Episode 25: 2 Walmarts = 1 Amazon

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Walmart + Walmart = Amazon

  • Wal-Mart Stores Inc. last week said it’s “testing new approaches in two recently opened supercenters” in Tomball, TX, and Lake Nona, FL featuring new layouts and technology to improve the shopping experience, according to a corporate blog post written by Jeff Muench, senior director of Business Development.
  • The layouts bring services like beauty salons and tech repair near relevant merchandise. Health and wellness departments are consolidated, and baby, toys, kids’ apparel and kids’ shoes “form a single destination to ease mom’s shopping journey,” Muench said.
  • The stores also include Wal-Mart’s revamped “Scan and Go” checkout technology, which works with smartphones and handheld devices provided by Wal-Mart. Plus, interactive information projected onto tables and walls allow customers to learn about connected devices like Google Home, Apple TV, Nest, baby monitors and connected thermostats. Interactive screens also provide an “endless aisle,” featuring items available online but not necessarily found in stores, according to the blog. Customers can also page store staff via WiFi-connection buttons throughout the store.
  • It took Amazon 18 years as a public company to catch Walmart in market value. It took less than another two years for Amazon to be worth twice as much.
  • On the 20th anniversary of Amazon’s IPO, Amazon’s market cap stands at $459 billion before the market opens for trading. Walmart’s? $228 billion.



IoT Becoming Mainstream

  • Gartner anticipates that in 2017 there will be 8 billion connected devices — 26 billion by 2020; other forecasters anticipate 50 billion, even 100 billion.
  • Chris Kozup, vice president of marketing at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, says retail is at the leading edge of industries looking to adopt IoT use cases. “It’s not the leader,” he says, “but it certainly is within the top five industries that are finding and using different IoT applications.”
  • RFID – E-commerce and omnichannel have made it vital that retailers know where inventory is, and Mitchell says retailers are putting their money into RFID and inventory tracking. “I was always enamored by the promise of RFID, but it seemed there were so many barriers to entry,” he says. “Now it seems it’s mainstream.”
  • Touchpoints – “The value comes from enabling new touchpoints, and enriching relationships through prescriptive engagement. Sensors improve transparency to goods in motion,” Hand says. “But connecting that information to where the customer is in their shopping journey informs engagement, relationships/loyalty and conversion rates.
  • Energy Savings – Mitchell also sees retailers adopting energy savings initiatives through IoT. “Any new lighting going into stores now is smart lighting,” he says. “It will pay for itself with savings out of the gate. It’s an easy investment for the retailer, and it represents the start of building an in-store sensor platform for us to do much smarter things.”

Analyst Knows Best

According to Kenny Yeo, there are three key technological drivers — automation, awareness, and immersion — that traditional retailers should focus on.

Firstly, automation helps with basic standard tasks, such as stock-taking, which allows for more time for staff to interact with consumers.

Awareness allows retailers to use technology such as online trackers to detect both the physical interaction of customers in stores as well as shopping habits on websites. This allows them to understand the consumer’s buying behavior.

Lastly, immersion gives retailers the power to influence customers’ buying habits in store and online by using previously collected information from tracking services. This can happen through the use of apps, location services and even augmented reality.



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