Inside Microsoft’s first retail store in Europe

| July 10, 2019

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Microsoft just opened a 21,932 square-foot flagship store in the heart of London, which is also its first in Europe. But why would Microsoft open a physical store in the first place? CNBC’s Elizabeth Schulze reports.

Spotlight

Lola.com

Lola.com makes Agile Travel Management real by providing a super simple way to manage, book and report on business travel, saving employers and travelers time and money. Happy employee travel experiences within a policy can be set up in five minutes. Lola.com uses machine learning and 24/7 support to help travelers easily book trips, while empowering managers to create policies, view budgets and expenditures, and monitor their globetrotting team efficiently. Based in Boston, the company was founded in 2015 by Paul English, co-founder of the travel booking site KAYAK, and is led by CEO Mike Volpe, previously CMO at HubSpot.

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We Have No Idea What We’re Doing

Article | December 15, 2020

Prior to the pandemic and quarantine, less than 8% of commerce was online. As of Q3FY20 eCommerce grew north of 14% of all commerce. So while the Retailpocalypse was in its last phase, physical retail still outsold eCommerce by at least 7:1. The failure rate of crowdfunding campaigns is 85%. The failure rate of eCommerce store owners ranges from 80 to 97%. What if there were a way to bridge the gap between these three failure rates? What if we could bridge what people consume online with what they purchase offline before waiting for brain-computer interfaces (BCI)? In short what if we could bridge social and commerce? (Example use case.) Mostly missing are the memorable, meaningful, measurable and monetizable responses from people interested in stories about beagles, princesses and pitbulls, pets, car repair, raspberry blueberry vinaigrette gyros, budget-saving techniques for holiday travel, getting stuck at airports in blizzards, rental cars and Cup o’ Noodles, My Fair Lady and @Instacart, dining out at the delicious Banana Leaves café, cooking kosher halal gelatin-free, blue #1 artificial dye-free egg nog flavored marshmallows, 50th anniversaries and chocolate ganache, adventures camping with youth groups, birdhouses built by kids, rainbow hair dye, artificial dye-free cakes DIY for your child’s birthday party, and Halloween gingerbread houses and Greek Mount Olympus costumes. Other than ad revenue Youtube collects which most of it’s video posters see little of, monetizing the DIY craze has proven quite tricky. Ditto for Christmas shopping, smartphone accessories, buying a new luxury Subaru online with no salesman, how to get hard to find contact lenses and vitamins for kids, how Amazon often has thrift store prices on inventory thrift stores rarely carry, the challenges of buying clothes on Amazon that don’t fit but you don’t realize that until the clothes arrive, DIY car repair, funny car repair, glorious victory of car repair, diaper cakes and muscle aches, drones and honey scones, Triple A baseball and blue-tailed skinks, favorite foods, fasting, and Boston, fused vertebrae and buried treasure, where to buy school supplies when most stores are sold out, creameries and charcuterie, Bridging social media with eCommerce has been the white rhino of many investors and start-ups for many years. Instead of working toward such solutions, we have VC’s and stockholders asking about vanity metrics: - How many people looked at your website? Instead of: How many people subscribed or how many purchased an item?- - How many downloads per month does your app have? Instead of: How many of the people who downloaded your app have note removed it less than 30 days later? - What’s your ad revenue? Instead of: How can your product capture or create more value? In reply entrepreneurs answer these questions, they often present their increased spend on marketing followed up with vanity milestones: “We’re using Google Analytics and similar providers to track every movement of the supply chain, to ensure when the purchaser’s journey is completed, there’s no delay in delivery. This will lead to more frequent purchases ideally of higher priced products, and… We are pitching to Chipotle on Friday!” This leads to concentrated research on Chipotle’s SWAT, followed up with an excellent pitch including a demo via Zoom. The result of this pitch is usually: 1. The person loved the pitch and accepts your invitation to meet again with his/her manager next week. 2. The person you pitched to is not the decision-maker 3. The person you pitched to doesn’t quite understand what you’re pitching 4. The person you pitched to had 3 other projects due by COB and wasn’t fully present and listening to your 10-minute pitch 5. You provided too many facts too quickly, trying to build rapport 6. You shared how you’re product can reduce shrink, increase ROI, decrease costs, increase retention, and cure cancer. The person you pitched to doesn’t believe all those promises. 7. The person you pitched to is afraid of advocating change; the risk from change that results in lesser results can lead to negative repercussions. The risk of “business as usual” is minimal. Forgotten by almost all eCommerce platforms and store owners are the facts that: - People behave differently when they are observed (best behavior vs. average behavior). Despite this, we are seeing an incredible number of start-ups that offer to help track everything your customers do. “We’re Palantir for eCommerce” is essentially the ethos of these companies. - The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwarz – too many choices overwhelm the person making the choice, to the point that no decision is made. If you don’t train your mind to buy what you want even if you have to look on pages other than Amazon and Google Shopping, you might end up buying the product you almost wanted. - The concept of incentivized virality – when PayPal gave $20 to each person who referred another person who joined, and when DropBox offered free data storage to people who referred friends who joined – which Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh brilliantly detailed in Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies. So now each eCommerce platform tries to copy Amazon who built their model on the opposite of physical retail. Consider your last experience renting a car at an airport vs. Amazon: - Do you want to refill the gas tank or would you like us to? - Would you like liability only or more comprehensive types of insurance coverage? - Would you like a GPS? - Would you like to join our exclusive members club? etc., etc. Adding to what @ElevateDemand said, “ B2B marketing is broken,” Raj De Datta, CEO and cofounder of @Bloomreach said, “The future of B2C marketing looks like B2B marketing,” Kevin Marasco, CMO of @Zenefits correctly said “marketing is going back in time from B2B to B2C” or person to person. Smart speakers in every phone, tablet, laptop PC, TV, and car succeeded by BCI, which @Facebook and @Neuralink are pioneering, hold great potential. Until those products arrive or after their R&D phase, @Homemaide’s object recognition and image recognition models can provide the sorely needed bridge between Social and Commerce.

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Retail warehouses - omni-channel fulfilment essential or Coronavirus breeding grounds?

Article | December 15, 2020

Recent coverage of the pressures on the retail supply chains during the current global health crisis has made reference to the essential roles of the back end warehouses and distribution centers that power the fulfilment of online orders. In recent days, these have come front-and-center of attention as concern has grown about the well-being of the people working in them. Ocado’s robotic warehouses are very far from the norm. Behind the scenes at the vast majority of facilities is a human workforce now in search of reassurance that their health is being taken into account.

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How IoT is transforming the retail industry in 2020?

Article | December 15, 2020

The retail industry has experienced a rapid transformation in the last 20 years. And like other industries, the retail industry is also embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) technology for the innovative opportunities it offers. In fact, IoT has already been embraced in retail all around the world. For instance, the IoT in the retail market has been increasing at a whopping 20% CAGR since 2015 and it is forecasted to reach $35 billion in 2020. That being said, let’s examine the top 4 opportunities IoT technology holds for the retail industry in the year 2020 and how you can capitalize on them. Retailers that have embraced the IoT technology have already experienced benefits like reduced costs, improvement in overall performance, and enhanced customer experience.

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How is coronavirus impacting the retail industry?

Article | December 15, 2020

Primark is one of the latest retailers to announce the temporary closure of some of its stores, in a bid to help stop the spread of coronavirus. It has closed outlets in Italy, France, Spain, and Austria (where 30% of its revenue is generated), while its UK and Northern Ireland stores at the time of publication at least remain (perhaps controversially) open. Primark is certainly not the only one to take this kind of action. Global retailers including Glossier, Nike, Urban Outfitters, and Patagonia have all indefinitely shut their stores, purely to help prevent further outbreak. In the majority of cases, employees are being paid for lost shifts. At the same time, retailers have also updated working policies to help ease the strain on staff. Starbucks, for example, has announced that it is implementing ‘catastrophe pay’ to US employees, meaning that it will now pay staff for up to 14 days if they have been diagnosed or in close contact with someone who has coronavirus.

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Spotlight

Lola.com

Lola.com makes Agile Travel Management real by providing a super simple way to manage, book and report on business travel, saving employers and travelers time and money. Happy employee travel experiences within a policy can be set up in five minutes. Lola.com uses machine learning and 24/7 support to help travelers easily book trips, while empowering managers to create policies, view budgets and expenditures, and monitor their globetrotting team efficiently. Based in Boston, the company was founded in 2015 by Paul English, co-founder of the travel booking site KAYAK, and is led by CEO Mike Volpe, previously CMO at HubSpot.

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