The Lookout

Sears launches its marketplace

In the new “Fulfilled by Sears” program, the retailer seeks to leverage their extensive IT and distribution capabilities by offering an online marketplace experience. Third-party sellers will be able to get exposure to “Shop Your Way” rewards customers, and Sears will handle fulfillment.  We think the new venture has a lot going for it but we also have some questions.

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Amazon vs. Safeway

like magicFood for thought: Mark Rogowsky does a nice job of defining the challenge of keeping up with state-of-the-art 21st century retailers in his recent Forbes article, Amazon and Safeway: Magic vs. Maddening.  Rogowsky compares his Amazon experience, which continues to focus relentlessly on shopper satisfaction, to his experience at his local Safeway, where his frequency of visits has diminished from  “regular” to “once a month or so” over the last several years. more

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Foursquare's effort to transform the shopping experience

Foursquare Labs Inc., the startup that created an app enabling people to “check-in” their current location via smartphone, seems to be positioning itself in the thick of efforts to transform the shopping experience. They’re rapidly evolving from a check-in tool into a search app that helps create new sources of value for shoppers from geo-location data. more


Getting smarter about tracking retail returns

blue dressWhen big data analysis gets applied to apparel returns, some shoppers are going to find out that “wear/use-and-return” scams will not be as easy to pull off. This practice costs retailers a lot of money (about $8.9 billion in 2012), but many have accepted it as a cost of doing business. See how data is making it possible to get smarter with tracking and even preventing retail returns. more

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Coalition loyalty programs on the rise

Loyalty programs are moving in the direction of coalition vs. single operator programs.  It’s easy to see the shopper benefits - shoppers earn rewards quicker and get multi-channel convenience at the same time. We expect, however, that coalition programs are more likely to grow organically rather than sweeping across the market with as a comprehensive change. more

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Hointer: automation creating a better shopping experience

HointerAt Hointer former Amazon technology VP Nadia Shouraboura aims to combine the best features of online and brick-and-mortar shopping and “get rid of the worst.”  Shouraboura is working hard to “eliminate the friction points,” and she calls Hointer “truly and experiment in innovation.” The Seattle store is interesting on so many levels and definitely worth your time to learn more about. more

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Google & retailers: good idea or not?

life preserversDon’t miss Internet Retailer’s commentary “Can Google Save Retail Stores?” by Don Davis.  It’s a must read because of the way it lays out the operational challenges retailers need to overcome to successfully partner with Google – delivery, inventory, even pricing.  What, however, will be the fate of retailers who become too dependent on Google? more

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