News Briefs


Couche-Tard Begins U.S. EV Charging Rollout

circle k

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. plans to bring electric vehicle (EV) fast chargers to 200 Circle K and Couche-Tard stores across North America over the next two years.

Couche-Tard activated its first U.S. site with high power DC fast charging under the Circle K banner at a new prototype Circle K store in Rock Hill, SC. Along with future deployments across its North American network, the company will use the Rock Hill site to better understand U.S. customer needs, closely tracking driver usage and the resulting impacts on in-store foot traffic. The store is the launching point for the company's U.S. EV charging station rollout because of its convenient location along a fast-growing commuter and travel corridor in a major metropolitan area where EV traffic is anticipated to grow.

As it expands EV charger availability in the U.S. and Canada, Couche-Tard will be taking a strategic approach, building a network for the future, looking at areas with strong EV adoption rates and electric delivery infrastructure to enable it to provide convenient charging options for customers, whether in-town or on the highway. Following its successful rollout in Europe, the company plans to deploy its own charging assets to serve this growing EV customer base and continue to partner with other participants in the emerging e-mobility economy.

"We are committed to playing a key role in meeting our customers' evolving mobility needs as demand for sustainable energy choices continues to grow in all of our markets," said Louise Warner, Couche-Tard's SVP, Global Fuels.  "Adding EV charging expands the mobility solutions available to our drivers, giving them a great new reason to visit us and enjoy all we have to offer both in our stores and on our forecourts. Having established Circle K as a leading destination for EV charging in Norway, we are excited to build off our ongoing expansion in Europe to now bring this capability to our North American Circle K and Couche-Tard customers."

The company began introducing EV charging stations four years ago in Norway, the world's most mature EV market, in what is known as its "Norway lab" focusing on innovative EV charging solutions that anticipate and effectively meet the demands of EV customers across the spectrum of driving occasions and needs. The company has a network of more than 1,000 chargers covering more than 230 Circle K stores in Norway, Sweden and Denmark and recently started deployment in other European locations.

"EVs represent 90% of all new passenger cars sold today in Norway. While development in North America is in relatively early stages by comparison, EV acceptance is growing here as manufacturers introduce innovative offerings that meet the unique needs of American and Canadian drivers and infrastructure improves," said Snorre Skeie, Couche-Tard's director of eMobility-North America. "With our broad footprint of more than 9,000 stores across the continent, we are well-positioned to deliver energy for our customers on-the-go, where, when and how they need it."


Gap Expands Into Metavese With Roblox Role-Playing Launch

The Gap storefront with teenagers out front

Gap is diving into the metaverse with a new virtual, role-playing experience integrated into Club Roblox. The experience launched on May 20. 

To get its teen consumers involved, Gap has designed a virtual Club Roblox Boutique as a Gap Teen store, which will provide a portal for a new game and experiences within Club Roblox. Players can join multiple experiences, including Gap Teen’s fashion show mini-game, Style Stage, which asks users to channel their personal style in Gap Teen outfits. Additionally, visitors can enjoy a juice bar and photobooth to capture their avatar’s Gap Teen looks.

[LISTEN: Tech Transformation Podcast: Forrester Shares the (Real) Future of the Metaverse for Retail]

As for the looks, Gap leaned on its summer ad campaign to borrow replicas of the current Gap Teen collection, which includes 90s loose denim, pocket tees, tank tops, Gap logo hoodies, and dresses. 

Through Club Roblox, players can express themselves authentically, aligning with Gap’s core values of individuality and inclusivity. The company is leveraging SuperAwesome from the kidtech platform to support this online world.  

“We want Gap Teens to feel represented and connected in an inclusive Gap world with an immersive and unique fashion experience that gives them the freedom to experiment with their individual style and be their true selves, both IRL and in this rapidly growing digital universe,” said Mary Alderete, global head of Gap marketing. 

Alderete added that the strategy allows Gap to engage teens where they live and play. Nick Walters, managing director of SuperAwesome Gaming also emphasized the importance of interaction, stating that immersive experiences allow teens to connect with their favorite fashion brand. 


Walmart to Deploy Robotics to all Distribution Centers


Walmart has decided to go all in on supply chain robots.

The retailer will deploy robotics and software automation platforms in all 42 of its regional distribution centers over the coming years. The retrofitting process of all 42 DCs is expected to be completed over the next 8-plus years.

The move is an expansion on Walmart’s prior agreement to deploy Symbotic Systems in 25 regional distribution centers. Symbotic LLC’s end-to-end software-enabled high-density robotics platform plays a strategic role in supporting the retailer’s goal of modernizing its supply chain network. The update is expected to allow Walmart to provide faster responsiveness to store orders, increased inventory accuracy and higher capacity for receiving and shipping freight to stores. The technology’s ability to build palletized loads of department-sorted inventory ultimately enables Walmart to get products onto shelves at its more than 4,700 stores more quickly, while also making one of the toughest aspects of supply chain work – material handling – safer and simpler. It also creates new, tech-enabled jobs, such as cell operator and maintenance technician, that offer widely applicable skills in robotics and technology.

“The need for accuracy and speed in the supply chain has never been more visible, and we’re confident that now is the time to move even faster by scaling Symbotic’s technology to our entire regional distribution center network,” said David Guggina, senior vice president of Innovation and Automation, Walmart U.S. “Using high-speed robotics and intelligent software to organize and optimize inventory, the Symbotic System helps us get products to our customers quickly and seamlessly by revolutionizing how we receive and distribute products to stores.”

Walmart has already begun embedding Symbotic’s technology in select regional distribution centers throughout its network.

“The expanded partnership with Walmart substantiates how our technology is truly reinventing the traditional warehouse and distribution of consumer goods across the supply chain,” said Rick Cohen, chairman, president and chief product officer of Symbotic. “As a technology platform with deep roots in warehousing and distribution – our system addresses some of the biggest challenges of today’s complex supply chain, such as inventory agility, transportation cost and labor availability. Modernizing the warehouse allows consumers to get what they need faster and creates benefits for everyone including workers, customers and their local communities.”


The Vitamin Shoppe Elevates Its Supply Chain Visibility

The Vitamin Shoppe storefront

The Vitamin Shoppe has updated its tech, leveraging a platform that will allow the retailer to digitize its product development and specification management processes to improve data quality. 

The company has partnered with Boston-based supply chain platform Bamboo Rose. Through the new technology, The Vitamin Shoppe can streamline its packaging, labeling, and regulatory compliance practices with the goal of accelerating time to market, reducing admin work, and increasing profit margins. 

Using the data-focused platform, The Vitamin Shoppe can standardize its product ingredients and packaging information by leaning on data libraries that can easily generate nutrition labels. 

The technology will also bring consistency to product specifications and claims processes through aggregated, accurate data across packaging, cost, brand, department, ingredient restrictions, allergen restrictions, flavors, and servings. 

Andy Laudato, chief operating officer of The Vitamin Shoppe, stated that managing development, sourcing, and quality compliance for an expanding portfolio of private brand offerings at scale requires full transparency across teams, partners, and processes.

"Digitizing and standardizing key processes throughout the product lifecycle, from development to product labeling, will help us continue offering the industry-leading quality, innovation, and expertise our brands are known for,” he added. 

Chirag Patel, president at Bamboo Rose, said the partnership represents an exciting opportunity to support retailers focused on nutritional products as they bring health and wellness to their consumer base across markets.


Domino's Pizza Launches Mind Ordering

dominos app

Domino's Pizza has teamed up with Netflix to introduce a new “mind ordering app” that taps facial recognition and eye-tracking technology.

The new app is an immersive experience, the retailer said, which places "test subjects" inside Hawkins National Lab in Hawkins, Indiana – transporting them to the center of "Stranger Things" in 1986.

Users can explore the lab, uncover Easter eggs, use their telekinetic powers to gain control of certain objects and place a Domino's Easy Order. Domino's mind ordering app uses facial recognition and eye-tracking technology to allow test subjects to use their "powers" to order pizza by making certain facial expressions and head movements.

"Is mind ordering real? At Domino's – it absolutely is," said Kate Trumbull, Domino's senior vice president of brand and product innovation. "Domino's customers and 'Stranger Things' fans can now channel their inner Eleven by using telekinetic powers to order pizza with their mind."

To place an order using Domino's mind ordering app, test subjects must have a Pizza Profile with an existing saved Easy Order. Without the Easy Order function, customers can choose to explore Hawkins National Lab for fun, without placing an order.

"We're geeked to launch this first-of-its-kind mind ordering app, just in time for the premiere of 'Stranger Things' new season," said Trumbull. "Now hungry customers and 'Stranger Things' fans across the U.S. will get a taste of what it's like to be Eleven, and they may find some hidden surprises along the way, such as the Noid or Demogorgon."

Domino's new mind ordering app is available for download from the App Store or on Google Play. Domino's is also rolling out a retro 1980s pizza box for medium and large pizzas (excluding Handmade Pan pizzas) for a limited time at stores across the U.S., while supplies last. Season four of "Stranger Things" premieres on Netflix on May 27 (volume one) and July 1 (volume two).


Tom Tailor Launches App to Drive Digital Growth

Tom Tailor

Casual fashion retailer Tom Tailor has launched a new mobile app to drive digital growth.

The retailer sports 421 Tom Tailor stores, 166 franchise stores, 11,150 shop-in-store partners & trading partner multilabel. In addition, the collections are sold via the company's own online shop and in over 35 countries. The casual fashion and lifestyle brand now adds to this a premium mobile shopping experience designed to increase customer engagement and drive sales.

Tom Tailor customers in Germany can now download the app on both iOS and Android, and the brand will roll it out to additional markets soon. 

Founded in Hamburg, Germany in 1962, Tom Tailor is rooted in casual style, which serves as the inspiration for its family of product lines. The brand offers a range of clothing and accessories for men, women, and children, as well as a home collection that features linen, bath, textile, and pillow products.

Tom Tailor's entire catalog is available on the app, which gives customers a magazine-like shopping experience via an interactive and intuitive UX. The retailer tapped the NewStore Consumer App for the experience. 

"Mobile sales are a key business driver for Tom Tailor, but to truly capitalize on this channel we had to upgrade our consumer app," said Hendrik Reuter, director of e-commerce and consumer engagement, Tom Tailor. "We chose NewStore because its solution is simply better than anything we've seen. Our new app puts the experience of a flagship store in our customers' hands."

Through NewStore Studio, the app content management system, Tom Tailor has all the tools it needs to maintain a modern and engaging app. The brand will also benefit from the fact that NewStore Consumer Apps have been proven to increase engagement by 2.5x and drive conversion rates 7x higher than a traditional website. Additionally, because NewStore seamlessly integrates with Scayle, Tom Tailor's e-commerce platform, it is easier than ever to keep the app up-to-date and provide accurate, real-time product and inventory information.

"Consumers are more mobile-minded than ever, so brands like Tom Tailor have to think beyond traditional ecommerce and brick-and-mortar," said Stephan Schambach, founder and CEO, NewStore. "By building a native app that complements Tom Tailor's digital and physical channels, NewStore has given the brand a powerful new way to interact with its most loyal customers."

With NewStore, Tom Tailor has access to a full-featured mobile commerce platform that includes dynamic product lookbooks, enhanced product discovery, and simple category and product navigation. The solution also features built-in cart rules, filter attributes, dynamic stock levels, push notification capabilities, and more.