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Ugam provides category intelligence for electronics retailers

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Managed analytics provider Ugam is releasing a comprehensive electronics category intelligence solution which provides product pricing, assortment and content intelligence to help electronics retailers determine which products to offer, at what prices to sell them, and how to best describe them in order to optimize margins and maximize profitable conversion rates.

Ugam’s proprietary category intelligence solution collects and stores more than 104 different data points, from pricing information and product attributes to demand signals including search data, consumer reviews, ratings and social signals, for more than 600,000 electronics product SKUs sold via retail channels and online marketplaces across the U.S. The solution includes data about products in 132 key electronics categories, including cameras, computers, home electronics, home office products, portable electronics and video games.

Collected data includes brand name, product name, SKU number, product description, meta keywords, features, dimensions, weight, images, availability, price, shipping costs, markdown price, and minimum advertised price. It also includes consumer demand signals such as estimated organic search traffic, share of organic demand, relative page rank, and social signals including total reviews, share of reviews, social sentiment (e.g., Facebook Likes, Pinterest Pins), share of social, etc.

Ugam applies advanced analytics to this data to deliver insights and recommendations to clients via a dashboard and rich graphical user interface. The dashboard provides competitive metrics showing how retailers’ product assortment, prices and descriptions compare to competitive offerings, with intuitive drill-down capabilities designed to provide deeper insight into the data.

“The electronics category has been a victim of price matching, everyone’s playing Amazon’s game,” said Sudhir Holla, senior VP retail at Ugam. “With our electronics category intelligence, we’re helping retailers capture the most important and relevant information and distill that into actionable insights that help them differentiate themselves, and compete on something other than price.”

The category intelligence solution is delivered to clients as a software as a service (SaaS).

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Lowe’s unveils sci-fi-inspired Holoroom

BY CSA STAFF

Lowe’s continues making advances in retail innovation with its new Innovation Labs and the first concept to come out of the lab — the Lowe’s Holoroom.

Lowe’s created the lab to build new technology to solve common consumer frustrations while working alongside startups, universities, specialized professionals and other companies.

"We know that for many homeowners, the struggle to visualize a completed home improvement project or to share that vision with others can stop a project in its tracks," said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. "The Holoroom is our solution, enabling consumers to visualize their project and share that vision with family and friends."

The Lowe’s Holoroom is a home improvement simulator that gives homeowners an immersive experience inside a room via 3-D and augmented reality technologies. They can fill the room with products and change things around until they are satisfied with the results. They can then take home a printout or view a 3-D model of the room — which they can share with others — with a free app available on iOS or Droid devices.

"Lowe’s wants to lead innovation by developing disruptive technologies that will help us establish a long-term competitive advantage," said Nel. "Lowe’s Innovation Labs will allow us to quickly bring in new technology and new partners, explore a wide range of possibilities and identify opportunities to develop concepts like the Holoroom."

SciFutures, a foresight and innovation consultancy, partnered with Lowe’s during the development of the Holoroom.

"We use the power of science fiction narratives to predict future possibilities and explain complex technologies in a way everyone can understand," said Ari Popper, founder and co-CEO of SciFutures. "Using this science fiction prototyping process we collaborated with Lowe’s to see the world could look like, and their determination to bring that vision to life led to the Holoroom."

The Lowe’s Holoroom will be introduced in select Toronto stores in 2014, and equipped with thousands of products to help customers plan a bathroom remodel. Additional product categories and rooms will be added to the Holoroom in the next 12 to 18 months. Lowe’s Innovation Labs will share updates on the Lowe’s Holoroom as well as future initiatives on Twitter.
twitter.com/loweslabs

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Target honors shareholder commitment

BY CSA STAFF

A lot of change is taking place at Target these days, but one thing the company isn’t messing with is a generous dividend that has helped sustain the value of the stock price.

The Target board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of 52 cents a share this week, a 21% increase from the 43 cents paid last quarter. Target is among an elite group of companies that has paid a dividend for 188 consecutive quarters since it became publicly held in October 1967.

The increase comes as Target continues to rebound from a massive data breach last Christmas that hurt fourth quarter sales and profits and put pressure on the company’s stock price. The sell off might have been worse were it not for an already respectable dividend payout and a strong show of support for future increases from CFO and interim CEO John Mulligan.

In announcing the 52 cent payout on June 11, Mulligan and the board were following through on a commitment made when the company reported first quarter results last month.

“We returned $272 million in dividends this quarter, up from $232 million last year as our 43 cents per share quarterly dividend was more than 19% higher than a year ago,” Mulligan said at the time. “We plan to recommend that our board authorize another similar increase this summer.”

The action the company took this week, boosting the quarterly payout to 52 cents, puts the annual payout at $2.08 a share and gives the company a dividend yield of approximately 3.6% based on recent share price of slightly more than $57.

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