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Starring Asda, Walmart, and Decathlon: RTIH’s biggest retail technology news stories of the week

It’s Friday, the weekend is almost upon us, so let’s kick back and reflect on another eventful week for the retail systems space. Here’s your briefing on the most important stories from the past five days, including autonomous stores, virtual commerce, Just Walk Out tech meets RFID, and phone shops reinvented.

1. Pixevia works with REWE Group owned IKI to launch fifth autonomous store in Vilnius, Lithuania

Pixevia has partnered with IKI, a member of REWE Group, to launch a fifth autonomous store in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The IKI GO store is located next to the Green Bridge public transport stop. It is the seventh location overall powered by Pixevia technology.

Contained in a small format pavilion, it operates without staff for approximately 95% of its opening hours, only requiring occasional restocking.

Shoppers can choose from over 200 items – from hot coffee beverages and chilled ready-to-eat meals to ice creams, snacks, drinks, and essential non-food items.

The store features Pixevia’s proprietary real-time checkout technology, which allows customers to enter by tapping a payment card.

People take what items they want from the shelves while cameras and shelf sensors compile a virtual shopping basket. They then tap the same payment card to exit the store, and receive a real-time receipt which can be printed upon leaving.

2. Amazon works with Avery Dennison to combine Just Walk Out technology and RFID in checkout-free stores

Amazon has announced a new capability to its Just Walk Out technology that will enable relevant stores to start selling clothes.

This leverages RFID, supplied by Avery Dennison, and enables customers to grab clothes, hats, shoes etc, and walk out of the store through an exit gate (even while wearing their purchases) by tapping their credit or debit card, or hovering their palm over an Amazon One palm recognition device.

It is currently available at Lumen Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.

“Delivering a great fan experience is central to everything we do here at Lumen Field, and our customers love the convenience of Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology,” says Zach Hensley, Seahawks Vice President of Operations and General Manager at Lumen Field.

“Eight of our concessions locations are already using Just Walk Out technology and seeing great results.”

“Now, we are excited to be the first NFL stadium with an RFID enabled Just Walk Out technology store so fans can grab their favourite hats, jerseys, and more, and simply walk out. We are seeing great traction for this new store, and our fans are enjoying the experience.”

3. Grocery giant Asda makes senior retail technology appointments as it moves away from Walmart days

Asda has announced the appointments of Rob Barnes and Adrian Berry to its technology team to oversee the oversee the development of its new strategy and separation from Walmart.

Barnes is currently Chief Technology Officer at Marks and Spencer and will join Asda early next year as Delivery Director.

He will be responsible for the design, build and delivery of all colleague and customer facing technology and will also act as Deputy Chief Information Officer.

Prior to joining M&S, he was MD of Accenture’s Retail Tech Advisory business, where he managed technology delivery for a range of clients including Dyson, Clarks, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Best Buy.

Berry also joins in the new year as Chief Technology Officer and will have responsibility for all core technology teams including service delivery, infrastructure, application engineering, platform teams and enterprise technology services.

He most recently served as CIO at Aston Barclay Vehicle Remarketing, and prior to that as UK CIO and Group CTO at Lowell Credit Management.

Carl Dawson, Asda’s CIO, says: “We are delighted to welcome Rob and Adrian to the Asda Technology team. With their combined experience,I am confident that we will now have the necessary expertise and experience to build best in class retail technology systems as we continue our separation journey from Walmart.” 

4. Decathlon brings in technology veteran Jimena Almendares as new Chief Digital Officer

Decathlon has announced the appointment of Jimena Almendares as its new Chief Digital Officer.

Decathlon says that the appointment is in line with the retailer transforming its digital offering and putting technology at the heart of all business operations.

The aim is for each and every customer to enjoy an excellent digital experience when shopping with it, regardless of their touchpoint or location.

Almendares has held senior roles at firms such as Meta and Intuit. At Meta, she managed the world’s largest customer experience/support organisation, overseeing services for 3.7 billion active users across apps, including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

At Intuit, she served as the CEO of the subsidiary Intuit Payments, Board Member of Quickbooks Mexico, Vice President of Global Expansion, and Vice President of Payments.

5. EE opens Manchester Experience store in Trafford Centre with former England footballer Ellen White

EE has opened the doors of its new Experience store, alongside former Manchester City player Ellen White, in the Trafford Centre.

Visitors will be able to explore various ‘experience zones’ and ‘room sets’, with each area curated to give customers a taste of future connected living.

Asif Aziz, Retail Director at EE, says: “As one of the UK’s largest technology hubs, we are excited to be bringing our new Experience store format to this vibrant and innovative city, helping our customers and the local Manchester community to get the most out of their technology.”

“We want our stores to be so much more than a traditional phone shop; whether you are an avid gamer, a home worker or even a technology novice, our EE Guides are here to help and share their expertise. We are looking forward to opening the doors to our latest Experience store with the help of Manchester City legend Ellen White.”

6. Redesigning the shopping experience: Walmart explores ‘limitless potential’ of virtual commerce

Earlier this year, Walmart teamed up with game developer FUN-GI on House Flip, a mobile game available on iOS and Android that allows players to renovate and sell virtual homes.

It initially started with the ability for players to virtually test certain Glidden paint colours sold at Walmart, generating more than 12 million impressions for that brand over the first six months.

This month, the retailer will introduce the ability to purchase physical items contextually and natively in the game – either the same ones people use to decorate their virtual house or ones they discover while playing the game – using their Walmart account without leaving the virtual world. 

It is also adding new décor items from Mainstays and Better Homes and Gardens in the Walmart in-game landmark that players can browse and purchase.

Walmart has also entered the virtual fashion segment with its clothing brand Scoop, taking over the fashion space, Runway Z, within the mobile virtual world Zepeto.

7. Tata Consultancy Services helps Kingfisher unify physical and digital channels with TCS OmniStore

Kingfisher is using TCS OmniStore, an AI powered unified commerce platform from Tata Consultancy Services.

The company operates a chain of over 1,900 stores in eight countries across Europe under its retail banners including B&Q, Castorama, Brico Dépôt, Screwfix, TradePoint and Koçtaş.

It was looking to upgrade to a multilingual commerce platform that delivers a unified brand experience. In addition, it wanted to address legal, fiscal, and operational differences across all its European banners. 

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