THE DAILY SCOPE, 12/20/21: CE retailers take note: Levi Strauss & Co., the major clothing retailer, is using AI to help it make important decisions on pricing and stocking that have resulted in improved margins for the company. The system uses machine learning, which analyzes statistics and probability, to make predictions about shopper trends based on the large data repository that Levi’s has built on Alphabet Inc.’s Google Cloud. The data points that Levi’s uses to make decisions come from information provided by customers, as well as external data on consumer buying patterns and behavior. The AI system also takes into account intricate details such as how weather forecasts are likely to affect shopping experiences. All this information helps the company to improve customer personalized marketing, improve pricing decisions, and predict future demand for specific products. This ability has significantly helped the company to improve its bottom line. Levi’s gross margin for its third quarter of 2021, which ended on August 29, was 57.6 percent, up from 54.3 percent in 2020. Levi’s success in using AI should act as a beacon to retailers in the tech industry, as they turn to big data to help them improve profits.
Remember the days when your local mall was a place to meet up with friends and cruise around causing mayhem while snacking on an Auntie Anne’s pretzel? Indoor malls used to be iconic, but now due to a combination of factors, headlined by the pandemic, these traditional bastions of retail are struggling. In-store retail has bounced back in recent months with traffic in non-mall stores in the first week of December seeing a 38.9 percent increase year over year. In comparison, stores located in malls have only seen a 32 percent increase over the same time period, according to a study conducted by RetailNext. Freestanding retail is also well-outpacing malls in other retail health metrics such as vacancy rates. According to JLL’s Retail Recovery Report, freestanding retail has a vacancy rate of 2.9 percent while mall retail outlets are suffering from an elevated 7.2 percent vacancy rate. Malls are an interesting platform for retailers, where the health of the mall’s retail community directly correlates to in-store traffic level. Thus, with the long-term health of malls in jeopardy, it may be time to adopt new retail strategies. A recent study conducted by Placewise found that 60 percent of shoppers would be interested in seeing malls institute a form of omnichannel commerce. For example, consumers could see products in-store but make one online payment for their shopping across all retailers in the mall and have these products delivered straight to their homes. It’s just one of the ways that we all must utilize outside of the box thinking to keep up with the ever-changing retail landscape
In other news, this weekend saw a plethora of industrywide announcements. Petra, a wholesale electronics distributor, has announced the addition of the Amber Connect GPS tracking and vehicle telematics solutions to its lineup of automotive security products. The system provides real-time GPS location data with instantaneous anti-theft alert capabilities and a built-in panic button. Also, the newest WiSA member PIEGA has just released its Ace Wireless Series of loudspeakers, which include the ACE 50 Wireless, ACE 30, and ACE Center Wireless. These discreet loudspeakers are designed to connect wirelessly to any WiSA Certified™ component such as WiSA Ready TVs and WiSA Transmitters. Finally, LG has released its first-ever gaming laptop, the model 17G90Q from its UltraGearTM lineup. The gaming laptop features an 11th Gen Intel® Tiger Lake H processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Max-Q graphics card, and dual-channel memory. The gaming laptop will hit the market on January 4, 2022.
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