the biggest retail technology news stories of the week — Retail Technology Innovation Hub

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 Carrefour Belgium, dunnhumby, Studenac, Amazon UK, and LEGO Fortnite.

1. Hargreaves Lansdown: hybrid retail approach set to give online only a run for its money in 2024

Hybrid approaches will dominate the retail sector during 2024, according to British financial services company Hargreaves Lansdown.

Amazon has seen some serious profit erosion in the last few years after overspending and underdelivering on the retail side, so there is a lot riding on its festive season results early in 2024.

“The early signs look promising for the king of e-commerce with a whopping 88% of consumers expected to make a purchase on the platform during the festive period,” says Susannah Streeter, Head of Money and Markets, Hargreaves Lansdown.

“But not all online retailers can boast the huge clout of Amazon and others, particularly apparel retailers are likely to continue to struggle as hybrid approaches dominate the retail sector.”

“Although online shopping is now firmly ingrained as a habit for the long-term, shoppers still clearly want the in-store experience and e-commerce retailers are likely to continue to have a tougher time, particularly as competition for shoppers’ wallets heats up amid the cost-of-living crisis.”

Streeter notes that Asos and Boohoo were the e-commerce stars of the pandemic, but they’ve been frozen out of the limelight as shoppers have pinged back into shops to try before they buy without the hassle of multiple returns.

She adds: “An agile social media presence is crucial in the hybrid retail world, a skill Primark has long recognised. Now Primark is brushing up its hybrid credentials and has joined the Click and Collect party, its resistance to online batted away, as e-commerce stays a crucial revenue stream for its rivals.”

“UK fast fashion names are also facing tough competition from Chinese firms Shein and Temu. They are aggressively expanding across the world, offering super cheap fashions which are highly tempting for cash strapped consumers.”

“These fast fashion rivals pumping ads into social media and using referral schemes to hook in shoppers are unhampered by high rents and business rates.”

“Shoppers with scruples and steady disposable incomes may be able to resist their cheap charms, but people desperate to find bargains amid cost-of-living pain are likely to be seduced.”

2. Carrefour Belgium works with retail technology startup Reckon AI on BuyBye autonomous micro store

Carrefour Belgium has this week opened its smallest store in Belgium, measuring just 18 sqm.

Carrefour BuyBye is located at the retailer’s Belgian headquarters in Zaventem (near Brussels).

The autonomous store consists of a series of refrigerated vending machines where customers can purchase lunch, snacks, cold drinks and fruit.

Shoppers need to download the Carrefour Buybye app, create an account and add a payment method before they can use the app to open the machines, take out products and check-out.

Initially, this will be open Monday to Friday from 7am to 10pm to start with, but from January it will be available seven days a week.

It is the result of a collaboration with startup Reckon AI, which specialises in micro-stores equipped with artificial intelligence.

Plans are afoot to roll-out the concept to Carrefour Belgium’s existing physical stores.

3. LEGO Fortnite goes live as part of long-term digital partnership between Epic Games and LEGO Group

LEGO Fortnite is now live. This is the first play experience to come from a long-term partnership between Epic Games and the LEGO Group to develop fun and safe digital spaces for children and families.

New world building, gameplay features, and more LEGO Style Outfits will be arriving in updates starting early 2024. Fortnite is available to play for free on PlayStation4, PlayStation5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC on Epic Games Store and cloud-based gaming streaming services.

LEGO Fortnite is built inside Fortnite and powered by Unreal Engine 5, taking advantage of features such as Chaos physics and destruction to give players the ability to place, connect and break apart bricks just like they would in the real world.

The game utilises World Partition to stream all 95 square kilometres of playable space (that’s 19x the size of the Fortnite Battle Royale Island!), and uses the Procedural Content Generation (PCG) framework to dynamically create detailed environments.

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