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tech in the spotlight

IBM’s Supercomputer Watson is Now Your Best Shopping Companion

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 28, 2013 03:22 PM

It’s been more than two years since IBM’s Watson made its hit TV debut on Jeopardy! And now, Watson is the latest “cognitive, expert personal shopper” developed by an early stage partner in the IBM Watson Developers Cloud, digital shopping company Fluid.

Their Watson-powered app—the Fluid Expert Personal Shopper—marries Watson’s transformational cognitive computing that provides dialogue-driven assistance with product recommendations and content, letting consumers make queries using Watson’s natural language processing (NLP). 

But, “Watson’s natural language capabilities are not what make it special,” Brooke Aguilar, VP Global Business Development at Fluid told brandchannel. “The big differentiator is that Watson is a learning machine and one that quickly learns from and adapts with each interaction. In the context of digital shopping this presents a tremendous opportunity for Fluid to give consumers highly engaging and rich shopping experiences that are personalized and become more so with continued use.”Continue reading...


Macy's, Walmart Up the Ante for Black Friday Even As Its Relevance Wanes

Posted by Dale Buss on October 15, 2013 06:42 PM

Even as Black Friday is fading as the most frenetic custom of post-industrial American materialism, retailers find new ways of trying to keep it relevant. So now Macy's will open on Thanksgiving evening for the first time in the chain's 155-year history.

Macy's plans to open most of its stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, four hours earlier than the previously accelerated 12-midnight opening. "Black Friday is the biggest shopping event of the year and brings with it a level of fun and excitement to our customers around the nation," Peter Sachse, Macy's chief stores officer, said in a news release explaining the move.

Likewise, Walmart is trying to get an even bigger share of the Black Friday trade with its strategy for advertising heavily on TV during the highly watched trio of NFL games on Thanksgiving, something the chain historically hasn't done.Continue reading...


eBay Taps Online Personal Shopper Startup to Boost Fashion Sales

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 13, 2013 06:12 PM

Ever adapting, the retail world is the first to field consumer wants and needs. Now, with the latest fashion trends only a swipe away on mobile devices, retailers are scrambling to adopt the latest practices, particularly personalization.

eBay, which has recently expanded far beyond its roots in online auctions into e-commerce and on-the-go shopping with eBay Now is currently testing a six-month trial with London-based fashion startup Dressipi for its users in the UK. The service provides personalized clothing and accessory recommendations based on shape, size and brand preferences. 

Once users create their Fashion Fingerprint, Dressipi scours eBay for items that fit the users fashion profile, assembling a range of outfits fit for purchase from the site. eBay is also featuring a curated collection of clothes and accessories from Dressipi's team in its Fashion Gallery.Continue reading...


Global Consumers Vary on the Importance of Brand-Focused Shopping

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 15, 2013 11:24 AM

The whole branding industry may be for naught in North America. According to the new Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Shopping Behavior, those residing in North America and Europe are much more concerned about the pricing of a product than its brand. Meanwhile, consumers in the Asia and Asia Pacific regions are impulsive, brand-centric shoppers, while those in the Middle East and Africa tend to consult industry experts for advice on the most famous brands.Continue reading...


Walmart Poses Growing Risk to Local Supermarkets with Grocery Price Push

Posted by Dale Buss on June 27, 2013 10:41 AM

Thirty years after original charges of stomping out indigenous businesses were first levied against Walmart, the chain is still ticking off local retailers that have difficulty competing. Only nowadays, instead of small-town, independent hardware and apparel stores that couldn't hope to compare with Walmart's prices, it's grocery stores that are smarting from price comparisons with the giant.

The chain is continuing to gain market share in groceries and consumables, Advertising Age reported, in large part because of the hundreds of local market-basket price-comparison ads that it has been running in 70 metro markets across the country. The spots show actual grocery shoppers comparing actual receipts from competitive grocery chains to the prices they could have gotten at Walmart. Unhappy supermarket chains have tried but so far failed to besmirch the veracity of the ads.Continue reading...


Bloomingdale's Window Displays Woo Shoppers with Virtual Fittings

Posted by Mark J. Miller on April 19, 2012 02:40 PM

New Yorkers hate to waste time and Bloomingdale’s new window displays are designed to save them a few minutes (while drawing a big crowd, of course). Bloomies has gone virtual in its window displays, allowing customers to try on sunglasses without even entering the store.

The New York Daily News reports that virtual-reality technology in six windows “projects designer shades onto shoppers who simply stand in front of the” the store’s windows. Customers simply align their eyes to ovals on the windows and then the sunglasses appear around them. They can tap on icons on the window to change to different glasses. And they can turn their heads and see what the arm of the glasses would like as well.

“It’s a little tricky at first, and a little weird with people walking by, but it’s neat,” 26-year-old Julia Snowden told the Daily News.Continue reading...


Retailers Prepare for Careful, Controlled Holiday Spending

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 10, 2011 12:30 PM

This holiday shopping season will be dominated by the ‘precision shopper’ as 72% of U.S. consumers will be consciously minding their budgets according to the latest annual Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey.

Accenture projects that discretionary gift spending this holiday will be consonant with the strains on consumer’s wallets and economic concerns. ‘Extravagant’ or ‘unrestrained’ spending is planned by only 6% surveyed while 24% expect a ‘thrifty’ holiday season with one in five (18%) ‘focused on necessities.’

While 88% plan to spend the same or less than last year, a spike from shoppers with income exceeding $100,000 (71% of respondents) expect to spend at least $500 on gifts in a segmented boost for retailers. 

“This holiday season will see the balance of power continue to tip in favor of the consumer,” stated Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s retail practice. “‘Precision shoppers’ will dominate. They will be very targeted about where and what they buy, and will be more inclined to shop around for the best value.”Continue reading...


Major Retailers Gearing Up to Battle Amazon at Holiday Time

Posted by Mark J. Miller on August 19, 2011 02:14 PM

You might not want to think about the holidays just yet, but major retailers have been laying out and executing battle plans since the final cash register drawers closed on 2010.

The main investment for many large retailers, according to Bloomberg, is online. “Last holiday season, online sales reached a record $32.6 billion, up 12 percent over the previous year,” according to market researcher ComScore Inc., Bloomberg reports.

Even though the overall economy is struggling, that dollar amount is expected to go up at the end of this year. Bloomberg points out that some “budget-conscious shoppers” are now making their purchases online, where prices can easily be compared and free delivery can get products directly to their end destinations.

“Many brick-and-mortar retailers have had their ‘a-ha’ moment as Amazon continues to grow and the Internet is getting more viable,” said Mick Mountz, chief executive officer of Kiva Systems Inc., which builds warehouse robots that help orders get fulfilled quickly, according to Bloomberg.Continue reading...

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