ECOMMERCE

Target debuts 360° shopping

BY Marianne Wilson

Target Corp. is taking a cue from Hollywood to help shoppers create the living room of their dreams.

The discounter is using the same type of computer generated imagery that figures in movie blockbusters to create a 360-degree, virtual reality-like experience on its website. And it’s shoppable.

The experience, created in-house at Target, requires no special app or platform. On Target’s site, customers can choose one of four curated living room looks (modern, farmhouse, mid-century or traditional). From there, they can browse about 140 featured products — from rugs and sofas to wall hangings and decorative throws — in a virtual living room designed to help customers visualize size and scale of items, and also provide some tips on styling. Shoppers can click on items they want to buy and add them to their cart.

“We’re constantly searching for new ways to inspire our guests and make shopping at Target an easy and inspiring experience,” said Mike McNamara, chief digital officer, Target. “And we’re just beginning to tap the power of CGI with this virtual reality living room—there’s a ton of potential to create even richer, engaging digital experiences for our guests.”

Target plans to more than double its CGI team this year by hiring more than 40 CGI professionals.

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FINANCE

Nordstrom mixed in Q1

BY Marianne Wilson

Nordstrom beat the Street on earnings in its first quarter amid strong sales in its off-price division.

Nordstrom said it earned $63 million in the first quarter, compared with $46 million, in the year-ago period. The company earned an adjusted $0.43 a share, beating the $0.27 that analysts were expecting.

Total company net sales increased 2.7% to $3.3 billion. Same-store sales fell 0.8%, worse than expected. Online sales accounted for 24% of total net sales.

By division, sales for the Nordstrom brand, including U.S. and Canadian full-line stores and Nordstrom.com, fell 1.7%, and same-store sales decreased 2.8%.

For the Nordstrom Rack brand, which consists of Nordstrom Rack stores and Nordstromrack.com/HauteLook, net sales rose 8.7%, and comparable sales increased 2.3%.

Across U.S. full-line stores and Nordstrom.com, the top-performing merchandise categories were men's and women's apparel. The West was the top-ranking U.S. region.

Nordstrom said it continued to make progress in executing its customer strategy while maintaining execution around inventory and expenses. Its total customer count increased compared with the first quarter last year.

In May 2016, the retailer expanded its Nordstrom Rewards loyalty program to enable all customers to earn benefits regardless of how they choose to pay. The effort has paid off. Nordstrom said it now has more than 8.6 million active Rewards customers in the U.S. and Canada, up from approximately 5 million a year ago. Sales from Nordstrom Rewards customers represented 47% of first quarter sales, compared with 39% a year ago.

The company reiterated its annual outlook for earnings per diluted share of $2.75 to $3.00, net sales increase of 3%- to 4% and approximately flat comparable sales.

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News

Aldi makes leadership claim on low prices

BY CSA STAFF

Watch out Walmart — discount grocer Aldi is beating you in one crucial area.

Aldi’s prices are 21% lower than its lowest-priced rivals, including Walmart, CEO Jason Hart told Reuters. And he plans to maintain that gap going forward.

The fast-growing Aldi, which recently entered California, operates some 1,600 stores in the United States, with 400 new locations planned by the end of 2018.

While Aldi only accounts for only about 1.5% of the U.S. grocery market, it is growing at 15% a year, according to the report. Walmart currently controls about 22% of the market, but its U.S. sales are estimated to grow about 2% this year.

Click here to read more.

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