TECHNOLOGY

Things looking up at Target

BY Marianne Wilson

Target Corp. on Thursday surprised the industry and investors with some good news.

The discounter updated its guidance and said that as a result of improved traffic and sales trends through the first two months of the quarter, it expects to report a modest increase in its second quarter same-store sales. Target previously said it expected a decline.

"Following better-than-expected results in the first quarter, we’ve seen additional, broad-based improvement in traffic and category sales trends in the second quarter, despite continued challenges in the competitive environment," stated CEO Brian Cornell. “Our team is energized and focused on enhancing and modernizing the Target shopping experience, and our guests are responding."

Cornell said the company's launch of its nursery decor line, Cloud Island, in May was a success. Target will be rolling out four more exclusive brands across home and apparel during the coming months in support of its plan to launch 12 new brands by the end of 2018.

"We are also pleased with initial results of the Twin Cities rollout of Target Restock, providing next-day delivery of a shopping-cart-sized shipment from an assortment of more than 10,000 essential items," Cornell added.

In updating its guidance, Target said it now expects to report second quarter GAAP and adjusted EPS above the high end of its previous guidance range of $0.95 to $1.15.

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TECHNOLOGY

Walmart hosts virtual commerce competition

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart’s technology incubator — called Store No. 8 — is on the hunt for cutting edge virtual reality (VR) solutions.

In effort to uncover new VR applications — and innovative ways to apply the technology to commerce — Walmart’s Store No. 8 is partnering with Thrive Global and Accenture to create a nationwide competition for developers. Called Innov8: V-commerce, the contest invites start-up companies to submit ideas that have the potential to change the way people shop and live, according to Walmart.

Selected winners will receive capital to fund development costs and strategic advice during incubation of their concept, along with an opportunity to work with Walmart, Jet.com, Thrive Global and other retail partners. The most innovative experiences will be showcased at an exhibition in Los Angeles on October 18.

Innov8’s board will include Katie Finnegan and Seth Beal, Principals of Store No 8; and Marc Lore, president and CEO, Walmart U.S. e-commerce and founder and CEO, jet.com. It will also encompass Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global; and executives from Accenture Labs, Forerunner Ventures, and the Virtual Reality Fund.

“Our first step is to identify the most innovative companies and minds in the space to help us on this mission,” said Katie Finnegan, principal of Store No 8. “Innov8 will further define the future of commerce by inspiring and driving growth in the underlying ecosystem of technologies needed to bring shopping into the era of virtual experiences.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Walmart looks to help others with women’s empowerment

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart has launched a digital platform to share tips and learnings that grew out of its five-year Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative.

As part of the ambitious initiative, which Walmart completed in January, the chain sourced $20 billion from Women Owned Businesses (WOBs) for its U.S. business, increased sourcing from WOBs internationally, and trained more than 1 million women worldwide.

"Through this initiative, we have increased sourcing from women-owned businesses, empowered women in retail supply chains through training in agriculture and factories, and promoted diversity and inclusion within supplier account teams supporting Walmart," Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer, Walmart, and president, Walmart Foundation, stated in a blog post on the company's site. "Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t, and what’s needed to accelerate progress.

"Our goal was to help women enhance their incomes as well as build their confidence as leaders in their workplaces.''

The new platform, called the Global Women's Economic Empowerment Knowledge Center is an open source digital platform that houses practical tips and stories related to sourcing from women entrepreneurs and empowering women in emerging markets. The best practices are based on Walmart’s work. There are links to other relevant content.

The site can be used by any company to better inform their work to empower women, Walmart said. It is currently focused on sourcing, but will continue to evolve and Walmart will add material on its training initiative in the coming months.

In related news, Walmart announced it is one of nine Fortune 500 companies joining in a collaborative effort to track and report sourcing from self-identified and certified WOBs during the next five years.

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