This Week In Retail Marketing Innovation - August 5, 2019

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Macy’s uses Perch digital displays to bridge its in-store and online experiences


Macy’s decided to ramp up their in-store experience by merging their fragrance lines with digital in-store displays provided by Perch

The department store now features digital fragrance bars within 34 locations across the United States, including their highly-trafficked Brooklyn store. The fragrance bars allow customers to pick up each fragrance and immediately see information about the scent, customer reviews, other fragrance suggestions, and a checkout code

Mara Sirhal, divisional business manager for fragrance at Macy’s, is optimistic that the marriage of physical and digital will give its customers “an in-store display that mirrors what they love about shopping online.”

Macy’s last year announced a partnership with Marxent to incorporate VR into their furniture division. Customers wear headsets to create virtual rooms and see how Macy’s furniture would look in their living rooms, according to CO—. This technology led to a boost in furniture sales by 60% and decrease in returns by 2%, according to a Macy’s announcement.

Macy’s is hoping for a similar outcome for its new fragrance displays. Sirhal noted that customers enjoy the displays “because it allows them to explore our fragrance assortment in one easy location,” and also gives them “the freedom to shop how they prefer.”

Customers can sample up to 30 different fragrances for different brands, where brands are grouped together featuring six products each

In an interview with CO—, Susan Scafidi, founder and academic director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University called Macy’s adaptation to the Fragrance Bars a “smart move to redirect attention to the product at hand, in essence controlling what comes up first in the customer's search results.”

Efforts to bridge the gap between in-store and online experiences are spreading rapidly throughout the retail sector. A July report by Retail Systems Research found that one in two retailers have some type of interactive display in their stores, up from one in four a year earlier. 

Trevor Sumner, CEO of Perch, commented, “Digital media consumption is at all-time highs and shoppers are demanding a blend of digital and physical experiences now, and will increasingly demand more in the future. Interactive retail displays have the power to bring all of the digital marketing competencies we see in online e-commerce optimization to the physical store.”

Analysts say it’s time for grocers to take a harder look at their personal care and beauty aisles


While grocery stores haven’t put much concentration on their beauty and personal care sections, analysts agree that grocers need to step up and adapt outside-the-box product strategies to stand a chance against their competition. 

Stores like Albertsons, Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Trader Joe’s have expanded their stock and experimented with new beauty lines. Some stores have even drawn some buzz to their beauty section through celebrity partnerships

But Hana Ben-Shabat, a management consultant and advisor to beauty brands, says that grocers need to take a hard look at their customer base and determine if their company has the credibility to offer higher-end beauty and personal care products

"Whatever products you choose to sell needs to be in line with your overall positioning," Ben-Shabat told Retail Dive. "You can't bring very expensive products to customers who are looking for lower prices."

Ben-Shabat believes that more attention to these sections from grocers has the potential to generate incremental sales and communicate a retailer’s commitment to beauty and personal care. Grocery stores, after all, have the advantage of repeat customers and frequent store visits.

Whole Foods, known for its organic products, naturally integrated a high-end, aesthetically pleasing beauty and personal care section into their stores. The grocer even offers promotional discounts like its Better Beauty Swap, which allows customers to swap out their empty bottles in exchange for a bag full of clean beauty products

Aside from incorporating new products, a new report from performance marketing agency Merkle suggests that experiential marketing is the way of the future for these normally low-trafficked grocery sections. CVS’s recent partnership with Glamsquad, for example, allows customers to try on beauty products with the assistance of a Glamsquad team member before purchasing

Offering private label products is also appealing to grocers. Dollar General, for example, recently rolled out a 140-SKU beauty line called Believe Beauty at 15.4k stores, with products priced at $5 or less

Other companies have begun to adapt AR and VR technologies to offer virtual beauty product testing on social apps and in-store. Perfect Corp., for example, recently launched a self-service subscription tool powered by facial recognition technology and is currently in use by over 200 beauty brands, including Estee Lauder, MAC and YSL. The program offers a free 30-day trial for brands to experience the benefits of allowing customers to “try on” their products before purchasing. 

While this is currently an online tool, offering virtual “try on” stations in grocery stores may be a viable strategy for keeping their beauty and personal care aisles on-trend. 

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UPS applies for FAA regulation to conduct unmanned drone deliveries throughout the U.S.


UPS has announced its launch of a new commercial, unmanned drone delivery subsidiary called Flight Forward, Inc. and is applying to FAA approval to scale it across national delivery networks, according to a company press release

The company is requesting Part 135 FAA certification, which would classify Flight Forward as a certified Air Carrier and Operator. The certification would also remove restrictions on bans such as nighttime flights and requirements that drones stay within the line of sight of the operator, according to Retail Dive

Only one other drone service, Alphabet’s Wing, was granted the certification -- Amazon and Uber are both currently pending their own certifications. It’s unclear how long the application and approval process will take, but the UPS executive team seems optimistic. 

UPS currently operates multiple drone pilot programs under FAA Part 107 rules which allow small-scale flights within a pilot’s line of sight during the daytime, among other restrictions. Under Part 107, UPS is not able to charge for deliveries since it is not technically a licensed “commercial operator.”

The company operates drones manufactured by Matternet to deliver medical samples and supplies across a hospital system in Raleigh, NC, and temperature-controlled vaccines between islands in the Bahamas, according to Retail Dive

Alphabet’s Wing, the only commercial drone delivery operator in the country, is beginning deliveries of consumer goods in rural Virginia. According to a Bloomberg report, the company’s application was only approved after it "create[d] extensive manuals, training routines and a safety hierarchy" similar to that of a conventional airline. However, there are still restrictions on flying over crowds and urban areas

The FAA has been slow to grant the Part 135 certifications in efforts to control company’s use of drone operations. It currently has a test program underway to explore the impact of unmanned aerial vehicles on aviation and facility safety to retool and streamline the certification process, according to Retail Dive.

Sounding Smart by The Retail Water Cooler

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  1. Wakefern Food Corp., the grocery cooperative that operates 353 supermarkets in the Northeast under banners including ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite Marketplace and Dearborn Market, has launched its first automated fulfilment center in Clifton, NJ, according to an article by Retail TouchPoints. In partnership with Takeoff Technologies, the center will increase speed and lower costs for retailers while improving the overall online grocery shopping experience.