From Target’s beauty makeover to Lowe’s newest tech center,  It’s been another fascinating week in retail.

Back with some of the biggest news in the industry, here is a quick glimpse at this week’s trending stories:

Walmart is using AI-powered cameras to prevent theft at checkout

Theft is a major issue in the retail industry.

According to the National Retail Federation, American retailers lost an estimated 1.33% of revenues to shrinkage in 2017, totaling an estimated $47 billion.

Where does that put Walmart?

Well, let’s just say that if Walmart’s shrink rates match the industry average, the company’s US business would have lost more than $4 billion last year.

To tackle this issue, the company put into action a “digital eye”, that as Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins put it- “has perfect vision and never needs a coffee break or a day off”.

With the help of its incubator Store No. 8, Walmart produced a high tech surveillance monitor known as Missed Scan Detection to combat shrinkage in their stores. The monitors are equipped with AI technology to ensure all items are properly scanned and have not gone through checkout without being accounted for.

With over 1,000 stores using Missed Scan Detection for the past two years, Walmart has reported a major decrease in shrinkage where the computer vision is in use.

Image Souce: Forbes Insider

Target heads to the beauty aisle for an extreme makeover

Target is in the midst of a serious makeover.

Over the past two years Target has remodeled 400 of its fleet of nearly 1,850 stores, with plans to remodel 600 more by 2020.  This upgrade, so it seems, stems from its latest focus:

beauty.

At a time when department stores are investing in their beauty sales to regain some of the foot traffic they’ve lost to Ulta and Sephora, and Amazon is touching up its beauty offerings with the launch of two private labels earlier this year, Target is facing fierce competition on its way of capturing a growing share of the beauty market.

With the new design of its stores, the retailer is looking to turn its beauty department into a place for discovery and inspiration; To do that, Target’s new stores will feature new tech improvements and a more open look and feel.

Link Source: Forbes

Amazon to offer pickup service in Rite Aid stores

Amazon packages will now be available for pickup at staffed Amazon Hub stations inside Rite Aid stores, with the company’s new “Counter” program.

Counter was introduced in more than 100 US Rite Aid stores and is expected to expand to more than 1,500 stores by the end of the year.  The program is already in place in the U.K. and Italy.

This isn’t Rite Aid’s first partnership with a large brand. This year Rite Aid also partnered with Adobe to improve and personalize the health and wellness of Rite Aid customers.  In this specific partnership, converting Amazon orders into foot traffic has a clear benefit. The company has reported net loss of $483.7 million last year, as it continues to fight fierce competition from Walgreens and CVS.

For Amazon, centralized pickup creates greater delivery density, potentially lowering the cost of delivery per package. The new ‘Counter’ program reflects Amazon’s goal of making delivery more cost-effective and efficient.

Image Source: Retail Dive

Lowe’s announces the opening of new tech center 

With Walmart’s launch of its tech incubator Store No. 8 and Amazon’s extensive growth, Lowe’s is now stepping up its game.

Joining the trend of other large retail stores making tech investments, Lowe’s announced the opening of its new tech center, which will be located in Charlotte, North Carolina, with hopes to transform the company’s current retail experience and improve its IT.

The Lowe’s tech center will be hiring up to 2,000 tech employees in the next year, comprised of software and infrastructure engineers, data scientists, user experience and user interface professions, as well as AI engineers.

With an investment of $500 million annually between now and 2021, Lowe’s is putting its all into reshaping its brand. Time will tell whether the move will work as planned.

Lowes-store

Image Source: Lowe’s Open House Newsroom

Final Thoughts

This isn’t the first time this blog has focused on the rise of the beauty sector within the retail industry.

This week we learned of Target’s growing footprint in the field- a company that despite tough competition, has generated $18 billion in its beauty and essentials department in 2018, well over what Ulta and Sephora are estimated to have produced that same year.

Now, Target is looking to create an atmosphere that fosters discovery and exploration, similarly to its competitors.

Will lowering shelves, widening aisles, and passionate new employees help Target expand its current reputation as a self-service platform where customers come to restock their essential beauty products?
We’ll just have to wait and see.

Inbal Perlman

Inbal is the community and hub manager of the Re:Tech hub, a co-working space for retail and e-commerce startups based in the heart of Tel Aviv. The Hub offers its members industry focused events, access to global partners and various opportunities in the global and local retail tech ecosystem.

If you are in retail and would like to learn what new technologies can help push your business forward, get in touch.