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17 Retail Trends for 2017 - Fung Global Retail & Technology

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The rise of e-commerce over the last 10 years or so has forced retailers to adapt to the changes demanded by consumers. E-commerce growth continues to accelerate and outpace growth in the brick-and-mortar channel, and online sales accounted for almost 20% of total US sales this holiday season, based on preliminary estimates. In addition, department stores have offered discounts and promotions as a key tool to drive demand and bring consumers into stores. Over time, this strategy can dilute a store's brand and leave stores looking picked through. Also, it trains consumers to wait for discounts instead of buying products at full price. There has been a significant number of store closures in the last few years, and we expect that to accelerate in 2017 and in the following few years. As the department store channel shrinks, and more brands fight for less space, we think brands will need to be more creative, flexible and diversified in their approaches. One way brands can disrupt the more traditional wholesale channel without taking on the significant real estate risk that comes with opening their own stores is to open pop-up stores. With pop-ups, brands have complete creative control of the brand experience and how their messaging is communicated to consumers. They can tell the story they want to tell and explain in their own voice what the brand stands for. In some cases, brands use pop-ups more as an advertising tool than as a place to transact commerce. These kinds of pop-ups usually offer some kind of special experience to draw consumers into the store. Pop-ups can also be set up in locations other than malls, allowing brands to reach their target customers where they are. Retailers and brands can also use pop-ups to test the waters in the most expensive shopping areas, often at discounted rents, while landlords can use the temporary stores to show off the space to prospective long-term tenants. Mall operators are receptive to pop-ups, as they bring something new and unique to consumers. Real estate firm Related Companies has used pop-up shops at the Time Warner Center in New York City to provide a fresh feel and add variety for consumers.


Billion Dollar Shave Club: L.A. start-up is purchased by Unilever for a staggering sum

Los Angeles Times

One of the darlings of the Los Angeles' start-up scene is cashing in on a 1-billion payday -- a rise fueled by a disruptive business model and a series of offbeat viral ads. But this company does not traffic in virtual reality headsets, video games or disappearing messages. Its business, instead, focuses on one of mankind's oldest gadgets: razors. Dollar Shave Club's sale to consumer products titan Unilever, announced Monday, is the biggest acquisition ever of a venture-backed start-up in Los Angeles. And it's a vote of confidence in the city's start-up scene -- one that has quietly emerged as a hub for e-commerce.


Interactive kiosk innovations let loose at NRF Big Show

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Malcolm Fisher of Domino's Inc. learns about the Zivelo self-order kiosk from Mike Moon at the NRF Big Show. The merging of digital and physical retail continues to advance at a rapid pace, giving new life to an industry that many believed was headed for oblivion. The race to introduce interactive technologies in stores has unleashed a historic demand for self-service kiosks that was in full view at the NRF Big Show at Javits Center in New York City this week. Self-serve kiosks were dominant on the trade show floor, offering a range of technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality, facial recognition, voice recognition, machine learning, advanced analytics, digital currency acceptance and more. The cashierless store concept, spearheaded in the past year by Amazon Go, has spawned scores of competitors, several of which were on display at NRF.


Cheetos lip balm, Google and New Coke among the 50 worst product flops of all time

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Google finally ceased operations in April after eight years of efforts to boost interest in the struggling social network. The long-anticipated shutdown represents just the latest major Google product to fail to live up to its promise. Google has gained notoriety for scuttling dozens of projects, but just like success, failure is part of doing business. Entrepreneurs and large companies often take on big risks, hoping for success but not always finding it. These failures can take many different forms. Often, a product simply does not connect with consumers and does not sell. In other cases, it may not come close to meeting a company's expectations or plans, or it is recalled or discontinued for some flaws. These can all be marked as failures. While failures are expected, some can be so catastrophic they can lead to permanent damage to a company's reputation, layoffs, and even complete financial ruin. The real cost of cutting the cord: What streaming companies don't want you to know Sometimes, it can take years or even decades for a product flop to disappear from the market. This was the case with Betamax, a video format that Sony introduced with the expectation it would replace VHS. Despite being technologically superior to VHS, Betamax lost market share until it eventually vanished. Some of the products on this list were among the most highly anticipated products of the year, and when released, they were the biggest product launches of the year – that is, before failing.


The Breathless Rhetoric (and Prosaic Economics) of Virtual Reality

The New Yorker

Walking through the annual South by Southwest Interactive festival earlier this month, in Austin, you got the sense that one segment of the ever-optimistic U.S. tech industry was feeling particularly sunny. With Facebook just weeks away from launching the long-awaited consumer version of the Oculus Rift, which came out this Monday, virtual reality was clearly the belle of the ball. There were demonstrations everywhere, involving the usual suspects (Samsung, Google, cyber-pornographers) and a host of other brands. Budweiser offered V.R. tours of a brewery. McDonald's allowed guests to paint the inside of a virtual Happy Meal box.