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CART'S INNOVATION PROGRAM

Gary Hawkins, CEO , Center for Advancing Retail and Technology

CART’s Innovation Program, done in partnership with Retail Tomorrow, is a unique offering that works for retailers and solution providers alike. Designed for national and larger regional retailers, the CART team works with the retailer’s executive team to identify 2-3 specific areas of interest like automation, in-store experience, etc. With interests established, the team then goes to work identifying the leading solution providers in each area, filtering through and curating the most appropriate capabilities. That process often entails talking with each solution to ensure applicability and set expectations. Amongst the many factors we evaluate is making sure the size and scale of the retailer is aligned with the solution provider’s resources. Connecting a young solution to a massive retailer might sound exciting, but if the solution provider lacks the resources to pilot and then scale deployments it leads to frustration on all sides. Once the appropriate solution providers have been identified we all go on-site to the retailer’s HQ to spend a day with their executive team focused around education as each solution is given an opportunity to present to the group and talk about what they do. The format allows for Q&A along with opportunity to start building relationships as everyone networks over coffee breaks and lunch. From the solution provider’s perspective, the opportunity to get time with the senior exec team from prominent retailers is invaluable. Once a solution provider is selected to participate, the CART team will work with you to review your presentation materials to make sure you’re providing the most powerful and relevant message possible about your company and what you do. The CART team will provide some coaching for the presenters to make sure you deliver your message in the time allotted (these events are pretty tightly scripted to accomplish everything).  Expectations are clearly identified on all sides early in the process. From the retailer, CART is looking for executive level commitment and engagement with the process, the executive team’s commitment to spend the day with in the on-site meeting with all the solutions, and a commitment to seriously consider piloting appropriate solutions. From solution providers, CART is looking for new innovative capabilities to help the retailer address challenges they have or provide new capabilities that are beneficial to the retailer. This involves having a good understanding of retail and how retail works and helping educate everyone in the meeting as to the technologies involved. Retailers interested in learning more about the CART Innovation Program can get more information here Solutions interested in participating can learn more here +MORE

The Growing Role of Data Intelligence in eGrocery

Michael Demko, CEO and Founder, Locai Solutions

2018 was marked by many advancements in the various applications of data intelligence – the ability for computers and apps to gather information, and use it to give customers a truly personalized experience – setting the stage for the next-level in convenience. Shoppers are now less resistant to the idea of individualized product suggestions, which creates a new dynamic of customer service: people expect products to be presented to them in an easy, personalized, and intelligent way.  A great user experience is an imperative part of any eCommerce offering, but the underlying logic, algorithms, and intelligence that bring depth and relevance to the user experience is where the real innovations are occurring. In 2019, personalization and AI will grow from being merely promotions and product recommendations to a set of  tools that help retailers sell time-saving solutions. By 2020 45% of retailers plan to utilize artificial intelligence to enhance the customer experience. Currently, many platforms generate lists that you can buy from, but with machine learning you can now deploy solutions that provide higher levels of convenience for your customers.  What exactly does the customer experience? A more frictionless buying experience. Upon initial sign in to an app powered by an engine like eGroceryIQ, customers answer questions about their dietary preferences, portion sizes, and favorite items. After each purchase, the order details are collected and used to modify that user's next shopping experience. If the customer reviews an item, that information is also integrated into future product and recipe recommendations. eCommerce platforms embedded with AI powered solutions will take all this customer data, integrate it with what is currently in their shopping cart, and provide them with a highly personalized and engaging shopping experience. These smart apps, using segment-of-one personalization, create a unique interface for each customer. Instead of having to sift through an entire catalog, shoppers are presented with their favorite items right away, as well as similar product suggestions – foods they might like based on past purchases.  Other applications for data intelligence include capabilities that provide shoppers with information to problem solve for quantity and product type. Customers can filter and scroll through listings to compare nutritional information and see what items fit with their dietary preferences or restrictions. AI solutions  can sift through recipes, parse ingredients, map them automatically to a retailer’s assortment and systematically scale the amounts needed for a family of 4 or a single serving enabling customers to use tools such as meal planning to maximize use of products already in their virtual shopping cart. As machine learning continues to evolve, the possibilities become endless.. Is it worth the investment? All that value for your customers translates to higher sales. Intelligent solutions mean higher basket sizes, improved loyalty & retention, increased conversion rate, and higher purchase frequency.  Furthermore, data intelligence can be used to advance your merchandising, logistics, and fulfillment efforts. According to Tech Emergence, "the predictive capabilities of AI may play an important role in forecasting inventory needs, determining prices of products based on internal and external factors, analyzing customer behavior, loss prevention, delivery services–and potentially much more."  Equipped with volumes of data about your customers, new platforms will emerge to enable you to more easily pivot your business strategies, optimize your interfaces, and offer a catalog of high selling products.  The bottom line? More convenience equals greater customer satisfaction and more revenue. Intelligent solutions for today and tomorrow According to Forbes magazine, almost half of Americans now buy groceries online. Recent surveys by Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Nielsen show that 49% of US consumers had bought CPGs (consumer packaged goods) online in the past three months, up from 23% in 2016. The rates were higher among younger demographics – 61% for millennials and 55% for Gen Xers. As these rates continue to increase, experts predict that AI will continue to expand to meet the growing needs of both grocers and shoppers. Without AI, traditional grocery stores will have a difficult time meeting consumer behavior and demands. Many are finding that simply adding an online catalog is not enough to satisfy their customers, nor drive higher sales. The key is increasing value through efficiency and continuous learning about your customer. Solutions embedded with machine learning are designed to meet the needs of both the retailer and the consumer – giving the consumer an engaging, personalized experience, and the retailer a comprehensive, sales-driving and scalable platform. In order to succeed digitally, a broad set of components are needed and we’re beginning to see more and more partnering between grocers and technology solutions. As Yeal Cosset, Chief Digital Officer of Kroger said, “Personalization based on available data will not work. If the filter of the data is only good you will become obsolete, but if it is great you will have success.” Investing in flexible platforms that enable integration with the best in class consumer and operational features will become necessary, as a wide host of 3rd party application providers continue to emerge as the industry evolves. +MORE

Five Predictions for Retail Transformation in 2019

Gary Hawkins, CEO , Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART)

As we begin 2019, tomorrow is no longer going to resemble today. The pace of tech-fueled innovation continues to grow, bringing with it increasing change across the supply chain and greater impact on traditional retail operations and models. 2019 is going to be a year of even greater change. Here are five key areas to watch this year: Frictionless shopping: The Amazon Go store with its cashier-less shopping experience has gotten the industry’s attention and this year we will see a great deal of activity in this space. There are several tech companies working to bring similar capabilities to the retail industry along with cost-effectively scaling the technology to work in traditional supermarkets. I believe the proliferation of retailers’ mobile apps having some kind of self-shopping capability - the shopper scanning their products as they shop using their smartphone and then an expedited payment process - is an interim step to a completely frictionless shopping environment. The whole idea of the Amazon Go store is to make buying products as easy as possible; the shopper having to use their app to scan and pay makes it easier to buy but not as easy as just walking in, picking up what you want, and walking out. Automated fulfillment: Kroger’s partnership with Ocado to build and operate twenty automated grocery eComm fulfillment centers is on track. We are seeing several other retailers enter into agreements with Takeoff Technologies to build mini automated fulfillment centers that can sit in the backroom, automatically fulfilling high-velocity packaged goods ordered online. Walmart is working with a partner to build an automated fulfillment center that is designed to sit alongside their stores, fulfilling high-volume products. In 2019 we are going to see even more activity in this space as other retailers will be forced to follow these leaders as automation brings efficiency and lower fulfillment costs, opening up a productivity gap. We will be seeing other technology providers step into this space as the market expands. Automated delivery: Kroger’s partnership with Nuro to use automated, driverless delivery vehicles to deliver online orders to the shopper’s home is already in pilot. Udelv and other solutions will be gaining more interest as retailers begin to focus more attention on the final mile delivery. While many retailers have signed deals with Instacart or Shipt to handle actual delivery, we’re going to see growing interest in Uber and other services to handle deliveries and fast growing interest in automated solutions like Nuro and Udelv in search of cost efficiencies. Health & Wellness gets personal: The wearables market is growing fast as Apple’s Watch and similar devices provide even more functionality to monitor key health indicators in realtime. The explosion in health data coming from these wearables will become increasingly tied to food guidance, helping the individual understand what specific food products to purchase and consume based upon the individual’s health condition and realtime data. As an example, Dexcom recently released a device that provides realtime glucose monitoring for people with diabetes. The ability to use knowledge of an individual’s glucose levels at that specific time - for example, while they are standing in front of the shelf - will inform guidance to beneficial foods. This movement is already underway as the massive food and healthcare industries converge, driven by Amazon’s ownership of Whole Foods, PillPack, and other activity in healthcare. Kroger’s Opt-UP app enables the shopper to easily understand the quality of the foods they are buying and easily filter the store’s product selection based upon the shopper’s interests, needs, and preferences. Look for a lot more activity around this space in the coming year. Melding of digital and physical retail: While most industry activity has been focused around eCommerce and automation of fulfillment and delivery of orders, I believe we are going to see growing attention to the melding of digital and physical shopping. This encompasses bringing augmented reality into the store and shopping experience; we’ll also see growing activity in virtual reality shopping as VR tech gets better and cheaper. Digital signage will spread across the store and get smarter, not only using demographic info to present messaging relevant to the person standing in front of the screen, but engagement will be far more personalized. Kroger’s new shelf Edge system is moving in this direction, lighting up as a shopper moves down the aisle to call out relevant products. Obviously there are many more areas where technology is going to transform retail but these are five key areas to watch. Each of these fundamentally changes the game: Frictionless shopping and automating fulfillment and delivery remove significant costs and will put growing pressure on competing retailers as companies using these technologies scale deployments.  Personalization will move quickly, not just in marketing but in linking an Individual shopper’s health to her favorite store’s product assortment, guiding the shopper to products to improve her wellbeing.  Lastly, shopping is about to become far more interesting and truly immersive as technology really begins to impact the shopping experience, whether you are in the brick & mortar store or sitting at home. +MORE

Local Express

Local Express

Local Express develops, builds and deploys an online grocery store in the most cost-effective and fastest means possible for ordering and delivery on the market.  We deliver turnkey digital shopping and delivery solution to grocery stores, developed by our experienced e-commerce development and content production team. +MORE

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Pseudo Customer Centricity: Fool’s Gold

Gary Hawkins on Winsight Grocery Business, CART

Retailers must employ a customer-first philosophy into organizational culture Many regional retailers are (at last!) intent on becoming customer-centric, more than a decade after The Kroger Co. led the way and more than two decades after early loyalty pioneers proved the value of a true customer focus. But too many retailers believe that customer centricity can simply be bolted on to their organizations without realizing that true customer centricity is far more involved. Like the intrepid gold miners of the 1840s, these retailers awaken to the realization that what they’ve taken for retail gold is in actuality a false promise, seduced by the fools gold of pseudo customer centricity. I can recount meetings with senior executives from well-known retailers who espouse their customer centricity efforts; spending massive sums on consultants and solutions powered by a decade’s old approach based on customer segments integrated to the retailer’s category planning processes, and even personalized offers to shoppers. Countless of these retailers remain anchored in a product-focused world, even those who tout using technology to discover what products should be put on offer to their customers rather than starting with a vendor-funded offer pool.  True disciples of customer centricity deeply embed a customer-first philosophy into their organizational culture, extending it to every part of the enterprise. These companies realize that providing savings on products relevant to the shopper is only the beginning. Leading companies such as Amazon and Kroger are investing heavily in taking customer centricity to the next level: comprehensive, seamless user experiences across channels and devices, integrating personalized product recommendations with an understanding of the individual shopper’s specific health conditions, and laying the technology foundation for immersive shopping experiences melding the physical and digital worlds. Customer first disciples understand the dynamic flow of customers and their shopping behavior over time, putting in place capabilities and processes attuned to providing contextual relevancy inside and outside the store. And personalization—driven by past purchases and recommendation algorithms—is fast evolving to what I think of as strategic hyper-personalization, leveraging vast intelligence about each individual shopper to power a mix of recommendations to win the shopping trip, grow baskets, maximize retention, and foster customer advocacy—one customer at a time, in real time. Many regional retailers are based in more rural areas where company executives believe their shoppers are less tech savvy, relieving pressure on digital imperatives. According to Pew Research, 95% of Americans own a cellphone in 2018, with 77% of Americans owning a smartphone. Pew also calls out that in 2018, 89% of Americans use the internet. Location is no longer a proxy for customer technology illiteracy.  This year, Amazon is projected to realize over $258 billion in U.S. retail sales, an estimated 49% of all online retail spending in the United States. With this kind of penetration, and the ability to ship products anywhere overnight, traditional supermarket retailers would do well to remember that their shoppers are increasingly expecting (demanding!) the seamless and comprehensive user experience provided by Amazon, and increasingly by Kroger and Walmart. Yet, too many retailers remain mired in digital purgatory, constrained by capability silos and the inability to bring piecemeal capabilities together in a seamless fashion for shoppers.  Lastly, many seasoned grocery executives have spent their careers being rewarded for following, letting someone else bring innovation to market and only following when it has been proven successful. Years ago IT executives would buy IBM, even if it wasn’t the best choice, but because it was the "safe" choice. This practice continues today as retailers sign deals with "established" providers because they believe it is the safe choice, failing to understand that today’s environment rewards fresh, forward-looking thinking. Retail executives need to look beyond yesterday’s approach to customer centricity to capabilities and platforms that actually position the retailer for future success. The cost of failing to provide a seamless shopping experience, for failing to provide true individual shopper personalization, and failing to provide real time contextual relevancy, can rapidly obliterate any savings or security from yesterday’s "proven" approach. Tom Furphy, a former Amazon executive and the originator of Amazon Fresh, in a recent interviewspeaking to the challenges retailers face today, especially a reliance on past practices, says it all: “What seems safe is actually destructive. That’s a recipe for longer term disaster.” This article originally appeared on Winsight Grocery Business and can be viewed here +MORE

The Top Five Ways Retailers Benefit from Industry Trade Shows

Courtney Muller, Chief Corporate Development & Strategy Officer, Clarion UX

When was the last time you attended a retail or food and beverage trade show? If you have to pause to think of the answer – or know immediately that the answer is, “Never” – then it might be time to find a show or expo near you. Trade shows are the best places for those within the industry to get out of their stores and network; find new products and stay abreast of the cutting edge technology offerings; and gain invaluable education in the areas you need it most. In short, even if you spend time every day trying to stay current, you could never see it all – or know what to search for. There is no better place than a trade show … from seeing new products, meeting new people, becoming educated on a new way to engage your customers, or finding out about technology … this is the place to find what you don’t know!   Here are some of the top reasons you should attend a trade show this year: Network with Decision Makers When you think of networking, perhaps the typical “mixer” scenario comes to mind with people you don’t know awkwardly milling about a bar or restaurant, trying to strike up conversations with random people in the hopes that you might be able to benefit one another in some way. Networking at a trade show couldn’t be any more different. As an attendee, you can specifically find exhibitors with the products you seek; attend educational sessions that pertain to topics you are interested in, therefore attracting other audience members who share the same challenges; and be assured that your peers in the same industry as you are seeking similar solutions as you.  And you might even run into a colleague you haven’t seen in years! Find New Products and Foods You subscribe to industry periodicals and get Google Alerts in your inbox every day, but have you seen that new robot that identifies out of stock items and potential slip and fall hazards? Have you read about leveraging data to establish loyalty and trust with food delivery customers? A trade show is the perfect venue to scope out all that is new in the retail world from tech products to new foods and services – all in one place – to help you use technology to create a seamless customer experience. As you look for new technology innovation to keep you competitive, you may find the perfect partner for online ordering, rapid delivery, or rapid checkout through customer’s smartphones.  No matter what you want to go to a trade show to find, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by discovering even more than you thought along the aisles. See New Trends in Action Are vegan offerings a must-have? Should you offer chef demonstrations to showcase meal ideas? Are international flavors high on consumer’s minds? What chef dishes are they trying replicate at home? Be on the front line of this year’s and next year’s trends so you can bank on what your customers will be looking for in the near future. You’ll walk away with new products and great ideas you can implement immediately in your store operations. You may even realize that you are on the verge of creating an entirely different trend yourself that has yet to appear on the market – good information that you can capitalize on in the year to come. Receive Best in Class Education If school is a distant memory – or perhaps you learned hands-on in a family business and worked your way up the ranks – one of the best perks of most trade shows is the educational content provided to attendees and exhibitors alike. Whether you’re interested in operational excellence, developing your workforce, building bigger baskets, or sessions dedicated to those hot new tech trends we previously mentioned, trade shows like The NGA Show (presented by the National Grocers Association) in San Diego this coming February will have you covered on all fronts. What’s more, you can connect with presenting industry specialists to gain even more valuable insight into the topics that interest you most. Gain Immediate, Actionable Ideas The bottom line … your time is valuable and you want to spend any time out of your store obtaining the cream of the crop ideas - from new products, growth strategies and tech trends. Hear what the experts have to share, sample emerging products, uncover new technology, and refresh your enthusiasm for the business. You’ll walk away with a plan to bring all of these new ideas and initiatives into your store operation to drive profits, growth and innovation.   No matter where you are in your retail career, a trade show will no doubt provide you with opportunities, education and inspiration as you progress in the business. Interested in learning more? Check out the upcoming NGA show: National Grocers Association Show, San Diego, CA, February 24-27, 2019, www.thengashow.com  Each year, The NGA Show brings together independent retailers and wholesalers, food retail industry executives, food/CPG manufacturers and service providers for unparalleled opportunities to learn, engage, share, network, and innovate.  Given today’s ever-changing marketplace and evolving advancements in innovation occurring in the food retail industry, The NGA Show is a must-attend event, providing over 40 educational workshops, an expo floor featuring innovative and game-changing products and solutions and countless networking opportunities.  Registration is open at www.thengashow.com – early bird registration rates in effect through December 10, 2018.  +MORE

NGA Show 2019: The Epicenter of Grocery Industry Innovation

CART, Advancing Retail

In a special event leading up to the opening of the new NGA Show 2019, CART will bring together unique education, an impressive line up of speakers, and cutting edge innovation to make San Diego the epicenter of grocery industry innovation during Feb. 24-27, 2019. With a focus on regional retailers and dynamic independent operators, the CART team will present an innovation tour de force designed to help attendees not only stay in the game but help them win. CART is coming together with leading retailers through-out the industry to provide attendees a new worldview for the future of retail where transformation and disruption are the new normal: iRetail. Focused on five ‘i’s, iRetail will give attending executives a framework for evaluating their existing capabilities and provide a roadmap to closing the innovation gap. In a time of declining and disappearing industry events, the NGA Show has become a beacon of light for the industry as it has grown each year, even outgrowing its longtime home in Las Vegas, spurring the move to San Diego this coming February. CART has had a long time partnership with NGA and is taking the relationship to a new level this year, building on the success of CART’s Innovation Event at last year’s show.  Make sure to put Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, on your calendar and plan to attend the CART special event at the new NGA Show! +MORE

Technology's Profound Impact on the Supermarket Industry

Peter Larkin, President & CEO, National Grocers Association

Often cited as the one of the greatest catalyst of change within the retail grocery industry, technology is an area that independent supermarket operators must understand, and embrace.  Technology continues to have a profound impact, where virtually every detail of the supermarket industry is being touched by new solutions and platforms. I see three technology threads, each entwined with the other. One is the explosion of mobile applications and programs that are turning grocery shoppers into high information consumers. According to Pew research, smart phone adoption among Americans has more than doubled since 2011. Not only are shoppers becoming more sophisticated, but they are using technology as a way to gain more information, transparency, and convenience. At the touch of a mobile screen, consumers can instantly access to updated information on locally sourced perishables, competitive promotions, price checks and recipe ingredient lists. In turn, this migration to the digital space is shaping customer relationships with retailers. Today’s shopper does not want to be talked to but instead wants to be a part of the conversation. Consumer product manufacturers and marketers make up a second technology thread. By analyzing large chunks of customer data and retail sales, manufacturers, retailers and service suppliers are exploring innovative ways to touch their target audiences. Big data though can be vast and hard to harness. Whether it’s social media, a mobile payment system, or loyalty programs, technology can effectively create many new opportunities for savvy retailers to learn about and to connect with their shoppers to better serve their needs. A good place to see and learn about a number of these innovative solutions is right here at www.advancingretail.org. The third thread is in the store itself, where technology is increasingly employed to improve overall store productivity to program more effective lighting, to boost checkout efficiency, to track shopper traffic flows to improve layout and sales per square foot, or to offer customers immediate cost savings via real time wifi connections as they shop. A great, and very recent, example of this is Sedano's Supermarkets launch of a “robotic supermarket,” which entails an automated fulfillment center where AI-enabled robots will assemble full supermarket orders of up to 60 items. While the landscape is quickly evolving, many independent grocers are taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies to engage with their shoppers, find efficiencies, and reach new and existing customers where, how, and when they want. Independents have been making their move into digital. They are hiring dedicated staff, dedicating marketing budgets to digital initiatives, more effectively leveraging social media platforms, and integrating the latest technologies into their business strategies.  With the dramatic pace in which new apps and tech solutions are coming on to the market, it can all seem a bit overwhelming, but technology will play a defining role in the supermarket industry.  Those retailers that are on the forefront of implementing new technology and embrace the hyper-connected, tech-savvy consumer are positioning themselves for success. I’m one who is convinced that these threads will weave into a pattern of rising sales and profits. And that’s why the 2019 NGA Show will kick-off with a new educational event, spearheaded by our partners at CART, entitled “iRetail: Technology Innovation Reshaping the Grocery Industry.” The event is designed to give supermarket operators a framework for navigating fast-paced innovation while maintaining a focus on the importance of people and physical stores as we move into the future. Despite increased competition from all angles, it is an exciting time for the supermarket industry – and we at NGA are bullish about what the future holds for the independent grocers! Known as the true entrepreneurs of the industry, independents are nimble enough to quickly overcome obstacles, and are finding innovative ways to respond to changing consumer preferences, which is something they’ve always been good at given their close ties to their communities and the consumers they serve. +MORE

Locai Solutions

Locai Solutions Inc

locai is the first company to offer a full suite of software that integrates an e-commerce platform with a fulfillment management system. locai provides a flexible set of solutions including a turn-key eCommerce website, as well as access to great UX features - such as product recommendations, meal planning, and endless aisles - via APIs for easy integration into your existing eCommerce platform. These features have been proven to drive higher basket sizes, and create greater customer engagement, satisfaction, and retention. The locai platform is also the first eCommerce solution for grocers to be built on a cloud based architecture that enables order execution via the full spectrum of fulfillment formats. The locai Fulfillment Management System is versatile and capable of supporting numerous operating footprints, from warerooms to dark stores and/or dedicated distribution centers, and while fully integrated with locai's eCommerce Platform, the FMS can easily integrate with other eCommerce platforms and order management systems to create a unique solution for your brand. Embedded with real-time operating metrics, intelligent pick cart building logic and order verification, the locai Fulfillment Management System is proven to reduce operating cost per order while improving order accuracy. +MORE

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Would You Like to Delight and Inform Your Online Shoppers

John Hoyne, SYNQY Corporation

Last week, SYNQY was named as a finalist in CART’s Virtual Pitch Event. We’re among an impressive few chosen from hundreds of applications. So, who are we and what does SYNQY do for retailers? SYNQY provides a managed service for retailers to bring online shoppers rich content from manufacturers. We do that at the point of sale, which is the critical piece. To do this, we match manufacturer-branded content to the products on the retailer’s site and then pay the retailer a revenue share. If we think about what shoppers want, they’re looking for basic product information, but also rich product content. That can take the form of videos, product comparisons, as well as promotional content like new products, innovations, and in grocery, recipes and the upcoming SmartLabel content. Delivering all of this at the exact time that consumers are making buying decisions is key. It’s also very important to provide that content to the consumers on the retailer’s website because more and more consumers are going to leave and find it somewhere else – and maybe never come back. But there are numerous challenges in providing content on the retailer site, one of which is that the content typically resides with the brand and not with the retailer. In addition, the content is always changing. As a result, it’s almost impossible to keep it up-to-date.  So, what if you could crowdsource from manufacturers the content customers are looking for? And what if it wouldn’t cost you anything? And what if it would enhance the buying experience and increase product consideration and sales? And you got paid for it? Well, SYNQY can deliver on those promises. SYNQY delivers enhanced content to delight and inform the shopper. SYNQY has a proven track record in the retail space.  Tony Mercado, Marketing Development Manager, Car Electronics Sector at Kenwood said, “ The appeal of SYNQY is it allows us to give shoppers on our retailers’ websites a branded, rich media content experience that we can easily update to stay fresh and reflect our latest products and promotions.  It also keeps the shoppers on our retailer’s website, encouraging them to execute their buying decision with that retailer.” The key is that retailers deliver rich brand content at the point of sale and shoppers never leave the site.  The way this works is that the manufacturers upload their content into the SYNQY system and the retailer simply installs one line of code on their website. It takes about 10 minutes and it’s up and running. Last year, we ran a test of about 14 tier-1 CPG products and for those users who clicked on the SYNQY, we experienced a 65% increase in consideration and a 40% increase in purchases. Those are significant increases and SYNQY is definitely having a positive impact on sales.  We are working with clients in the grocery space, such as Albertsons, Safeway, Nestle, Dr. Pepper/Snapple, Unilever, WhiteWave, VONS, Randalls, PepsiCo, and Pavilions – some of the leading CPG manufacturers and retailers. With our business model, we collect fees from the brands to post their content onto a retailer’s site and then we pay the retailer a revenue share from that fee. Seems like a no-brainer for retailers. SYQNY brings the retailer an enhanced shopping experience for consumers. We increase product consideration and sales and bring a new high-margin site-monetization capability. And we do all of this at low risk, with minimal effort, and at no cost to retailers. +MORE

You Snooze, You Lose. The Time for Grocery Innovation is Now

John Hoyne, Synqy Corporation

Some grocers today are still reluctant to really commit to the online grocery experience. But if you read the headlines, you know that Amazon and Walmart are poised to gain unprecedented online grocery market share. “2017 may be the year for supermarket digital experience,” “Wal-Mart Takes Another Step Forward With Chinese E-Commerce Giant JD.com,” and “AmazonFresh drops to $14.99 per month for Prime members” are what we’re reading these days and it’s clear that online grocery is a hot and evolving market. Online grocery shopping needs to be more than just a shopping cart. That’s a start, but not a way to win. Grocers should consider the omni-channel way people want to shop and build a flexible approach to meet those needs. For example, how do grocers use content to help information-hungry millennials reading nutrition labels to look for GMO- or allergen-free products in-store or online? What about impulse buys? How are those opportunities fostered in ecommerce? Bringing relevant and persuasive content to online grocery shoppers is not just important, but imperative over time. So the options of “wait and see” or having a simple online shopping cart really aren’t options at all. Bringing branded content from manufacturers to online grocery shoppers, along with more nutritional data, and perhaps recipes or suggested products, are all ways to engage shoppers, provide better and cross-merchandising, and grow each shopping cart. This requires that grocers embrace ecommerce and make it a better consumer experience, as opposed to just an online experience. Consumers are savvier today and demand more of online retail; they are now doing the same in grocery. And with more options like AmazonFresh, Walmart and others now participating in the online grocery market, shoppers aren’t limited to local stores. If grocery chains snooze, they’ll lose for sure. +MORE

Pace of Innovation -- Shattering the Status Quo

Gary Hawkins, CART

Retailers are shellshocked by the increasing pace of technology fueled innovation that is transforming and disrupting the industry. It seems not a week goes by that we don’t read about yet another new competitor entering the grocery space or some new innovation being rolled out by an existing competitor. Case in point: Kroger’s recent announcement that it is deploying its Shop, Scan, and Bag self-shopping solution at 400+ stores. This in response to Amazon’s cashier-less Go store pilot and Walmart’s similar self-shopping solution. Supermarket retailers are challenged on several fronts relative to innovation. It is nearly impossible for a retailer to be aware of all the new innovation entering the market. As an example, CART reviews an estimated 100 new solutions each month. Beyond awareness though is the challenge of deciding what areas to focus on (supply chain, distribution, marketing, store operations, etc.) and deciding what specific solution to pilot. And then having to decide what new capabilities to deploy across operating stores. Having efficient operations, quality foods, and great pricing and service is simply the cost of entry to supermarket retail. The new battleground is innovation. This is a new world for retailers to navigate. As an example, we see too many retailers implementing different digital capabilities in a piecemeal fashion rather than working towards a cohesive and comprehensive platform. The self-shopping capability mentioned earlier is a great example. Some retailers are trying to implement this kind of capability through a third-party app or a separate app rather than bundling it into one mobile app for their customers. Shoppers are after an omni-channel, seamless experience, not being forced to interact with different apps or systems to do business with a retailer. CART is here to help. We’re able to leverage our strong retail experience, industry knowledge, and unique insight to new capabilities and innovation flowing into the market to help retailers understand where they are today relative to their competitors and best-in-class retailers. Developing an innovation roadmap is important to help in prioritizing what new innovation to focus on and to create a foundation capable of adapting to new capabilities and technologies as they come into the market. +MORE

Making Online Grocery Easy and Affordable for Every Grocer

Josh Ray, ShopHero

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Neilson published a study in January 2017 on the growth and future of online grocery. Among other things, they forecasted that nearly 20% of annual grocery sales would occur online by the year 2023. That was a very bold prediction about a developing part of the industry that many retailers weren’t sure about. Many I spoke with around that time had mixed feelings about online grocery.  “We tried it in the 90s and it was a big failure!” It’s true online grocery failed in the 90s. That was a long time ago and so much has changed since then. It may be tough to remember life without everyone’s favorite addiction – their smartphones – but believe it or not, there was a time when you couldn’t access everything in the world at a moment’s notice. Technology has changed the way we buy everything, and grocery is just starting to catch up. Online grocery is growing faster than anyone imagined. Amazon spent $14B acquiring Whole Foods, instantly gaining 400 distribution centers around the country from which to provide same-day delivery of grocery (including perishables). Walmart and Kroger offer online ordering in over 1,000 locations each, with plans to double the number of locations offering the service in 2018.  We’ve been working with grocers for years and watching the changes happen right before our eyes. Three or four years ago, there was a single workshop on eCommerce at the NGA show in Las Vegas. This year, there was an entire track dedicated to technology with a major emphasis on online grocery. This January, FMI and Neilson published a new study forecasting 20% of annual grocery sales to be online by 2022. In one year they saw enough growth, customer demand, and technology improvements to speed up their projections from 2023 to 2022!  Hometown grocers face more competition than ever, but they also have more opportunities to distinguish themselves from the big box stores today. Their size allows them to be more nimble and provide an eCommerce experience tailored to their community and their shoppers. The level of service they provide has always been better than the national retailers and with the right tools they can ensure their shoppers get the same great experience online that they expect in store. ShopHero is proud to work with 100’s of these hometown grocers across the country, helping them offer online ordering. ShopHero provides a while-label eCommerce site that is customized for each individual retailer. Grocers are often surprised at how easy it is to get setup with ShopHero. We work with every point of sale (POS) system, loyalty program, and wholesaler. We’ve done all the heavy lifting so the retailers don’t have to, which means stores can get online in one day. We provide images, product descriptions, nutrition facts and more for everything in the store. Our unique approach allows the store to focus on what they do best – serving their customers – while we take care of the rest. Just getting online isn’t good enough. Retailers need a true partner who understands the importance of providing world class service on every transaction. We are proud of our reputation in the industry as the best option for grocers who want to be online. We’ve built that reputation on a few key tenants – service, technology, and price. Service We truly understand the important of customer service and don’t just talk the talk, but we walk the walk. We provide live shopper support that your customers can access via email, phone, or chat. This means we are on the front lines with you. We hear the questions, comments, and concerns your shoppers have, and we make adjustments accordingly. ShopHero is the only online grocery vendor to offer this service. Technology We’ve made our technology as simple as possible, so that every grocer (even your grumpy uncle) can easily work with it. We really do all of the work to get you setup, you don’t have to worry about anything. We provide a store rep to work with you on training, support, and more – and he is available 24/7 to answer all your questions. Price We know many retailers can’t afford large setup fees and even larger monthly fees. Online grocery shouldn’t be expensive, it should be easy and affordable. ShopHero provides the industries only eCommerce plan with no monthly or annual fees. Really. No catch, no hidden costs. We value our partnerships and have structured our service in a way to show that. If you own a grocery store and you’re not online yet, we need to talk. If you’re online, but you’re paying too much or not getting the results you should, give us a call. I would love to hear about your store as well as your concerns and goals with online grocery. Our online grocery specialists work with retailers everyday. They understand the challenges and concerns you have and are happy to provide a complimentary consultation. +MORE

FwdMbl

FwdMbl Solutions, LLC

Account Management, DSD, Route Sales, & Proof of Delivery Apps Mobile Sales & DSD Customer, Leads, Prospects Orders, Credits, Invoices Aging, Statements Receive On Account, Credit Cards GPS Tracking & Signature Capture Print, Email, & Fax Documents Items, Availability, Inventory Images DEX, NEX & EDI Warehouse Transfers & Scrap Multi-Language Works Offline Proof of Delivery Delivery List Stop List Route & Stop Status GPS Tracking Signature Capture Returnable Container Tracking Asset Tracking Pallet Tracking Customer & Stop Documents Multi-Language Works Offline Account Management Customers, Leads, Prospects Quotes, Estimates, Notes Orders, Credits & Returns Receive On Account Aging, Statements Documents Sales History Warehouse Inventory Customer & Item Documents Multi-Language Works Offline Route, Inventory & Order Management Inventory Management Items, Kits Serial Number, Lot Tracking Expiration Date, FIFO/LIFO All Types of Transactions Reason Codes, Notes Pick, Pack, & Ship Reorder Points & Planning Barcode Labels & Scanning Multi Site, Warehouse, Bin Mobile Inventory App Order Management Customers Sales Orders Credits, Returns Dispatch Orders Work Orders Invoicing Quotes Inventory Integration Accounting Systems Integrations Mobile Sales App Route Management Driver & Route Setup Customer Assignment Inventory Assignment Cash Settlement Inventory Settlement Route Reports Signature Reviews Timeline & GPS Tracking Integration With Other Systems Mobile Management App   +MORE

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SYNQY Brand Engagement Platform

SYNQY Corporation

SYNQY uses cloud-based technology to transform manufacturers’ brand experiences across their reseller networks. We combine a network of intelligent touch points called SYNQYs (pronounced sync-ee) with a SaaS Brand Engagement Platform that makes it easy to create and manage these SYNQYs. SYNQY’s patent-pending matchmaking technology dynamically associates high impact, manufacturer-provided content with their corresponding products – without the need for custom coding by the retailer. With a single line of code inserted through a retailer's tag management platform, SYNQY solutions automatically identifies which products get rich-media, persuasive content and adds that content next to the correct product at the point of sale. As a result, retailers can roll out the solution in minutes and shoppers will have access to the information they are seeking to make better product purchase decisions. We have proven evidence this works in both low-involvement purchases such as grocery and high involvement products such as generators, stereo equipment and even semiconductors.  SYNQY can be used on dynamically-driven ecommerce retail sites. It can also be used across dealer networks, blogger sites, factory-direct retail sites and public relations.  The SYNQY Brand Engagement Platform is the underlying technology that allows SYNQY to run many retailer/application-specific offerings.  SYNQY has launched SYNQY | PROMOTE, which is an application that delivers rich media promotional content onto loyalty/coupon pages, product listings, product detail pages and independent dealer networks.  SYNQY recently launched SYNQY | SMARTLABEL retailer solution that automatically identifies which products have associated SmartLabel content and adds that content next to the correct product at the point of sale. As a result, retailers can roll out the solution in minutes and shoppers will have access to 350 product attributes, including GMO information and allergens on thousands of products. +MORE

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eCommerce and Home Delivery Solutions for Grocers

ShopHero

(2)

ShopHero provides online grocery and home delivery solutions for grocers. We're more than just another eCommerce company. We've built a digital customer engagement platform from the ground up that's easy to use for you and your shoppers, and works on all devices. Shopper habits are changing and it's more important than ever to keep up. In 2016, 5% of all grocery sales were online and industry experts are forecasting that number to reach 17% by 2023. Online grocery is no longer a nice to have feature, it's a must have for every successful supermarket. Stores that neglect this growing segment of customers are missing an opportunity to grab market share and risk losing customers to other online options.  We offer a true end-to-end platform that includes building and managing your online grocery site, fulfillment and delivery, and highly targeted marketing personalized for your customers. Using advanced data analytics and integration with your POS we promote your highest margin products to the customers who are most likely to purchase at just the right time. In addition, our platform learns your customer's habits and we're able to provide a unique digital commerce experience for each shopper. This leads to an average basket that is 3.5 times bigger than the average in-store purchase. Online grocery is here and your store can be online in less than two weeks. Contact us today, we'd love to learn about your goals and discuss ways we can help. +MORE

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iOS & Android app development

Appus Studio

Design and development of mobile applications for iOS (iPhone, iPod & iPad) and Android platforms. Distribution to App Store and Google Play is free of charge service. +MORE

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Kitchology

Kitchology

Kitchology is the first company to create an integrated social cooking platform for the 160 million people dealing with special diets and the suppliers who sell to them $500B in groceries every year. It is available on the web and as free app. Consumer find a recipe of interest? Using machine learning, we substitute ingredients creating a set of better new recipes taking predicted pantry stockings into account. A recipe can be modified typically  to up 15,000 variations to accommodate diets. Consumers plan to shop? We prepopulate shopping lists, suggest additional ingredients to buy, and make product recommendations. We stay with the cook during the cooking process and use a social graph to connect them with others. Suppliers use Kitchology for access to unique analytics used for marketing and product design. They also publish content and present offers on the platform while the consumer is doing meal planning and shopping. Kitchology is big data for special diets.  +MORE

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MWG Marketing Services

MyWebGrocer

MyWebGrocer provides the most technologically advanced grocery solutions today. Our offerings include planning & shopping platforms, mobile & social tools, along with digital circulars, recipes, shopping lists, coupons, and store location services. Having a great online destination is just one piece of the puzzle - engaging with your customers and getting them to your site is another. MWG Marketing Services provides a suite of tools and services to broadcast your content and promotions across the web through multiple digital channels, build interactive destination pages, and keep the conversation alive with personalized messaging. +MORE

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Solutions for Retailers

MyWebGrocer

Online Grocery Shopping: MyWebGrocer provides the most technologically advanced grocery solutions today. Our offerings include planning & shopping platforms, mobile & social tools, along with digital circulars, recipes, shopping lists, coupons, and store location services. Planning Tools: Seamless mobile and online integration links together interactive store locators, digital circulars, online recipes, coupons and shopping lists. Our planning tools help customers shop, plan and save money wherever they are, whenever they want. Marketing Services: Having a great online destination is just one piece of the puzzle - engaging with your customers and getting them to your site is another. Marketing Services complements the Planning and Shopping Environments with a suite of tools and services to broadcast your content and promotions across the web through mutiple digital channels, build interactive destination pages, and keep the conversation alive with personalized messaging.  Professional Services: MyWebGrocer offers a suite of Professional Services that builds on and expands our digital capabilities to deliver IT enabled solutions to the retailer in the grocery store marketplace.  Ad Platform: Reach consumers at the point of decision and put your brand in front of the largest audience 100% focused on groceries. My WebGrocer works with 130 retailers, representing 10,000+ stores. Advertisers on our network recognize and benefit from the ability to influence consumers in planning and purchase mode.  +MORE

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Solutions for Brands

MyWebGrocer

MyWebGrocer Media: Reach consumers at the point of decision and put your brand in front of the largest digital audience 100% focused on groceries.  Marketing Solutions: Our native content and tools, weekly sales information, diverse grocery audiences, and valuable data about online grocery shopping habits is what makes us stand out. Marketing solutions help your brand stand out on grocery retailer sites, and many of these approaches can be applied across the web when you need additional reach and want to support broader shopper marketing initiatives.  Data & Insights: We help our advertisers to understand the value of reaching digitall engaged shoppers, and learn about online behavior that can inform media strategy. MWG offers a variety of studies to gauge campaign impact, provider a 360 degree view of consumer behavior.  Audience Extension: Identify preferred geographic, demographic or purcahse intent user segments, and MyWebGrocer's media optimization team will target consumers across the web to drive retailer engagement and product awareness. Leverage the full complement of MWG dynamic ads, circulars content, brand destinations and audience data & insights. Maximum reach, maximum awareness and measurable impact to in-store sales.  +MORE

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Omni-channel E-Commerce Platform

VIC

VIC's E-Commerce and Shopping Trip Planning platform brings everything together under one integrated web site so you can offer your shoppers real time access to shop your stores, manage loyalty accounts, clip digital coupons, view circulars and create shopping lists. It creates a shopping destination that is tailored to your brand, your systems and partners so you can differentiate. You can upsell, cross-sell and personalize your website with intelligent targeting and content. Your employees can fulfill online orders with live in-store fulfillment tailored to their jobs. The platform extends to stores with seamlessly integrated kiosks and digital signage for true omni-channel capabilities to drive in-store purchasing decisions. Additionally with email, text, voice and location based technologies, it delivers marketing tools to reach shoppers or let shoppers reach you no matter where they are. You can drive your own digital strategy no matter what the current and future competition is, with complete enterprise customization around your market, strengths, and marketing message. +MORE

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TONE

The TONE Knows, Inc. ("TONE")

TONE, in it’s most simple form, is “audio-beacon” technology. An instantaneous direct-to-device marketing & analytics technology platform, TONE uses imperceptible, embedded audio “tones” to deliver contextual content directly to mobile devices WITHOUT THE EXPENSIVE HARDWARE. We integrate the customer’s entire brand journey. +MORE

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KarConnect

Let's Nurture

Along with the Real-time tracking, KarConnect helps you to understand the health of your car, driving behaviour and fault detection in multiple languages in your vehicle. The web app allows you to remotely monitor your vehicle along with the driving pattern of the driver. This custom built IoT app solution also offers emergency roadside assistance and nearby service centers. +MORE

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Natural Commerce

Natural Commerce

Natural Commerce is the only combination Endless Aisle and Group Buying Platform CO-OP BUYING FOR THE DIGITAL AGE. You win and your customers win by minimizing leakage. By having more selection online to meet more customer’s needs, you prevent customers from going somewhere else to find what they’re looking for. You win and your customers win by maximizing revenue and profit. By expanding your online assortment, you will fully leverage your customer base and your share of wallet with a value proposition on food and products not found in stores or on your current website--along with great prices and free shipping to maximize conversion, cart size, and frequency of purchase.  EDI and API Integrations  GREATER SELECTION = MEETING THE NEEDS OF MORE CUSTOMERS With a greater selection, you’ll fully leverage your customers while they are in “buy mode” on your site and by meeting those needs you’ll sell more products, to more customers, more often. Whether you want to add 300, 3,000, or 30,000 additional SKU’s, Natural Commerce makes it fast, painless, and incredibly cost-effective. Because you go beyond brick and mortar boundaries, you can strategically expand assortment to better meet each customer’s needs and expectations. And more personalization means more sales and revenue for you. At Natural Commerce, we specialize in adding the best Natural, Specialty, and Organic products in the world to our SKU set. Unlike other providers, we take the entire vendor onboarding process off your hands, so you can stay focused on operating your retail business, instead of troubleshooting with suppliers and worrying about your supply chain. Simply put, through the Natural Commerce platform, you're instantly connected to a virtual inventory through our unmatched network of trusted Natural, Specialty, and Organic product and food suppliers—precisely managed to your specifications and preferences.  Welcome to Intelligent Inventory. With true on-demand distribution, there’s no need to stockpile inventory or build fulfillment and distribution centers. Natural Commerce’s fulfillment network help you maximize profitability, free up capital, and minimize costly surpluses. WHY DOES THE NATURAL COMMERCE ADD-ON ENDLESS AISLE MAKES SENSE? Our turn-key Endless Aisle website solution instantly gives your customers significantly more selection while you don’t have to:  Purchase or Hold Inventory Pay for Additional Labor Have Breakage Deal with Fulfillment, Shipping, or Logistics Choose from over 20,000 products to make available under your brand name, as you see fit. Because only Natural Commerce has the only combination online Endless Aisle and Group Buying Platform with a complete front end-website, you're guaranteed to deliver the lowest prices to your customers at the highest margins. White Label e-Commerce Sites  GREATER SELECTION = MEETING THE NEEDS OF MORE CUSTOMERS With a greater selection, you’ll fully leverage your customers while they are in “buy mode” on your site and by meeting those needs you’ll sell more products, to more customers, more often. Whether you want to add 300, 3,000, or 30,000 additional SKU’s, Natural Commerce makes it fast, painless, and incredibly cost-effective. Because you go beyond brick and mortar boundaries, you can strategically expand assortment to better meet each customer’s needs and expectations. And more personalization means more sales and revenue for you. OUR ENDLESS-AISLE, WHITE-LABEL WEBSITE SOLUTION Simply put, Natural Commerce does it all by delivering: A new, additional website that is a part of your omni channel solution. Think "YourBrandEndless.com", which we run. Natural Commerce will run everything from customer service to fulfillment under your newly branded site. Natural Commerce will also provide the promotional tools: Run site banner links from your existing site to the new Endless Aisle site. Build and provide postcard sized bag and box inserts (on recycled paper) at all checkout lines in all stores. Build and provide indoor signage at all stores. Build and provide weekly promotional emails to be sent to your entire email list. Build and provide weekly posts on your social media accounts. Plus, as the central aggregator for this space, Natural Commerce's group buying strategy provides for lower cost of goods than any individual brand can achieve on their own, which translates to lower cost for consumers. Your customers get the benefit of great food, prices and selection—along with free shipping. Natural Commerce goes well beyond brick and mortar (limited by shelf space), pick and pack (limited by brick and mortar), or old school purchasing and warehousing models, and delivers you a 15% margin on everything purchased with minimal bandwidth and effort and no setup costs or fees.  An Online Marketplace for Makers and Merchants  Natural Commerce is the only national, online, aggregated marketplace devoted exclusively to natural, specialty, and organic food and product makers. A truly aggregated marketplace to build your company's name, brand, reputation, and—most importantly—sales!  Natural Commerce allows Makers and Manufacturers of natural, specialty, and organic food and products to focus on what they do best: making yummy deliciousness and the best socially-responsible products. At Natural Commerce, we believe in natural, specialty, and organic food and products. We think everyone should be able to have access to the natural, non-processed, organic, gourmet, or dietary foods and products they want or need along with the responsible products they are looking for. We take the consumer access of a local farmer's market and bring it online with a staggeringly larger consumer reach. We do this by aggregating the access to your products on large and small online grocery stores alike. By leveraging the Natural Commerce platform you will be able to: Manage your product content on multiple e-commerce sites from one secure, centralized portal. Make your products available on all of our e-commerce and grocery websites to drive sales. Get the sales data you need to get your products onto the physical shelves of these retailers and grocers. The process is simple: Each maker or manufacturer signs up and logs into the Natural Commerce dashboard. The maker inputs all the details of each of their products and sends a sample product to Natural Commerce to be accepted onto the platform. Once accepted, their account goes live and their products get sold on the e-commerce sites of dozens of merchants (grocery stores and other retailers) from coast-to-coast. The maker is notified of a purchase and dropships the product to the customer. The maker and merchant are happy with the uptick in revenue, expanding their brand recognition, and their increase in market share. +MORE

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Zig Zag Global

ZigZag Global

We offer a range of services to help you manage, track and resell your stock.  We can sell your returns on over 25 different online market places.  We provide a suite of technology tools that integrate with the returns page on your site.  Integrate ZigZag with your eCommerce store ZigZag will provide you with an online portal, branded with your logo for mobile, tablet and desktop. This can be integrated with your website in minutes by using an iFrame or URL redirect. The customer can use this portal to submit a request for items to be returned. The customer then enters the order number and  their postcode or zip code for verification. The portal can also be accessed from a QR code on a dispatch note or from a link in an order confirmation email. The customer will be taken to a generic site hosted by ZigZag which can be also branded (e.g. yourbrand.zigzag.global/returns)  Your customers submit their returns The customer is then shown their shopping basket and they can select the item(s) they wish to return and select the reason for return from a customised list – we support over 25 languages. The customer can then be offered a list of courier options depending on the options that you wish to make available to the customer. This might include: Free or paid options for the customer Express & standard delivery options for the customer Pick up options from the customer’s home or place of work PUDO locations where the customer can drop off items to be returned The ability to print off a label to stick on the package and post to a local address  Track, manage and resell your stock Returns are fully tracked or part tracked wherever possible, and the ZigZag returns platform will give visibility on what’s coming back and how much it will cost before it has even left the customer. Once the item has been returned by the customer, ZigZag can open and inspect the goods to check they are as described. We can redirect the return to the place where it has the highest propensity to sell or send back via the most cost-effective route. Or if you’d like, we can list your returned stock on over 20 global marketplaces in many different languages until sold, on a revenue share basis. Once the item sells, you will be credited for the sale, turning your returns into cash without you having to lift a finger. +MORE

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How Marketers Can Use Augmented Reality to Their Advantage

Serena Garner, Y Media Labs

The world of advertising has been in the midst of developing for several years now. With the multitude of types of media vying for consumer attention, top creative digital agencies are rushing to keep up with innovation at every turn. One of the most recent strategies to emerge is augmented reality companies launching marketing campaigns with everyday brands. Untouched Marketing Potential Augmented reality truly entered the consumer conscious with the advent of Pokémon Go. In the game, adding imagery to the real world encourage users to immerse themselves more fully and engage more greatly with the experience. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the possibilities augmented reality offers. The marketing potential for augmented reality enhancement is predicted to be almost a trillion-dollar industry in the next ten years. As brands discover new ways to integrate their messaging with how users consume media, augmented reality will create incredibly detailed advertising experiences tailored to individual consumers. American consumption of media has reached an all time high, and augmented reality offers the promise of sustained contact and connection at any time of day. Major companies are already exploring new ways of enhancing shopping experiences. Products like Google Lens, which can identify objects with a phone camera, will provide instant access to consumers to a wealth of information about what product they’re focusing on. Meanwhile, the marketers utilizing this technology gain consumer insights, like how long users are viewing their products and what other products they viewed, all in real-time. By integrating this idea with  glasses equipped with augmented reality software, the way we see the world will be changed.  The headset market is already projected to hit 500 million sales in the next ten years. Bringing augmented reality technology outside of the smartphone expands its application, utility, and ease of use for consumers. Understanding Consumers Like Never Before Apple has released ARKit, a new platform for developers to create augmented reality experiences. The framework can recognize the visual space around an iPad and blend new objects and information directly into this real-world setting. What the ARKit’s development signifies is the start of shopping and advertising becoming an immersive experience. With augmented reality technology becoming more accessible, it makes it easier for marketers to harness its power for highlighting brands in stores or even sending information and imagery to headsets as customers walk down the street. With augmented reality development, the opportunity also exists for enhancing a brand’s market research. With integration of GPS, for instance, a company can know where a consumer is located at a given moment and then offer nearby discounts or opportunities. As they build detailed consumer profiles, they will be able to not only respond to individual needs, but also anticipate them. These new products will use machine learning and artificial intelligence processes to deliver the things that matter to consumers most. Imagine reading a book review, then being offered ways to purchase the book seamlessly. Or, watching a video about a vacation spot, and your augmented reality glasses highlight a travel agency when you pass one later in the day. Augmented reality takes the pre-existing benefits of audience targeting and increases them by providing  immediate feedback based on real-time behavior. Online shopping will become a more confidence-inducing experience, too. Imagine being able to see how a sofa will look in your living room in accurate scale and design before you get it home. Already, shoemakers are offering customizing opportunities that let buyers see completed designs before they’ve ordered. This  reduces product returns and increases sales conversions, which all hints at improved customer satisfaction and loyalty. Managing an AR Marketing Strategy Another opportunity for innovation will be companies that understand how to make sense of all this data for the consumer. Instead of being bombarded by floating ads, highlighted merchandise, or random media at every turn, consumers will need trusted software that will curate all this information into a more streamlined, personalized experience. These firms will join forces with brands and companies to provide creative, informative, and customizable augmented reality experiences with enormous sales potential. Marketing professionals will need to be work with both the management platforms and brands to produce strategies that target consumers with precision. Additionally, they will need at least a basic understanding of augmented reality technology, its related hardware, and how best to utilize its features for improving their marketing strategy. AR Marketing is Already Happening A recent DeLoitte survey demonstrates that companies are moving into the augmented reality space. Almost 90% of mid-size firms surveyed indicated that they are already deploying augmented and virtual reality enhancements to their products and marketing. The time is now for exploring how your brand will leverage augmented reality in a marketing strategy. This can pertain to advertising, how people interact with your products or services, or any other form of augmented reality’s vast applications. Regardless of the route you take, augmented reality continues to prove its potential in marketing as an engagement and ROI booster. +MORE

Y Media Labs

Y Media Labs

WE'RE IN THE BUSINESS OF MAKING THINGS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE We believe that if we make a difference for your customer, we'll make a difference for your business, too. From apps to websites, to AI and emerging technologies, our work has featured in Apple Commercials, Gartner's Magic Quadrant and Webby Awards.  DIGITAL PROJECT MANAGEMENT SERVICES  Many agencies rush in on launching the mobile product before taking the necessary steps needed in crafting an appropriate strategy. We choose to start with why you should develop a mobile design before helping you turn that idea into a comprehensive digital branding strategy. DIGITAL BRANDING & ONMICHANNEL PRODUCT STRATEGY - CROSS PLATFORM MOBILE DEVELOPMENT SERVICES Multiple factors contribute to the overall success of a digital branding strategy, such as the overall look and feel, the app performance for an omnichannel customer experience, the specific use cases of an app and an intuitive user experience. All of this falls under the mobile app strategy, which a digital brand strategist can assist in developing and executing. With the help of mobile product managers, you can craft a branded image that leads to success, from the app development stages through the app launch. APP ANALYTICS & USER ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY   Creating beautiful and intuitive mobile designs that serve the immediate needs of a user is great. Developing a digital branding strategy that will make your product known and downloaded by millions of users is even better. And that’s what we strive for here at Y Media Labs. No digital design is truly successful unless you have a very clear mobile engagement strategy on how to capture audience insights. Additionally, you need app analytics tools in place to measure user engagement. OUR UX DESIGN PROCESS - HOW WE DEFINE THE USER EXPERIENCE  At Y Media Labs, we have a rigorous lean mobile design process to create our award-winning apps. We have developed, adjusted, and perfected this process over time to make sure that we meet our clients’ business goals while creating an amazing user experience. By integrating our proprietary user research methodology into our UX design process, we make sure that every product created fulfills both client and customers’ needs.  IOT & WEARABLE APP DEVELOPMENT SERVICES  We are a fully staffed IoT development company  prepared to take your wearable and IoT innovative ideas to the next level by leveraging emerging technologies. We are a top full service design agency with proven success in IoT and wearable application development across platforms. +MORE

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How to Build and Scale a Successful Pickup Program

Jaron Waldman, Curbside

The double digit sales growth opportunity for retailers is Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) and  curbside pickup. 66% of shoppers have used BOPIS in the last 6 months and 90% of retailers are expected to offer BOPIS by 2021. Retailers like Lowes are now seeing 60% of their online orders being picked up in stores and Target saw a 10% increase in orders while testing of its curbside pick-up service. It’s probably clear by now that you need a pickup program, but how do you get started and what factors determine whether a program will be successful? Technology Any successful mobile order ahead program starts with the right technology. Companies need the right tools to consistently deliver exceptional pickup experiences that provide convenience and expected time savings for the mobile customers. Your mobile order ahead technology should integrate easily into your existing mobile app, provide an interface that simplifies fulfillment and handoff for store personnel serving order ahead customers, and provide accurate and reliable arrival alerts so you can deliver 5-star customer experiences, every time. In the past, businesses have only had available low-accuracy technologies like cameras, geofences and beacons. Unreliable technology meant that processes required that customers checkin, designate a specific pickup time, and/or reach out to the crew by phone if anything changed. At low volumes, those approaches were adequate, even though many customers don’t follow directions. Regardless when order volumes exceed 100 per week, standards and reliability become important and exceptions need to be minimized. Curbside’s arrival prediction technology, ARRIVE, opens up new possibilities for taking the friction out of real-world customer experiences by reducing customer wait time, increasing overall throughput, improving employee productivity, and enabling simple communications from customers to crew. In fact, it is now possible to greet customers by name with their order ready just as they arrive, making a one-minute pickup an attainable goal. It allows the crew to know where a customer is and can provide a work queue of “next served” like an old butcher shop, without the customer needing to check in or pull a number. Training Your order ahead technology can only be as effective as the store associates using it. Unfortunately, many retailers fail to invest in training employees in new tech. According to a Training Industry Report by Training Magazine, 68% of retailers are not increasing their training budgets. By failing to invest in training, companies are unable to utilize the full potential of their tech investment. They will often see negative results from their pickup program, but may not associate the failure of their program to the insufficient training of their staff. It is critical to the success of your program that staff are not only equipped with the right technology but also fully trained and empowered to maximize the ROI on your technology investments. Technology is a tool that is meant to simplify processes for both the customer and store associates. By investing in the right technology and training associates on how to use it effectively, you can remove friction from the entire pickup experience, from fulfillment through handoff. Even though pickup programs can often introduce expanded responsibilities for associates, the proper tech and training will allow associates to take on this added responsibility through more streamlined order fulfillment. Our ARRIVE web console makes it easy to get staff up to speed quickly on your pickup program as it was designed specifically for less experienced associates serving order ahead customers. It can be accessed from any existing store device for instant visibility into pickup order status, arrival ETAs, and customer wait time.   Data After investing in an order ahead technology and training store personnel to execute flawless pickups consistently, businesses need to ensure they have the right data to optimize and scale their pickup program. Partnering with a solution provider that offers advanced data and analytics will help you to understand key performance metrics like customer wait time, dwell time, and customer satisfaction.  These metrics help refine a program that has just launched and spot training needs as crews change and the program matures. One of the most important metrics to keep an eye on is customer wait time. The amount of time a customer waits is directly correlated to their likelihood to make a repeat purchase. The benchmark that retailers should strive for is 2 minutes or less. Customer that wait less than 2 minutes are 2x more likely to make a repeat purchase. Wait time can sometimes be difficult for retailers to capture, since it requires staff to close out pickup orders immediately after handoff. In these cases, dwell time can be a good surrogate for wait time. Dwell time is the time period that your customer is at your location from wheels/feet on premises to wheels/feet off premises. This metric can be especially useful as it can be measured solely with location technology, like Curbside’s ARRIVE technology, and does not require changes in processes and systems. If you’ve just started building your mobile order ahead program, or if you’re not seeing the results you’d like from your current program, contact us to discuss how Curbside can help you build and scale your order ahead program. Poor technology, lack of training and inattention to key metrics might be sabotaging your offering holding back repeat sales and referrals +MORE

Now-Commerce by Shipsi

Shipsi

We partner with brands and retailers to give online shoppers an additional option at check-out to receive merchandise in 1 hour or less.  Seamless Check-out Integration: Quick API integration to any e-commerce platform provides online shoppers with an immediate shipping option (Now-Commerce) and real-time tracking. Extensive Geographic Coverage & Aggregation: Our algorithm automatically selects a compatible transportation provider nearby based on time, price or both. Drive Revenue: Increase e-commerce sales by decreasing shopping cart abandonment.  Decrease Freight Cost: Any brand or retailer with our Now-Commerce solution no longer pays for freight. Seriously. Customer Service: Allow us to handle any questions or concerns that may arise with our dedicated support team working on your behalf. Analytics: Our user friendly dashboard enables you to proactively forecast demand by providing action based insights available in real-time. +MORE

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