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    The Week In News, But Shorter

    April 24 - 30, 2023


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    The Week In News, But Shorter
    April 17 – 23, 2023



    Chatbots have always played a role in e-commerce, but the advent of AI-powered chatbots like ChatGPT have truly changed the game. This week online retailer Mercari announced that they were launching a shopping assistant that uses Chat GPT, and this is only the start. With more and more retail property owners involved in mixed-use developments, we see a clear use-case to integrate chatbot technologies into their business models. From reducing the burden on traditional customer service channels, to providing directions from store-to-store within the mall, and automating tasks like access control management, or amenity bookings in the residential and office environments, the integration of natural language through these chatbots will accelerate these tools to become more commonplace in the coming years.

    In other news, we read about some AI-powered chat coming to the restaurant space (well, every space if we’re being honest…), the upside of the pandemic for independent retailers, and why one east coast mall will now be carding teenagers. We’ll be over on Twitter and LinkedIn trying to figure out which posts are genuine, and which are written by ChatGPT.

    Digital Meets Physical

    Does Virtual Fitting Room Tech Discourage Sales? [RetailWire] Virtual fitting rooms aren’t “uniformly positive” for customers, particularly those customers with unhealthy body image perceptions. Researchers, using data from an online women’s apparel website in China, found such augmented-reality technology increased sales among shoppers with a low body mass index (BMI) but decreased sales for those with a high BMI. 

    Mercari taps ChatGPT for search, recommendation functions [RetailDiveFollowing predictions of greater chatbot adoption, Mercari, the secondhand goods marketplace, debuted Merchat AI, a shopping assistant that uses the artificial intelligence software ChatGPT. The tool is available across the country in beta.

    GoDaddy Teams With Apple on Contactless Payments [PYMNTSGoDaddy wants to help businesses offer contactless, in-person payments. The web hosting company announced it is collaborating with Apple to integrate Tap to Pay on iPhone with its app to let businesses accept payments without needing to buy additional hardware.

    Customers rate traditional chatbots vs. ChatGPT assistants [Chain Store AgeNot all artificial intelligence (AI)-based customer service chatbots are created equal. According to a recent survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers and retailer interviews conducted by online marketplace Capterra, 53% of surveyed consumers who have used traditional retail customer support chatbots rate their overall experience as “fair” or “poor.”

    Micro & Last Mile Fulfillment

    Walmart and Chewy are accelerating investments in automated fulfillment centers [ModernRetail] Mass layoffs and warehouse closures exemplify some of the ways retailers are heavily rolling out automated warehouses after years of slowly experimenting with these technologies. Retailers aim to streamline costs and speed up their delivery capabilities by investing heavily in automation. As warehouse technology has become more advanced, it shields retailers from labor shortages or changes in consumer demand.

    The most common online delivery problems are…[Chain Store AgeConsumers frequently encounter issues with deliveries of e-commerce purchases, and retailers can pay a price. According to “SMB Shipping Pulse Check,” a recent survey of 1,000 online shoppers and 100 small-to-mid-sized business e-commerce decision-makers across the U.S., from UPS Capital, 71% of shopper respondents have contacted customer service due to shipping and/ or delivery issues regarding online orders.

    New York City to test local delivery hubs [Supply Chain DiveNew York City will begin testing local delivery hubs this summer to reduce truck traffic and emissions in favor of more sustainable transportation options. Microhubs in the city will provide designated curbside or off-street locations for trucks to unload items onto low-emissions transportation modes, like electric vehicles or cargo bikes, for last mile delivery.

    Restaurants & Ghost Kitchens

    58% of Restaurant Aggregator Customers Order From the Same Restaurants [PMYNTSJust as the restaurant industry rebuilt itself, economic uncertainty rose to rechallenge it. Amid inflation concerns and the ever-present threat of a recession, attracting and retaining customers is crucial to surviving the next downturn. PYMNTS’ data found that despite consumers’ overall drop in use of food aggregators such as Uber Eats and DoorDash, restaurants may have a real opportunity to strengthen their financial positioning by targeting online diners who use aggregator platforms.

    Amazon and Panera think conversational AI is the future of easy ordering [Retail BrewPanera Bread is seemingly all-in on implementing emerging technologies at its restaurants. Or maybe it’s just all-in on its partnership with Amazon. Toward the end of March, the chain became the first national restaurant to use Amazon’s biometric scanning software, Amazon One, rolling out palm scanning for users of the MyPanera loyalty program. Less than two weeks later, Panera announced it had teamed up with Amazon’s Alexa Skills team to offer improved AI-powered voice ordering.

    No More Begging for Treats. Dogs Now Have Restaurants. [The New York TimesDog owners like Ms. Torrejon-Nisbet are frequenting an increasing number of restaurants across the country that offer separate menus for their four-legged family members. Dog menus have become the new version of children’s menus at some restaurants.

    Mall Talk

    ‘No Longer a Dated Mall Retailer’: Signet CEO Outlines Progress [WWDIn its three-to-five-year transformation strategy, Signet Jewelers is hitting targets ahead of schedule, has updated financial goals, and expects engagement-related jewelry purchases to rebound beginning in the fourth quarter of this year. 

    The pandemic led to a resurgence of independent retail [Fast CompanyThe pandemic was expected to weaken independent retail. Online commerce surged as lockdowns and social distancing became the norm. But independent retail did not weaken. It actually re-emphasized what makes these businesses so resilient: the power of human connection, the thrill of discovery, and the advantage of agility. 

    Real Estate Is Just Not That Into the Metaverse . . . Yet [Commercial ObserverLast year’s highly anticipated virtual land rush into the metaverse has yet to materialize, but sluggish participation and little profit from the alternative not-so-real-estate world hasn’t caused its enthusiasts to pull up stakes, according to proptech experts.

    Under 18? You’ll need an adult chaperone on weekend evenings at the Garden State Plaza [NorthJersey.comAnyone under the age of 18 will need a chaperone age 21 or older when going to Garden State Plaza on weekends beginning April 28. The policy will be in effect after 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, mall officials said, but does not include the AMC Theater or any restaurant with an outside entrance.


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