TECHNOLOGY

Five holiday predictions

BY Marianne Wilson

In advance of the 2018 holiday rush, here are five predictions for the upcoming shopping season from Ryne Misso, director of marketing for Market Track, a provider of market intelligence solutions:

*Stores reclaiming their place under the tree
Holiday 2017 saw a resurgence in enthusiasm towards Black Friday in-store shopping. The resurgence was attributed to several factors, from a strengthening economy, to retailers removing timing restrictions on their sale events. Another factor that should gain even more traction during holiday 2018 is retailers using their physical store locations as value differentiators.

We expect to see more in-store events (like Walmart’s holiday parties in 2017), more opportunities for shoppers to demo new products (like Best Buy’s VR demos in 2017), and other creative experiences that shoppers can only enjoy by visiting a store location.

*Voice commerce will become more than just a blip on the radar
Amazon sold more than one million smart home devices on Prime Day this year. Alexa technology has penetrated a huge number of American households—enough so that voice commerce may drive a relevant portion of sales during the upcoming holiday season. Look for Amazon to incentivize holiday shopping through Alexa-connected devices, further training the US consumer base on how to use voice commerce to meet their needs regularly.

*Would you like a turkey with that Echo?
As we saw in the lead up to Prime Day, Amazon has fully embarked on incentivizing cross-shopping between Amazon.com and Whole Foods stores. Between the spend $10, get $10 promotional incentive for Prime Day, and the launch of Prime delivery at Whole Foods locations in close to 40 cities, grocery is irrevocably a focus for Amazon.

We don’t anticipate that changing during the holiday shopping season. Expect Amazon to offer Black Friday shopping incentives to those shopping for their Thanksgiving feasts at Whole Foods, and vice versa. And don’t be surprised to see grocery and durables products included in the same holiday promotion, such as a free Echo Dot with the purchase of a turkey at Whole Foods.

*Walmart will enhance holiday shopping experience using stores and technology
Walmart’s strong 2018 is a testament to the continued development of their omnichannel offerings, and they’re not slowing down heading into holiday. In addition to the re-launch of the Jet.com site, expect to see Walmart push the envelope this holiday season by integrating their stores with their announced technology enhancements.

Among these new experiences could be catching a driverless ride to a holiday store party (via Walmart’s work with Waymo), Black Friday-specific click & collect fulfillment, in-store Thanksgiving cooking demos, and other experiences that offer shoppers experiences that Amazon cannot.

*Pulling forward New Year’s resolutions
Over the past few holiday shopping seasons, we’ve seen retailers knocking down barriers and stocking categories outside their normal purview in order to drive holiday traffic. Think Kohl’s offering flat-screen TVs, or grocery stores offering an expanded assortment of toys & games. This trend is sure to continue this holiday season, but also expand to hot consumer categories, such as health and wellness. Look for retailers to jump on the health and wellness trend by not only expanding their assortment in the category, but also by partnering with popular health and wellness experience brands like SoulCycle, CorePower, or Orangetheory on holiday-specific promotions that incentivize cross-shopping.

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TECHNOLOGY

Amazon Watch: Weekly recap

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

In addition to considering a plan to open as many as 3,000 new Amazon Go cashierless stores by 2021, Amazon made the headlines for several other stories. Here’s a rundown:

Amazon is making product recommendations that shoppers are sure to ‘like’
Amazon is banking on social media icons and machine learning to improve its browsing process

Amazon expands distribution network out West
Amazon is bolstering its fulfillment operations in California.

Amazon reportedly invests in Indian supermarket chain
Amazon is expanding its fleet of supermarkets — but this time, they are not in the United States.

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Amazon reportedly investing in Indian supermarket chain

BY CSA Staff

Amazon is expanding its fleet of supermarkets — but this time, they are not in the United States.

Amazon and Indian private equity firm Samara Capital are making a joint investment that will give the online retail giant a stake in Indian supermarket chain called More, according to Reuters.

Samara Alternative Investment Fund-owned Witzig Advisory Services is buying controlling stake in the company. Through its partnership with Samara Capital, Amazon will also have a stake in the Mumbai-based grocery chain’s supermarkets and hypermarkets. The deal is worth approximately $580 million (U.S. dollars), the report revealed.

An Amazon spokeswoman said in an emailed statement, “Through this investment, Amazon looks to enhance its services portfolio, and meaningfully invest in and create opportunities for skill development and job creation.”

The move could further heat up Amazon’s rivalry with Walmart, which acquired Indian online retailer Flipkart in August.

To read more, click here.

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