Walmart Mulls a Run at the Digital Ad Business

With reports percolating about Amazon’s increasingly clear emergence as a third party to Google and Facebook’s dominance of the digital ad market, the e-commerce behemoth’s old-school counterpart is reportedly taking a look at the action itself.

Williams-Sonoma Sues Amazon, Underscoring War Over E-Commerce Monopolization

Foreshadowing a battle over Amazon’s overwhelming control of e-commerce, Williams-Sonoma filed a lawsuit against Amazon in the final days of 2018, charging that the retail juggernaut used its market power to copy the furniture maker’s products and squeeze it out of the market.

What Standard Cognition’s Big Play Means for Autonomous Retail

If autonomous checkout systems ever go mainstream, it will be because retailers finally figured out how to effectively harness in-store cameras to determine where customers are and what items they’re holding in real-time. Reaching that goal has proven elusive to AI technology providers thus far, but a San Francisco-based startup called Standard Cognition is hoping that its recent acquisition of Explorer.ai, a mapping and computer vision firm, will be the catalyst that’s necessary to accelerate growth and expand into new retail verticals.

Heard on the Street, Episode 19: Fusing the Best of Online and Offline Shopping, with Trevor Sumner

We’ve been hearing a lot about “retailpocolypse,” which raises the question of what 2019 has in store for retail (excuse the pun). This question threaded the many topics we batted around with Perch Interactive CEO Trevor Sumner on the latest episode of Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast.

Loyalty Solution Narvar Acquires Kronos Care, Expands in Europe

Customer engagement and loyalty solution Narvar, which has tripled in size over the last year, announced on Tuesday its acquisition of Kronos Care, a fellow customer engagement startup founded in just 2017. The move will help Narvar conquer the European market, bolstered by the local expertise of the Paris-based Kronos.

Kroger CEO Offers Closer Look at Grocery Giant’s Tech Innovation at NRF 2019

Among Kroger’s latest innovation is a partnership with online grocer Ocado. Kroger is licensing Ocado’s technology—the only grocer in the United States to do so—in order to benefit from its digital-native mastery of automated warehouse operations and on-demand delivery. The company will be expanding its number of warehouses powered by Ocado’s technology in 2019.

How Brands Will Select Key Partners in 2019: 5 Key Takeaways from Affiliate Summit West

Robert Glazer: This year’s Affiliate Summit West conference took place earlier this month in Las Vegas. And just like every year, performance marketing experts gathered to see some of the potential challenges and opportunities the space is likely to see in 2019. This year’s conference gave them plenty to chew on. There were five topics, in particular, that I found to be most important. Here’s a closer look at them.

How Savvy Brands Are Getting Mobile Offers Into the Hands of Consumers

“For brick-and-mortar businesses, the focus on driving foot traffic through mobile couponing is even more important due to the convenience of online shopping. We see mobile coupon platforms becoming ubiquitous and affordable for even small businesses to create, design, and distribute their own coupons,” Katie Wilson, CEO of TapOnIt and a digital advertising veteran, tells our senior editor Stephanie Miles.

Doddle Launches in US, Pushing Click-and-Collect Forward for American Retail

Touting the fact that 70% of U.S. shoppers have leveraged click-and-collect options at their disposal in the last six months, Doddle, which has been active in the UK, will be helping major retail partners such as Amazon create smoother buying experiences for customers who want to take advantage of one-click online ordering while avoiding the process of delivery.

Big Data Helps Predict Which Brick-and-Mortar Locations Will Thrive and Fail

While the Gap says its decisions are being made based on traffic trends and profits—the brand saw a 7% decline in quarterly comparable sales—data scientists from top technology firms are working feverishly behind the scenes to use big data to predict which store closures could come next. Having a heads up on which retail locations have a high likelihood of closing could benefit those in the commercial real estate sector, as well as retail brands looking to decide on future store locations.

Retail as a Service: Amazon will Create (and Destroy) with Cashierless Checkout Solution

Mike Boland: The innovation including and surrounding cashierless checkout goes beyond payments to affect a broader set of functions like supply chain, inventory management, and store layouts. It’s like a retail toolkit in a box, with cash-flow friendly pricing, à la SaaS. You may have heard of it: It’s called retail as a service (RaaS), and it could transform the next decade of retail. Amazon will lead the way.

Beyond Proximity Offers: The Second Act of Beacons is Underway

Beacons have grown into a nuanced component of successful mobile marketing. We’ve learned what they do best—strengthen advertiser approaches to metrics and measurement as well as the relevance and contextual richness of on-the-ground, in- or near-store experiences—and we’ve figured out that while push notifications can be a part of the story, they aren’t the main narrative.

How to Better Connect with Consumers via Mobile Coupons

Dan Slavin: It’s not just smartphone use that is growing—the number of people totally dependent on these devices to access the internet is rising as well. Both segments are projected to continue to show strong growth. Yet some marketers and retailers are struggling with attracting these users with offers and coupons.

The Numbers on Mobile’s Role in Holiday Shopping This Season

The results of a survey released just last week by mobile ad firm AdColony go beyond the already stale proclamation that the mobile revolution has taken over retail, pointing instead to granular details about just how consumers are using mobile today. We provide the highlights.

Crack-of-Dawn Black Friday Lines Are Already a Thing of the Past, Data Shows

How is the increasing appeal of e-commerce and other digital options such as BOPIS—buy online, pick up in-store—affecting retail’s biggest day of the year? One consequence, data from Reveal Mobile indicates, is the end of the notoriously colossal lines that used to mark the beginning of Black Friday. 

The Secret to Alibaba’s Singles Day Success? Brick-and-Mortar

We’ve all heard by now that Alibaba’s Singles Day—think of it as the Chinese Prime Day—shattered sales volume records, recording over $30 billion in revenue for Jack Ma’s retail giant. What you haven’t heard is that brick-and-mortar retail played a key role in that windfall.

Will AR Bring Together the Best of Online and Offline Shopping?

Mike Boland: We know about the advantages of e-commerce. There’s more supply, transparency, cost efficiency, inventory (a.k.a “endless aisle”), and the ability to dynamically search and filter product attributes. AR can engender a sort of hybrid UX that brings these features to store aisles. The losers in the next era of retail will be those who try to fight this experiential innovation.

Targeting Procrastinators Could Lead to Holiday Retail Wins

Not all shoppers are created equal. According to Cardlytics’ data, procrastinators could be the key to retailers’ success this holiday season. Appealing to these procrastinating consumers means extending store hours as well as offering inventory assurance tools and gift guides.

SITA Acquires Passenger Analytics Startup MEXIA—Here’s Why That Matters for Brick-and-Mortars

In a move reflective of the growing importance of in-store analytics solutions for retailers, airport services giant SITA has acquired passenger analytics startup Mexia Interactive, the companies announced last week. 

Why Are Retailers Hesitant to Explore Omnichannel Opportunities?

More than 90% of shoppers combine digital and physical channels on the path to purchase, and four in 10 online shoppers are using buy-online, pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) checkout options. But the big news coming out of the 2018 holiday season isn’t how many shoppers are taking advantage of online-to-offline fulfillment. It’s how few retailers are offering it.