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  • Clément Fages

10 retail and customer experience ideas (4 to 8 September)

This week's 10 ideas include: it's already Christmas at John Lewis, Dollar General continues to expand despite falling profits, Walmart accelerates its online development, Ikea organises flea markets, while AI goes mainstream and Best Buy reveals its secret for fighting theft!

John Lewis is already preparing for Christmas

The autumn has barely begun, but British retailer John Lewis has already launched its e-shop dedicated to the festive season! It is worth noting that online searches for products related to the festive period have more than doubled this summer compared to last. The number of "Christmas offers" queries has increased 25-fold, while searches for artificial Christmas trees and the famous Christmas jumpers have risen by 250% and 133% respectively.


Del Taco opens a takeaway restaurant

Del Taco has opened its first restaurant dedicated exclusively to takeaway service. The "Fresh Flex" concept includes a car and pedestrian drive-through, as well as lockers where customers can pick up orders placed via the fast-food chain's mobile app. This new format covers just over 111m2, half the size of the restaurants usually operated by the chain. This is the first time the concept has been rolled out on this scale, as Del Taco has been setting up smaller takeaway outlets with franchisees since 2020.


In crisis, Dollar General wants to open nearly 1,000 new shops

Despite a 3.9% year-on-year increase in net sales to $9.8 billion in the second quarter, discount retailer Dollar General saw its net profit fall by 31% to $469 million, mainly as a result of lower margins linked to an increase in promotions, inventories and theft. Nevertheless, the chain has reaffirmed its ambition to open 990 new shops this year. According to analysts, competition is raging across the Atlantic in the discount sector. Far from benefiting as it has in the past from the recruitment of new, more affluent consumers keen to preserve their purchasing power, Dollar General is having to contend with price cuts by other chains, starting with Walmart.


Walmart organises its first event dedicated to its marketplace

While Walmart alone accounts for a third of online grocery sales in the US, it is still a long way behind Amazon in other e-commerce verticals: while Walmart's e-commerce sales grew by 27% and 24% respectively in the first two quarters of the year, it still only accounts for 7% of the US e-commerce market, a far cry from Amazon's 38%. To remedy this situation, Walmart unveiled a series of new features last week at its first major event for sellers on its marketplace. The American giant will be extending its e-commerce offering to Chile - its first step outside North America - as well as enhancing the possibilities available to brands to create and manage their own store on its marketplace. Finally, Walmart is also launching an option to encourage the sale of bulky products from its marketplace, by facilitating the collection and delivery of these parcels from third-party sellers' warehouses or shops. The number of third-party sellers using Walmart logistics for their deliveries rose by 50% in the last fiscal quarter.


Walmart still believes in metaverses

A few days after the launch of the "Supercampus" experience on the Roblox platform, aimed at allowing schoolchildren to play and interact with avatars of school supplies brands, Walmart is offering a new immersive experience to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop. Created on the Spatial platform by creative studio People of Crypto Lab, the "Cultureverse" will celebrate African-American culture.

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Ikea organises garage sales

Ikea is getting into the second-hand market! Over the weekend, the Swedish retailer is holding garage sales in the car parks of two of its UK shops. The aim is to raise customer awareness of the benefits of buying second-hand furniture, at a time when the company has recently launched its own second-hand corners. This is a way for Ikea to offer its customers discounted prices, while generating traffic to its shops. If the tests prove successful, Ikea plans to extend these second-hand sales to the whole of the UK next year.


Festival Food adopts AI to improve its prices

American grocer Festival Food, which operates around forty shops in Wisconsin, is using Engage3, an artificial intelligence (AI)-based solution to help merchants adapt their prices in order to increase their overall sales and margins, as well as building customer loyalty. The key is to optimise the prices of products that are most likely to have an impact on consumers' overall price perception of a retailer.


Elemis launches a solution of recommendation based on the IA

Luxury cosmetics brand Elemis has teamed up with beauty tech specialist Perfect Corp, known for its virtual make-up fitting and skin analysis technologies. This collaboration has given rise to a new mobile tool enabling the brand's British and American customers to carry out a skin diagnosis. 14 common problems can be detected (wrinkles, spots, pimples, problems with firmness or texture, etc.), with users then being recommended the products best suited to their skin.


Crate & Barrel uses AI to reinvent itself

Furniture specialist Crate & Barrel has just unveiled its new "Bring it Home" strategic plan, which places artificial intelligence at the heart of the company's drive to modernise the customer experience. After announcing its ambitions in the 'metaverse' last year, Crate & Barrel continues to aim to offer functionalities that will enable its customers to design and visualise their furnishing projects. But AI will also be used to make product suggestions, and to optimise the chain's logistics, reducing both stock levels and delivery times.


Best Buy's secret to fighting theft: people

While retailers such as Target, Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods are sounding the alarm about the worrying rise in the number of thefts they are experiencing, Best Buy does not seem to be concerned. It has to be said that the chain has taken a number of measures in recent years to limit theft, by increasing the number of sales assistants on the shelves and at the checkout, limiting self check-out, and above all introducing a single check-in and check-out in its shops, where an employee checks the correlation between the products taken by customers and those recorded on their till receipt.


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