July Focus: Retail Transformation in the Amazon Age

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This post is the latest in our “Disrupting Retail” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of July, including topics like in-store innovation and Amazon’s moves. See the rest of the series here

Street Fight is rolling into July with the monthly theme Disrupting Retail: a look at how retail continues to transform, driven by competition from Amazon and key trends like “retail-as-a-service.”

But why is this important to Street Fight (and to you)? As we continue to evolve the definition of “local,” one key component of its market opportunity is offline brick-and-mortar shopping. After all, about 90% of all U.S. retail spending, to the tune of about $3.7 trillion, is completed offline in physical stores. And that’s usually in proximity to one’s home (thus, local).

This makes retail transformation a key focal point for Street Fight, and there’s a lot happening. We recently saw Walmart launch a new concept store that will include many of the retail technologies we’ve been examining, such as cashierless functionality. The futuristic store will also include automation, robotics, and personalization to attract shoppers.

There’s also continued advancement in the science of fulfillment, as the rest of the market follows Amazon’s logistics-first lead. The online retailer last week took its latest step into physical local presence with a partnership with Rite-Aid to enable package pickups in 100 stores, ramping up to 1500 by year end. Though it’s just for picking up your Amazon orders, could it also be a Trojan Horse for Amazon’s move into brick & mortar pharmacy?

Meanwhile, we’re seeing continued movement with in-store technologies. That’s right—beacons are back, or they never really went away. But they’re evolving into more effective and thoughtful marketing strategies. This includes using in-store messaging as a way to serve customers with valuable info and increase their lifetime value, rather than simply advertise to them.

As Gimbal’s SVP of location platforms Adrian Tompsett told us on a recent episode of Heard on the Street, the key to the location business is having this long-term and holistic view of customer value. That means using location intelligence to go beyond just triggering promotions to increase the customers’ basket size, instead using the technology in ways that will provide additional value in the long term.

Providing better customer experiences is essential to engendering brand loyalty and lifetime value. Having better data about ongoing location-oriented behavior can empower brands to do just that by sending consumers valuable information when they are at a store, hotel, or restaurant.

“It’s not about just sending a push notification or interrupting somebody,” said Tompsett on the podcast. “It’s about just making their shopping experience, their hotel experience that much better. Bringing in other buzzwords… [it’s] leveraging location technology, plus AI, plus personalization to deliver a better omnichannel consumer journey.”

This is all supported by the fact that 58% of retailers in North America said they planned to invest in proximity or location-based marketing this year according to IHS Group. It’s clear that there is a huge opportunity for brands to leverage location technology to build engaging customer experiences.

Beyond the monthly thematic focus, we’ll still cover the entire location technology and media sectors that you’ve come to expect on a daily basis. We’ll continue to publish daily articles on the most important and impactful happenings in local, as well as Street Fight Daily, our biweekly podcast, and white papers.

Meanwhile, expect lots of coverage this month concerning the transformation of retail, including Prime Day, which happens June 15–16. You can view all the articles within this theme anytime here. Also, don’t forget to check out and apply for the Street Fight Innovator Awards. Applications close July 12.

Look forward to more structural developments at Street Fight, and contact us with any questions or opportunities to participate.

Mike Boland has been a tech & media analyst for the past two decades, specifically covering mobile, local, and emerging technologies. He has written for Street Fight since 2011. More can be seen at Localogy.com