Ulta, Amazon, Shoe Carnival, and More Upgrade Tech Capabilities: Automation, AI and AR, Robotics

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
Liz
Shoe Carnival
Shoe Carnival

Retailers continue to invest heavily across their enterprises as they look to streamline efforts, upgrade tech stacks, and implement end-to-end solutions. These are the latest investments from Ulta, Amazon, Shoe Carnival, Party City, and Furniture Fair, implementing a wide variety of technology like AR, generative AI, automation, robotics, and more.

Shoe Carnival

Shoe Carnival is investing in AI-powered content management, digital asset management, and automated media. 

  • Tech by Amplience looks to elevate the digital customer experience by expediting content delivery, enhancing campaign efficiency, and bolstering team productivity 
  • Functions include AI-powered search and discovery with natural language processing and automatic re-ranking
  • Additionally, a streamlined CMS provides access to a content hub featuring easy search functionality
  • Reported benefits include a 6% increase in landing page conversions, expedited campaigns, doubled team productivity, increases in revenue, removal of redundancies and middle management by allowing merchandising team to make navigation and content changes
  • Shoe Carnival is looking to implement additional end-to-end, AI-powered and customer-centric personalization later this year

"[It] has transformed our online experience by empowering users with the tools necessary to make impactful changes that drive real results, in real-time," said Courtney Grisham, director, e-commerce, Shoe Carnival, in a statement. 

Ulta Vending Machine
Ulta Vending Machine

Ulta

Ulta is elevating its in-store product discovery by testing a digital advertising program via smart vending machines. 

  • Launching in select locations across 10 cities in New York, Massachusetts, Florida, California, and Texas
  • Powered by SOS, the machines will dispense complimentary Rael period care products for Ulta shoppers
  • Available for Ultamate Rewards, incentivizing rewards sign-up
  • One free sample per week from an assortment of travel-sized products across cosmetics, skincare, and haircare
  • The interactive, digital screens expand visibility for sampling awareness, product launches and brand messaging

"At Ulta Beauty we are committed to delivering new, engaging ways for guests to experience, try, and fall in love with new products," said Maria Salcedo, senior vice president of merchandising at Ulta Beauty, in a statement. "Through our pilot program with SOS, we have the ability to learn how guests are engaging with vending machines and digital brand touchpoints in store, opening up new opportunities to transform the beauty shopping experience. This collaboration further exemplifies our dedication to pushing the boundaries of innovation in beauty retail with a guest centric approach."

Party City

Party City Holdings Inc. is streamlining its supply chain, investing in a platform that creates operational efficiencies across inventory management, end-to-end merchandising, and vendor compliance. 

  • Automated systems powered by TradeBeyond reduce manual purchase order processes
  • Streamlined vendor onboarding and purchase order management features capabilities like e-signature and Work-in-Progress tracking
  • The first phase launched September 11, with additional investments planned 

“We finally have one system to manage all data,” said Lorne Cytrynbaum, Party City’s director of sourcing and product operations. "In an era that demands agility and efficiency…the suite eliminates redundancies and ensures smooth collaboration and communication between all stakeholders. We now have the foundation to continue to significantly optimize all of our supply chain operations."

Digit, a bipedal human-centric robot from Agility Robotics
Digit, a bipedal human-centric robot from Agility Robotics.
Digit, a bipedal human-centric robot from Agility Robotics
Digit, a bipedal human-centric robot from Agility Robotics.

Amazon

Amazon will be testing robot Digit across its operations, leveraged within the company’s robotics research and development facility near Seattle. 

  • Digit, a bipedal human-centric robot from Agility Robotics, can automate fulfillment tasks, able to move, grab, and handle items in warehouse spaces
  • Amazon is looking to use the robot for tote recycling to automate a highly-repetitive, manual task

“Digit’s size and shape are well-suited for buildings that are designed for humans, and we believe that there is a big opportunity to scale a mobile manipulator solution,” said Emily Vetterick, Amazon director of engineering, in a statement. “Collaborative robotics solutions like Digit support workplace safety and help Amazon deliver to customers faster, while creating new opportunities and career paths for our employees.”

Furniture Fair

The furniture retailer is leveraging automation, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality across visual image creation. 

  • Powered by Nfinite, the platform allows the retailer to create product visuals from multiple angles, including 360-degree videos
  • Generative AI can integrate products into scenes within the retailer’s theme of choice, removing the need for additional photography 
  • AR capabilities allow consumers to interact with products through their mobile devices’ cameras

“We have been able to establish an automated workflow, enhancing our product visuals and delivering comprehensive PDPs for our web store,” said Craig Daniels, marketing director at Furniture Fair, in a statement. “Our PDPs now showcase imagery of each product from every angle, plus a close-up in the 360° view. Each lifestyle image enhances the experience for customers to engage with the product and envision it in their own space, which helps us drive more foot traffic to our stores and improve our overall business results.” 

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