- New technology is increasingly being infused into stores, and the results are finally starting to show.
- Tech-forward companies like Amazon and Nike are completely changing the idea of what it means to have a physical store.
- Nike’s Live concept store, which chooses items to stock by analyzing customer data, and Amazon’s Go concept, which uses just-walk-out technology instead of cashiers, are two examples of how the way the industry is thinking about stores is changing.
Retail is changing faster than ever.
Though there has been a lot of talk about how online shopping is changing the retail landscape, forcing traditional shopping centers like malls to close, it’s only now that the future of the industry is truly coming into focus.
And yes, it’s digital, just as we were promised.
Nike lives out loud
Nike is using data pulled from online purchases to inform the products stocked in its new store, which opened in July.
It’s the first Nike Live concept store, which seeks to maximize speed and convenience by combining digital offerings with a 4,000-square-foot physical retail location.
Called Nike by Melrose, the store is a representation of favorites of customers in the area — in this case, the West Hollywood part of Los Angeles. Much of this information was gleaned from customers using Nike’s online services, whether they were shopping on Nike.com or were members of Nike Plus.
For example, Los Angeles-based customers buy a lot of the Nike Cortez, a retro-styled, low-cut sneaker. Nike knows that from observing their shopping habits, and so it can then stock more of the shoe in more colors and feature it prominently.
The store is stocked with products in categories like lifestyle and running, which are two of Nike’s most popular, and it is predominantly focused on serving customers who care about both style and fitness. The store stocks both men’s and women’s products but allows for variation based on each gender’s preferred styles.
That marriage of digital prowess and physical store experience is the hallmark of Nike Live stores.
“This much more represents how consumers are thinking about shopping. They don’t put the wall up between physical and digital,” Heidi O’Neill, president of Nike’s direct-to-consumer business, said to Business Insider during a visit to the new store shortly after its opening.
Customers can also use the Nike retail app to scan products’ barcodes and find out more information about them, including the sizes and colors the store has in stock.
Nike is also adding convenience-oriented features like curbside pickup and digital reservations in lockers that customers can open with their phones.
With Nike Live, the company will have what you want, where you want it — and it will help you get it with as little friction as possible.
Future Nike stores, like the flagship stores currently slated to open this fall in both New York City and Shanghai, will incorporate some elements of Nike Live, CEO Mark Parker said in the company’s earnings call this week.
Amazon Go creates a ‘magical’ new experience
Amazon opened its first cashierless Go store in late January.
The store features Amazon’s “just walk out” technology, which uses sensors and cameras to track what customers take off shelves and out of the store. Located in Seattle, near Amazon’s campus, it’s seen by many as the future of brick-and-mortar retail, with complicated technology that’s designed to make in-store shopping as seamless and easy as shopping on Amazon.com.
With no lines or checkout process, the store uses cameras and sensors to track what you put in your basket. It then charges you through your Amazon account.
The store opened to the public on January 22 after a lengthy beta period. The opening of the store brought a lot of interest from locals, and lines soon formed on opening day.
In a letter to investors, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos spoke with pride about hearing customers call the experience of shopping in the new store “magical.”
Amazon has since expanded its Go footprint to four locations, three in Seattle and one in Chicago, with more on the way in cities like New York and San Francisco.
The company could have an even more ambitious plan to expand Amazon Go. It wants to have at least 10 stores open by the end of this year, then 50 in 2019, then possibly a rapid expansion to about 3,000 by 2021, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
Brick-and-mortar stores are changing forever
Taken together, Nike Live and Amazon Go chart a new course for retail that is unconstrained by what came before, and they offer new opportunities to get products to customers more efficiently than ever.
The advent of tech-focused physical stores proves that brick-and-mortar retail isn’t going anywhere soon.
“Physical retail is clearly not dead,” retail consultant Steve Dennis writes in a contributor post on Forbes. “Far from it, in fact. But, to be sure, boring, undifferentiated, irrelevant, and unremarkable stores are most definitely dead.”
In fact, what’s happening now is what Deloitte calls a “retail renaissance,” fueled by new technology and data-centric insights into customers’ habits and characteristics.
“A sea change is clearly taking place in the retail market — but it is not the retail apocalypse. In our view, it is instead a renaissance — driven by huge shifts in economics, competition, and consumer access to options, all fueled by exponential advancement in technology,” Deloitte wrote in a March 2018 research report. “And in this renaissance, the winners appear to be those retailers that can capitalize on consumers’ experiences of their economic well-being — or lack thereof — to offer a value proposition that aligns with consumer needs.”
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.