August, good month/bad month

August, good month/bad month

Retail Technology Innovation Hub takes a look at the retail technology space during August and rounds up the winners and losers

Good month for… 

Starbucks has announced a New Retail partnership with Alibaba Group to begin delivering its drinks and baked goods in China.

Marks & Spencer has announced yet another disruptive technologies partnership as it looks to transform into a digital first retailer. The latest tie-up is with retail and consumer investment firm, True, and will introduce it to a 2,000-strong network of technology and consumer-product businesses. 

JDA Software has completed its acquisition of supply chain AI/machine learning specialist, Blue Yonder. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Last mile delivery startup, On the dot, has received an additional investment of £8 million from its parent company, City Sprint Group.

Amazon’s sales nearly tripled during Prime Day 2018, compared to average daily sales the week leading up to it, according to Profitero. More than 100 million products were sold during the 36-hour promotional event.

Alternative payment methods such as mobile and digital wallets are steadily displacing traditional payment methods in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) e-commerce market, according to GlobalData.

The company forecasts the sector to grow from $1.6 trillion in 2018 to $2.3 trillion in 2022. According to its latest Consumer Payments Insight Survey, alternative payments went from 49% in Q1 2017 to account for 51% of the total e-commerce transaction value in APAC in Q1 2018. At the same time, payment cards, bank transfers, and cash/cheques accounted for 28%, 15%, and 6% respectively.

Kroger is launching a store on Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform.

A pilot project will see the US retailer first offer Chinese consumers items from its Simple Truth natural and organic brand. “E-commerce enables us to quickly scale to reach new customers and markets where we don’t operate physical stores, starting with China,” says Yael Cosset, Kroger’s Chief Digital Officer. 

Membership-only wholesale retailer Costco reports that its 750 warehouses across the US now accept Apple Pay, as well as Google Pay and Samsung Pay. 

Rotageek, a provider of cloud-based data-driven scheduling technology, has secured a £4 million investment led by Mobeus. 

Bad month for…

Crypto fans…Earlier this month, Starbucks announced that it was partnering with Microsoft, BCG and New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange to create a new venture, Bakkt.

Maria Smith, Vice President, Partnerships and Payments for Starbucks, commented: “As a leader in mobile payments to our more than 15 million Starbucks Rewards members, we are committed to innovation for expanding payment options for our customers.” 

Various news outlets took this to mean that the retailer would now accept Bitcoin payments in-store. Alas, no. “It is important to clarify that we are not accepting digital assets at Starbucks. Rather the exchange will convert digital assets like Bitcoin into US dollars, which can be used at Starbucks,” it said in a statement. “At the current time, we are announcing the launch of trading and conversion of Bitcoin. However, we will continue to talk with customers and regulators as the space evolves.”

Bakkt will leverage Microsoft cloud solutions to create an open and regulated, global ecosystem for digital assets. This is expected to include federally regulated markets and warehousing along with merchant and consumer applications. 

“In bringing regulated, connected infrastructure together with institutional and consumer applications for digital assets, we aim to build confidence in the asset class on a global scale, consistent with our track record of bringing transparency and trust to previously unregulated markets,” said Jeffrey C. Sprecher, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange.

Crypto critics have dismissed the use of Bitcoin for payments due to its volatility. But whilst Starbucks is not yet getting onboard, the retailer’s flagship role in Bakkt and refusal to rule out a move could see Bitcoin break through as a mainstream currency.

Bakkt is currently in preparation for launch and further details will be announced in the coming weeks.

Superdrug customers were told to change their online passwords after the retailer was hacked.

The jury’s out on…

Ikea opened its first Indian store in Hyderabad earlier this month. Winning customers in the country will be a challenge for the Swedish home furniture giant, but the move will accelerate a shift to organised space, according to GlobalData. 

Sports Direct purchased House of Fraser for £90 million, and Sofie Willmott, Senior Retail Analyst at GlobalData, believes that owner Mike Ashley must make drastic changes to both its product proposition and store environment to entice shoppers back. This will require significant investment – something which the chain has been starved of in recent years.

Walmart is now officially the largest shareholder in Flipkart. The US retailer has shelled out $16 billion for an approximately 77% share of the Indian e-commerce venture.

Top 10: last month's most popular retail tech articles

Top 10: last month's most popular retail tech articles

August: "Quote...unquote"

August: "Quote...unquote"