Tag Archives: retail

Sam’s Club Now Goes Cashier Free

Amazon isn’t the only company working on reinventing the retail experience. While the Amazon Go stores have captured consumers’ attention and shoppers at its cashier-less grocery stores, it’s not the only retailer interested in using technology to improve the customer shopping experience. Walmart recently announced that it is opening Sam’s Club Now, also cashier-less, in Dallas. The company describes its new store as a “technology lab that doubles as a live, retail club.” At 32,000 square feet it isn’t quite a compact store, but it is significantly smaller than the typical Sam’s Club store.

Similar to Amazon Go, in order to shop at Sam’s Club Now, members will need to use a Sam’s Club app that allows customers to scan UPC codes as they shop and check themselves out when done shopping. The app also includes smart shopping lists, in-store voice search and maps, augmented reality for new in-store experiences, and one-hour pickup.

Employees don’t go away – they instead shift to a new role called the Member Host. These associates are the face of the company and will use technology to help them serve Sam’s Club members better. Sam’s Club stated that the “future of retail is as much about people as it is about technology.”

If you’re in Dallas, check it out.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the use of innovation throughout retail.
  2. Review Sam’s Club Now announcement and video: https://corporate.samsclub.com/blog/2018/10/29/sams-club-now-reimagining-the-future-of-retail
  3. Compare this with Amazon Go: https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=16008589011
  4. What are the similarities, and differences, between the two services?
  5. How should the two companies position against each other?

Source:  Advertising Age, New York Times, other news sources

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Target Launches New Brand – “Smartly”

Not all innovation requires high-tech. Sure, shiny robots, drones, talking home pods, and self-driving cars get a lot of coverage in the innovation spot light. But there is plenty of innovation around in even the simplest of household items. The key is to make sure the innovation meets the needs of the customers.

A very simple new product line innovated and launched by Target this fall is called ‘Smartly’. Smartly is a new, low-price brand with more than 70 items priced below $2.00. That’s right. Two dollars. The products include household cleaners, razors, hand soap, paper plates, and toilet paper.

And it’s not just a low price point. Most of the products are sold as single-items, or in small multi-packs. This is ideal for space- and budget-conscious consumers, such as students and young apartment dwellers starting their first jobs.

Going along with the reduced packaging, prices are roughly 70% lower than traditional brands such as Tide, Gillette, and Charmin. And, the Smartly line even undercuts Target’s own Up & Up brand by about 50%.

Simple innovation can equal smart innovation.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  2. Explain the use of a product-market grid to determine market segments.
  3. Show Target’s new Smartly product line: https://www.target.com/c/smartly/-/N-r4rpp#?lnk=snav_rd_smartly
  4. Read Target’s announcement of the new line: https://corporate.target.com/article/2018/10/smartly
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team build a market-product grid by identifying five market segments that shop at Target, and five categories of product groupings sold at Target.
  6. Where does Smartly fit in the product groupings? What market segment is the best one for Target to pursue with this new product line?
  7. Finally, how should the company promote the product line?

Source:  New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Target, other news sources

 

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Flippy the Robot Works the Kitchen

It can hard to find restaurant workers lately, particularly for fast-food chains where the jobs can be long, hot, and greasy. One of the more thankless jobs is probably flipping burgers and fries. It’s boring, repetitive, and carries an everyday risk of burns from hot oils. But now, CaliBurger (California) has deployed a robotic assistant to flip burgers and fries. The robotic arm, aptly named “Flippy,” is the product of Miso Robotics in Pasadena.

Flippy is billed as the world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings. It can work a grill or fryer, cooks perfectly and consistently every time, collaborates with kitchen staff, and is OSHA safety-compliant. Now ‘employed’ by CaliBurger, the company plans to launch 50 more Flippys at additional locations. Flippy can make 300 burgers a day, all without burns or complaints for additional break times!

Flippy’s role hasn’t been an easy one. Similar to many human workers, Flippy was ‘fired’ in the spring and had to be retrained to work better with humans. Flippy has been a popular draw for the restaurant though; they have been overwhelmed by the response by customers who want to see Flippy in action. The robotic arm isn’t cheap though. Flippy costs between $60,000 – $100,000.

But then again, Flippy never asks for a day off!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who was worked at a fast-food restaurant? What was the experience like for them?
  2. View videos at Miso Robotics: https://misorobotics.com/
  3. View CaliBurger: https://caliburger.com/in-the-news
  4. Review the buying process for organizations.
  5. For Miso Robotics have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
  6. Consider assigning different student groups to work on different target markets. Then the process for the different target markets can be compared and contrasted.
  7. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, other sources

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