This Week in Retail Marketing Innovation - Nov 19th 2017

October Retail Sales Numbers Are In

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Fung Global reports that October retail sales grew 0.2% month over month, continuing a trend of 4.6% year over year growth.  But don't get too upbeat about Q4 retail performance as RetailNext forecasts a gloomy brick and mortar October performance, with sales down 10% YoY due to decreased traffic and average transaction value.   

Meanwhile the NYTimes reports that the negative press in retail doesn't account for industry area strengths, including the fact that there will be more store openings than closings this year (albeit fueled by the restaurant industry). 

 

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News From the Top Retailers

Nordstrom outlines the bolder $540m technology budget and retail experimentation initiatives that have helped drive 5.5% sales growth this year: collaborations with brands, omnichannel convenience, pop-up shops and their newest foray into Nordstrom Local.

Walmart beat earnings and revenue estimates for Q3 by investing in technology for automated pickup towers, same-day grocery delivery, rolling out shelf-scanning robots to scan for shelf level out of stocks, expanding online grocery pickup and launching Mobile Express Returns.  We are confident the 50% increase in online sales helped a lot too.  

Meanwhile Amazon has cut prices at Whole Foods again in preparation for the holidays, a move that further stirs grocery store worries about increased competition and decreased margins. 

 

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Singles Day in China Set New Records

Singles Day in China set records this year with $25.3b in sales for Alibaba in just 24 hours, in part fueled by the implementation of AI-powered interactive retail displays in stores. JD.com also posted $19.1b in sales, and here is how they invested to give Alibaba a run for their money.  With 89% of Chinese consumers preferring US online channels for shopping, Singles Day provides a unique opportunity for eCommerce shopping if you can adapt to Chinese cultural norms.

 

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Managing to Consumer Behavior Shifts

Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of business relationships will be managed without the help of a human.  That's a transformative shift that requires retailers to invest in technology to make those communications viable by investing in better search and discovery, chatbots and human safety nets that incentivize knowledge-base performance.   If you are thinking about the role of chatbots, we recommend reading this great post by Insider Trends on how to get started.

According to a new study by Tulip, 50% of sales associates admit that often consumers know more about products than they do.   They suggest implementing product-focused interactive retail displays that sales associated can use in coordination with the customer.

We hope you've spent the year improving your mobile web and app experiences.  Mobile shopping this holiday season is set to jump 45% from 2015.  

Digital natives continue to operate in retail stores to achieve mass market acceptance as the cost of customer acquisition online rises with scale.   Wholesale therefore should not be treated as a cost-center but a profit-center for customer acquisition.  

 

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New Retail Technologies and Innovation

Walmart continues to announce key partnerships and strategic initiatives to continue to transform it's business.   To catch up on how Walmart is positioning itself for the future, read Chris Walton's excellent post on 10 Things I Love About Walmart Right Now.

Marc Lore, CEO and President of Walmart argues that retailers must learn to adopt a startup mentality.  We are personally seeing a lot of trials of new technologies, more formal processes for innovation prioritization and an increase in metrics-driven hypothesis testing in retail environments.  It's been critical at PERCH to ensure that we measure sales lift, for example, to provide the ROI analysis that allows for large scale adoption of our interactive retail display platform

Gil Larson of Blis argues that physical stores desperately need a digital makeover, stressing the importance of using digital advertising to draw customers in and enhance the in-store retail experience with digital content.  

Our friends at Insider Trends help outline the top 25 uses of IoT technology in retail with a broad focus on technology-enhanced shopping experiences.

If you didn't make the WWD Apparel and Retail CEO Summit, here is a good recap.  Be sure to catch the 27 minute video as well.  

Amazon Go is reportedly closer to a larger scale rollout, despite continued troubles with detecting and charging appropriately when people shop in pairs or with kids.