This Week’s Retail Round Up

April 30, 2015  | By Ketner Group

With the retail industry changing on a day-to-day basis, there’s always something that’s trending in the news. From the havoc that Lilly Pulitzer created with their launch at Target, to the possibility of having robot technology take over the retail world, this week was filled with some fascinating trends.

Lilly Pulitzer for Target causes shipping frenzy via CNN

Lilly Pulitzer, known for bold colors and prints, announced earlier this year that it would partner with Target to release a new, more affordable line of bags, shoes, dresses and much more. This news created some major hype amongst people all over the country, and according to CNN, lines started forming early as 5 a.m. on Sunday, April 19 for the highly anticipated collection.

Within hours, it was sold out online and in stores across the country. And people were irate. Target announced that the inventory would not be restocked because the collection was only available for a limited time. Once people realized that #LillyforTarget was essentially a thing of the past, people were furious. And today, Target is facing the backlash, but are “learning from these experiences and sharing with our online and store teams,” according to a statement.

Sam’s Club makes being a member more valuable via Retailing Today

Sam’s Club announced on April 22 that they would implement five new services, including those that are focused on financial services, theft protection and the possibility of saving members as much as $2,300 annually. These new services will allow Sam’s Club to differentiate themselves from Costco and other competitors, as well as simplify how their consumers work, live and conduct their businesses. Sam’s Club, who has been dedicated to low prices on bulk goods and quality products for many years, embarked on this change in response to their CEO’s push in increasing the value of membership and multiplying services involved with business, home and life. With these new services, Sam’s hopes to attract new members, maintain their existing ones and promote their $100 Plus level membership.

Services offered from providers with recognizable brands include:

  • Identity theft protection from industry leader Lifelock at a 25% discount on annual rate.
  • Accounting services and tax preparation from 1-800Accountant, a network of accounting experts that provide bookkeeping and tax filing through a simple platform, starting at $29 a month.
  • A Sam’s Club Business Lending Center that gives access to as much as $350,000 of capital by connecting business members to lenders and credit options through Lending Club, Smart Biz and Sam’s Club Business MasterCard.
  • Enhanced payment processing solutions provided by First Data. This will bring in-club business consultants and centralized payments and point of sale technology to business members to help simplify operations.
  • Online marketing services provided by Web.com with a 36% discount. Web.com has created member-exclusive digital marketing bundles, including do-it-yourself (DIY) and do-it-for-me (DIFM) plans for digital marketing services.

Will retailers I-up the latest in robot technology?  Via Retail Gazette

Tech innovator, Toshiba, has introduced a humanoid robot to the retail world in Japan. They have introduced this “lifelike” communication technology to attract people into stores, where androids have been greeting and assisting consumers around the store and aiding human employees. Currently, the robot is being used as an attraction or as a form of entertainment, but Toshiba’s Business Development Division Group Manager, Hitoshi Tokuda, thinks that this robot can revolutionize the shopping experience. Toshiba is hoping to develop a robot that can eventually do what a human does in regards to customer service.

The robot is powered by 43 motors and blinks and talks. Apparently, the robot named Pepper can understand about 80% of conversations and is set to launch across 1,000 stores in Japan. This new development has set the bar high for customer experience for retailers wanting to expand in Japan. These androids could be a solid investment that has the power to change communication and employ more staff, but businesses could also lose their brand’s personality without face-to-face human interaction. These new robots are setting an intriguing stage for the future of retail.

 

Retailers’ Aging POS Platforms in Need of a Makeover via Retail Info Systems News

As the times change, so do the needs of consumers and POS platforms. Older platforms, traditionally used for scanning merchandise and completing basic transactions, are reducing consumer engagement. In fact, most POS platforms are about 6.9 years old; the need for upgraded technology is now becoming essential for empowered consumers that are expecting much more than a register. Consumers are now demanding POS as the “omnichannel point-of-service” where retailers engage consumers and build loyalty. The retail industry needs to address these outdated systems or face potential compliance penalties, security risks and even a hindered ability to reach growing business needs. According to EKN Research, the need for more up-to-date systems is attributed to four key factors including the EuroPay, MasterCard, VISA (EMV)-liability shift, the growing need for mobility, omnichannel POS integration and the introduction of new payment methods.

 

Amazon Takes aim at the B2B market via Retailing Today

Amazon is now thinking about delving into the B2B world with retailers like Staples to launch Amazon Business marketplace that is stocked with millions of business products. Amazon says that their business customers will benefit from free two-day shipping on eligible items, multi-user business accounts, approval workflow, payment solutions, tax exemptions, customer support and so much more. Amazon Business will give businesses the convenience of shopping online in an expanded marketplace with the selection, convenience and variety of Amazon.

Some of the features of Amazon Business we think are super awesome are:

  • Business Accounts: Create a single or multi-user business account, invite additional users to join the account and define groups of users to easily share payment methods and shipping addresses.
  • Free Two-Day Shipping: Fast, free shipping on orders of $49 or more on tens of millions of eligible items, plus access to even faster shipping options.
  • Multi-Seller Marketplace: View multiple offers on a single product page for easy price comparisons, as well as shop sellers that consistently meet the performance and service requirements that businesses expect.
  • Business-Only Pricing: Business-only prices on select items and quantity discounts from select manufacturers and sellers.
  • Business-Only Selection: Business-only items combined with Amazon’s vast selection provides access to hundreds of millions of products, including hard-to-find items like traffic signs, industrial deep fryers, antibodies, 55-gallon steel drums, dent pullers and much more.
  • Purchasing Approval: Create approval workflows to enable better spending controls.
  • Amazon Tax Exemption Program: Make tax-exempt purchases and manage tax exemption permissions across an organization.
  • Amazon Corporate Credit Line: Place orders and finance purchases using a Pay-in-Full Credit Line or a Revolving Credit Line.
  • Comprehensive Product Information: Rich product pages and studio-quality photography, as well as dimensions, CAD drawings and manufacturer how-to videos.

 

 

What other retail stories in the news caught your eye this week? We’d love to hear what you think about the Target/Lily Pulitzer ordeal, and if you’ll be using Amazon Business for your company!