STORES Trends: August 2016

#STOREStrends is a monthly roundup of fresh retail ideas from STORES Magazine.

Cashing in on Pokémon GO

The new mobile augmented reality game from Niantic Labs and The Pokémon Company has transformed kids, teens and adults into Pokémon GO “trainers” in search of the iconic creatures.

Pokémon GO uses a smartphone’s GPS and camera, along with augmented reality, to turn the real world into an expansive hunting ground. A new lexicon has even emerged to accompany the game’s success: Local attractions and businesses are turned into Pokémon Gyms; PokéStops are places where players can stock up on free accessories and items like PokéBalls; and there is an in-game item called a “Lure” which players can purchase to attract Pokémon to a specific PokéStop for 30 minutes.

Not surprisingly, marketers and retailers are looking for ways to cash in on this phenomenon. Here are some suggestions from two industry experts.

Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso suggests:

  • Applying the concept of Pokémon GO within a retailer app, thus allowing shoppers to be immersed in a game-like environment upon entering a store. They could view special deals or coupons only available within the app.
  • The game could lead shoppers to areas of the store they may not have planned to visit. Once there, extra bonuses could be unveiled, driving impulse buys.
  • Shoppers could interact with one another in the store — or be invited to post about their experiences — in the quest for special offers or prizes.

Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR Research, outlined practical suggestions for retailers to capitalize on the trend that don’t involve a mobile app reorientation.

  • Welcome Pokémon GO trainers. Doing so will advance the impression that a brand is tolerant, good-natured and has a sense of humor. Maybe even consider offering up “experts” to help newbies figure out the game.
  • Move trainer-relevant merchandise (i.e., snacks and drinks — preferably the kind that can be consumed one-handed) to the front of the store.
  • Invest in Lures, which attract Pokémon trainers.
  • Surprise and delight trainers by creating specific promotions or giveaways that acknowledge their “secret society.”

Addiction Confirmed?

Nielsen is out with a new study that finds people spent an average of 10 hours, 39 minutes each day with smartphones, tablets, TV, radio, computers and video games during the first three months of 2016. That amounts to a full hour more than during the same period in 2015.

As you might have guessed, much of that added time is being spent with smartphones. According to the data, 81 percent of American adults use a smartphone regularly. Looking specifically at the additional hour in media time that Nielsen measured, using a smartphone accounts for 37 minutes. Smartphone use averages one hour and 39 minutes a day, says Nielsen. That’s more than double what it was two years ago — and that bump in smartphone usage was measured before the Pokémon GO craze began.

Text Me, Gen Z

How well do you know Generation Z?

This young cohort currently makes up 25 percent of the total U.S. population, possesses buying power of $44 billion and, according to marketing firm Interactions, has the potential to upend retail industry norms.

A big part of what makes this multitasking, tech-savvy group such an enigma: 89 percent are “very” price conscious, preferring to spend their money on experiences versus material items. They’re also not very brand loyal: 81 percent are willing to switch from their favorite brand if they find a similar product at a higher quality. And while 64 percent prefer shopping in-store versus online, they set the bar high; three-quarters prefer to shop at retail stores that provide an engaging in-store experience.

The study, dubbed “Next Generation of Retail,” finds that Gen Zers spend most of their weekly budgets on food (80 percent), followed by clothing (67 percent) and experiences with friends (47 percent).

Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up in a world of constant connectivity and instantaneous communication, with social media playing an instrumental role. How does that translate for retailers and brands? Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of Gen Zers expect retailers to have a social media presence, and 60 percent prefer to shop at retail stores that engage with them via social media.

Text messaging is Gen Z’s most preferred method for communicating with retailers and brands, yet less than one in five (19 percent) say they currently discover new products via text notifications from retailers.

Smartphone Smooch

Kissing your smartphone is no longer reserved for good news delivered via text. It’s now possible to kiss your device at the same time as your significant other, making this lip-locking event a virtual smooch.

Japanese skin care and cosmetics giant Shiseido is behind this digital affection marketing ploy. The company recently launched Rouge Rouge Kiss Me, a real-time digital experience intended to correspond with the global rollout of its 16-color Rouge Rouge lipstick collection. The campaign was born of the desire to humanize technology while at the same time creating an interactive moment between two people.

How does it work? A person who wants to virtually share a kiss needs to visit Upon entering their name, a personalized link will be generated to send to whomever they wish to kiss. The recipient receives the link via text or e-mail and clicks it; once both the kisser and the kissee arrive at the site, they pick the shade of Rouge Rouge lipstick they want their kiss to appear in.

Then the countdown to the big moment begins. Once both parties “kiss” each other, the two lipstick marks are captured on-screen together. The partners can then design and personalize a “Kiss Monster” GIF to share via text, email or social media.

Rise of the Robots

Pushing a shopping cart yourself is so 20th century. As Wal-Mart readies for the next generation of shopping and customer experience, it’s exploring the possibility of robotic shopping carts trolling its aisles.

Wal-Mart is working with Five Elements Robotics to develop a shopping cart that will lead the customer to the items they’re looking for using an attached touchscreen. The robotic cart, called Dash, can map out the most effective route, follow the shopper on his journey, facilitate payment via the touchscreen — and then return itself to the store docking station upon completion.

Wendy Roberts, founder and chief executive officer of Five Elements , tipped her hand by sharing at the recent Bloomberg Technology Conference that her company was working with the “world’s largest retailer” on such a shopping cart. Wal-Mart is not ready to share additional details but has acknowledged that it is evaluating a prototype in its lab.

Five Elements is best known for Budgee, a personal robot that can follow its user around inside and outdoors and carry things. Introduced a few years back, Budgee costs $1,400 and has proven to be particularly helpful for people with disabilities. The company goal: launch the Era of Robotics, in which robots become a part of our everyday life.

Power of Suggestion

Let’s be honest: Visualizing how a piece of furniture will look in your home can be pretty tough. Jerome’s Furniture hopes to take the guesswork out of imagining whether the sofa will fit or the dining room table should be rectangular or round with a recently launched app powered by Cimagine.

Jerome’s Augmented Reality” allows customers to virtually place furniture in their home. It automatically scans the users’ room and overlays the products in realistic 3D, depicting the size and aesthetic of the furniture in that specific room. The free app is available for download from Apple’s app store and the Google Play store and is compatible with most iOS and Android devices.

“Furniture shopping and visualizing pieces in your home is difficult, which is why we saw the need to create a way for our customers to envision a piece in their home, make it their own and trust in their investment,” says Scott Perry, vice president of digital for Jerome’s Furniture. Jerome’s claims to be the first major traditional bricks-and-mortar furniture retailer in the United States to deploy an augmented reality tool for their customers.

Sip ‘n’ Shop

Too often shoppers view grocery shopping as a perfunctory task … milk, bread, eggs, chicken — repeat. Gelson’s, headquartered in Encino, Calif., is among a growing number of supermarkets looking to break that monotony and encourage shoppers to linger by wooing them with wine and beer.

Last month The Wall Street Journal reported that a growing number of high-end supermarkets are serving alcohol, noting that “many have set aside space for wine bars and beer gardens where they host tasting events, with drinks and appetizers.”

At Gelson’s, a 25-store chain, the first wine bar debuted in 2014. CEO Rob McDougall claims the initial intent was to draw more men into stores. “We projected that it would be mostly one spouse sitting there while the other spouse shops,” McDougall told WSJ. Instead, the retailers discovered the popularity of the wine bar spanned “across ages and across genders.” The company plans to add another six bars next year. The bars also have beer taps.

Whole Foods, Kroger and Giant Eagle — even some Target stores — are among the retailers at the forefront of this trend, providing cereal and produce with a fine Merlot. But is it bringing more shoppers through the doors, enticing them to spend more money and time?

Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant industry analyst for NPD, feels that shoppers perceive drinks at supermarkets to be a better value than drinks in a traditional bar or club. Other experts say that having wine, beer and the like seems to be encouraging 20-somethings to linger.

Then there’s a recent poll which asked, “If you could drink beer while grocery shopping would you?” Over 60 percent of respondents said “yes.”

Sporting a Theory

When a business fails, everyone has a theory. Jim Robeson, CEO and founder of PiinPoint, a platform that provides data-backed analysis on store expansion and locations, has a hypothesis about why Sport Authority was forced to close its doors.

Robeson says that PiinPoint’s proprietary data reveals that most sport stores are located near health-oriented food spots, or not located near any food in general. Sports Authority had the opposite trend: Its strongest locations were by food, and unhealthy food (identified as ice cream and fast food) at that.

Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny …

July 5, 2016, commemorated an important day in the annals of fashion history: It was the 60th anniversary of the day Louis Réard first introduced the bikini. If you’re bummed about having missed the big day, knowing that the French swimwear brand that developed the iconic swimwear design is relaunching might offer a bit of consolation. Réard is in the throes of planning the introduction of its first e-commerce store, which will launch in December.

The brand’s executives plan to bring its swimsuits back for the luxury market with bikinis expected to retail for $200 to $500. To reintroduce the brand, the company is using a two-pronged approach: performance fabrics and a high-touch personalization strategy intended to encourage customer loyalty. The new suits are reported to be made of a high-performance fabric that gives a “second-skin effect” while at the same time providing support for a range of body types.

Hoping to tempt new shoppers, the bikini brand will launch a personalized fit algorithm with its online store. Customers will be asked a series of questions and the site will serve up the cut and fit best suited for the shopper.


Shoppers who regularly use the weekly supermarket circular may be feeling pretty good about the deals they’re cashing in on week after week. Still, some data analysis conducted by mobile shopping app Ibotta could open the door to more savings — provided shoppers are willing to delay some purchases to certain days of the week.

Ibotta examined the receipts of more than 25 million shoppers and was able to identify some trends in terms of the best stores to shop for certain items and the best days to score a top deal.

  • Save 9 percent on ice cream purchases by shopping for it Mondays instead of Sundays (the worst day to buy).
  • Save 6 percent on wine by purchasing on Tuesdays instead of Saturdays.
  • Buy beer on Mondays and save 9 percent compared with purchasing on Saturday.
  • Wednesday offers the best deals on produce.
  • On average, grocery bills are highest on weekends, which is the most popular time to shop.
  • The cheapest places to buy a bottle of wine: Walgreens ($9.23 average), Walmart ($9.39) and Sam’s Club ($9.61).