Walmart rolling out high-tech ‘pick-up towers’
Walmart is expanding its modern-day — and oversized — version of a vending machine — but the new model will come with an addition.
The discounter plans to add more than 500 additional “pickup towers” to stores across the country, bringing the total to more than 700 by the end of the year. Walmart said the response to the existing 200 kiosks has been “overwhelming positive,” with more than half a million orders retrieved since the chain first introduced them.
Based on customer feedback, the new towers will come with pickup lockers, which will allow customers to retrieve large items, such as TVs.
“Our customers have been clear: They love the Pickup Tower. But, they also told us they wanted the ability to retrieve larger items the same way,” stated Walmart in a blog on its website.
The pickup tower — which stands 16 ft. tall and about 8 ft. wide — greets shoppers at store entrances. After placing their online order, customers receive a barcode on their digital receipt. Upon entering the store, customers scan their barcode via their smartphone on the kiosk’s digital scanner to retrieve their order. The process takes less than a minute.
With the expansion, pickup towers will be available to nearly 40% of the U.S. population, Walmart said.
Trending Stores: John Lewis, Westfield London
British department store retailer John Lewis has gone big — in more ways than one.
John Lewis’ newest location, the anchor of a major expansion at Westfield London shopping center, is big in its sheer size — 240,000 sq. ft. — and also big on personalization and experiences. The four-level, sleekly-styled emporium promises shoppers new things to do and learn on a daily basis, including daily fashion style talks, cooking masterclasses in a demonstration kitchen, and beauty treatments in either the &Beauty Express Nail & Brow Bar, or Hair and Beauty Salon. There is also an on-site spa and three eateries.
According to Paula Nickolds, managing director of John Lewis.
John Lewis Westfield is a reflection of the U.K. retailer’s latest thinking on how a department store can be a place in which customers can shop and learn in a way they haven’t been able to before.
“This shop offers customers something different,” she said. “You can get style advice for yourself or your home, learn a new skill, play with the latest smart home technology and so much more. It’s also a place where we can build a far more personal relationship with our customers — bringing together the very best of our service offer and our outstanding partners.”
The key to the concept is the main level “experience desk” and lounge where specially-trained associates (“partners” in John Lewis speak) provide a concierge-styled service to assist customers. The store offers 23 different services, from personal styling to home design advice, which customers can book at the desk.
The first floor is home to John Lewis’s first-ever ‘style studio’, a 700-sq.-ft. pod-styled space, complete with sliding doors, where fashion-minded can have a one-on-one, or group, styling consultation. Once inside the stylish interior, customers can choose which of the five personal stylists they want to style them in one of seven different style and beauty advice appointments — from assistance with getting ready for a special event to a wardrobe refresh. Additional options include make-up, beauty treatments and afternoon tea.
Another standout is the home department, which spans two floors and features a series of room vignettes and a ‘sleep room,’ an. area dedicated to helping customers get the best night’s sleep possible. The customization factor in home is high, allowing shoppers to design their own rug, sofa or armchair.
In addition, customers seeking the very latest technology can step into the first fully immersive Apple Smart Home experience in a retail space in Europe. Using the dedicated Apple Home app and using Siri as their home assistant, visitors can control smart devices from lighting to thermostats, windows to home monitoring and security in three home living areas — entrance, bedroom and lounge.
The store also boasts a ‘discovery room,’ where associates teach customers new skills, from how to hang a picture perfectly to how to turn a house into a “smart” home.
Every one of the store’s 500 associates received to special training run by the National Theatre to help them better engage customers and provide outstanding customer service. The personal stylists on site trained at the London College of Style and by renowned stylist and former Vogue Fashion Director, Lucinda Chambers, who taught them how to translate high fashion catwalk trends to the shop floor.
In a move designed to create a closer relationship with its customers John Lewis is one of the first U.K. retailers to launch an app-based service that enables customers to keep in touch with their personal stylist, and receive text or email alerts about products based on their personal preferences.
John Lewis operates 50 John Lewis shops across the U.K., including 36 department stores, and 12 John Lewis at home stores, and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2.
Tractor Supply Company celebrates milestone store
Tractor Supply Company has grown its footprint to 1,700 stores.
The farm and ranch retailer, which was started some 80 years ago as a tractor parts supply catalog company, announced that it has opened its 1,700th location, in Mocksville, N.C. The company plans to open a total of 80 new stores in 2018.
“The opening of our 1,700th store is an important milestone that we are proud to reach during our 80th year of operations, as we continue to bring Tractor Supply closer to more customers who live the Out Here lifestyle,” said Greg Sandfort, CEO, Tractor Supply.
Tractor Supply Company operates stores in 49 states. It opened 101 new locations in 2017.