A blog for all things retail and licensing.

Zebra Technology Printers Play an Important Role in Instacart’s Success

By Stephanie Crets

To keep up with the Joneses of competitors, businesses always need to be forward-thinking, especially when it comes to technology and innovation. Companies need to look for solutions to bring their businesses into the future instead of falling behind and constantly playing catch-up.

Zebra Technologies is all about looking ahead in the current technology landscape and the Internet of Things (IoT). As a global leader in the industry for innovation and reliability, Zebra says it offers an extensive portfolio of services and technologies for businesses and it gives physical things, such as printing services, a digital voice.

Recently, it teamed up with Instacart, a grocery service that offers same-day delivery in many cities throughout the Unites States, to assist the company with its cloud printing and device management using Zebra printers via its IoT solution Zatar.

Zatar is Zebra’s platform as a service (PaaS) IoT solution that allows businesses and developers to build custom applications so they can manage and control all the facets of their company from any location. With this duo solution in place, Instacart can print more accurate and secure labels at its locations around the United States.

Accuracy and security with label printing is a huge deal for Instacart because it prides itself on delivering groceries to its customers within an hour. A mix-up could have dire effects on its business model, causing it to lose customers or compromise its offerings. Printing is often an overlooked area, but Zebra makes sure to harness its power through Zatar. Thanks to a simple application programming interface (API), Zatar connects Instacart’s Zebra printers via the cloud so it can easily interact, monitor and manage its printers globally from any location.

By taking advantage of the Zebra/Zatar technologies, Instacart has a better handle on its real-time business and will be able to make better business decisions, respond and manage real-time issues and figure out how to improve its business along the way. Through these relationships, Instacart is staying one step ahead of the ever-evolving technology landscape, Zebra says.

E-Commerce Retailers vs. Fraudsters: How Do You Protect Yourself?

By Stephanie Crets & Ralph Dangelmaier

So, your e-commerce business is up and running and you’ve been very successful thus far, making great sales, having repeat customers and more. But now that your business has been noticed, you might be the target of less-than-savory customers who are looking to make a quick buck by ripping your company off.

Unfortunately, fraudsters are everywhere and this is an all-too-common occurrence. Not just in business, either. If you check your email right now, you’ll see the constant bombardment of spam messages geared towards getting your confidential information, from fake job offers to fake inheritances to malicious download links. Therefore, it’s not surprising that fraud has reached the e-commerce world.

According to a LexisNexis study, e-commerce fraud cost retailers $32 billion in 2014, which is a 38 percent increase from the previous year. As an online retailer, how can you protect yourself and your business from all the malicious online activity out there?

Ralph Dangelmaier, CEO of BlueSnap, has created a list of seven tips that can help you detect and fight e-commerce fraud:

1.     Is it too good to be true?

If you typically sell one unit per customer and someone orders 100 in one order, pump the brakes. Does this customer have a record of ordering wholesale quantities? Don’t let the excitement of a big sale blind you. The chargeback fees, lost product and additional fraud attempts will be painful.

2.     Can you validate the order?

If an order seems suspicious, validate it. First, verify the shopper’s address and phone numbers with WhitePages.com or Spokeo.com. Search the e-mail address in Google or even Facebook, and if nothing turns up, call the shopper. Ask if he or she can verify the billing address associated with the credit card, and then follow up by asking for the names of the cross streets nearest their address (have GoogleMaps open and listen for a delayed response or typing in the background).

3.     Duck test

You’ve probably heard the expression, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.” The so-called “duck test” suggests that you can determine what something is by its habits, and this applies to online shoppers. If XYZ company orders $10,000 worth of business software from a residential address, it has failed the duck test. Likewise, if Jane Smith uses the e-mail address DaveD@whatever.com, that’s a red flag. Why did this person attempt to use six different credit cards before getting an order through? Why is the customer, who supposedly lives in Chicago, shipping to an unaffiliated address in Jakarta, Indonesia? Legitimate customers act like legitimate customers.

4.     Create a blacklist

Record a blacklist of fraudulent credit cards, e-mail addresses and shipping addresses so you automatically decline them in the future. Be sure to review questionable transactions closely so you don’t accidentally put a good customer on your blacklist.

5.     Track the performance of fraud rules

Whether you use a fraud tool or monitor transactions manually, create rules for preventing fraud. Good rules flag or stop suspicious orders without stopping legitimate purchases. So, for example, if 95 percent of your orders contain less than 20 units, requiring a manual review of all orders over 20 units is a reasonable rule. To see if the rule is working, you can compare the percentages of fraudulent transactions and non-fraudulent transactions that triggered the rule.

6.     Update your rules

Review declined transactions frequently so you understand what forms of fraud are most prevalent and adapt your rules. For example, if you have multiple fraudulent orders with @aol.com e-mails (yes, people still have them!) shipping to Houston, create a rule or monitor all transactions with @aol.com e-mail domains shipping to Texas. Over time, smart fraudsters will identify your rules and find ways to get around them, so keep evolving.

7.     Identify your targets

Fraudsters often target products that will be easiest to resell. If you sell bicycling gear, for instance, criminals might have an easier time selling bike lights and locks than a whole stolen bicycle. Repeat offenders also know that high-dollar purchases trigger fraud prevention systems, so they will focus on low-dollar orders and maybe spread them across multiple credit cards.

Hopefully, these tips will give e-commerce merchants some ideas of how to guard against potential fraudulent shoppers. If online retailers remain vigilant in detecting and preventing malicious shoppers, perhaps the cost of fraud will shrink in 2015.


Coupons on the Go: How Can We Measure Their Success?

By Stephanie Crets

When you get to the checkout page of an online store, how often do you quickly open a new tab and Google for a last-minute coupon to add to your order? Almost always, probably. We’re always on the lookout for a good deal, even if we had intended to buy whatever was in our shopping cart already. But finding a “10 percent off” coupon right at checkout makes your shopping experience that much better – and makes you feel a little less guilty.

Measuring these kinds of coupon metrics comes pretty easily, considering everything is conducted online. But what do you do for those who still like to shop in store?

One of the go-to coupon sites is RetailMeNot.com, which allows you to take your coupons on the go with its mobile app. Do your coupon Googling (or swiping) right on your phone while you’re shopping.

RetailMeNot is aware that the majority of shopping is still done in stores, so it is taking advantage of this fact to reach a greater market and audience. It has partnered with a number of companies, such as Sephora, Hot Topic and Walgreens to bring coupons to everyone’s mobile devices. RetailMeNot even won the 2015 Webby award for “Best Shopping App,” so it must be doing something right.

The only hurdle it and its retail partners are facing is how to reach, target and draw in even more consumers.  Retailers have little notion of their return on investments on mobile-based in-store marketing campaigns that are active on the RetailMeNot app, so it’s hard to tell if what they’re doing is truly working.

To target these issues, RetailMeNot has aligned with Placed, an in-store attribution insight and location analytics-focused company. Placed’s technology will help retailers measure the impact of their promotions running through the RetailMeNot platform with insights such as location and user surveys.

“This partnership signals to our retail partners that we value the importance of proving RetailMeNot’s ability to drive offline action, and we can do that through a well-known and accepted methodology conducted by Placed,” Michael Magaro, senior vice president of corporate development for RetailMeNot, said in a press release. “Retailers are realizing that their digital marketing spend generates a more significant return when they run promotions through RetailMeNot.”

According to recent studies conducted through Placed analytics, RetailMeNot is already proving its worth. It showed that the presence of coupons for a specific store in the RetailMeNot app drove an increase of physical store visits during the measured time period. For example, clothing store visits improved by 110 percent, toy stores improved by 105 percent and home good stores improved by a whopping 185 percent.

“We look forward to being a trusted option for retailers on RetailMeNot who are interested in better understanding what drivers in their marketing campaigns – especially in a mobile world – are helping them most effectively drive shoppers into their stores,” David Shim, founder and CEO of Placed, said.

How Going Digital Pays off for Retailers

Guest blog by Roy Rasmussen

“Showrooming” is forcing brick-and-mortar retailers to use digital price tags to compete with online competitors such as Amazon. What’s showrooming? It’s when customers use their smartphones to compare the in-store price to what’s being offered online, making it challenging to compete on price. To adjust, Bloomberg reports that retailers, such as Nebraska Furniture Mart and Kohl’s, are adopting digital price labels that can be updated instantly, a strategy that also cuts the cost of deploying employees to change physical price tags daily. As this illustrates, digital technology presents retailers with not only competitive challenges, but also opportunities to increase efficiency and cut costs. Retailers stand much to gain from embracing digital business models.

Embracing Omnichannel Marketing

With millennials raised on mobile devices and more Baby Boomers shopping online, the line between digital and traditional marketing channels grows increasingly blurred, and omnichannel retailing is driving today’s retail trends. Social media initially served to promote products, but purchase button features on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are turning social sites into shopping platforms. Ninety percent of department sale stores still occur in-store, but 70 percent of those sales are now influenced by digital marketing, L2 Think Tank research director R. Danielle Bailey told eMarketer.com.

Nordstrom has pioneered the emerging sales model, using tactics like highlighting items popular on Pinterest with special in-store tags. Macy’s has similarly succeeded with its click-and-collect service, which enables customers to shop online and pick up purchases in-store. This strategy results in typical shoppers making additional purchases for totals averaging 125 percent of their original orders.

Optimizing Supply Chains

Business models, such as Amazon’s and Nordstrom’s, depend on digital supply chain strategies and software that can support instant adjustments to customer demand. However, a Retail Industry Leaders Association report found that trying to match Amazon’s super-expedited shipping options is not profitable for most businesses. Instead, successful retailers are learning how to balance customer-friendly shipping options with realistic cost control and revenue growth goals. For instance, many retailers are shipping online orders from delivery centers to stores for customer pick-up. Some retailers are even adopting “zero inventory” models where store space is not used to stock products but instead uses visualization technology, such as projections onto 3D surfaces, to help customers virtually preview catalog items, a trend PSFK Labs calls “Click to Visualize.”

Cloud Retail Management

To better manage ominchannel-oriented supply chains while simultaneously improving efficiency and reducing labor and costs, retail chains are increasingly digitizing their business process. The dawn of cloud-based retail as a service (RaaS) platforms, such as Oracle’s new suite of Oracle Retail cloud services, enables retailers to use the cloud to manage everything from inventory and e-commerce to customer engagement and order fulfillment. To make the move to the cloud efficiently, the best practice is to adopt a cloud backup solution, such as MozyEnterprise, to ensure that vital information like customer and inventory data is secure from loss.

Capitalizing on Digital Analytics

A key to success on the cloud is effective use of big data analytics. Many retailers are adopting analytics tools such as Groupon Works, which lets stores track customer foot track patterns in order to make appropriate adjustments, such as display placement and sales associate deployment. Another popular solution is Collect, which lets retailers track top customer spending habits and extend personalized rewards and offers.


Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing and career planning.

RM’s Own Jurassic Paddock

By Stephanie Crets

The Retail Merchandiser office is pretty much obsessed with dinosaurs. At least one person has a dinosaur-themed shirt on in any given week. I have a Jurassic Park mug on my desk, holding my pens. We all couldn’t shut up about the new Jurassic World movie. So, when a package from Animal Planet arrived with a bunch of dinosaur eggs to hatch, needless to say, I was more than a little excited.

The eggs are called Hatch ‘Ems and there are two dinosaur series to choose from. RM hatched a Tyrannosaurus rex, Spinosaurus, Apatosaurus, two Triceratopses and a Stegosaurus.

I began the hatching process by putting the eggs in transparent cups. Throughout the first day, the eggs cracked slowly. By the next morning, little dinosaurs were poking their noses out. I let them grow for a few more days and helped them out of their shells (a la John Hammond helping his baby Velociraptor out of its shell in the Jurassic Park movie). Soon they outgrew their cups and I moved them to a big bin filled with water (labeled “Crets’ Critters”), where they only grew more.

Although very slimy, they are made of a foamy substance, and anything spiny on a real dinosaur is actually soft and safe for kids to play with. When you take them out of the water, they will dry out over a few days and shrink to tiny proportions, but their colors become vibrant.

Each package also comes with a bonus fact card so you can learn even more about the dinosaurs you hatch.

Animal Planet offers a bunch of different Hatch ’Em series to choose from. With the rainforest series, you can hatch a black panther, cobra, macaque, tree frog, tiger and parrot; with the safari series, you can hatch an elephant, cheetah, zebra, rhino, hyena and lion; and with the sea creatures series, you can hatch a clownfish (just like Nemo!), dolphin, crab, turtle and shark.

So, if you want a creative, educational way to take care of a T-rex or tiger pet, then Hatch ’Ems is a fun way for kids – or dinosaur-obsessed adults like me – to hatch and grow a little creature, while also learning.


3 Customers Not-So-Patiently Waiting for More Trade-in Offerings

Jeff Trachsel, CMO for NextWorth Solutions

Five years ago, the average consumer knew nothing about trading in used electronics for cash or store gift cards. Times have changed. Today the average shopper is more informed about his or her purchases than ever. And trade-in is quickly becoming a critical tool to help them get the most bang for their buck when purchasing new products.

While trade-in has traditionally been focused primarily on mobility, savvy retailers are now learning that customers appreciate the ability to trade in more than just phones. This newfound behavior of asking “how much is my old one worth” before purchasing a new product is expanding to more and more categories. So, by making a variety of device types available for trade in, retailers can increase traffic, nurture customer loyalty and pad in-store spending, too.

Here are 3 types of consumers not-so-patiently waiting to trade in more than smartphones.

#1: Early adopters who want the best of everything – not just phones

Tech trailblazers want the best device on the market – and they want it before all of their friends. But this drive to be the ultimate “alpha” user comes at a cost. Trade-in programs are big in the smartphone vertical for this very reason: they allow trend hounds to score the best new devices out of the gate, but soften the blow by offering credit for their cast-offs.

Market-driving product releases like the Apple Watch have made smartwatches a big trade-in target. For example, customers looking to fund a preorder for the new Apple Watch, or simply earn cash for an unwanted smartwatch, can get paid up to $150 on NextWorth.com, dependent on model and condition.

This creates a win-win consumer cycle. As early adopters’ “starter smartwatches” are traded in, their first-gen devices like Samsung Gear 2, Samsung Galaxy Gear, Sony Smartwatch, Pebble and Motorola Moto 360s become hot commodities that provide the opportunity for new users to give smartwatches a try at a lower price point.

Other devices primed for trade-in potential include portable speakers and action cameras. Music aficionados are passionate about good sound; trade-in programs allow consumers to satisfy their search for the best portable speakers, from Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth to Beats Pill XL. Likewise, rapid advancements in the quality and durability of action cameras have led to growing demand for trade-in programs for devices like GoPro Hero.

Whether it’s a device to fill a niche interest or simply the next must-have on the market, accepting a diverse range of technology devices for trade-in helps cultivate repeat customers within the hot early adopter segment.

#2: Return on investment (ROI)-minded homeowners feathering their nests

Many consumers use trade-in programs to upgrade their home amenities and to offset the cost of improvements like new appliances.

Sometimes, these upgrades are designed to help make a home more energy efficient. By trading in outmoded, less efficient refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and other appliances and for using ENERGY-STAR-certified replacements, not only do homeowners enjoy long-term energy savings over the life of the appliance, they get a rebate from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Offered by many major brick-and-mortar and online retailers, appliance trade-in programs can also help homeowners make ROI-informed property upgrades before listing their home for sale, or try out-of-the-box smart home technologies like Whirlpool’s Interactive Cooktops at a lower price.

#3: Business owners with an eye on the bottom line

Trade-in programs are a boon to business owners who must maximize their company dollars to turn a profit. Trading out-of-date tools for a reduced price on newer models just makes sense.

Corporations who employ a large number of staff and supply a large number of devices have long embraced trade-in programs to keep employees’ technology up to date. But now, in addition to managing the cycle of smartphone upgrades, IT managers are also brokering trade-ins for individually issued devices like company tablets and shared resources like digital printers.

Industry-specific trade-in programs are also valuable for cost-conscious business owners. Tools, for example, are an expensive yet critical cost of business for construction companies. To help diffuse this cost, big brands will sometimes help incentivize trade-in programs to drive sales. For example, in 2014, NAPA AUTO PARTS teamed up with DeWalt for a trade-in program that encouraged customers to bring in their old cordless drills (complete with bits and batteries) to receive an instant trade-in rebate of as much as $100. Customers could then apply that rebate toward the purchase of new tools like grinders, high-speed polishers and cordless impact wrenches.

In short, think outside the smartphone. Get creative with your trade-in program, and help your customers tap into more redeemable value.


About Jeff Trachsel
Jeff Trachsel is Chief Marketing Officer of NextWorth Solutions. NextWorth has been defining, running and optimizing trade-in programs for major retailers nationwide since 2006. The NextWorth Solutions team has more than 100 years of combined experience in the CE trade-in industry. Its unique combination of expertise, team and platform enables it to provide unparalleled trade-in support and experience to its partners, driving their key business objectives. Through the delivery of turnkey in-store and online trade-in platforms, NextWorth Solutions is fundamentally changing the way people buy, own and disown consumer electronics.

Sick of Doing Everything by Hand? WorkJam Helps Retailers Streamline Scheduling

By Stephanie Crets

If you’ve ever worked in retail, you’re probably familiar with the outdated ways in which you might find out your schedule. When I worked at a clothing store in the mall, I would fill out a form that listed my availability every few weeks. If I needed to take a vacation day, I’d fill out another form. My supervisor would post the printed schedule, one that was likely put together in Excel, in a communal area so everyone could see it. And then everyone would copy his or her schedule down, again by hand. This is a time-consuming, antiquated process that costs retailers time and money that could be better spent elsewhere, which is why retailers are in desperate need of an upgrade.

Not only that, but retailers are stressed out over the recently proposed overtime legislation by the Obama Administration. In our current retail environment, salaried workers who make more than $23,660 a year cannot receive any overtime pay, even if they work insanely long hours. But the proposed rule would up that line to salaried workers making $50,440, letting workers be owed what they deserve for their hard work and long hours.

Retailers are concerned that this will increase costs across the board, where they will have to hire fewer people and limit the number of advancement opportunities for workers. However, if retailers take the steps to upgrade their own systems and ways of conducting behind-the-scenes business, they might not feel the brunt of the costs.

A company called WorkJam offers retailers an employee relationship management platform to address all the different aspects of today’s worker-supervisor relationship.

“There’s a lot of pressure on retailers to maintain their margins,” says Steven Kramer, CEO of WorkJam. “Although we understand both sides of the argument, we are sensitive to the retailers. The solution is finding the middle ground, something that will allow managers to free up time from these manual processes, streamline operations and be more productive.”

Ten years ago, which is about how long ago I was working at a clothing store in the mall, these types of technology advancements didn’t exist – and my iPhone was definitely not yet running my life. Therefore, it’s important for retailers to realize what’s out there now and utilize it to their advantage, especially the ease and convenience of smartphone apps.

“Companies have been so focused on customer experience, there hasn’t been much focus for optimizing their own operations,” Kramer says. “The nice part about this platform is that innovation and technology leads to higher employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.”

The WorkJam platform allows employees and managers to:

  • Set and manage availability;
  • Create schedules;
  • Manage shifts;
  • See open shifts;
  • Request sick time and vacation time;
  • Post and participate in training sessions;
  • Communicate with everyone; and
  • Rate managers and each shift.

Another unique feature is that this entire platform is wrapped into a rewards program where employees can earn digital badges for accomplishing certain milestones, such as great customer service, taking an open shift or completing training topics. By racking up badges, employees will then get priority for schedules and vacation requests. According to WorkJam, these incentives drive better employee productivity and will make it easier for managers to reward them for hard work.

By switching to a digital platform, retailers can also maintain better compliance practices. “How do you maintain compliances if you have all these manual processes occurring? If someone calls in sick, what controls do you have in place if it’s all manual?” Kramer tells RM. “Our system is geared towards setting legal and corporate compliances. These are all parameters you can set up in the app. You have the controls in place that you can see where you need to pay overtime, approve something, etc. You know ahead of time instead of taking a hit later on.”

Although the official court ruling for the overtime legislation is still months away, retailers can start making changes now to better improve productivity and communication and decrease margins across the board.


24 Hour Fitness: Come for the Workout, Stay for the Growing Retail Business

By Stephanie Crets

When you’re working out at the gym, the last things on your mind are how the gym merchandises and conducts its store operations. You might buy a protein bar or a new pair of running shorts, but other than that, gym members are generally oblivious to all the work that goes into running the retail side of a fitness center.

24 Hour Fitness, a leading health club throughout the United States with more than four million members, knew that it had to improve on certain factors as it expanded its operations. It needed quick and easy access to important store data without utilizing IT services, which is where Mi9 Retail came to help.

“Mi9 will help 24 Hour Fitness achieve the age-old retail goal of getting the right product at the right time in the right quantities to the right locations, which in our case is 450 clubs and growing,” says Andrew Dottermusch, senior director of retail for 24 Hour Fitness.

Mi9 Retail, a provider of enterprise retail merchandising, business intelligence and store operations software, created a solution that will help 24 Hour Fitness increase efficiencies throughout its corporate offices and retail operations. Mi9 Retail provided a suite of services for analytics, data management and financial controls. This will better assist 24 Hour Fitness with inventory management, buying and pricing throughout all of its retail channels.

“Mi9 will allow the retail team to significantly reduce the time currently invested in the mechanics and processes of achieving that goal, so they can refocus on business insights and strategic decision-making,” Dottermusch explains. “This critical shift will assist 24 Hour Fitness Retail in better meeting members’ needs and in turn drive incremental revenue.”

24 Hour Fitness is replacing a system that is more than 10 years old. Everything will now be streamlined and automated to support the growing retail business in health and fitness clubs. With this information, the gym can learn what customers want, and how to better provide and price it and keep it well stocked.

“Providing our members products to support their health and fitness goals is partly an offer of convenience, but more significantly, provides them solutions that establish 24 Hour Fitness as a source for and authority on individual wellness,” Dottermusch says.

Minions Cut the Ribbon at Chicago’s New Studio Xfinity Retail Experience

By Stephanie Crets

It’s all about the kids and the innovative retail experience at the brand-new, state-of-the-art Studio Xfinity in Chicago. Comcast brings together media and technology with this first-of-its-kind facility. The moment you step through the door, people are commenting on how beautiful the space is. Screens, or “Studio Spaces,” surround you, along with a bunch of demo stations to try out the latest and greatest Comcast Xfinity products.

Executives from Comcast and even Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele came out for the ribbon cutting on July 9.  The excitement of Comcast choosing Chicago to house this new retail experience was palpable. “We are leaders in Chicago and we are pleased that Comcast has chosen our city for these things to move forward,” Steele says.  “We get to be the first to share this expansion in our community.” He explained the studio will also help create new jobs and enhance Chicago’s job market.

“It represents the continuing raising of the bar for us for the customer experience,” says John Crowley, senior vice president of the greater Chicago region for Comcast. “Not only will you see new products and services and get to test them out. We’re actually testing new ways to serve our customer.”

After the official ribbon cutting, some very special guests were brought out to celebrate with all the kids in attendance: mascot minions from the upcoming Minions movie. The kids rushed to them and people took selfies with them as they danced through the crowds.

The new store has a variety of interactive touch-points, plus two different entrance experiences. The front house a media portals to engage the sidewalk traffic and garner interest, while the back of the store has its own media portal and connects to the parking lot for the regular customers who need to complete a transaction.

On entering the store, customers will be greeted by an associate with an “Associate Toolkit,” a software application that allows the associate to quickly authenticate customers and see their entire transaction history. The store offers a variety of interactive games that are facilitated through the store associates, allowing them to be more than just salespeople.

“We wanted to create these situations where associates can engage with customers,” says Joe Karadin, director of physical design at ESI Design. “They become presenters and actors, in a way, and they get really into it. It’s different than any other retail environment where the associate is only there to assist; here they are stars on the stage.”

There are trivia games, multiplayer games and an app that allows the customer to take a photo, attach Minion goggles to the photo and upload it to the main Studio Space screen.

“This is all driven by a hardware backend where the associate can program out all the media throughout the day on their tablet,” Karadin says. “It’s a completely flexible media distribution environment.”

If the store is having a Minion celebration, as it was today, the associates can program all Minion-themed studio spaces. But to change to the next event,  such as the upcoming Taylor Swift 1989 event, they can switch everything at the swipe of a screen on their tablets.

“We wanted to create a physical environment but also the software and games and Associate Toolkit as part of the entire package,” Karadin says. “We felt that just designing the space wasn’t enough; we wanted to know what experientially that meant for the customers.”

According to David Williams, vice president of sales and marketing for Comcast, “It’s all about being able to have a great place to hang out, grab your kid, watch some great TV, get a cup of coffee and enjoy yourself. It’s a unique kind of place to be.”

Head down to the brand-new facility at 901 W. Weed St. in Chicago for a retail experience unlike any other.

For more photos of the event, visit Retail Merchandiser on Facebook.

Taco Bell Delivery is Finally Here

By Stephanie Crets

So, there you are: sitting on your couch in your pajamas, a Netflix series blaring on your television screen, when suddenly, you get a craving for a Doritos Locos Taco and Cheesy Gordita Crunch from Taco Bell. But you can’t possibly pause your show or be bothered to put jeans on again. And now you don’t have to.

Taco Bell has officially rolled out its delivery service in 90 cities in California and in Dallas from more than 200 restaurants. It has teamed up with DoorDash, an on-demand delivery service, to provide burritos and cinnamon twists right to your front door. This is the first national partnership for the delivery company, which began in 2013 in a Stanford dorm room.

DoorDash aims to connect customers with their local businesses, so users can purchase foods and goods and have them delivered within 45 minutes. You can access DoorDash as an app on iOS or Android or simply go to the website.

While there is no minimum order, DoorDash requires a $3.99 flat delivery fee (along with encouragement to tip your delivery driver). But if you’re just trying the service out, your first order fee is only $1.

Unfortunately for you late-night cravers, the delivery service runs only until 11p.m. But the good news is, the average wait time for delivery in the preliminary runs was only 38 minutes. Just think, less than a full episode of Orange is the New Black and you’d have Taco Bell at your doorstep.

“We’re testing and learning at the speed of the on-demand economy,” Tressie Lieberman, vice president of innovation and on demand at Taco Bell, stated in a press release. “We’re thrilled to partner with DoorDash and leverage their like-minded commitment to customer service and innovation. This partnership enables us to provide consistent quality service and the feedback we need to elevate the delivery experience and evaluate where Taco Bell delivery goes next.

Taco Bell plans to have more cities included in the delivery service after this test run is complete. If you want to get your city to the top of the delivery list, tweet #TacoBellDelivery with your city.

Chicago next for #TacoBellDelivery, please!

If you’re one of the lucky ones already in the delivery cities, head here to place your Taco Bell delivery order: www.doordash.com/tacobell

*Photo Credit to Taco Bell