TECHNOLOGY

Report: Walmart eyeing department store chain to ‘anchor’ potential online mall

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A potential partnership could give Walmart another way to compete with its rival Amazon.

The discount giant is nearing a deal with Lord & Taylor that would give the department store dedicated space on Walmart’s website. Besides encouraging other brands to follow suit and also come aboard, this move could also be a stepping stone for the discounter to establish Walmart.com as an online mall, according to Fortune.

The partnership would benefit both companies. For Walmart, the Lord & Taylor presence would establish the company’s position as an alternative to Amazon. The brand would also complement the discount giant’s recent acquisitions, Bonobos, ModCloth, Moosejaw, ShoeBuy and online retailer jet.com — all of which could also be featured in the virtual mall.

According to the report, the partnership could also spur website traffic for Lord & Taylor, which described its online volume as “modest” last quarter. Looking ahead, Walmart stores also could be positioned as another distribution channel for shoppers to pick up the department store chain’s online orders.

Financial terms of the deal were not revealed.

The strategy rivals similar operations run by Amazon and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which both offer dedicated space to brands on their websites. Such arrangements allow companies to increase traffic to their e-commerce platforms and let retailers boost their online assortment, according to Reuters.

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TECHNOLOGY

Toys ‘R’ Us is getting ready to launch Black Friday deals — starting next week

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As a teaser to the anticipated Black Friday weekend, the nation’s largest toy retailer is launching its first deals next week.

Toys “R” Us is kicking off deals between Thursday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Nov. 18. These will include items from the company’s “Holiday Hot Toy List.” Customers will get a sneak peek into this merchandise in the retailer’s holiday catalog, “The Ultimate Guide to Play,” which will be mailed out on Thursday, Oct. 19 and available in newspapers on Sunday, Oct. 29.

In addition to buying merchandise in-store and online, Toys “R” Us is doubling down on its new brand positioning, “Today We Play,” and offering other options to scout out this year’s most-coveted toys.

For example, the company is hosting “Parents Night Out” events on Sunday, Nov. 12 and Thursday, Nov. 30 from 8-10 p.m. Here, shoppers can interact with a designated shopping expert, view toy demonstrations, and participate in games and sweepstakes.

On Sunday, Nov. 1, 42 Toys “R” Us locations across the country will feature Play Labs – a space where families can “play with” the season’s hottest toys.

The toy retailer also introduced an augmented reality (AR) app, called Play Chaser, an interactive gaming experience that strives to bring store aisles to life. Customers use the app to activate different AR mini games and play experiences on their smart device while in Toys “R” Us stores. For the holiday season, Play Chaser will also enable children to create an interactive list of their favorite toys, the retailer said.

The app started as a 23-store test earlier this month.

Toys “R” Us will also be honoring its price match guarantee and free layaway programs throughout the holiday shopping season.

Toys “R” Us’ holiday plans coincide with the company’s turnaround efforts. The toy retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sept. 18 with a goal of restructuring its outstanding debt. In late September, it closed on $3.1 billion of financing facilities that will support its operations during its restructuring process allowing the chain to invest in various initiatives, including the renovation and modernization of its stores.

 

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TECHNOLOGY

Drug chain accepts Apple Pay online

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Rite Aid Corp. is accepting mobile payments online.

The chain’s customers can now use Apple Pay to make online purchases. Rite Aid is the first pharmacy to accept this mobile wallet online.

When using their Apple device to shop the nearly 12,000 items available on Rite Aid’s online store, customers select the Apple Pay button during checkout. The transaction will be processed in a manner similar to when Apple Pay is used in-store, according to Rite Aid.

“Mobility is critically important to our customers and patients. With our transactions growing on smartphones every week, adding Apple Pay, the most popular digital wallet, will be a welcome enhancement,” said David Abelman, Rite Aid executive VP of marketing.

“More than half of all visitors to RiteAid.com use their mobile device and the majority of our customers use their iPhone,” he added. “By accepting Apple Pay as a form of payment online, we’re staying true to our promise of making it easy and convenient for our customers to shop at Rite Aid.”

In addition to its e-commerce site, Rite Aid operates 4,507 stores in 31 states and the District of Columbia.

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