443-sq.-ft. Hoffman Village was left two-thirds vacant when Dominick’s closed in 2011, but the emergence of Mariano’s Fresh Market, owned and operated by Roundy’s, returned occupancy back to 94%, according to former owner NewQuest.

The acquisition “supports the strategy of owning and managing grocery-anchored centers located in markets that demonstrate strong long-term economic and demographic fundamentals,” said PECO senior VP of Acquisitions David Wik.

Other tenants at Hoffman Village include AT&T, Anytime Fitness, GNC, Fannie May Candies, Hallmark, Subway, Supercuts, and Dunkin Donuts.


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ECOMMERCE

Home furnishings giant launches augmented reality design app

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Ikea is allowing its shoppers to virtually test drive merchandise before making a purchase.

The home furnishings giant is preparing to launch a new augmented reality (AR) app. Called Ikea Place, the app allows customers to virtually place furniture in any space in their home, office, school or studio — and share the images.

The app, which will be supported by Apple’s iOS 11 platform, will launch in late September.

Here’s how it works: After downloading the app, users scan the floor of the room they want to decorate. Customers can access a list of products directly through the app, and select a product to stage.

Merchandise is presented as 3D images. Using their finger, they can move and place the product into their virtual room. The app automatically scales furniture with 98% accuracy. The AR technology also highlights fabric textures, as well as how light and shadows are rendered on furnishings.

Users can also use the app to share images of their virtually staged choices with friends. Purchases can be made through their local Ikea website, according to the company.

More than 2,000 items will be available when the app launches. The first release will focus on larger furniture products for the living room, including the company’s full assortment of sofas, armchairs, footstools, coffee tables and top-selling storage solutions.

In the future, the app will play a key role in the launch of new product lines, according to Ikea.

“Ikea Place makes it easier to make buying decisions in your own place, to get inspired and try many different products, styles and colors in real-life settings with a swipe of your finger,” said Michael Valdsgaard, leader digital transformation at Inter Ikea systems. “Augmented reality and virtual reality will be a total game changer for retail in the same way as the internet. Only this time, much faster.”

The app will be available in Apple’s App store.

The service competes directly with options already available through its rivals. For example, Wayfair’s WayfairView app enables shoppers to see virtual furniture and décor in their homes at full scale before they make a purchase.

Meanwhile, Ashley Furniture was preparing to launch its own virtual reality (VR) and AR initiatives this year. First, the retailer planned to launch an AR shopping app, which will help shoppers see how home furnishings fit into an existing space. It will also feature in-store virtual reality tech bars that will combine a guided iPad-based space configuration experience with VR headset visualization — a move that will allow shoppers to design and visualize their bedrooms, dining rooms or living rooms.

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