News Briefs

10/03/2022

Walmart Launches Blockchain-Secured Digital Collectible Platform

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New block-chain secured platform on Walmart

Walmart is creating a new digital experience surrounding limited-edition figures and collectibles that can be purchased, sold, and traded on a dedicated platform. 

The brand is partnering with NECA (the National Entertainment Collectibles Association) for the experience, which can be found on Walmart.com and in stores. The platform, called AutoT, allows consumers to purchase an AutoT box and then enter a digital code found on their Walmart receipt to reveal which collectible item they received. The collectible is redeemable by creating a personal account at AutoTVault.com. 

[Read more: Walmart Jumps Into Immersive Experiences With Metaverse Project]

The platform leverages patent-pending blockchain technology that can track the history of AutoT collectives as well as identify if items are authentic. From the platform, customers can also buy, sell, and trade their items, with the ability to store their digital collectible for up to two years at no charge or have the physical item shipped to them. 

The new initiative is launching with iconic pop culture figures from shows such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and lithographs from Bob Ross Inc. 

“At Walmart, we are always finding new ways to bring innovation and one-of-a-kind offerings to our customers,” said Laura Rush, SVP, electronics, toys and seasonal, Walmart U.S. “NECA’s unique collectibles and inventive AutoT platform offer a new type of shopping experience to shoppers, ensuring that Walmart is bringing the best in tech and entertainment to customers nationwide.”

“NECA is the world leader in pop culture figures and collectibles,” said Joel Weinshanker, managing partner of NECA. “Partnering with Walmart, we are excited to bring exclusive NECA merchandise featuring today’s hottest IPs into the digital world.”

The first AutoT sale starts October 6 online at Walmart.com and in select stores nationwide on October 15. New products will be launched at regular intervals. 

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10/03/2022

Charleys Philly Steaks Takes to the Sky With Ultra-Fast Drone Delivery Service

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charleys philly steaks

Charleys Philly Steaks is expanding their delivery capabilities to include drone services in Durham, North Carolina. Under the new initiative, orders are placed through an app and delivered via drone with an average flight time of three minutes. 

The goal is to create a more seamless, efficient and affordable service for customers. 

The process for ordering drone delivery will remain the same as in other stations – using an app, customers can select Charleys menu items, as well as products from other participating local restaurants, cafes and stores. Customers then track their order status and await the arrival of their food, lowered directly by wire into their properties. 

The development is powered by a partnership with B2C autonomous delivery service, Flytrex, and represents another critical step towards Charley's aim to engage more with customers across multiple channels. Other digital innovations on the franchise's agenda include updated menu items, integrating accessible technologies and driving greater enrollment in their loyalty program, which already has over one million members. Ultrafast delivery via drone will also allow Charleys Philly Steaks to differentiate themselves in the rapidly-growing quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry.

“The future of delivery is here, and we couldn’t be more excited. I can think of no better way to receive a fresh cheesesteak delivered hot off the grill to my yard,” said Brian Hipsher, Charleys’ CMO. “We look forward to expanding our partnership with Flytrex to create a more cost effective and quick delivery service for all our guests.”

“We are thrilled to spread our wings once again in North Carolina and bring delicious cheesesteaks to our new customers in Durham. This partnership with Charleys and its accompanying expansion brings us one step closer to a future of affordable, ultrafast delivery that is both safe and green. We look forward to continuing growing our delivery service nationwide to reach the tens of millions of backyards across the country,” said Yariv Bash, CEO and co-founder of Flytrex in a press release. 

09/28/2022

Autonomous Delivery Robot Ottobot Simplifies Travel Retail

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autonomous delivery robot

Shopping while traveling just got a little simpler with the launch of a new autonomous delivery robot which will be located at pier A of Terminal 1 in Rome’s international airport.

Ottobot 2.0 allows passengers to scan a QR code to purchase food and beverages and retail items at the airport and have them delivered directly to their gate. Ottobot can navigate completely autonomously through crowds and complicated environments. 

According to the company, this latest generation is fully customizable and its modular design will provide increased access for customers and directional mobility. 

[Read more: Levi’s Works Smarter With Automation Bots, Shrinks Manual Workload]

The proprietary technology comes from Ottonomy, one of ten startups selected to participate in an acceleration program, Runway to the Future. The program — the first industrial incubator inside an airport — was established by Rome International Airport along with Plug & Play Tech Center, LVentureGroup, and PWC. 

"We chose automation as one of our topics for our first call for ideas because we truly believe in enhancing passenger experience with a continuous improvement approach that has led FCO in its path of quality excellence and innovation since 2016," said Emanuele Cala, VP of innovation and quality at Aeroporti di Roma.

Ritukar Vijay, CEO of Ottonomy.IO, said the company is actively working with global organizations to implement its autonomous robots, allowing them to become more sustainable.”

"We are seeing growing interest in our technology in a variety of industries including travel, retail, and hospitality,” added Vijay. “The launch of Ottobot 2.0 for ADR's acceleration program is another milestone in the adoption of autonomous robots and how they fit into our daily lives."

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09/21/2022

AI Takeover Coming to Walmart Canada to Keep Shelves Stocked

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Woman looking at empty shelves with out of stock sign

Walmart Canada is leaning on automated artificial intelligence to ensure its shelves stay stocked and consumers have an elevated experience regardless of whether they’re shopping in-store or online. 

The Canada-wide launch follows the success of a 70-store pilot that equipped locations with an AI-based computer vision platform from Focal Solutions. The technology uses cameras to automatically detect out-of-stocks. 

Integrated into Walmart’s existing inventory systems, the technology also highlights any real-time availability concerns such as low-stocked items. 

[Read more: Walmart Connect Dives Further Into Social Commerce, Launches TikTok and Snapchat Partnerships]

How does it work? Computer vision cameras installed throughout the store point directly at shelves and continuously scan to identify gaps and opportunities for replenishment. Associates are then alerted to re-stock the shelf as soon as possible. 

“We know it can be disappointing for customers when we don’t have products they want available on our shelves. That’s why we initiated this pilot using technology from Focal Systems that takes the guesswork out of knowing when a product is out of stock,” said Robin DeMers, director of store optimization at Walmart. 

“This leading-edge technology provides real-time, automated alerts for replenishment in key priority areas within our stores. It also empowers our associates with cool tech that makes a big difference in the way they are able to work and provide the best possible customer experience,” added DeMers.

Megan Osborne, a store manager at the Walmart Heartland Supercentre, one of the pilot locations, said her associates are excited to work with technology, which simplifies their work and is a “game-changer” in her store.

"With this bold step, Walmart is driving this industry forward in AI-adoption and retail automation, challenging the status-quo on availability, customer experience, and employee satisfaction,” said  Francois Chaubard, CEO of Focal Systems.

09/21/2022

ASICS Powers Up CMS With Localization Capabilities

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CRM concept

Sports equipment brand ASICS is transforming its CMS, leveraging modern headless technology with localization capabilities and a more streamlined platform that requires less assistance from developers. 

The company has partnered with Contentstack, joining other brands like Mattel, K2 Sports, and Express, to overhaul its system.

Additionally, ASICS will have access to the Contenstack Community portal, where they can engage with a dedicated tech team that can help share CRM best practices, troubleshoot issues, and connect with groups specifically tailored for app developers and more.

Peter Nealon, vice president of engineering of ASICS Digital, said the company’s previous CRM was older, slower, and more difficult to manage — an overall lack of flexibility. 

"We wanted a tool that allowed us to step out and do things differently than before. By making the switch to Contentstack, we'll be able to provide creative, unique content experiences, and operate with speed and flexibility for years to come,” said Nealon. “We want to provide preeminent digital experiences to our customers and Contentstack will enable us to do that."

Neha Sampat, CEO at Contentstack, said the community enables users to connect, grow, and find the best journey for themselves, helping them to demystify and implement compostable architectures that allow them to move forward faster.

This article first appeared on the site of sister publication CGT.

09/14/2022

Burton, GANNI, Outdoor Voices, and Vince to Deploy Contactless Payment

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I Phone

Select Burton, GANNI, Outdoor Voices, and Vince locations are some of the first retailers to roll out a new capability, which will enable them to run their stores solely on iPhone.

NewStore, a modular, mobile-first omnichannel cloud platform for retail brands worldwide, today announced that Tap to Pay on iPhone is now available for all its U.S. customers. The new feature is offered through the NewStore Associate App, which includes mobile POSendless aisleclienteling, and inventory management. With Tap to Pay on iPhone, NewStore customers can accept all types of in-person, contactless payments with just an iPhone.

“We were excited to hear that NewStore can natively offer Tap to Pay on iPhone this quickly. We recently rolled it out at one of our pop-ups, and it was incredibly easy to set up,” said Kevin Harwood, vice president of technology, Outdoor Voices. “The payment experience was also far more convenient than a traditional credit card transaction. We look forward to using it at other pop-ups and in our stores.”

Based on NewStore customer data, the feature has already emerged as a preferred payment method, with 50% of credit card transactions across all live stores occurring via Tap to Pay on iPhone.

“The biggest benefit of Tap to Pay on iPhone for us comes down to the impact it has on checkout speed,” said Brian McAllister, director of Global Operations, Consumer Direct, Burton. “Our store guides have been able to shorten the payment processing time by as much as 30%. Those seconds add up during peak hours, and the time saved allows our guides to better serve customers and take care of other important tasks.” 

Tap to Pay on iPhone is available to NewStore customers in the U.S. that use Adyen as their payment service provider. The service requires brands to use iPhone XS, or newer devices, with iOS 15.5 or later. Eligible retailers can now accept contactless payments — from physical debit and credit cards, to Apple Pay and other digital wallets — through the NewStore Associate App. Until now, associates would have to carry a wireless credit card reader in addition to an iPhone to complete transactions.

NewStore is in the process of rolling out Tap to Pay on iPhone to its remaining, eligible U.S. customers who wish to implement the feature.