Pier 1 prepares for new fulfillment options
Eyeing a strong holiday season, Pier 1 is working on a new fulfillment strategy to meet omnichannel shopper demand.
As the home decor retailer continues to focus on how to enhance its digi-tal channel, Pier 1 is turning its attention to drop-ship capabilities. By working with third-party suppliers, the chain will be able to augment its assortment, and “test new categories with much less risk using vendor-owned inventory,” Alexander Smith said during the company’s earnings call on Wednesday.
While the retailer did not reveal how many storekeeping units (SKUs) would be involved in the initial launch, Smith reported that Pier 1 plans to continuously ramp up the number of SKUs in the program.
The retailer is also preparing to test Google Express in select markets. The turnkey marketplace leverages the chain’s store inventory, and “will work in a similar way to pick up in store, giving a new customer base direct ac-cess to the Pier 1 Imports assortment,” he said.
The service will launch in October in Dallas and Boston.
Target hopes to boost innovation through start-up pitches
Creating an innovative customer experience is top of mind for Target. Now it needs the right solutions.
As a result, Target launched a new website that invites start-up companies to pitch ideas for new technology platforms that will help the big-box retailer enhance the customer experience in its stores and through its digital channels, according to an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Seeking out “disruptors in the retail industry,” Target’s new “Pitch-to-Pilot” program will create a more formal process of staying connected to start-up innovators, the article said.
Click here to read more.
Tech Bytes: Three steps to creating a ‘mobile’ pop-up
The signs of fall are definitely upon us. The weather is finally dropping into the 70s on the east coast. Summer’s green leaves are slowly transitioning to rich autumn hues. You can’t escape “Pumpkin Spice.” And of course, the biggest sign of fall: Halloween pop-up stores.
The temporary locations not only fulfill shoppers’ every Halloween decoration, costume and candy need under one roof, they also extend an increasingly profitable holiday season. For example, Halloween spending is on pace to reach $8.4 million this year — an all-time high, according to the National Retail Federation.
For a season that lasts from late August through October, there is an extremely short selling window. Thus, retailers need to consider how to use these spaces to inspire and engage shoppers, and most importantly, drive loyalty. Grandin Road happens to be on the right track. Through a partnership with Macy’s Herald Square, the online decor retailer is bringing its virtual presence to life through “Halloween in Herald Square.”
Introduced earlier this month, the 1,400-sq.-ft. pop-up store features two retail windows inviting guests to celebrate the fun of Halloween. As shoppers enter Macy’s Seventh Avenue entrance, they can make their way through four sophisticated vignettes: "Frightfully Fun," "Bewitching," "Halloween Glam,” and "Macabre and Mystical,” all filled with Grandin Road decor.
Assortments and design aside, there is another avenue that retailers should consider when it comes to pop-ups: adding mobility. Fifty-five percent (55%) of retailers already use their mobile strategy to drive shoppers to their stores, according to “Mobile Retail Finds New Purpose,” a report from Retail Systems Research. Now it needs to be a priority among pop-up operators, especially as a means of helping these temporary locations thrive during their finite presence.
Among the top cases for mobility are:
Mobile point-of-sale (POS). Since pop-up stores are here today and gone tomorrow, their POS solutions need to be flexible, but reliable — making mobile POS a perfect option. Whether opting for tablets or smartphones, the devices take up less space, and untether associates from the stationary cash-wrap. Programmed to access inventory, deliver upselling item recommendations, and the ability to tender orders, mobile POS empowers associates to assist shoppers throughout their entire path to purchase.
Mobile apps. Shoppers do their homework before entering a store. And once inside, many want to navigate their own experience — not always an easy task in a temporary store. Enter the value of mobile apps. Once a retailer’s app is downloaded onto the consumer’s smartphone, brands have a conduit that powers engagement and direct communications with shoppers throughout the visit. And this happens through an array of services, including inventory databases, wish lists, access to loyalty accounts, details of purchase preferences and past orders, and mobile payment functionality. Savvy brands even provide links that enable users to share photos of desired merchandise to social media, a move that further drives brand awareness to even more shoppers.
Beacons. Pop-up concepts, by definition, give retailers a very small window to capture shoppers’ attention and hopefully, wallet share. By personalizing the experience, retailers have a better chance of fostering this loyalty. That’s why beacons are valuable. Low-power, micro-location gadgets that use Bluetooth technology to transmit signals to mobile devices, these tiny tools enable retailers to identify shoppers as soon as they walk into the pop-up. And beacons embedded into displays or digital screens can deliver customized digital messages as they navigate through store aisles or promotional displays — a move that drives engagement and loyalty.
As pop-up stores extend the profitable Halloween season, retailers must stay mindful to deliver ease throughout the visit, from navigation through payment. By focusing on mobility, retailers can meet their pop-up goals: creating a unique shopping experience, driving interaction, and boosting brand awareness.