1. Technology & Innovation

The grey pound strikes back: 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 Six Flags, Amazon’s Just Walk Out tech, Aldi UK, Polytag, SADA, Frasers Group, Ingka Group, and Made4net.

1. Six Flags preps first amusement park micro market launch featuring Amazon Just Walk Out technology

Six Flags is set to become the first theme park operator to pilot Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, with the aim of reducing wait times for customers wanting to purchase food and drinks.

It will soft launch the tech at its theme park in New Jersey on 1st June. A similar roll-out is planned later this year for the Six Flags Magic Mountain location in Los Angeles.

Visitors will be able to peruse the store, place items in their virtual cart and then leave when they’re done, with their selections automatically charged to the payment method used to gain entry.

2. Aldi UK teams with Polytag to gain access to real-time packaging lifecycle information

Aldi UK has partnered with recycling technology company Polytag.

It will trial the deployment of Polytag’s invisible UV tags onto its packaging, starting from July.

With the company’s unique readers installed at the Biffa Teeside recycling centre, Aldi will get insights on the quantity of its packaging that is actually recycled and be able to track an item’s journey through said process.

This previously inaccessible packaging lifecycle information will help the supermarket accurately measure and track its performance against its sustainability targets, such as halving its plastic footprint by 2025.

3. SADA to develop new data platform on Google Cloud for UK retailer Frasers Group

SADA has announced a new services engagement with Frasers Group, a retail conglomerate based in the UK.

This will see it develop and implement a new platform to help Frasers Group scale data visibility and reporting across its retailers, which includes Sports Direct.

“We selected Google Cloud because we were facing a data challenge – we knew we needed to play catch up in the data space, and that shifting to the cloud from an on-prem environment would be necessary,” said Simon Palmer, CIO at Frasers Group.

“In order to fulfil our mission of becoming a global player, we needed a provider familiar with the ecosystem and capabilities to help us scale quickly and efficiently. We knew that SADA would fit the bill.”

4. Lidl signs up with Miconex technology powered Scotland Loves Local Gift Card programme

Lidl has joined the Scotland Loves Local Gift Card scheme.

The retailer’s 111 Scottish stores are now accepting the regional card, which can be swiped at the till like a debit card, with the balance automatically updated after each purchase.

Over 6,500 businesses, spanning retail, hospitality, accommodation, health and beauty, leisure and attractions and services, are currently part of the programme, including national household names and independent businesses.

5. Marks and Spencer blasted by elderly customers as it goes cashless in automated cafes

Marks and Spencer has come under fire from disgruntled elderly customers after closing traditional counters in eight digital cafes, including at two of the retailer’s megastores.

With orders placed via touchscreens, staff are now focused on making food and drinks rather than taking orders, with customers alerted when their order is ready.

Elderly shoppers have described the move, which ushers in cashless payments, as “abhorrent”, The Telegraph reports.

M&S is also testing out self-service belted checkouts alongside manned tills in two food halls.

These can be found at London Colney, near Watford, and White Rose Shopping Centre near Leeds – two of its largest stores which also have the digital cafes installed.

In a LinkedIn post, Ron Delnevo, Chair of the UK Cash Supply Alliance, said: “Really silly, thoughtless stuff from M&S. If you want to find out how to alienate your customers, just read and copy!”

6. Ingka Group boosts Ikea omnichannel credentials as it snaps up supply chain technology provider Made4net

Ingka Investments, the investment arm of Ingka Group (the largest owner and operator of Ikea stores in 31 countries) has acquired Made4net, a US-based supply chain software solution provider.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

It says that the move will increase the capacity needed for a successful end-to-end customer offering, making it “likely the largest implementation of a warehouse management solution (WMS) in the world”.

Ingka Group will integrate Made4net’s fulfilment operations system as it looks to improve the omnichannel experience for customers and co-workers in stores.

7. Walmart makes waste reduction move as it eyes more sustainable omnichannel fulfilment network

Walmart is adopting new measures designed to reduce the amount of packaging waste associated with online orders.

This includes moving from plastic to recyclable paper mailers, right-sizing cardboard box packaging, giving customers the option to consolidate shipping on e-commerce orders, opting out of single-use plastic bags for online pickup orders and last mile delivery efficiencies to reduce mileage and delivery times.

“With a Walmart store located within 10 miles of 90% of the US population, we can make a meaningful difference for our customers by strategically using our stores and last mile delivery network to reduce waste and emissions,” says Jennifer McKeehan, Senior Vice President of End-to-End Delivery at Walmart U.S.

“I’m proud of the efforts we’ve made and will continue to make as we keep regeneration at the forefront of delivery.”

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