TECHNOLOGY

Retailers getting serious about artificial intelligence

BY By Marianne Wilson

A new survey suggests that retailers are ready to invest in artificial intelligence and other new technologies.

Forty-five percent (45%) of retailers plan to utilize artificial intelligence within three years to enhance the customer experience, according to the BRP (Boston Retail Partners) 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey. Virtual reality is also in retailers' sights, with 34% of respondents saying they plan to deploy it within the next three years. Another 34% of retailers plan to implement augmented reality within the same time frame.

Additionally, 55% of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience to increase customer loyalty by improving the mobile shopping experience and creating a unified experience across channels.

"Stores must now encompass both worlds – the sensory experience generally available in the physical world, such as touching and feeling merchandise and personally interacting with a knowledgeable associate – whether simply human or a combination of AI and human characteristics – married with the unique and personalized shopping experience common in the digital world," according to the report. "The physical and digital worlds are forever intertwined as we look to the future."

In other key findings from the report:

•Most retailers have plans to implement new technologies to identify customers via their smartphones, mobile apps and other emerging technologies. Within three years, 59% of retailers plan to use Wi-Fi and 63% plan to use mobile apps to identify customers in their stores.

*Eighty-nine percent (89%) of retailers are now using social media comments as a critical customer satisfaction measurement.

*Sixty-seven percent (67%) of retailers are offering a consistent product offering across channels. But many are still struggling with manual processes, with 43% indicating the process needs improvement.

•Enhanced networks are a key requirement for a unified commerce environment, with 76% of retailers planning to enhance or replace their network within the next three years.

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TECHNOLOGY

Amazon brings two-hour deliveries to Denver

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Shoppers in Denver are getting their first taste of Amazon Prime Now.

The service, which is exclusive to the online giant’s Prime members, provides free two-hour delivery on tens of thousands of items, from household and daily essentials to electronics, games and outdoor supplies. Area Prime members can order through Amazon’s Prime Now app, available on iOS and Android devices, Amazon’s web site, or “speak” orders to their Alexa device.

Members can also order fresh grocery products through Amazon’s partnership with from Sprouts Farmers Market. This merchandise includes seasonal and organic produce, fresh meat and seafood, baked goods and natural vitamins.

Fresh orders are also eligible for free two-hour delivery. One-hour delivery is available for a fee of $7.99. Prime Now and Sprouts deliveries are available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, according to Amazon.

“We are excited to continue enhancing the Prime experience for customers in Denver with Amazon’s fastest delivery method yet, Prime Now,” said Simoina Vasen, director of Prime Now.

Prime Now is available in more than 30 cities in the U.S.

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TECHNOLOGY

Judge rules supermarket chain must make web site accessible

BY CSA STAFF

Website accessibility is shaping up as the next big challenge for retailers with regards to ADA compliance.

A Miami federal judge has ruled that Winn-Dixie violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not making its website, which was recently updated, accessible to blind and visually impaired users, the Miami Herald reported. The Jacksonville, Florida-based supermarket chain has set aside $250,000 to revamp its online site and was ordered to pay the plaintiff’s legal fees, according to the report.

The case was brought by a Miami resident who is legally blind and uses screen-reading software to access the internet. The software has allowed him to use 500 to 600 websites, including Publix, Walgreens and government sites, the report said. But the software could not read information on Winn-Dixie's site when he tried to order a prescription and look up store hours.

“We understand Winn-Dixie plans to appeal,” Scott Dinin, an attorney for the plaintiff, told the Miami Herald. “We welcome the opportunity to bring this issue to the public light, and show how important it is to see accessibility and diversity at the center of every decision making process.” Dinin said he plans to take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary.

To read more, click here.

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