TECHNOLOGY

Amazon gets nostalgic with first-ever printed holiday catalog

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is combining old-fashioned marketing with high-tech flair to sell more toys this holiday season.

The online giant is mailing a printed catalog, called “A Holiday of Play,” featuring more than 1,400 toys and games for babies, children, tweens and teens, to a reported millions of homes this holiday season. The lookbook, Amazon’s first printed catalog, is organized by category and age. It is also available digitally, and can be viewed here.

Unlike the toy catalogs of holidays past, the Amazon book does not list prices with the individual items. Instead, customers use the retailer’s mobile app to scan the product images for price and other information, and to add it to their online shopping cart.

In addition, the pages are sprinkled with Amazon’s SmileCodes (Amazon’s version of QR codes) that, when scanned, takes the shopper to a page with related gift ideas.

Amazon’s toy catalog will be available at Amazon Books and Amazon 4-star stores, which will feature select featured items. Amazon’s catalog is also available for download for its Kindle devices

Meanwhile, Sears Holdings Corp. is also offering its holiday Wish Book catalog in a digital format this year. The struggling department store retailer will not publish a printed version of its iconic catalog this holiday season, one year after bringing it back into circulation for some members of its loyalty program, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Amazon’s toy catalog is the company’s latest move to win shoppers this holiday season. On Monday, the online giant announced that for the first time, it is offering free shipping on all holiday orders with no minimum order required. (There is typically a $25 minimum for non-Prime members.) The free delivery service will be available until it can no longer promise items will arrive in time for Christmas with free delivery. Items shipped with free delivery typically arrive between five to eight business days.

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TECHNOLOGY

Nordstrom streamlining its buying process

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Nordstrom is using the cloud to evolve its merchandising efforts.

The department store retailer is adopting a cloud-based wholesale lifecycle tool from NuOrder that will enable collaboration, assortment selection and enhanced visibility into product. Overall, it will help the company streamline its buying process and evolve its merchandising approach, according to NuOrder.

The platform enables Nordstrom and its brand partners to upload product catalogs, take notes and capture purchase intent. Additionally, NuOrder will offer Nordstrom’s buyers a complete view of the merchandise they plan to buy for the upcoming season. This will allow buyers to identify gaps or opportunities across their available spend, and better curate a wide range of products for customers.

In addition, the platform helps brands improve their market to order process, reduce manual efforts, and expedite the retailer’s commitments with them. It also automates product data that filters into the downstream Nordstrom systems, and empowers buyers to use digital whiteboards. A visual merchandising tool will enable brands to digitally showcase their products and personalize their presentations to Nordstrom buyers to better market themselves and promote themes, products and collections.

“We’re excited to partner with NuORDER and leverage their capabilities such as a digital market tool,” said Teri Bariquit, executive VP merchandise planning, inventory and solutions, Nordstrom. “Having a tool with shared visual information allows buyers and brands work much more effectively together.”

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TECHNOLOGY

First Look: Walmart’s tech incubator has a sleek, industrial feel

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart upped the cool factor when designing its first-ever technology incubator.

The lab, called Walmart Tech ATX , is located in a renovated warehouse in Austin, Texas, considered a hotbed of tech talent. The building, houses tech professionals from both Walmart and Microsoft, with the team focused heavily on the development of emerging predictive technologies.

The building carries the sleek, industrial feel of its former warehouse design, the original location of the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater. The space also features a mural by local artist Mike “Truth” Johnston. The mural design blends the heritage of both Walmart and the city of Austin, with iconic images like Sam Walton’s red pickup truck, the Austin skyline and the Alamo Drafthouse.

The space is decorated with an eclectic color palette and furniture from Walmart’s online store as well as its online brands, Hayneedle and Jet.com. The office features high desks and chairs, as well as pockets of seating space for different teams, creating a warm, comfortable environment resembling a living room rather than a traditional office.

The designer behind the vision is Katey Barron, director, IT program management at Walmart Technology. Barron joined the discount giant in 2012, as a temporary worker in Walmart’s then-new Innovation Lab. (This concept has since evolved into Walmart’s tech incubator Store No. 8.) At the time, she was responsible for company leadership tours of the futuristic technologies that could help empower associates and make different areas of the business more efficient, like machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Over time, Barron realized she had an interest in the startups that were presenting their technologies to Walmart, experience that earned her a position helping to renovate Walmart’s David Glass Technology Center, and design Exchange, a co-working space for select startups in Bentonville, as well as Walmart Tech ATX.

“My passion for design comes from wanting to serve startups and give them what they need – and really, I’ve just always loved furniture,” Barron said. “At Walmart Tech, these associates genuinely enjoy being around each other and diving into the work they do. We wanted to make it a space they could be comfortable in, proud of and enjoy coming to work every day.”

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