Department stores are in decline, squeezed on all sides by companies such as Zara, T.J. Maxx and Amazon, and Macy's struggles have been compounded by a buying spree last decade, write Susan Berfield and Lindsey Rupp. Other potential issues are which stores to close, what to do with its real estate and how its sales staff is trained to sell and interact.
Amazon is betting that Whole Foods Market shoppers will pick up Echo digital assistants and other gadgets along with the fixings for their holiday meals this season. The e-commerce giant is also promoting its electronics in other brick-and-mortar outlets, from its own 13 bookstores to select Kohl's locations, in its push to keep its lead in voice-activated tech.
Best Buy's 23 US distribution centers have been operating round the clock to get ready for Thanksgiving weekend. The retailer has stocked stores and warehouses with hundreds of thousands of TVs to ensure enough stock for in-store and online sales.
Retailers including Target and Walmart are booking rising sales of matching holiday pajamas as more families adopt an annual tradition of dressing in them for celebrations, selfies and Christmas cards. "People aren't just wearing them to bed anymore. They're actually putting them on to go out and have fun," said Debbie Horton, Walmart's senior sleepwear buyer.
Retailers are increasingly depending on loyalty programs to keep customers coming back as competition grows and Amazon Prime wins more members. Hollister's Club Cali program helped boost same-store sales 8% last quarter, and Sears is banking on its omnichannel Shop Your Way loyalty program to drive repeat business.
Retailers including Amazon and Macy's are offering perks to shoppers who choose no-hurry delivery options for the holiday season. UPS is tacking on fees during peak delivery times this year and the moves by retailers are designed to keep shipping costs down.
UPS is charging more for deliveries made between Nov. 19 and Dec. 3 and from mid-December through Christmas. Retailers are dealing with this by turning to other delivery options and offering "no hurry shipping" options to consumers.
It's anticipated that 1.43 billion smartphones will be shipped globally in 2017, resulting in 5% growth year-over-year, per Digitimes Research. In 2018, shipment growth is expected to be slightly lower, at 4.8%, with more than 1.5 billion units shipped, the report also notes.
Of the consumers who have Amazon Echo and Google Home devices, about 57% report using the virtual assistant option multiple times per day, based on a Dashbot study. Most individuals access the assistants for music, information, and weather updates, the survey also indicated.
Apple is reportedly paying $30 million to buy Vrvana, a Canadian company that created the Totem, an augmented reality headset, per TechCrunch. The purchase appears to support the rumor that Apple is working toward releasing an augmented reality headset in 2020, though the company has declined to comment.
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