TECHNOLOGY

A 200-year-old retailer makes big innovation leap

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Brooks Brothers is adopting artificial intelligence (AI) to make sure that it stays relevant among its loyal customers.

Through a partnership with enterprise software provider ORS Group, the specialty retailer launched an end-to-end AI-powered retail platform, called ORS RETa.i.l. Brooks Brothers is the first fashion retailer in the world to fully integrate AI comprehensively across all business processes, according to the company.

Brooks Brothers will use the platform’s algorithms and AI to gain insights across the entire value chain, a move that will help to improve and automate decision-making, and drive impactful business transformations. It will also power the company’s “buy anything, get it anywhere (BAGA)” platform which manages fulfillment across its stores.

Specifically, the technology will enable the company to ship online orders from stores for same-day delivery, and monitor available stock — two processes that will help to increase sales and convert more visits into purchases, according to Forbes.

The AI architecture to improve efficiency and service to its customers, as well as remove waste, empower management and enhance decision-making capabilities, according to the company.

“Using ORS’ RETa.i.L Platform, we are able to create a highly sensitive and responsive digital supply chain to manage inventories in real-time and to optimize operations end-to-end,” said Gianluca Tanzi, Brooks Brothers COO. “It is a disruptive solution for automated omnichannel fulfillment to help us build a superior customer experience and maximize sales opportunities.”

The company, which celebrated its 200th anniversary in the spring, continues to take steps to remain relevant among its shoppers. In October, the company also added a cloud-based platform that fosters a seamless omnichannel shopping experience. By marrying order management and store fulfillment applications on a single solution, Brooks Brothers associates now have a 360-degree view of customer information and access to the company’s full network of inventory, enabling them to increase the value of the shopper’s experience.

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TECHNOLOGY

Mobile is a priority for shoppers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

More consumers will be reaching for their smartphones this holiday season.

This was according to new data from RootMetrics that revealed many consumers (45%) plan to use their smartphone for online shopping. Millennials are even bigger fans of mobile shopping, with over half (52%) plan to use a smartphone to purchase the bulk of holiday gifts.

Mobile pay, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same hype. In fact, 37% of consumers don’t think mobile pay apps compare in convenience to traditional cash or credit cards. Another 36% worry their data is not secure on these platforms.

The good news is smartphones are driving the adoption of other connected devices, which offers retailers more opportunities to connect with mobile shoppers. When it comes to Internet of Things (IoT) adoption, 21% of consumers in the United States use a smartphone to run an IoT device at least once a day.

However, many still aren’t convinced it is time to adopt smart devices. When asked why they wouldn’t purchase a connected device, like Alexa or a smart TV, 32% said they don’t have a need for this technology.

As mobile usage increases, shoppers are becoming less tolerant when it comes to sketchy network connections — not only from a frustration level but also when it comes to their safety. In fact, 47% noted they feel unsafe in a mobile “dead zone.” While 42% men noted feeling unsafe in a dead zone, 52% of women noted the same, including two-thirds (67%) of Millennial women.

When it comes to assigning blame for poor service, 46% of consumers blame their carriers over location or device, data revealed.

“A strong mobile network performance is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Kevin Hasley, head of product at RootMetrics and executive director of performance benchmarking. “Today’s connected consumers demand a network that can keep up with their daily needs. As the IoT and other mobile technologies continue to evolve, we can expect carriers to invest in improving their networks to meet changing expectations and offer consumers a fast, secure connection.”

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TECHNOLOGY

When did the most Black Friday weekend sales really occur?

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Online transactions rose during Thanksgiving weekend, however that’s not when the strongest growth happened.

This was according to data from Hitwise that revealed the top 50 retail sites processed 75.1 million transactions via desktop and mobile browsers during the seven days ending Monday, Nov. 26. This was up from 65.5 million for the same period in 2017, an increase of 15%.

However, non-peak days posted transaction increases of 20%, on average, versus 11% growth on the three peak days of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The day before Thanksgiving is becoming especially important, as daily transactions reached 7.6 million this year, up 40% from the day before Thanksgiving in 2017.

“Interestingly, the three peak shopping days—while posting increases strong increases—saw their share of peak week transactions decline slightly to 59% from 61% year-over-year, pointing to a growing importance of the non-peak days of peak week,” said John Fetto, Hitwise senior analyst.

Overall, 44.5 million transactions were completed on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, up from 40.0 million in 2017. Cyber Monday was again the top buying day of the week with 16 million transactions (up from 14.6 million in 2017), followed by Black Friday with 14.8 million transactions (up from 13.0 million in 2017). Thanksgiving Day had 13.7 million transactions (up from 12.5 million in 2017).

When it came to overall online visits, there were 2.3 billion visits during peak week, up a modest 2.4% year-over-year. Traffic to these sites the week prior was up 3.7% year-over-year, providing evidence that Americans were lured online earlier than usual by week-long Black Friday sales.

Amazon still dominated the week, accounting for 26% of visits, and 59% of all transactions processed by the top 50 retailers. However, Amazon’s share of both visits and transactions were at their lowest point of the year during peak week due to intense competition from other retailers. By comparison, between January and October, Amazon accounts for 31% of visits and 79% of transactions, data revealed.

Year-over-year, top retailers captured a greater concentration of sales across the top three days of peak week. Specifically, sales were up 3% among the top 10 retailers. Among those top retailers, some performed better than others. Amazon, for instance, saw transactions increase between 11% and 18% over the three peak shopping days and even managed to capture a slightly greater share of transactions this year versus last.

Kohl’s, Target and Costco, however, posted among the strongest growth year-over-year in terms of transactions. Kohl’s saw transactions increase 51% over the three peak shopping days, and share of transactions increased 35%. Target, saw transactions increase 48%, and share increased 33%. Costco’s transactions increased 61% and share rose 45%, according to the study.

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