RetailBiz Round Up for Wednesday 29 January 2014 – with Patrick Avenell
Today's ASX results are here

David Yam is a big fan of retail, fireworks and Chinese New Year. As the manager of the Market City Centre, a large shopping mall in the heart of Sydney’s Chinatown, he wanted to combine these passions without scaring any of the patrons or setting the fire alarms. The solution: augmented reality (of course!).

“Chinese New Year is renowned for its spectacular firecracker displays and vibrant dance routines,” Yam said. “We’re bringing this atmosphere to life in the traditional sense, with performances, red envelope giveaways, and an onsite calligrapher, but the augmented reality app is truly something different.”

Through until 9 February 2014, visitors to the centre can use their Apple and Android smartphones and tablets to access a range of 3D animated displays depicting the Year of the Horse. And, naturally, there are prizes to be won for consumers that give this a go.

Yam said he was inspired to use augmented reality in his centre after learning about its successful deployment overseas.

“We’re proud to be the first Australian shopping centre to use this technology to bring an experience like this to our shoppers,” he said. 

“This is just the start of how we can use technologies like augmented reality to enhance the shopping experience for our customers, and encourage them to engage with our shopping centre in a different way. 

“Retailers are already using augmented reality overseas, from interactive window displays to catalogues that allow customers to see what a product would look like in their own home, so shoppers can get excited about what’s coming next in Australia.”

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While some retailers are struggling to get themselves online and to fulfil orders, Amazon is preparing to dispatch goods before they are purchased! Here is how Transport and Logistics News covered the story

‘Online retailer Amazon is expected to begin ‘anticipatory shipping’ in the near future, after successfully taking out a patent on the concept in December.

‘The model is based on Amazon’s significant customer history data built up over several years, which allows the company to make a more than educated guess on which customers were likely to order, for example, a newly released book or similar item.

‘The ‘normal’ online retail model requires Amazon to receive an order before labelling packages with addresses at its warehouses and loading them onto trucks, (or, soon, UAV), which eventually take them to customers’ homes.

‘According to the patent, Amazon may fill out partial street addresses or postcodes to get items closer to where customers need them, and later complete the label in transit. For multi-unit buildings ‘a package without addressee information may be speculatively shipped to a physical address… having a number of tenants’.’

Retail sales are picking up, with a 4.2 per cent higher growth rate in December 2013 compared to December 2012, according to the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) Chep Retail Index.

“The combined effect of low interest rates and improved consumer confidence after the Federal election has seen retailers experience a stronger-than-expected rise in retail sales over the past few months. Retailers will be hoping that the labour market also strengthens to support a return to a genuinely strong retail environment,” said AFGC CEO Gary Dawson.

Jewellery retailer Michael Hill has introduced ‘shoppable videos’ to its website. Powered by the Boston-based Brightcove Video Cloud platform, these videos enable consumers to purchases bracelets, rings, diamonds and pearls directly from a screen while watching the jewellery in action.

“The ability to reach new audiences and engage in new ways with customers is imperative to the success of any retailer,” said Michael Hill group digital manager James Johnson. “With our new shoppable video campaign, we now have the ability to tie video to key online retail metrics and understand the impact of video on conversion rates and other key indicators. And thanks to Brightcove Video Cloud, we are able to provide high quality video experiences to consumers across a range of devices and screens.” You can check out the video here

Online sales are important for iconic furniture retailer IKEA but more bricks and mortar store are required for the company to hit its 50 billion euro sales goal by 2020. "I think that in 2020 the absolute majority of sales will still be in our stores," said owner Peter Agnefjall. Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal ($).

JB Hi-Fi is set to post a 6.8 per cent sales increase for the six months ended 31 December 2013, up to $1.94 billion from $1.82 billion in the prior corresponding period. “The company maintains its full year sales guidance of growth in total sales of between 6 per cent and 8 per cent,” said a spokesperson.

The Good Guys has replaced E&S Trading as the retailing partner of popular TV show The Block

Quote of the Day

“We have an open mind at this stage, but we’re looking for businesses that are struggling to scale. Things with $10 million a year or more in revenue, though they could be much larger than that, or similarly sized to us.”

Deals Direct CEO Michael Rosenbaum, in an interview with Smart Company, explains what he wants to do with the $6.2 million Deal Direct is expected to raise through its backdoor listing today.

The pure play retailer has taken over the publicly traded Mnemon so it can list itself on the Australian Securities Exchange. By doing this, Deals Direct becomes the first publicly traded online-only retailer.

Image of the Day

Remember at the top of this page we told you about the augmented reality app? This is what it looks like. The Year of Horse starts Friday!