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Why successful retailing is a little like bank robbery

Your customers are where the money is – go to them.

According to urban legend, when asked why he robbed banks, renowned bank robber Willie Sutton replied, “Because that's where the money is.” Had Sutton dedicated himself to sticking up abandoned sheds, he would have not earned any money (or prison sentences, to be fair).

Unless retailers are going to sell products to customers where they (and their money) are, engaging in retail makes as much sense as robbing an empty shed. As digital commerce technology continues advancing, retailers can now truly sell their products to customers anywhere they may be. Here are three examples:

TV (in all its forms)
TV has always primarily served as a platform for advertising products. However, the advent of technologies such as cable, streaming, and Internet TV has diminished the power of TV ads to attract consumer attention and drive sales. 

In response, retailers are leveraging these same technologies to create digital storefronts out of TV screens. Leading multiplatform retailer QVC is currently the only livestream shopping channel on YouTube TV. The streaming service is available across smart TVs, streaming media players, smartphone apps, tablets, computers, game consoles, and smart displays. 

Meanwhile, Universal Telemundo has launched Shop Telemundo, an interactive shopping experience that brings viewers products through an online marketplace of more than 50 retail partners across multiple categories including home, fashion, beauty and more. Using their smartphone camera, viewers can scan an NBCU code to purchase highlighted products they see on Telemundo shows spanning the network’s television, digital, editorial and social platforms, with English and Spanish-language shopping experiences. 

Recipe sites/apps 
Grocery and CPG retailers are realizing that their customers often make last-minute purchases based on whatever recipe they are planning for their next meal. To capture these shoppers at the moment of impulse, an increasing number of retailers are offering direct shopping functionality via recipe sites and apps.

A new multi-retailer e-commerce engine called Anycart provides a single online platform featuring numerous grocers including Amazon, Albertsons, and Safeway. It includes a shoppable collection of over 1,000 recipes, with step-by-step video instructions. Customers can select a recipe and add all the ingredients to their cart with one click.

Walmart is also adding video elements to the shoppable recipe mix with Walmart Cookshop, a free interactive hub featuring cooking-themed videos. Powered by eko interactive video technology, the videos customers to make choices that shape their experience, controlling the ingredients, flavors and outcomes. Viewers can purchase ingredients seamlessly within each video. 

In-store digital kiosks
As demonstrated by the surprisingly strong first quarter brick-and-mortar sales reported by chains such as Walmart, Target, Macy’s, and TJX, the COVID-19 pandemic did not eliminate consumer desire to shop in a physical store. Sophisticated digital kiosks offer a new opportunity for retailers to enter partnerships that extend the value of traditional in-store retailing by delivering online access to additional products and services.

A perfect example is the Kodak Moments To Go photo-printing station. Available at retailers including Kroger and Wegmans, the kiosks are owned and operated by Kodak Moments and feature touchless, self-service digital printing and payment functionality. In exchange for providing a small footprint location and power, retailers receive a revenue share from sales generated.

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