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4 Awesome Things for Retail in 2018

Walmart's mission to cut in-store return time 30 seconds

Making a return at Walmart used to take about five minutes. The retailer is on a mission to cut that to 30 seconds, said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of Wal-Mart Services and Digital Acceleration. Take that Amazon.

Walmart is offering a simplified pickup and return process for online purchases by introducing in-store self-service kiosks, Pickup Towers and an app-based Mobile Express Returns service. To use the U.S. retailer’s Pickup Tower, customers scan a barcode on their purchase receipt. Within 45 seconds, a door on the machine opens, and the items appear on a conveyer belt. To make a return, customers can use the Walmart app to identify and select the products they want to return, go to the store, scan the QR code on the card reader and hand the item to the associate. Refunds are credited back to the payment accounts as soon as the next day. If all goes well, this program will be expanded to in store purchases as well.

What problem does this solve? Did you know at least 30% of all products ordered online are returned as compared to 8.89% in brick-and-mortar stores. 92% of consumers surveyed said that they will buy again if product return process is easy whereas 79% of consumers want free return shipping. Have you ever tried to return something from Amazon? It's not fun.

Samsung 837 is the store in New York City that doesn't try to sell you anything

It's true that the New York City store's employees won't push guests to buy any Samsung products, and the space has only a small amount of inventory on site, but the store is selling something else: the idea that Samsung will make shoppers happier than any other tech company.

Shoppers can lounge in one of the living room displays and consider how nice that newTV would look in their home. Or they can come to a free concert held in the store and send Snapchats to all of their jealous friends. One of the reasons the store has so many photogenic features is that Samsung wants visitors to take pictures and videos and share them with their friends on social media.

What problem does this solve?

The store employees engage the store shoppers from a truly solutions-based perspective. Instead of asking, "What phone or TV are you looking for?", they will ask questions like "What do you do on the weekends? What do you do in your downtime? Do you like to cook?"

eliminating the check-out continues

We were intrigued with the Amazon Go store and many retailers throughout the world have been experimenting with faster check outs from the stressful self-service lanes to in-store scanners. It's not just tech giants like Amazon or corporate behemoths like Walmart that are hoping to reduce the need for checkout lines. Kroger is expanding its Scan, Bag, Go self-checkout technology from a handful of stores in the Cincinnati area (which have been testing it for 5 years) to 400 stores in 2018. The system is mostly similar to Walmart's approach: you scan items as you add them to your cart throughout the store, letting you breeze through the self-checkout terminal once you've paid through your goods (in this case, at the terminal itself). It's not certain which stores will receive the tech, but an announcement is expected in early 2018.

Technology will capture the next generation of Beauty consumers

Augmented reality will be at the forefront of change in the beauty industry. Previously, we could have only imagined getting a text message from a beauty advisor sending us a new lipstick or blush to try on virtually — now it’s possible. Brand engagement that includes this type of experimentation and customization will ultimately win the loyalty of buyers who have grown up with technology. In addition, color technologies and color matching have emerged to allow any color of any product to be replicated in the virtual environment. Makeup artists can sample makeup colors, for example, by using their camera phone to capture the color and then apply it to a customer photo. The ability to accurately place makeup on the face virtually now looks so realistic that when you compare it to a photo of someone with actual makeup on, you can hardly distinguish the difference between the two.

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