Chinese tech firm Tencent Holdings will acquire a 5% equity interest in Yonghui Superstores, said the upscale supermarket chain, which operates 17 stores in six cities. Yonghui's growth in the online-to-offline grocery segment puts Tencent in competition with Alibaba Group Holding, which has been developing its own physical stores under the Hema Supermarkets banner.
Barcelona-based fashion retailer Mango has built a Lisbon, Portugal, flagship with art deco features and high-tech perks including Wi-Fi, digital dressing rooms and a click-and-collect program. The store is one of about 200 larger-format Mango stores that bring its women's, men's and children's fashions together in one store.
Reliance Retail will start testing apparel distribution to small neighbourhood stores in India in early 2018, with plans to add appliances and consumer packaged goods to the mix by April, industry executives said. The program will start with the company's private-label products and eventually expand to include branded goods.
Wonderchef will open three new stores in the Indian city of Gurgaon, as part of the kitchen appliance brand's two-year plan to grow by 40 locations in the country. The company currently has 10 stores in India and also sells through other channels, including e-commerce and multi-brand retailers.
Retailer Williams-Sonoma, which has two dozen stores in Canada, has debuted new e-commerce sites for Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn and West Elm for the country's shoppers. "Canada is an important market for us, and we are excited to offer our Canadian customers the convenience of online shopping, providing them with a complete multi-channel experience," President and CEO Laura Alber said.
Smartphones and online tools that give consumers the instant ability to compare prices are keeping retail prices down and inflation in check in advanced economies including the US and Japan. Globalization, older populations and stagnant productivity growth have also led to weak inflation, according to economists.
Former celebrity stylist Rebecca Mink was a pioneer in luxury vegan footwear when she launched Mink Shoes 17 years ago. Mink worked with an Italian factory to replace the leather, glue and other components to create designer shoes without any animal products, and today, vegan celebrities and other customers pay tens of thousands of dollars for cruelty-free styles.
Many retailers struggle to justify investments in artificial intelligence unless they have a clear strategy. At Shop.org 2017, Oak Labs CEO Healey Cypher spoke with Google Head of Retail Innovation Joyce Lee and Nike Global Director of Project Management and Performance Innovation Jennifer Tvedt about why chatbots and AI-powered messaging may be a worthy investment for retailers. Read the session recap here.