TECHNOLOGY

Discount giant’s innovation gala presented a glimpse into the future of retail

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Virtual reality (VR) was the star of Walmart’s Store No. 8 inaugural innovation gala — an event that exhibited how the technology will shape retail shopping.

Store No. 8, Walmart’s technology incubator focused on ideas that will transform the future of commerce, held its first innovation gala on Wednesday. Store No. 8 works with startups that specialize in areas that include robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence. This event however, gave put the spotlight on the value of VR.

The gala, which took place at a private residence in Hollywood Hills, California, invited top brands, technology companies and venture capitalists to see how VR will impact how customers shop in the future. Each exhibit encompassed Store No 8, Thrive Global and Accenture’s vision for the future of VR.

The concepts came from five early-stage VR developers that Store No 8 chose from an open call it hosted over the summer. These winners received funding to develop a proof of concept for an immersive retail experience. Guided by executives from Store No. 8, and brands like Modcloth, Bonobos and Rebecca Minkoff, their ideas were brought to life at the gala.

“Innov8 is our opportunity to support and elevate the incredible pioneers of virtual reality who share our mission to explore nascent innovations that will emerge not in coming years but over the next decade,” said Katie Finnegan, principal of Store No 8. “During this process, our five Innov8ers have uncovered radical new technologies, approaches and applications across the virtual retail experience, that we know will play a major role in driving commerce forward at a time when technology influences all aspects of consumers’ lives.”

Among the winners highlighted at the event were a 3D image solution from 8i that enables customers to interact with a Bonobos Guide, select virtual shirts from a rack and understand fit on a hologram model. A 3D image solution from Fyusion created curated Modcloth products in a manner that gives shoppers more insight into merchandise before they make a purchase. A company called Obsess recreated a virtual Rebecca Minkoff store.

Innov8’s board of judges included Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, Marc Carrel-Billiard, senior managing director of Accenture Labs, Jason Welsh, managing director, Accenture Interactive, Kirsten Green, general partner of Forerunner Ventures, Tipatat Chennavasin, general partner of the Virtual Reality Fund, Jeremy Welt, President, Invisible Robot Corp., Store No 8’s Finnegan, and Marc Lore, president and CEO, Walmart U.S. eCommerce and founder, Jet.com.

The event was sponsored by key brands and organizations in the technology and retail industries, including HP, Silicon Valley Bank, and Microsoft.

To read more details about the highlighted VR innovations, click here.

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TECHNOLOGY

The world’s most ‘authentic’ brand is…

BY Marianne Wilson

Tech brands topped an annual ranking of the world’s 100 most authentic brands, with an online giant taking the top spot.

Amazon was voted No. 1 in Cohn & Wolfe’s 2017 Global Authentic 100, which examines the role of authenticity in business.  Other brands in the top ten include Apple, Microsoft, Google, PayPal, Adidas, Intel, Lego, BMW, and HP. The only traditional retailer to crack the top 25 was Ikea, at No. 24.

For the past five years, Cohn & Wolfe has surveyed consumers across international brands to examine the impact of authenticity on the behaviors and attitudes of consumers, employees, and investors. This year, over 15,000 consumers in 15 markets were surveyed.

Cohn & Wolfe’s analysis has identified three key drivers of authenticity:

• Reliable: Consumers rate brands as authentic when they “deliver on promises” and are of “high quality.”
• Respectful: These brands “treat customers well” and “protect customer data and privacy” – a key concern for consumers across markets.
• Real: Brands that rate high on this driver “communicate honestly” and “act with integrity.”

To see the full Athentiv 100 list, click here.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Amazon Prime hits 90 million U.S. members

BY CSA STAFF

Amazon’s Prime memberships continue to climb.

Amazon Prime now has 90 million members in the United States. These shoppers continue to spend on average about $1,300 per year, compared to about $700 per year for non-member customers.

This was according to data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, LLC (CIRP). The firm surveyed 500 U.S.-based members who made a purchase at Amazon.com between July and September 2017.

As of September 30, CIRP estimated that in the U.S., 63% of Amazon customers are Prime members. Based on this estimate, CIRP calculated that Amazon Prime has 90 million members across the nation.

“Amazon Prime membership continued its steady growth as in recent quarters,” said Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP.

“Membership grew 6% in the most recent quarter, the same rate as in the June 2017 quarter, and better than the 3% in the year-ago September 2016 quarter,” he added. “Over the past 12 months, Prime grew by 38%, the same growth rate as in the same 12-month period the year before, from October 2015 to September 2016.”

Prime members’ renewal intention has improved gradually in the past several quarters, and remains at very high levels. In the September 2017 quarter, 95% of Prime members reported that they would “definitely” or “probably” renew their Prime membership, compared to 94% of Prime members in the September 2016 quarter.

“Even as Amazon Prime adds late adopters to the ranks of Prime members, loyalty remains high,” said Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of CIRP.

“The share of members that indicate they are likely to renew for another year has remained high for several quarters, always comfortably above 90%,” he said. “In fact, in some quarters, literally no customers in the sample indicated they would definitely not renew their Amazon Prime membership.”

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