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Retail Assist in the USA

The Top Halloween Retail Trends of 2019
  • 14 Oct 2019
All Treats, No Tricks! The Top Halloween Retail Trends of 2019
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Lead What’s scary, sweet and worth a lot of money? Halloween might have traditionally derived from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, but it could prove scary for retailers that choose to ignore its full potential. Here are the top Halloween retail trends of 2019. Haunt Couture: America Halloween Retail Trends The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual Halloween survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, explored the American trends set to take this year by storm. Shoppers say they will spend an average of $86.27 each this Halloween (a figure which is down just slightly from $86.79 in 2018). So how does that translate into spending? The breakdown of each category is suggested as $31.05 on costumes, $26.03 for decorations, $25.37 on sweets and $3.82 on greetings cards, showing a shift away from the perception that Halloween is merely celebrated as a food and drink event, allowing more scope for retailers to cash in. But how are consumers looking to participate? 69% plan to celebrate by handing out sweets, with 49% planning on decorating their homes, 44% will carve a pumpkin, 32% will throw or attend a party, 29% will take their children trick-or-treating, 22% will visit a haunted house and 47% are planning on dressing in costume. And it’s not just the humans – 17% of people plan to dress their pet in costume too, with the most popular pet costumes including pumpkins, hotdogs and superheroes. Whilst 35% of those surveyed cited online search as their top source of costume inspiration, the most popular adult costumes don’t really deviate from the most traditional: 8.9% said they planned on going as a witch, with 3.6% dressing as vampires and 3.1% as superheroes. Historically, the UK has a tendency to mirror the USA’s retail trends, so it’s interesting to see the rise of 18-24 year olds planning on taking part this year; although Halloween might be associated more with children going trick-or-treating, there’s a rise of young adults participating, with 66% of 18-24-year-olds in 2009 to 73% in 2019. Is this something that we’ll see mirrored on our side of the pond this year? Spooky Figures? UK Halloween Retail Trends In 2018, Halloween proved a real treat for retailers; although traditionally more of an American holiday than one celebrated on our side of the Atlantic, 51.5% of UK consumers spent on the occasion. Emily Salter, Retail Analyst for GlobalData, who conducted the survey, said: “More consumers bought clothing and costumes, driven by 16-34 year olds participating in Halloween events where dressing up is encouraged. Additionally, clothing retailers including ASOS and Topshop launched Halloween discounts across their websites on the day of the event, using the occasion as an excuse to drive sales across the board.” And it’s not just online opportunities for brands to take part; with Halloween now the third biggest retail event (behind Christmas and Easter), it means that bricks-and-mortar retailers have an opportunity to engage with their customer base. Ojay McDonald, Chief Executive at the…
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NRF Store Experience
  • 28 Jan 2019
Seeing what’s in-store! Our best New York store experiences
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive We can’t quite believe NRF Expo was two weeks ago. Whilst we were in The Big Apple, we took the liberty of investigating the best of New York’s store experiences – purely in the name of research, you understand… Click here to watch the video on YouTube Nike Store The Nike store on 5th Avenue was impressive to say the least. With vivid displays, clued-up store assistants and contemporary music, shoppers could scan QR codes attached to mannequins through the Nike Store app to have the whole outfit delivered to a changing room in all the correct sizes. Along with this, shoppers could also book a slot to design their own trainers, with the base style of trainer changing regularly. The Nike store was a great example of how retail is using technology to support the customer experience, rather than to detract from it. The knowledge that their store assistants held and explained was really impressive, and everyone that we spoke to came across as educated in Nike stock and processes, whilst being welcoming and friendly. Starbucks Reserve Roastery One of only four in the world, this Starbucks is a little bit more than your average coffee shop. The store offered an immersive coffee experience that stirred the senses; roasting their coffee beans on-site gave gorgeous, rich aromas, with tasting stations and staff dotted around to inform and assist customers on the many different coffee beans that they could try. Different sections of the store gave different experiences; the retail section had many Starbucks merchandise, all with an unusual – and sometimes cheeky – take on coffee paraphernalia. The café (both upstairs and downstairs) had an array of coffees from around the world, with many drink varieties, sweet and savoury treats and a luxurious interior with open fires and metallic surfaces made for a modern yet snug place to meet up with friends. This massaging of the five different senses made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience that almost made you forget that you were inhabiting a retail space. Five Below “Any suggestions for where we should visit whilst we’re in New York?” we asked the shop assistant. Maybe she’ll recommend a restaurant, or a landmark, we thought. “Well, I haven’t been, but everyone’s talking about Five Below,” she replied. “It’s just opposite our shop and it’s meant to be really fun!” It seemed slightly odd that – out of all the possible things that one could do to pass the time in New York – that a store assistant would recommend another store – especially one that was in no way affiliated to her own store. It seemed odd further still to recommend a store that followed the premise that everything in there was $5 and below, like the American version of Poundland. And yet, when we visited, we could see why it would be one experience to talk about. When we entered the foyer, two store assistants were laughing and playing tennis with…
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NRF 2019 Day One Vlog
  • 21 Jan 2019
#NRF2019: Technology Takeaways
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive Just one week ago, we were at the NRF Big Show held at the Javits Center, New York City. With the members of the global retail community in attendance, there was a turnout of 37,000 people, viewing over 800 exhibitors and our Marketing Team were there to capture all the highlights across both days. Including top technology, industry insights and in-depth interviews with retail experts Miya Knights and Andrew Busby, our vlogs cover all you need to know from Retail’s Big Show. Missed our vlogs and blogs? Don’t worry – you can catch them below. Day One Click here to watch our Day One Vlog on YouTube Our Day One coverage reports on the rise of cryptocurrency in retail, the evolution of drone technology and an interview with journalist, author and Head of Industry Insight for Eagle Eye, Miya Knights. Miya shares with us her reflections on the key trends showcased at this year’s expo, including her predictions for retail in 2019. Day Two Click here to watch our Day Two Vlog on YouTube Our Day Two coverage looks at the rise of robotics within retail, vivid digital holographic displays and how retailers can make best use of in-store apps to reach customers from the comfort of their own sofa. All this and our interview with retail influencer, Andrew Busby, and his reflections on the future of retail – does he believe in the ‘death of the high street’? For more of our vlogs, subscribe to our YouTube channel here.…
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Day Two NRF 2019
  • 16 Jan 2019
NRF Day Two: “Dead? No – retail is in great shape!”
Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive After another day of walking the show floor at the NRF Big Show, we have even more highlights to share. From robots to holograms, digital displays to in-store apps, we have our top takeaways from Day Two, all topped off with fascinating insights from top retail influencer, Andrew Busby. We’ve had a fantastic time at NRF 2019 and we hope you’ve enjoyed our updates. Click here to watch the video on YouTube In-store Digital Apps Hero is an app that allows customers to interact with store staff from the comfort of their own homes. Initiating a chat through the brand’s website, the customer is connected to a store assistant, preferably within the customer’s locality. The store assistant is then able to send photos and product recommendations to the customer, answer any queries and is also able to show live video – a huge help for customer queries regarding size and fit as the assistant would be able to not only show the item in detail, but also try things out. Throughout the chat, the store assistant is also able to track the customer’s journey through the website and see what other items they might be browsing, to offer the best shopping experience and bring bricks-and-mortar into the home environment. Robotics Whilst robots seem to feature most years at NRF, we noticed an increase in the functional support that robots offer, helping to improve the customer experience. Chinese mega-brand, Alibaba, was showcasing its robotic waiters; customers simply walk into the restaurant based in their Freshippo supermarket (formerly called Hema) in Shanghai, China. After ordering through their app, the robot waiter collects the food from the kitchens and delivers the food to where the customers are sitting, before flipping open its lid, allowing the customer to take the food out. Conversely, Tompkins Robotics have designed a robot to support warehousing, with an automated material handling sortation system. Their t-Sort system has a tray that sits onto of a wheeled mobile unit; the robotic unit can wheel in any direction and the tray on top flips to help sort items into boxes placed around the robot’s path. Digital Displays One stand that impressed us this year from within the Innovation Lab was delivered by Hypervsn, a digital display system that integrates a holographic display. The system is comprised of LED lights and air fans, delivering vivid, intense colour and a 3D effect. With awe-inspiring visuals, the image appears to ‘float’ in mid-air – quite magical! Expert Opinions Andrew Busby is the writer and founder of Retail Reflections, with a finger firmly on the pulse of all things retail. Offering his thoughts on the show this year, he said: “One thing I’ve noticed is that, two years ago, artificial intelligence was being talked about in isolation for the sake of technology. However, going around the show, I’ve noticed that it is now embedded in the solutions you see, with phrases used like ‘driven by AI’ or ‘deep learning’.”…
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NRF Vlog Day one 2019
  • 15 Jan 2019
NRF Day One: “The Store is very far from dead!”
  Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive As the sun sets on Day One from the NRF Big Show, we reflect on our highlights from the first day. With over 700 exhibitors and 37,000 people attending, The Big Show certainly lives up to its name, packed full of ideas and developments. However, whilst we’ve caught up with familiar faces over the last 24 hours, we’ve also spotted familiar technology being showcased at the show, along with the usual industry disruptors that one would expect to see. Here’s a round-up of the evolutions, the revolutions and retail reflections from industry expert, Miya Knights. Click here to watch the vlog on YouTube Evolutions They might have been spotted at Gatwick Airport recently, disrupting flights and causing havoc, but drones are also set to disrupt traditional shelf management within the retail industry, too. Whilst drone technology is nothing new, Pensa Systems have developed a drone that uses strategic visibility to navigate stores to report on shelf stock. This evolution in drone technology has enabled the drone to learn and recognise as a human does, with all natural variations making the drones smarter. Operating both after hours and selectively within store hours, the drone charges every time it lands; all the drone needs to know is where it’s going and then learns from that, enabling retailers to keep accurate data on shelf stock. However, it might be some time before we see if this idea really takes off… Revolutions A new trend appearing was the availability of cryptocurrency within retail. Bitstop, a Bitcoin ATM, allows users to see the exchange rate changing in real time, accepting cash deposits and converting these to Bitcoin shares. Andrew Barnard, Bitstop’s co-founder, explained that he was inspired to create Bitstop after thinking about how his mum could buy Bitcoin; although she had cash savings and an interest in investing it, she lacked the technical expertise to know how to convert it to cryptocurrency. This easily accessible technology now sees Bitstop in supermarkets, airports, retail spaces and even petrol stations. Lolli also makes Bitcoin easily available but works as a cashback site. However, rather than a cashback amount in a usual monetary value, it gives the customers up to 30% back via Bitcoin. Although it’s only been running for five months, Lolli is already operating with 500 retail agents and has plans for global development. Expert Opinions She’s an author, journalist and Head of Industry Insights at Eagle Eye, and what Miya Knights doesn’t know about retail simply isn’t worth knowing. We caught up with her to give her reflections on this year’s NRF Big Show, with her analysis of the latest trends and developments. Miya said: “Retailers have been stung in the last couple of years – but 2019 will be a great year to be a consumer.’ She continued: ‘Unlike in previous years, the focus of the 2019 NRF Big Show has shifted from e-commerce back to the impact on store, with a real focus on digitisation…
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NRF Survival Guide
  • 7 Jan 2019
Q&A: A NRF Survival Guide
Alex Broxson, Retail Assist’s Head of Marketing, shares her top tips Written by Anna Murphy, Communications Executive 2019 will mark the 8th year that Retail Assist has attended the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Big Show in New York. Taking place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from Sunday 13th January – Tuesday 15th January 2019, Retail Assist’s Marketing Team will be bringing the latest tech updates and developments live from the Expo Hall. However, as a Big Show newbie, I haven’t got a clue where to start. But, luckily for me, Alex Broxson, Retail Assist’s Head of Marketing, is here to give me her top tips. Q: Alex, this is your 4th year of attending. What are you most looking forward to experiencing this year? Obviously the bright lights of New York certainly gives the show an exciting buzz.  Not only this, but it is often THE show to go to meet up with the majority of UK retailing, so I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there, too. For me, I find the ‘Innovation Hub’ one of the most exciting areas of the show.  It is here that we tend to see the latest in retailing and each year the area is allocated more and more space, so it’s definitely worth checking out.  The last time I attended the show in 2016, we spoke to IBM Watson and a car retailer in our Vlog; they had teamed up to develop machine learning, so that the car learnt about regular journeys to offer the driver incentives from retailers and leisure providers whilst driving around.  This technology was completely geared around the personalisation of messaging (literally!). We also saw the introduction of contactless payment technology.  The most interesting take away for me was a ring that was pre-credited with money, which you could then pay with.  It gained power from the blood pumping around your veins: I found this pretty incredible. Aside from the show, the networking events will be great; it’s at these events that we look forward to catching up with faces old and new. Q: This will be my first experience of the NRF Big Show. Here at Retail Assist, we specialise in fashion retail, so I’m especially keen to hear your thoughts on what I should pack?! Firstly, take something warm! New York is always freezing in January. Secondly, wear comfy shoes for the show: it might sound obvious, but there are a lot of miles to cover… Lastly, pack some nice outfits for all retailing events we will be attending whilst out there.  We’ll be heading to the Marriott Marquis on the Sunday evening for the opening night reception, and there’ll also be dinners across the few days that we’re there, including the famous McDonald Butler NRF Party on the Monday evening. Q: Brilliant, thank you! What are your three essential items to take? My big winter coat! An iPhone, so that we can share the latest updates on social media and You Tube. My ever-expanding…
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NRF 2018 Retail Assist
  • 22 Jan 2018
NRF 2018: Technology Takeaways
Retail Assist NRF 2018 We’re back from another successful visit to NRF 2018, Retail’s BIG Show and Expo. Over 5 floors at the Jacobs K Javits Center in New York, we were immersed in the latest solutions, technology developments, and trends driving retail in 2018 and beyond. If you haven’t already watched our NRF 2018 vlogs, reported by Rhianne Poole, you can watch Day 1’s vlog here, Day 2 here, and both below. We bring you 5 minute round ups of the top technologies seen each day: So, what were Retail Assist’s key technology takeaways? “Retail is nothing without AI” Once again, and as reported in 2017, artificial intelligence came out on top. However, at this year’s Show artificial intelligence was taken to the next level through relevant application in retail. We were excited to see many use case scenarios and retailer case studies, taking AI from conceptual to applied benefits. AI has transitioned from “data is the new oil” to “retail is nothing without AI”. Retailers must see how critical it has become to operations as well as the customer experience. Beyond more relevant personalisation, there are opportunities for better product visibility, better product suggestion, and enhanced stock positioning. No longer an example in isolation, AI is offered with complementary technologies, such as inventory search; when blended together it becomes a valuable offering which the consumer can relate to.  IBM Watson, always a leader in AI, has applied Watson technology to its retailer chatbots, which are able to understand and respond to the tone of voice used by the customer in the chart below. Should the customer type more quickly, or use a frustrated tone of voice, the chatbot will adapt its semantics and speed of response to fulfil their demand with the best reaction. This leads us onto the next trend – convenience. The customer journey must exist at lightning speed, from browsing, to selecting a product, to payment completion. As Andrew Busby put it, automation is not to be afraid of in retail, and technologies such as those offered by Slyce and Mercaux make the product discovery process more fun, as well as more successful. Convenience for the retailer is just as important: and RFID has finally become more mainstream, enabling greater store and warehouse stock accuracy. We saw examples of an RFID gun sweep in 5 seconds recording over 200 pieces of inventory – pretty impressive for a daily stock take. The dress below has dual tagging – RFID and security embedded within one tag, which can be easily re-encoded. For the retailer, store associate, or customer, AI will combine with more and more elements of the retail customer journey to offer convenience and optimised experienced.…
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  • 17 Jan 2018
NRF 2018 Vlog Day 2
Retail Assist NRF 2018 Hello again from New York! Rhianne Poole from Retail Assist’s Marketing team brings you more highlights from Retail’s Big Show in the second of our NRF18 videos. In our video we see demos from L’Oréal and Fingopay, as well as catching up with Retail Analyst Andrew Busby and hearing his highlights from NRF 2018. Press play below to watch the video, or watch it on YouTube here. (You can catch up with our Day 1 round-up here). AR (Augmented reality) Augmented reality and digital mirrors have been around for a while in the retail space, but we were pleased to see more realistic and relevant user case scenarios in the beauty/cosmetics industry. Used with cosmetic brands, the technology improves the convenience of trying different make up looks, and provides post-engagement to increase conversion. The value of this technology to the customer was much more evident than in previous years. Frictionless payments By 2020, it is expected that more than $5.6 trillion in payments will be secured by biometric technology. Fingopay, developed by Sthaler, is the world’s earliest customer identification technology powered by Vein ID biometrics. Seamless payments remove the number of touchpoints in the transaction journey, and Fingopay is a great example of this. Fingopay not only offers greater convenience for the customer though frictionless checkout, but also provides benefits for the retailer. By integrating with the retailer’s loyalty proposition, engagement with the brand and repeat transactions are encouraged. Retail Reflections We also caught up with Andrew Busby, who gave his insights into the top trends this year at NRF18. We share perspectives on the empowerment of the store and its teams. The place of the store in the retail customer journey must be prioritised: 98% of Gen Z still want to shop there. Experiential Retail is key for their demographic. To sum up the sentiment of the conference, sessions and Expo itself – Retail will be nothing without AI. You can check out Retail Reflections’ NRF18 content on their website here.…
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  • 16 Jan 2018
NRF 2018 Vlog Day 1
Retail Assist NRF 2018 Hello from New York! Rhianne Poole from Retail Assist’s Marketing team brings you highlights from the Show in the first of our NRF18 videos. The key trend we identified from Day 1 of NRF 2018 is the advancements in AI, turning the power of data into realistic, use-case scenarios. Watch our technology insights from NRF Expo 2018 in the below video or over on YouTube here. Here are our 3 tech highlights from NRF 2018 Day 1. AI for product visual search: Slyce Visual search was brought onto the retail scene last year by ASOS, to enable the customer to take a photo of a product in real life, on a catwalk, or from a magazine – whenever inspiration or a customer need occurs. Slyce is taking this to the next level, partnering with retailers such as American Eagle, Tommy Hilfiger’s UK and US app, and Urban Outfitters. Working with another AI disruptor, Find Mine (used by Adidas), Slyce offers slick integration with a chat bot to provide the instantaneous social commerce favoured by Gen Z. Slyce’s customers have reported a 20% increase in average order value thanks to the technology’s ability to successfully identify product in an engaging way, or offer similar items to close a sale. AI and conversational commerce: IBM Watson now reacts to emotion in real time during conversational commerce. The demo seen in our vlog above is applied to an online scenario, but also works paired through voice. AI is playing a role in the following: • Supply chain – for efficiency • Operational – for merchandising • Consumer – to interact in a retail context (voice, natural language, emojis). The consumer is the main focus for Watson Commerce. Watson’s Chatbot demonstrates conversational commerce and learns to undertake emotion, changing the content to meet consumer needs. In the demo, the user has asked to see a range of sweaters. She asks the chat bot “Add that to my cart”. But what is “that”? Watson is able to identify which item the user might desire based on the fact that she clicked into the item detail, and by inferring positive sentiments from her language use. Rather than a typical Siri based “all questions, less answers”, Watson has learned to pre-empt and suggest to improve the customer experience. This links to Google Home/Alexa, whereby asking “where is my order” can bring up previous order history and delivery details. And the buzzword process for cognitive? Understand, reason, learn, interact. You heard it here first! Digitisation of the store through smarter product looks You may have seen recently that Retail Assist has partnered with Mercaux. The in-store technology company enables retailers to transform their in-store shopping experience by bringing the benefits of digital into physical stores. Mercaux, which supports the likes of United Colors of Benetton, L.K. Bennett and French Connection, offers a mobile platform that unifies a retailer’s online and in-store sales experience and empowers store associates to deliver an exceptional omnichannel customer journey.…
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NRF 2018 retail trends
  • 8 Jan 2018
NRF 2018: Retail Technology Trends
NRF 2018 With just 6 days to go until NRF Big Show and Expo 2018, we’re preparing ourselves for the miles of retail technology on show. Taking place from Sunday 14th January – Tuesday 16th January 2018 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Kevin Greathead, Head of Partnerships, and Rhianne Poole, representing Marketing, will be in New York for the duration of the Show. CES 2018, the Consumer Electronics Show, taking place this week in Las Vegas, usually gives an insight into the types of innovations and retail technology trends we might expect to dominate 2018. At CES, wearable technology has become even smarter: how about L’Oreal’s nail-size chip that monitors UV exposure, or smart shoes which detect if its elderly wearer has fallen? Wearables have definitely evolved from ’tech-for-tech’s sake’ gadget types to genuinely useful devices that benefit the user in day-today experiences. And that’s the key word: experiences. Experience-led retail Oasis at Tottenham Court Road delights customers with a cocktail bar, coffee lounge, and in-house nail & hair salon. In 2018, retailers must focus on their customers’ omnichannel experiences, and the stories they want to hear. It’s no coincidence that Instagram launched ‘Stories’ last year as a method of documenting its users’ lives “in the moment”. Retail must follow this example to continue to excite and delight its customers. It has become a well-quoted statistic, but as Generation Z and millennials acquire a greater proportion of consumer spending power, they prefer experiences to a simple transaction: why they are buying an item (the story behind the product or experience surrounding the purchase), rather than what they are buying.   Retail Reflections has put forward “Immerse, Inspire, Intrigue” as the 3 pillars of customer experience for 2018. We’ll be meeting up with Andrew Busby, founder of Retail Reflections, and Vend Top 100 Retail Influencer, whilst in New York, so stay tuned for further insights. Retail Technology Vlog Retail Assist’s retail technology blog and NRF vlogs will combine new perspectives on retail trends, by identifying upcoming technology innovations as well as purposeful, easily deployable solutions.  If you’d like to meet up with us whilst in New York, just fill in your details here and one of our team will be in touch. Not attending NRF? Don’t miss an update! We’ll be tweeting @RetailAssist, posting Facebook Live videos and compiling NRF 2018 vlogs on our Youtube channel. Want to check out our highlights from NRF 2017? Watch our 2017 retail technology vlogs featuring RFID, AI, cognitive computing and more.…
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