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Industry News - November 11th 2011



Walmart Buys Smartphone-Friendly POS App Firm

n the latest acquisition by its digital technology division, Walmart has acquired Grabble, an Australian technology start-up that has developed a smartphone-friendly POS app allowing retailers to send digital receipts to customers' mobile devices. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Through its recently established @WalmartLabs division, the world's largest retailer is moving further into territory marked out by Amazon.com and eBay, which function both as retailers and software owners/developers.

Previous acquisitions had focused on social media and analytics rather than the transactional elements of retail. In April 2011 @WalmartLabs purchased Kosmix, which had developed a social media platform designed to connect people with real-time data that matters to them. The next item on Walmart's shopping list was OneRiot, with its technology tying social media data signals to targeted ad delivery; that purchase was announced in September.

Future technology developments from Walmart may not come solely through acquisitions. The division will be opening a software development center in Bangalore, India by the end of this year, with plans to hire 100 developers. Currently, @WalmartLabs has one development center located in San Bruno, CA.

Gap Launches Social and Mobile Holiday Campaigns

Along with opening 1,000 stores on Thanksgiving this year, Gap is giving shoppers a head start on their holiday shopping with the launch of its Shop Yourself Social website, a campaign that helps customers stay connected with the company's brands' social media sites. In addition, the retailer expanded its Mobile4U program to deliver personalized deals via text message.
"Our mobile optimized sites were created so our customers could have real-time access to the same service, experience and product promotions that they would have on the website," says Toby Lenk, president of Gap Inc. Direct. "We're excited that our customers will have access to our newly optimized site this holiday, and we'll do everything in our power to fulfill their holiday shopping needs."
Shop Yourself Social is the company's first cross-branded campaign designed to help shoppers cut through the online and social media deal frenzy and find the best deals on gifts they would love to give (or get) this holiday season. The site, www.shopyourselfsocial.com, offers real-time tips and tricks to get the most out of social shopping as well as convenient access to all five Gap brands' social networking channels. Visitors to the site can find the latest feeds and information on each brand's store openings, events and promotions.
In response to the increasing number of customers shopping on mobile devices, Gap is also offering two mobile shopping options for customers on-the-go. Working with Visa, the company announced it has expanded its Gap Mobile4U program to deliver offers and promotions for Banana Republic (BR mobile 4U) and Old Navy (Old Navy 4U) in addition to Gap brands, delivering personalized offers triggered in real time for the holidays and throughout the year.
Customers who opt into the service will receive tailored discounts and promotions via SMS text messages when qualifying transactions are made with enrolled Visa accounts. Sent directly to their mobile devices, customers simply redeem their special offers by presenting the text message at select Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy stores nationwide.

Apple Adds Self-Checkout and Pickup to Shopping App

Apple is updating its shopping iOS application with in-store self-checkout capabilities and an order on your phone, pickup in-store feature. According to published reports, the "click and collect" feature is currently available in Apple Stores in New York and California and will be rolled out across the rest of the country.
The self-checkout feature uses a barcode scanning functionality in which customers can scan the codes with their iPhones. The app will automatically deduct the total purchase amount for any product scanned from the banking account set up with the user's Apple ID.
If the ability to scan and purchase products isn't a fast enough solution for customers, the click and collect feature allows customers to order products on their smartphones and pick them up in-store within 12 minutes. The electronic order takes three minutes to register, the preparation of the products takes another two minutes and Apple allows another seven minutes grace period. The service is only available for products that are in-stock at the intended pickup location.


Sears and Kmart Deploy QR Code-Equipped 'Mobile Shopping Walls'

Sears and Kmart deployed mobile shopping walls in high-traffic areas including airports, malls, movie theaters and bus shelters across the country. The walls, which feature top toys from Sears and Kmart, provide quick response (QR) codes for each item so that customers can make purchases directly from their smartphones, giving customers an innovative and efficient way to accomplish their holiday shopping.
"Our mobile shopping walls are not only convenient because of their unexpected locations, but they offer easy shipping options as well," says Julia Fitzgerald, chief digital engagement officer of toys and sporting goods for Sears Holdings. "Our goal is to make holiday shopping so simple that customers can find the perfect gift while they are traveling or going about their daily lives, and have them waiting at their doorstep when they arrive home."
The mobile shopping walls showcase many of the most popular toys from Sears' newly expanded online Toy Shop and Kmart's popular Fab 15 toy list. The virtual shopping destinations allow customers to use QR codes to identify product information, imagery and pricing to make purchases.
The mobile shopping walls are one of many mobile commerce tools that Sears and Kmart offer that delivers an integrated retail experience to customers. Last month, the company began rolling out Apple iPads and iPod Touch devices in nearly 450 Sears and Kmart stores for associates to help customers check inventory, access product information and order products online from anywhere in the store.


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