TECHNOLOGY

Home improvement retailer launches VR-based training

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Lowe’s is expanding its commitment to virtual reality — this time, internally.

Tapping the VR and AR expertise of its Lowe’s Innovation Labs division, the home improvement giant has launched a new VR-based training program. Called Holoroom How To: Red Vest, the platform is designed to teach associates how to use specific in-store equipment through virtual reality.

The program was designed on the success of Holoroom How To, an experience that gave customers confidence to begin their next home improvement project. This next phase of virtual learning gives employees the knowledge they need to help better serve customers, according to a blog entry on the company’s website.

The program, which is focused on the window department, delivers greater project knowledge, which provides more motivation and increased confidence to help address customer’s window fashion needs. The platform projects a life-like simulation that teaches associates every step of the process as they advance through the module. Associates learn from potential mistakes without waste of materials or dissatisfied customers, the blog explained.

The program launched in November 2017, in 10 markets nationwide, including Tampa, Philadelphia and Knoxville. More than 400 associates have tested the experience, and more than 90% have reported virtual reality training would help them to better serve our customers, according to Lowe’s.

“We’ve done more work in AR and VR than pretty much any other retailer,” Josh Shabtai, director, labs productions and operations, Lowe’s, said in the blog’s video. “One thing we learned is that VR is amazing for education. We’re using the power of VR to train employees and make what could be a cumbersome process more fun.”

Other processes that are improving the productivity of the workforce includes the company’s “LoweBot.” Resembling a kiosk on wheels, this sleek robot can take over inventory management processes to free up associates to spend more time with customers. It can also help pinpoint available merchandise — and escort customers to the correct aisle.

Lowe’s is also using a soft robotics-based exosuit that can assist associates with the physical demands of their job — and perform tasks more safely, such as reducing fatigue of repetitive motions.

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T.Holder says:
Feb-13-2018 10:55 am

No one will ever read this, but as a 13 year veteran at Lowes this another program that will be forgotten in 6 months. Instead of investing in staffing the stores they spend millions on "new" ideas and corporate salaries and then let good associates go.

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Report: Online retailer settles tax dispute with France

BY CSA Staff

Amazon has reached a settlement with France regarding back taxes.

The online giant has been locked in a long-running dispute with French tax authorities. Officials have been seeking approximately $249 million (nearly 200 million euros) from Amazon, according to Reuters.

Neither party acknowledged the details of the deal. However, an Amazon France spokesperson said in an email to Reuters, “We have reached an overall settlement agreement with the French authorities on past questions.”

The back taxes — as well as related interest and penalties — date back to the fiscal years between 2006 and 2010 in relation to “the allocation of income between foreign jurisdictions,” the report said.

To read more, click here.

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Macy’s pulls out of multi-retailer loyalty program

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Macy’s is the latest retail partner to exit the Plenti loyalty program.

The department store giant said it will no longer participate in the multi-retailer Plenti program — an online marketplace that features deals from its retail partners. Macy’s said it will stay onboard with the program until May 3.

“Plenti members can earn Plenti points on qualifying purchases at Macy’s until March 15, and redeem Plenti points on qualifying purchases at Macy’s until May 3,” said Macy’s spokesperson Emily Goldberg. “After May 3, Plenti points earned with Macy’s can still be redeemed for savings with the remaining partners in the Plenti program.”

The department store chain didn’t share specifics on why it was leaving the program, which it joined in 2015. But a big factor could be its focus on the relaunch of its revamped loyalty program. Macy’s Star Rewards, which functions as a tiered rewards system that gives its very best shoppers (those who spend $1,200 or more annually) perks, such as free shipping, additional savings and earned points on every purchase.

The company will continue enhancing the new Star Rewards program throughout 2018, including more experiential benefits where members can win access to unique experiences and rewards elements.

Plenti was launched by American Express in 2015. Shoppers sign up for the program either in-store at retail partners or online. Users earn points for purchases at participating companies and can be redeemed at other participating retailers.

Current members can still earn points on eligible purchases through March 15. After that date, members will still have access to their available points, and can continue to use them at participating retailers, such as at gas stations, the website said.

However, members’ retail options are becoming increasingly limited. Plenti plans to close its online doors on March 15, according to the company’s website.

In addition to Macy’s, other retail partners have been pulling out of the program. In the fall, AT&T dropped out. Alamo, Direct Energy, Enterprise, Expedia, Hulu and Nationwide dissolved their partnership at the beginning of 2018.

“Macy’s leaving the Plenti program shouldn’t come as a surprise since they announced they were revamping their loyalty program last year,” said Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce. “Co-op loyalty pro-grams like Plenti gained steam because they sound like they can drive transactions, but they’re not efficient at creating actual loyalty to your brand. Macy’s is giving a clear sign that they understand how a strong loyalty program can and should be a differentiator in what is a turbulent time for many retailers.”

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S.Kitchen says:
Feb-08-2018 08:38 am

Of course Plenti is on life support! Coalition programs don't create loyalty, they create a pooled points program that does not benefit the issuing company. Reward redeemers gain a reward but that has nothing to do with the issuing brand. American Express should have seen this. What to do? Why not tie customers to your brand. Hard to do, yes... possible, yes. For publicly traded companies, they should implement an option in their program to redeem points/miles for stock in their company - who's a more loyal customer than an owner?

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