TECHNOLOGY

Sporting goods giant gets rid of paper receipts

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Under Armour is transitioning to digital receipts.

Through a partnership with FlexReceipts, the sporting goods giant will now feature digital receipts across all of its retail locations in North America. Integrated within Under Armour’s Aptos point-of-sale (POS) solution, the retailer was able to add and configure the software within just days.

Armed with the digital receipts, Under Armour has another channel to capture valid emails, increase loyalty signups, drive repeat purchases, and enhance the post-sale engagement experience. The receipts also have open rates as high as 80%, according to FlexReceipts.

“Under Armour customers deserve the best connected experience, and with FlexReceipts, we can now engage with brand right digital receipts that deliver content and product suggestions tailored specifically to each customer,” said Brent Ott, senior manager of athlete and teammate retail experience for Under Armour.

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TECHNOLOGY

Google invests in Chinese e-commerce giant

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Google is making a big move in the Chinese e-commerce game.

The United States-based Internet giant is investing $550 million in cash in JD.com. The deal will help Google expand its presence into Asian markets, while giving JD more power to compete in the fast-growing Asian e-commerce marketplace.

Through the deal, Google and JD will collaborate on a range of strategic initiatives, including joint development of retail solutions in a range of regions around the world, including Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Europe. By merging JD’s supply chain and logistics expertise and Google’s technology strengths, the two companies plan to create next generation retail infrastructure solutions. These new services will offer helpful, personalized and frictionless shopping experiences, according to JD.com.

The e-commerce retailer also plans to make a selection of high-quality products available for sale through Google Shopping, a service that lets users search for products on e-commerce websites and compare prices between different sellers. The service will be available in multiple regions, the company said.

“This partnership with Google opens up a broad range of possibilities to offer a superior retail experience to consumers throughout the world,” said JD.com’s chief strategy officer Jianwen Liao. “This marks an important step in the process of modernizing global retail.”

This is JD.com’s newest U.S.-based partner. Walmart teamed up with JD.com in June 2016, investing in a 5% stake in the company. That investment has since increased to more than 12%.

Since teaming up with JD.com, Walmart has launched five online stores on JD platforms, enabling Chinese consumers to shop the Walmart, Sam’s Club and ASDA brands. In addition, 134 Walmart stores across 18 cities have also joined the JD Daojia grocery platform, offering shoppers one hour deliveries.

While the new Google partnership gives the company more leverage to compete against Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, it also gives JD an avenue to sell to consumers outside China. This would open up more opportunities for the e-commerce retailer, especially since the Trump administration plans to impose a 25% tariff on up to $50 billion of imported Chinese goods.

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One Click Retail: Amazon’s online furniture category sales soar

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s furniture sales are at an all-time high.

In addition to holding the largest market share in the online furniture category, Amazon has more than tripled its annual furniture sales since 2015, according to “Furniture: The Amazon Effect,” a report from One Click Retail.

According to data, Amazon’s furniture sales were an estimated $4 billion in 2017, representing more than 51% growth year-over-year. The company is grabbing sales through a methodical approach, one that includes a curated site, Amazon Home, which enables customers to shop by room, look, home decor, specific items, or category, such as kitchen & dining, bed & bath, garden & outdoor.

The online giant also has four new warehouses focused on delivering large furniture and appliances, and released two private furniture brands, Rivet and Stone & Beam. In addition, the average price of the leading furniture items sold on Amazon is the lowest among the top eight furniture retailers in the United States, according to the study.

Mattresses is Amazon’s largest furniture category, by far. In 2017, mattress sales reached an estimated $1.1 billion, an increase of 82% compared to 2016. Bedroom furniture came in second with $800 million in sales, and YoY growth of 45%.

Living room furniture is the third largest category, growing by 40% in 2017 to a value of $550 million. There are no single brands that hold more than 6% of the category’s sales (together, the seven leading brands hold less than 50% of the category). This combination of high sales volume, rapid category growth, and lack of a major dominant competitor means that living room furniture is a great target category for furniture brands looking to enter the online market, according to the study.

The last two top furniture categories were home office furniture, at $500 million, and 27% YoY growth, and kitchen furniture, which equated to $350 million in sales, a YoY climb of 27%.

Amazon’s two private label furniture brands, Rivet and Stone & Beam, also continue to build steam, which points to Amazon’s aspirations as a major player in the furniture space.

“It’s clear that the furniture market is a valuable investment for Amazon, and it’s equally true that Amazon is a valuable investment for furniture brands,” according to the study.

The online giant’s most successful furniture products so far are office chairs from AmazonBasics — which is the leading brand in the home office furniture category. Sales of AmazonBasics office chairs grew steadily throughout early 2017, but accelerated with the help of strategic promotions on Prime Day. So far in 2018, AmazonBasics controls about 13% of all 1P home office furniture sales, and had the top three items in the category with their high, mid, and mesh-backed office chairs.

“The company already holds the largest market share of online furniture sales and is likely to capture the bulk of future growth in the long term,” the study added. “Furniture brands looking to compete in e-commerce, the industry’s fastest-growing space, need to begin at Amazon.”

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