TECHNOLOGY

H&M reportedly taps technology to solve inventory problem

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

H&M is looking beyond markdowns to deplete its excess inventory, and offer more customized assortments.

By leveraging data in news ways, H&M expects to stay ahead of trends, as well as customize the selection and price of products in its stores, according to Business Insider, which cited the Wall Street Journal.

For example, the retailer is leveraging image recognition tools to analyze social media and fashion blogs for new styles and trends. This information will then be used to form its collections, Business Insider said.

In addition, H&M will use analytics to track what merchandise is bought and returned to each store to determine what resonates well with local customers. This will help the company customize its store assortments to ensure that it is stocking exactly what its customers want, according to the report.

The technologies are being tested in one Stockholm store. The processes helped cut the location’s total number of items by 40%, and replaced men’s, women’s, and children’s basics with more expensive items, the report said.

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TECHNOLOGY

Amazon setting up shop—inside model homes

BY Marianne Wilson

Amazon wants to show prospective home owners just how its Alexa device and other solutions can fit into their everyday lives.

The tech giant announced it is opening “Amazon Experience Centers” within select Lennar model homes across the United States. The homes will be Alexa-enabled, which means customers can ask Alexa to control the television, lights, thermostat, shades, and more.

Customers can experience just how easy it can be to reorder household essentials with a press of an Amazon Dash Button, listen or watch Prime content with Fire TV or schedule on-demand home services through Amazon Home Services, according to Amazon. The centers are now open in Lennar model homes in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., with more to be added.

“We wanted customers to experience a real home environment that showcases the convenience of the Alexa smart home experience, great entertainment available with Prime, and Home Services,” said Nish Lathia, general manager, Amazon Services.

In the Lenar model-home setting, customers can experience how Alexa, Prime, and Amazon services come together to help them:

• Control smart home devices with just their voice;
• Control smart home devices with just their voice;
• Incorporate entertainment into their daily lives, and
• Save time by putting their home on auto-pilot.

The centers, which feature the latest products and experiences, are set up by Amazon experts, who are described by the company as employees specially trained on the latest technology and passionate about helping customers.

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TECHNOLOGY

Online grocery sales on the upswing, but sector needs to improve

BY Marianne Wilson

E-commerce grocery sales in the United States are projected to grow 10-times faster than in-store sales.

That’s according to Brick Meets Click’s newest sales forecast, which projected online as a percentage of total grocery sales will climb from under 5% at the end of 2017 to over 8% by the end of 2022. From a compound annual growth rate perspective, online grocery sales will grow 13% as compared to 1.3% for in-store sales (excluding the effects of inflation).

The report noted that while online grocery shopping promises to improve shopper outcomes in various ways, fulfilling the promise is still very much a work in progress, which creates challenges for growth.

For example:

• One-in-five online shoppers can’t find everything that they want to buy. In-market performance trails pure-play providers in this area slightly, but that’s likely because in-market basket sizes are considerably larger.

• What’s worse is when a customer puts an item in the cart, checks out, and expects to receive everything ordered only to find out something is out of stock. Reducing the difference between what’s ordered and what’s received is critical, especially for in-market providers, given the high frequency with which this occurs.

• Other factors also affect shopper satisfaction, including the direct and explicit cost related to using online shopping options.

For the online grocery format to grow, shopping experiences need to improve so that active online shoppers recommend these alternatives to others, Bricks Meets Clicks advised.

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