RTG August Newsletter

RTG Newsletter                                   Published quarterly by The Retail Technology Group                                   August, 2016


From the Principal’s Office

In this issue, we offer a mixed bag of interesting tidbits going on in our industry.  Please enjoy this light reading.

Bob Amster – Principal, RTG


What are we seeing?

Death of a Sales Mode

The death of MCX: “The Merchant Customer Exchange, a consortium of retailers responsible for developing the CurrentC platform, sent out an email notifying beta testers in Columbus, Ohio, that the program’s trial period was to end on June 28, reported The Consumerist.

MCX offered little insight into CurrentC’s future, saying only that plans are in place to analyze data accumulated from the beta period. Last month the consortium postponed a scheduled nationwide rollout for the second time in as many years, reportedly firing 30 employees. The development prompted speculation on the system’s impending demise.

In development since 2012, CurrentC was designed to link directly with customer bank accounts, allowing major retailers like Walmart to skirt credit card network fees. The system got off to a rocky start and was immediately challenged by tech sector players, including in-house offerings from Apple and Google. MCX attempted to thwart competition by restricting member retailers from accepting other NFC payment platforms, but ongoing troubles and industry pressure prompted Rite Aid and Best Buy to break rank late last year. Walmart followed suit in May by launching its own branded solution.”

Retailers in Transition

PacSun is now wholly owned by Golden Gate Capital.  They’ve been a client.  Wish them well.

Macy’s to close 100 more stores.  Goes along with the nearly-accepted fact that the country is over stored.  We were over stored before the validation of e-commerce as an additional channel.  Now it’s worse, because retail is a zero-sum game and whatever retailers sell on line, they won’t sell a second time in stores.  The sales just shift from one channel to another, reaffirming the need to close some stores.

Aeropostale may escape liquidation and become part of the Vesta Group which ran Bob’s Stores, the defunct Sports Chalet, and EMS.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Oracle to acquire Netsuite.  Why???  We don’t know.  If one of our readers knows, please write to us.

Honeywell to acquire JDA.  Why???  Again, if one of our readers knows, please write to us.

Unilever to acquire Dollar Shave Club.  We know why.  It is so Unilever can increase its direct-to-consumer efforts and begin the demise of the CPG firms’ relationship with the retailers who have been their best customers.  Paradigm shift.  Terrible for retailers.

P&G to begin selling Tide D2C.  Read preceding paragraph.  Same story.

Hewlett Packard replenishes your ink on a subscription business because the IoT-enabled printer they sell you, can talk directly to HP over the Internet network you set up, it senses your ink levels and, if you opted into the subscription (for a fee) program, HP is happy to send you the ink cartridges, taking business from well-known retailers such as Staples and Office Depot.  Paradigm shift in the retail space.

Walmart to acquire Jet.com.  Why?  To get into the e-commerce business in a big way without re-inventing the wheel.

Emerging Technology

Look for more implementations of Augmented Reality in the furniture, kitchen and home décor segments of retail.  There is a definite advantage to the application of this emerging technology in these sectors.  Talk about improving the customer experience…  Imagine being able to see a rendering of furniture you haven’t yet bought, in your own rooms!

The IoT will penetrate many retail sectors but only, where it makes sense, the rest will fail because they will be found to be irrelevant.  Growth, then shakeout, then matter of course.  (See the HP example, preceding stories.)

Theatro wearable, voice activated enterprise-communication device, designed for the hourly store associate, is gaining interest rapidly among retailers with a large square-foot-print.  The device enables store associates to communicate with piers, mentors, trainers and superiors, as well as with the retailer’s information systems without leaving the customer (heads-up, hands-free).  Additionally, management can communicate to stores, groups and individuals.  Reporting on activities, location and usage abound, and the use cases just keep increasing.  Cabela’s and Container Store are rolling out enterprise wide.  Home Depot Canada, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Michael’s Stores, and Price Chopper are all in current pilots.  Contact us for more information on this powerful communication product.

Undetectable RFID threads is a new technology that will enable detection of stolen as well as grey market and counterfeit goods.  Click on the link to read more.

On the bright side

Went to see a Pirch store in New York’s SoHo district.  Wow!  Elegant, upscale, interesting model in which the relationships are as much with the consumer as they are with interior designers and building contractors, and delivery of the products must be timed to coincide with the status of the construction or renovation of the home in question.

Wait and see

Happy Returns, a start-up business based on the premise that most on-line shoppers prefer to return merchandise in person, and that one third of all apparel and shoes purchased on-line are returned, has launched a service wherein customers are able to return purchases at the Happy Returns store.  These Return Bars will be located in malls, will accept returns from participating retailers, and will refund the purchase on the spot.  Product will be aggregated and sent back to the originating retailer’s warehouse or returns processing center, or re-sold, based on arrangements and retailer preferences.  Happy Returns collects a fee from the retailers or keeps the profit on the resale.  The retailers skirt the need to answer customers’ inquiries on their returns.  In addition, the returns are aggregated for them and sent to a location of the retailers’ choice.

Visit our Web site!

Obtain more information about us at www.RetailTechnologyGroup.com.

If You Have a Need

…and would like to discuss it with us, please contact us at the number below.  We would be happy to review with you how we can help you.

The Retail Technology Group:


is located at:

761 Rock Rimmon Road

Stamford, CT 06903-1216

Telephone 203-329-2621