TECHNOLOGY

Walmart preps to take on Amazon Go

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart has a new Sam’s Club concept store in the works, and it could give Amazon’s cashierless convenience stores a run for their money.

Keeping a focus on an “easier shopping experience,” the discount giant is developing a technology-driven store focused on fresh foods and digital technology. The new format will be located in the Lower Grenville neighborhood of Dallas, and will be a membership club like all Sam’s Clubs locations. But at 32,000 sq. ft., it will be much smaller than a typical Sam’s location.

“This will be smaller than a typical club — which is perfect for testing innovations in a live shopping environment,” Jamie Iannone, CEO, Sam’s Club, said on the company’s website. “You can expect to see a new level of convenience at this facility, and the technologies we use will continue to evolve.”

For example, the location will feature a digital experience, including the company’s Scan & Go mobile self-checkout system, and digital signage will be found throughout the club. It will also feature fast membership sign-up process, along with self-serve returns, and same-day pickup and delivery options.

The club will also have an assortment of between 1,000 to 2,000 items. These will be comprised of convenience items, fresh foods, grab-and-go meals, and consumable items members buy most frequently,” according to Iannone.

“The cashier-less trend is really part of the bigger picture of needing to put the customer experience first. For brick-and-mortar shoppers, the biggest pain point is checkout,” said Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce. “Amazon Go was a success because it found a way to remove that friction from the experience. Retailers like Walmart and Sam’s Club are realizing how important it is to focus on their customers. As consumers continue to change, retailers need to find ways to change with them.”

Walmart has already started working on the project, and expects the new store to open its doors in the fall. Once open, it will create between 30 and 40 jobs, he added.

The store is Walmart’s response to the new Amazon Go concept, which allows shoppers to launch an app on their mobile device as they enter, and take the products they want off of store shelves. Amazon’s “walk out” technology automatically detects when products are taken off (or returned) to the shelves, keeps track of them in a virtual cart, and electronically bills the customer’s stored payment card.

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R.Baker says:
Jun-19-2018 07:45 am

LOL! Good luck with that. Out of 10 times using Sam's Scan and Go, it works 3 times. Other 7 times their own equipment cannot connect to wifi, user can't use scan and go device which brings it's own set of issues. I stopped using it and went back to the long wait in line; better than the Scan and Go hassle. I was a business card holder so I could shop early, now they want me to pay more to shop early as they are discontinuing the business accounts. So now I buy at Amazon; they deliver to me.

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TECHNOLOGY

Neiman Marcus driving online growth

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Luxury department store operator Neiman Marcus Group is out in front when it comes to boosting digital growth.

That’s according to a study from SimilarWeb, “Neiman Marcus Boosts its Digital Brand Loyalty,” which found that luxury brands are coming out ahead with online traffic with the help of more focused targeting among their audiences — customers who are in search of merchandise with premium distinction

While these efforts have earned Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales stable online traffic. Neiman Marcus’ performance has been particularly impressive. The retailer’s online traffic jumped 17.9% when comparing May 2017 to May 2018. The site saw an improvement of over 50% in direct traffic while seeing relative stability, as well as minor increases, across other channels.

Neiman’s performance efforts eclipsed Macy’s, which was stable from May 2017 compared with May 2018. Meanwhile, Sears experienced a drop of 28.8% in traffic for the same timeframe, alongside decreases of 23.6% for J.C. Penney, and 13.9% for Kohl’s.

“This speaks to a central problem for these companies – identifying the right avenues to growth with such a wide product range,” said Lena Young, communications manager, SimilarWeb.

Paid search helped drive substantial increases in Neiman’s site traffic, helping the retailer more than double its share of traffic. In addition, the department store retailer was bidding on a little over 4,500 keywords. Looking at the March to May period of 2018, the number of keywords that neimanmarcus.com bid on increased substantially to over 6,500, according to the study.

Non-branded key words are also playing a role in this growth. In the same March to May period in 2016, non-branded terms made up 25% of the brands paid search traffic. During the same time-frame in 2018, non-branded keywords made up 56% of the brand’s paid traffic. Many of the non-branded search terms were widely luxury oriented, like Gucci, Burberry, Givenchy and more.

“One of the biggest challenges for mid-range department stores to overcome is figuring out how to target users effectively with such a wide range of goods,” said Young.

“For Neiman Marcus, the luxury perspective has simplified this process, enabling them to channel traffic from keywords that are already identified with premium products,” she added. “By utilizing this strategy, Neiman Marcus has made an effective move to own their brand awareness online while simultaneously improving their digital luxury presence.”

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Alibaba is updating its superstore banner with ‘new retail’ tech

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

China’s online giant Alibaba is giving its brick-and-mortar super-store banner, RT-Mart, a digital makeover.

The 400-store chain is starting to roll out a series of features aimed at improving its shopping experience, including one-hour arrival for online orders within a three-kilometer radius. The updates is part of Alibaba’s “New Retail” strategy, an initiative that uses web-based technology across its retail brands to deliver a seamless online and of-fline experience to China’s 1.3 billion consumers.

So far, the update has been rolled out to 100 RT-Mart stores. The new features allow the stores to support mobile ordering and payments and fulfill mobile orders in-store for one-hour delivery for customers living within a three-kilometer radius. They also have in-store kiosks that allow customers to browse and shop on Alibaba’s online marketplace Tmall, according to the e-retailer’s blog, Alizila.

Since making the upgrades, RT-Mart’s volume of online orders across revamped stores has increased. At one Shanghai location, online orders climbed to 5,000 a day at their peak compared to nearly zero prior to the collaboration with Alibaba, the company reported.

RT-Mart’s digital upgrade coincides with Alibaba’s $2.88 billion acquisition of a 36% stake in Sun Art Retail Group last fall. The company operates nearly 400 hypermarkets under the Auchan and RT-Mart banners.

Under the acquisition, Alibaba is applying the new technologies and web-based approach across RT Mart as a means “to expedite its digitization, sync its online and offline operations, improve its in-store layout and increase efficiencies in the grocer’s inventory management,” according to Alibaba.

The Chinese e-retailer plans to complete the digital transformation across the rest of RT-Mart’s Chinese stores by the end of this year, according to the company.

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