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MOBILITY

Report: Walmart testing kiosks to create ‘an endless aisle’

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The retail giant just made another move in its battle against online rival, Amazon.

Walmart is testing a touch-screen monitor in its toy aisle at select stores in Texas. The solution connects shoppers to available inventory at store-level, and if it’s not on-hand, the device enables them to order it online, according to The Street.

Defined in the report as an "endless aisle-type concept,” the kiosk enables shoppers to choose from a list of toys it currently sells. If customers are unsure what to purchase, the device can suggest best-sellers by prompting users to answer a selection of questions, such as is it a gift, the gender of the child, and the child’s age.

If their choice is unavailable, shoppers can order it from the Walmart website and have it delivered to their home, Walmart CFO Brett Briggs said during a presentation at the Raymond James Investor Conference on Wednesday, March 8.

The endless aisle kiosk coincides with Walmart’s mission to become a more digital enterprise, as well as “making everyday easier for busy families,” Briggs explained, adding that the company has $15 billion in e-commerce sales, and more than 35,000 SKUs in its online assortment in the United States.

The solution is also the company’s latest competitive move against Amazon. Recently, the chain took on its rival by ending its ShippingPass program, a fee-based, two-day delivery service, in favor of a free two-day shipping program. Amazon’s Prime program charges $99 annually for unlimited two-day shipping.

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TECHNOLOGY

Strategic partnership positioned to drive AI in retail

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A new partnership will help retailers make smarter business decisions faster.

Based on a new alliance between IBM Watson and Salesforce, the companies will seamlessly connect their solutions — a move that will enable a new level of intelligent customer engagement across sales, service, marketing, and commerce, among other operations.

Specifically, the partnership will bring new insights from Watson directly into the Salesforce Einstein’s Intelligent Customer Success Platform. AI will be the foundation enabling an entirely new level of intelligent customer engagement across sales, service, marketing, commerce, among other segments.

The solution integration will combine deep customer insights from Salesforce Einstein with Watson's structured and unstructured data across many sources and industries including weather, healthcare, financial services and retail. Together, Watson and Einstein will ingest, reason over and derive recommendations to accelerate decision making and drive greater customer success.

For example, by combining local shopping patterns, weather and retail industry data from Watson with customer-specific shopping data and preferences from Salesforce Einstein, a retailer will be able to automatically send highly personalized and localized email campaigns to shoppers.

In addition to the technology combination, IBM is also strategically investing in its Global Business Services capabilities for Salesforce with a new practice to help clients rapidly deploy the combined IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein capabilities, the company said.

“Within a few years, every major decision — personal or business — will be made with the help of AI and cognitive technologies,” said Ginni Rometty, chairman, president and chief executive officer, IBM.

“This year we expect Watson will touch one billion people — through everything from oncology and retail to tax preparation and cars,” she said. “Now the power of Watson will serve the millions of Salesforce and Einstein customers and developers to provide an unprecedented understanding of customers.”

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Zulily
TECHNOLOGY

Zulily gives fashion advice via Messenger

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Aside from surviving sleepless nights and seemingly non-stop diaper changes, new momsalso struggle to find the right styles post-pregnancy.

Zulily hopes to ease these “fourth trimester” blues with a new digital engagement tool. Called “The Fourth Trimester Closet Concierge,” the limited-edition solution helps new moms navigate their wardrobes during pregnancy and after they’ve welcomed their new baby.

Moms can access Zulily’s maternity team of experts, called the baby-friendly fashion squad (BFFs), directly in Facebook Messenger using the #BFFs hashtag or by visiting the online retailer’s Facebook page.

Among the topics the experts discuss include streamlined silhouettes, functional nursing apparel, shapewear and the benefits of adjustable apparel styles, the retailer said.

“Our maternity team saw the need to provide a special service to new moms who can be overwhelmed and strapped for time,” said Robin Otto, Zulily maternity expert and merchandising manager.

The service is being tested during the month of March.

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