TECHNOLOGY

Sears revs up Auto Centers partnership with Amazon

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Sears is going in deeper with Amazon.

The department store retailer is expanding a partnership with Amazon that enables customers to receive full-service tire installation and balancing at Sears Auto Centers for any brand of tires purchased on Amazon. The program, called Ship-to-Store, was introduced in 47 stores in May. It is now being rolled out to an additional 71 locations, bringing the total to 118.

“Amazon customer reviews have been very positive and we are two months ahead of schedule,” said Mike McCarthy, VP and general manager of Sears Automotive. “Customers are taking advantage of additional services during the tire installation process, such as oil changes and alignments. We are meeting our 60-minute tire installation commitment, and over 90% of the Amazon customers are new Sears Automotive customers.”

The Ship-to-Store tire installation service will continue to roll out to customers across the United States over the coming weeks, according got Sears.

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Guess, Express join data consortium to speed up engagement efforts

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Two fashion retailers are taking a new approach to better engage customers throughout their shopping experience.

Guess and Express have joined forces with OneMarket, formerly Westfield Labs, a retail technology network focused on uniting retailers, shopping venues and technology companies. Through the partnership, the retailers can collaborate with other companies to leverage the network’s customer data and innovative technologies to further improve the shopping experience.

The platform specifically focuses on consumer insights, consumer engagement and advertising. Since all three processes typically require significant capital investments and the time to implement the related solutions, the platform allows participants to implement technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), artificial reality, and natural language processing, at scale more quickly through a smaller individual investment. This enables participants to drive consumer adoption and engagement, and deploy familiar yet seamless experiences, according to OneMarket.

“We all have to urgently re-think our approach to retail if we want to win in the marketplace of today, and more importantly tomorrow,” said Don Kingsborough, CEO of OneMarket. “Collaboration, collective investment in technologies, higher industry standards, and a seamless, standardized way to shop for the consumer – this is just the beginning. Being united on a single platform will forever change the way we interact with our consumers and succeed as an industry.”

Along with Guess and Express, New Stand, as well as shopping center owners/operators Macerich, Taubman and Steiner + Associates also joined the platform.

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Amazon continues to expand Prime perks at Whole Foods Market

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Prime discounts are coming to even more Whole Foods Market stores.

Starting this week, Amazon is expanding its Prime discounts program to Whole Foods stores in 10 additional states, including Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon, North Carolina and Washington. The move means the discounts, which include an extra 10% off sale items, will be available in half of Whole Foods’ store network.

This is Amazon’s second wave of stores to add Prime perks. In May, the online giant expanded its Prime member savings program to 121 Whole Foods stores across 12 states, as well as across all Whole Foods Market 365 stores nationwide. The new stores also mark the beginning of Amazon’s nationwide rollout of Prime across all Whole Foods stores.

“We’re excited that Prime savings will be available at nearly half of our Whole Foods Market stores this week,” said A.C. Gallo, president and COO at Whole Foods Market. “Based on the positive customer feedback and successes we’ve seen over the past month, we’re accelerating our timeline to expand these savings to all of our U.S. stores.”

Prime member savings also apply to groceries delivered from Whole Foods Market stores via Prime Now. Both Prime member savings and Prime Now grocery delivery are available in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco. Prime Now offers free two-hour delivery on orders over $35. Delivery from Whole Foods Market is currently available in 10 cities and will continue expanding throughout 2018.

The Prime discounts come at a price, however. Amazon raised the price of its annual Prime membership to $119 from $99 in April. New members started paying the new rate in May, renewals kick in starting on June 16. This was the company’s first annual price increase since March 2014. The price was originally $79 before it jumped to $99.

To see all stores that offer Prime discounts, click here.

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