TECHNOLOGY

Walmart accelerates online push with another acquisition

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is beefing up its home category by adding art to its palette.

The discounter announced that it plans to acquire the assets of Art.com — the world’s largest online retailer in the art and wall décor category with two million curated images — including its catalog, IP, trade name, and U.S. operations.

Terms of the deal, which expected to close early next calendar year, were not disclosed.

Founded in 1998, Art.com features a wide assortment that ranges from affordable posters to limited edition prints and art pieces. It also offers a growing exclusive assortment and personalized print-on-demand capabilities.

The “wall” is critical to completing the home and, as a $10 billion annual market in the U.S., Walmart sees art and wall décor as fundamental to winning the home, the company stated in a fact sheet about the acquisition.

Similar to its strategy with such previous acquisitions as Eloquii and Mod Cloth, Walmart plan to operate the assets of Art.com as a standalone and complementary site. Eventually, items from Art.com will be added to Walmart.com, Jet.com, and Hayneedle.com.

“This announcement is just another example of how we’re establishing Walmart.com as a specialty retail destination for the home – giving customers the inspiration and confidence to make a beautiful home possible for everyone,” said Anthony Soohoo, senior VP and group general manager, home, Walmart U.S. eCommerce.

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TECHNOLOGY

Luxury brand takes in-store mobility into the cloud

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Michael Kors is going mobile at store-level.

Using the Aptos One cloud platform, the luxury brand’s associates will now be able to process customer transactions using corporate mobile devices anywhere at store-level, without the need for costly store servers. The platform’s native local business logic and automated data synchronization will also provide connectivity in suboptimal or even nonexistent environments.

The solution provides flexibility, and keeps devices online during peak time-frames. It also offers omnichannel retailers more resiliency and reliability, according to Aptos.

“When Michael Kors is evaluating technology investments, we ask ourselves if the potential innovations will improve the experience for our customers and our associates, and if it will empower our business to better adapt to change,” said Dave Kardesh, CIO at Michael Kors.

“When evaluating Aptos One, the answer to these questions was a resounding yes,” he said. “We were impressed at how the Aptos One platform sits alongside and augments our current Aptos Store point-of-sale system to create a flexible, extensive and scalable technology ecosystem with a cloud-native, API-driven approach to deploying enterprise class software.”

While the initial pilot deployment is focused on making the sale anytime and anywhere with a mobile device, ultimately the company plans to use the platform “to create a foundation to innovate faster, unify and streamline core commerce and customer enablement capabilities, and differentiate the Michael Kors shopping experience in a way that is unique to our brand,” said Kardesh.

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Albertsons
TECHNOLOGY

Supermarket giant makes digital experiences more secure

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Albertsons Cos.’ new identity platform is securing online customer data, a move that will enhance the grocer’s digital experience, and drive loyalty.

To ensure it could protect the digital information among the more than 30 million customers it serves each week, the supermarket giant implemented the Identity Cloud platform from identity software provider Okta. Serving as the first step of online interaction between Albertsons and its customers, the platform will power user registration and authentication for Albertsons’ website and mobile app.

Further, the scalable software’s single sign-on, universal directory and API access management will provide one central identity platform for all digital experiences. Overall, the company expects the platform to support a more secure customer experience.

“As one of the U.S.’s largest grocery retailers, we needed a solution that could scale with us,” said Ramiya Iyer, general VP of IT, digital and marketing, Albertsons. “We’re confident that we found that in the Okta Identity Cloud, which now serves as an important part of our customers’ digital experience with Albertsons.”

Albertsons continues to step up efforts related to its online experience. In October, the company announced a partnership with Takeoff Technologies to test an artificial intelligence-based “micro-fulfillment center” concept supported by Albertsons’ existing supply chain and store footprint. AI-enabled robots and a system of totes and conveyors will collect items for online grocery orders within minutes, and deliver items delivered to an Albertsons employee, who prepares the order for the customer.

The “hyper-local” automated center will be piloted in an existing store early in 2019.

To further bolster its e-commerce offering, earlier this year, the supermarket giant launched Albertsons Performance Media, a digital media capability designed to improve the digital advertising performance of its CPG brand partners.

In addition, the company opened its digital marketplace — a service that enables customers to purchase items online directly from manufacturers — to outside vendors. Albertsons also recently joined forces with driver service Instacart, a move to offer same-day delivery of online orders to customers in as little as an hour. The grocer planned to make the service available in more than 1,800 of Albertsons’ banners across the country by mid-2018.

The company was also the first national grocery retailer to acquire a prepared-meals company. The supermarket chain acquired online meal company Plated last fall.

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