2017: The Year of Tech?

Friday in 5: Special Monday Edition. That’s right, our Friday in 5 blog on Monday! For the past two Friday’s we posted our NRF blogs to keep you up to date on the big show.  So, as not to deprive you of the interesting news bits from around the supply chain horn, we are bringing you this special Monday edition. Enjoy!

Retailers are reflecting on the recent holiday shopping period, and making plans for a successful 2017. Here’s a quick roundup of industry news to bring you up-to-speed.

2016 holiday sales surprisingly higher

According to NRF, U.S. holiday sales grew a bit faster than expected, as surging e-commerce orders helped make up for weak department-store traffic. Spending was up 4 percent during November and December, beating a 3.6 percent projection. Non-store sales, an indicator of online transactions, jumped 13 percent. With the unemployment rate low and wages rising, consumers took advantage of discounts and easy online ordering to check items off their holiday lists. Read more in Bloomberg’s article Holiday Sales Outpace Forecast Despite Department-Store Woes.

Online retail goes shopping at the mall

Those empty mall stores could soon be filled with makeshift distribution centers for online purchase pickup and returns, as well as physical stores for online merchants. Mall owners are increasingly seeing online retailing as another distribution channel, realizing that while online sales currently make up about 10 percent of all retail sales, that number is expected to grow. Read more in Mall Owners Find Relief From Unlikely Source: Online Retailers in the Wall Street Journal.

Robots could be your new store associate

Jason Ankeny, in his article for RetailDIVE, How robots in stores could revolutionize the customer experience, gives a first-person account of his first meeting with Pepper the robot at NRF. He writes how he was surprised by Pepper’s almost human-like interaction skills. Robots are now deployed in more than 70 countries, and Jason spoke with SoftBank’s Steve Carlin to learn more.

Target sees a sales slump

As reported in CNBC’s Shoppers still aren’t going to Target, despite the retailer’s big marketing push, even with ramped-up promotions, extended free shipping, and exclusive toys, Target is still struggling to get shoppers in their doors. Sales were down in November and December of last year, especially in electronics and food. The good news for Target, sales in its signature categories – baby, kids, style, and wellness – grew some three points faster than the company average.

Retailers are competing for tech talent

According to the MarketWatch story, For traditional retailers, the ‘Amazon effect’ extends to tech talent and not just sales, traditional retailers aren’t just competing with online retailers for sales. As they transform their businesses to strengthen ecommerce abilities, they’re finding that highly skilled tech talents are more likely to look to more technology-friendly online players for job opportunities, instead of brick-and-mortar based retailers.

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