Despite ongoing economic uncertainty, large-scale technology investments continue to ripple across the retail industry. In recent weeks, market leaders such as Gap, American Eagle, The RealReal, and Fairmount Tire & Rubber have rolled out new strategic initiatives to boost efficiencies and streamline operations.
Here’s a look at their recent investments:
The clothing and accessories retailer has invested in an exchanges and returns platform. The new technology also offers fraud-protected customer keep and drop-off locations to facilitate online and offline returns and exchanges.
The retailer – which includes brands Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, and Athleta – has tapped returns management platform Optomoro for the initiative. Gaphopes the new returns and exchanges portal, which integrates with their existing retail systems, will slash the number of items sent back to the store – a key area of focus for retailers looking to reduce the costs, environmental impact, and increased fraud risk associated with excess returns. On the front end, the platform encourages shoppers to opt to exchange goods instead.
“Optimizing the returns process is a key lever to maintain a great shopping experience and support customer loyalty,” said Kevin Kuntz, senior vice president of global logistics fulfillment at Gap Inc.
The clothing retailer has revealed plans to roll out AI-powered inventory-tracking technology in 500 U.S. stores over the next year. The new solution merges computer vision and RFID technology to provide greater visibility into stock and inventory levels.
Software company RADAR will drive the effort. The software and hardware company has differentiated itself from many other RFID offerings – i.e. handheld scanners, or RFID tags – by providing real-time, automatic identification of where items are located with 99% inventory accuracy. The system then circles this data back to an app and dashboard, enabling store associates to see where items are at any given time.
The solution works to avoid stock outs, but also facilitates more efficient replenishment and helps deliver more seamless curbside pickup experiences, the companies said.
Over in the luxury category, The RealReal has implemented a new set of CRM resources to enable consignors to improve the shopper journey.
Salesforce is driving the implementation. In addition, the software company will also assist the retailer in rolling out its new RealService model. Leveraging customer data, the RealService model customizes every customer interaction at both the buyer and seller level, offering the retailer complete insights into purchase history and bookmarked items and enabling associates to schedule virtual or in-person appointments based on the insights they uncover.
“The resale landscape is always shifting, and the way people engage with consignment has changed dramatically even in just the past few years,” said Orr Shakked, CMO at The RealReal. “We know that to expand the resale marketplace we have to make the process of selling as frictionless as possible.”
After starting life online, The RealReal has experienced rapid growth in recent years, opening 13 brick-and-mortar locations and adding more than 31 million members to its roster since its inception. The use of Salesforce technology will enable this expansion further, adding a suite of new, more intuitive options for shoppers to access and purchase the retailers’ second-hand luxury goods.
The rise of e-commerce has facilitated the explosion in the luxury goods market, particularly in the resale category. In fact, according to recent research, the U.S. secondhand market is projected to double by 2026, reaching $82 billion. In addition, resale is expected to grow 16 times faster than the general retail clothing sector by 2026.Online shopping has made it easier for consumers to access luxury goods, and many luxury retailers have embraced digital platforms to expand their reach and increase secondhand sales.
Fairmount Tire & Rubber
Lastly, Fairmount Tire & Rubber is drilling down on its customer experience, investing in a new last-mile delivery solution to digitize B2B e-commerce delivery operations across its five warehouse locations in California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.
The wholesale tire distributor will implement Descartes’ cloud-based solution across their operations adding in more stops per route and two-to-three additional delivery runs per day in addition to providing customers with real-time, map-based tracking.
Scott Dushane, director of IT at Fairmount Tire, praised how the solution has allowed them to move from “time-consuming, paper-intensive manual delivery practices” into “a high-performing, data-driven, and customer-focused business.”
Several major retailers have released investment news this week, focusing on areas such as inventory management to IT infrastructure. Among the companies making significant changes are Pacsun, Loblaw, Heinen, Duluth Trading Company, and Denver’s Choice Market.
In this webinar transcript, Zach Horton, senior director of logistics, supply & demand planning delves into Ember’s journey to building a future-proof global e-commerce business and the role of integration in facilitating a seamless consumer experience.