First Look: Joann unveils new store prototype
Fabric and craft retailer Joann opened a new prototype that combines technology, dedicated community and learning spaces and new custom services.
The format, unveiled on June 13 in Columbus, Ohio, offers a reimagined shopping experience. All of the store’s features and classes were developed based on the latest trends. For example, Pinterest, which partners with the retailer, has seen a surge in searches for DIY personalized T-shirts. The trend is reflected in an area where customers can learn to make custom shirts using electric-cutting machines and a wide array of materials and accessories.
“Research resoundingly showed our stores have naturally evolved to become much more than a place to buy things,” said Jill Soltau, president and CEO, Joann, which operates some 865 stores nationwide. “Customers come in to find inspiration, learn from our team members and share creative experiences with others. That discovery, along with industry insights and DIY trends, helped us create a store like nothing else in existence.
The retailer said it will test and gather feedback on the new store and services, and begin to strategically integrate successful elements into other locations.
Key elements of Joann’s new prototype include:
• A large open community space where customers can take classes, host events and rent machines to work on projects inspired by the latest Pinterest trends — complete with a cup of coffee;
• A first-ever touch-screen kiosk (CraftCreator), which provides popular-on-Pinterest craft projects personalized for customers based on their taste preferences;
• Modernized cutting bar for fabrics, which allows customers to “check in” via their mobile and continue shopping until a text message alerts them a store associate is ready to cut their fabric;
• Expanded category assortment including a “sewing studio” with new brands and machines, hobby options like model kits and candle-making supplies and a wide variety of fine arts materials; and
• Concierge services including a custom sewing service (“Sew & Go”) for anything from suit tailoring to home décor, and a personal shopper for one-on-one guidance
Technology elements are integrated throughout the store, including special order kiosks and live stream capabilities to share in-store classes online.
The store will also serve as a hub for local artists to share and sell their creations. Installations from local artists already are spread throughout the store, and the Creators’ Studio will be open for craft fairs and other local community events.
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IoT Advances Open Door to ‘Connected Cleaning’
The value of a clean storefront is immeasurable. With a store’s cleanliness proven to impact consumer shopping and purchasing behaviors, clean facilities help to generate revenue for retailers of all sizes and sectors. As the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart buildings come to life, ‘connected cleaning’ will deliver further increased economic value through reduced costs and better use of resources.
In the years to come, retailers will leverage cleaning equipment that communicates with each other and with other systems in a building. The systems will anticipate needs by scanning the environment, exchanging data and sending instructions on the activities that need to be performed. These developments will pave the way for an autonomous and seamless cleaning operation where machines know when, where and how much to clean. They will gather and combine data from various sensor points in the building – such as electrical systems and weather applications – to predict and adjust the level and frequency of cleaning. The benefits will be more efficient operations, lower costs and more personalized environments.
Bringing connected cleaning to life
Recent advances in IoT technology have enabled smart buildings to become a reality. Right now, the IoT enables technologies like sensors and software to talk to a variety of connected devices. Increased connectivity amongst the devices and systems we use allows lighting and heating systems to automatically turn on and off in buildings, and water pipelines to tell utility companies where a leak is originating.
With the birth of connected cleaning, where IoT endpoints are integrated into cleaning solutions and pieces of equipment, we will see cleaning equipment that communicates with each other and with various systems in a building. This communication and data sharing will enable machines to automatically adapt cleaning schedules to the weather, send performance reports in real time and notify cleaning equipment suppliers when maintenance is needed.
Like all industries, the cleaning sector focuses on leveraging the benefits of new technologies. The development is in part driven by the demand from retailers to deliver more value from cleaning services at the same cost. To meet these demands, both contract cleaners and suppliers are increasingly turning to autonomous and connected cleaning machines to offer more efficient, higher quality cleaning at a lower cost.
Creating value through connected cleaning
Cleaning services today stand to be optimized. The IoT can increase productivity by pushing connected cleaning to provide critical data that will inform cleaning operations and deliver tangible value.
With connectivity, there is far more visibility and control over cleaning assets providing retailers with the opportunity to track whether or not the machine is operating, who is operating it, the location of each machine and the amount of time each machine has been used. While all this data can be used to optimize your cleaning program, data in and of itself is not enough. Instead, the data must be used to create value and deliver better business results.
In a storefront, connected cleaning will enable sensor points at the store entrance to measure cleanliness of the floor then feed this data to the cleaning equipment, which will determine the frequency and extent of cleaning necessary. This automation ensures a high quality clean, while integration with information on the weather enables the cleaning frequency to rise as rain or snow occurs to improve cleanliness and further reduce safety risks due to wet floors. Data gathered from connected cleaning equipment will also track valuable foot traffic patterns within the store, which can be leveraged to predict the need for cleaning.
The future of autonomous storefronts
Over the next decade, we will move toward a digital ecosystem driven by a mega network of connected devices, systems and cognitive computing. Smart buildings will enable an autonomous storefront where back-of-the-house systems for lighting, heating and ventilation use sensors to adjust their settings and performance depending on the number of shoppers in the space resulting in a more personalized and comfortable environment. In the future, connected cleaning will be one of these systems along with security systems and mobility systems, like elevators and escalators.
Buildings, and therefore the storefronts housed within, will continue to become more advanced. As the various systems work together, their data will be combined and used to deliver value through the optimization of cleaning. While retailers will gain valuable insights from the data collected, consumers too will gain a more pleasant and comfortable shopping experience, which in turn is good for business.
Torben Lund Andersen is senior VP of connected autonomous solutions at Nilfisk, a developer of intelligent cleaning solutions.
Tesla pulls plug on Home Depot solar plan
Tesla had big plans to sell its residential clean energy products at Home Depot. The plan called for about 800 of the retailer’s stores to carry renewable energy merchandise, including solar panels.
But that’s not the case anymore. In an email to employees, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed that his company is pulling out of its arrangement with Home Depot. Instead, Tesla will sell the products at its own store and online.
The move is conjunction with a 9% workforce reduction plan Tesla disclosed yesterday.
“In addition to this company-wide restructuring, we’ve decided not to renew our residential sales agreement with Home Depot in order to focus our efforts on selling solar power in Tesla stores and online. The majority of Tesla employees working at Home Depot will be offered the opportunity to move over to Tesla retail locations,” Musk told Tesla employees.
After the email was leaked to the media, Musk shared the entire memo via his Twitter feed.
“Tesla has grown and evolved rapidly over the past several years, which has resulted in some duplication of roles and some job functions that, while they made sense in the past, are difficulty to justify today,” Musk wrote.
Tesla bought SolarCity Corp., a national solar panel installer, in 2016 for $2 billion. SolarCity sold products through The Home Depot under its own brand, which was later folded into the Tesla banner.
In the past 15 years, Tesla has yet to turn an annual profit and has only posted two quarters of profits during that span.
This past February Tesla said it was setting up kiosks in 600 Home Depot stores with a total of 800 planned. The kiosks will now be removed by the end of the year, according to Tesla.
The Home Depot operates 2,200 locations in the United States.