New platform announcement
As the Covid-19 pandemic lingers and food companies continue to struggle with optimizing supply and demand, Crisp has announced the first programmatic commerce platform.

The new Crisp platform will allow food brands and retailers to stay ahead of rapidly evolving consumer behavior, identify potential supply chain disruptions, predict store and online traffic, track inventory and product performance, understand store conditions and replenish both virtual and in-store shelves at speed and scale.

Pre-built integrations to retail portals and BI tools include ‘connectors’ for 80 per cent of the top grocery retailers and distributors in the U.S., covering $500B in sales. With unified access to this data, the platform enables food supply chain partners to easily and securely connect data sources to reduce out-of-stocks, minimize waste, evaluate promotions, analyze inventory issues and maximize profitability across the entire supply chain.

Designed to facilitate the free flow of data between tens of thousands of food brands, distributors and retailers, the Crisp platform leverages big data to improve real-time, predictive understanding of demand and supply opportunities and constraints, improve decision making, and allow faster course corrections when needed.

Expanding partnership
Save A Lot, one of the largest discount grocery chains in the US, has announced the latest update to its wholesale model transition with the sale of its 51 company-operated stores in the Tampa, Florida market to Fresh Encounter, a current Save A Lot Retail Partner licensee. Fresh Encounter will continue to operate the stores under the Save A Lot banner.

The announcement builds on the successful completion of a comprehensive recapitalization of the business and significant deleveraging of the company’s balance sheet in early 2020. The sale of the Tampa stores to Fresh Encounter is part of an ongoing re-licensing program through which Save A Lot intends to transition to a wholesale model by selling more than 300 corporate-operated locations to new and existing Retail Partners who will continue to operate the stores under the Save A Lot banner. The company will continue to operate 21 corporate stores locally in St. Louis, where it will continue to develop and launch new innovations as a testing ground to help its retail partners succeed in their individual communities across the country.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with Michael Needler and the Fresh Encounter team, who have been fantastic partners, strong operators and excellent ambassadors of the Save A Lot brand,” said Kenneth McGrath, Chief Executive Officer at Save A Lot. “Through the re-licensing transactions we are executing across our footprint, we believe that we will be even better positioned to continue to serve the communities in which we operate.”

Game time
Let’s Play: You Decide is the latest Alexa voice game for kids to be released by digital agency FX Digital to the US market. Zodiak Kids, part of Banijay, the studio behind popular CBeebies TV show Let’s Play, collaborated with FX Digital to turn the series into an interactive voice experience.

Let’s Play: You Decide invites children on an adventure through a series of fun, interactive and educational activities. The app is free to use in the UK and US (with the exception of In-Skill Purchasing game packs) and can be activated on any Alexa device or the Alexa mobile application available on iOS and Android. In the US, Let’s Play: You Decide also makes use of In-Skill Purchasing, allowing parents to purchase expansion packs.

Sounds of success
The use of music to boost in-store sales has long been hampered by malfunctions and poor sound quality. Danish audio company Spottune has developed a new solution with patented omnidirectional sound, new technology wireless broadcasting, without loss of sound and a Cloud system that allows for central control of all the speakers, all over the world.

The patented 360 omnidirectional acoustic sound allows for greater comfort and lower volume. The loudspeakers can transmit the full sound spectrum in all directions, resulting in an optimised experience, regardless of the client’s position in relation to the speaker. It’s a plug-and-play system where each speaker covers 75 m2 and can easily be rearranged on the tracks already used for the lights, where they automatically align with the other Spottune speakers.

Franchisor of the Year
Bringing its 100th year to a close in style, Snap-on Tools has been crowed Franchisor of the Year at the prestigious HSBC British Franchise Association (bfa) Awards 2020 in the UK. The global tool giant was presented with the bronze Franchisor of the Year accolade, cementing its position as one of the UK’s top three franchises.

Snap-on Tools is the world’s number one professional tool brand and a leading global manufacturer and distributor of tools for the automotive, marine, railroad and engineering technician. “It’s very humbling to have been chosen as a winner from hundreds of other respected franchise brands across the country,” noted Lisa Law, National Franchise Manager at Snap-on Tools. “Our success is down to the hard work of each and every member of our business including our 415 franchisees, and I want to thank them all for their continued dedication.”

TV message
Patriot Software has launched a national TV campaign to assure businesses of all sizes they can save time and money with Patriot’s accounting and payroll software.

As Mike Kappel, CEO of Patriot Software noted, national TV allows the company to share Patriot’s message with a broader audience and drive new user growth in its key season.

Patriot tapped All-Inclusive TV agency Marketing Architects for the campaign and launched with two different creatives, ‘Our Mission, Your Success’ and ‘The Few,’ both identified as winners by the agency’s creative pretesting platform.

Started in the basement of a factory over three decades ago, Patriot knows first-hand how important it is for business owners to have simple software that actually works, so they can focus on what they do best.

On the pulse
According to Mastercard SpendingPulse™, holiday retail sales excluding automotive and gasoline increased 3.0 per cent this expanded holiday season, running from October 11 through December 24. Notably, online sales grew 49.0 per cent compared to 2019, the preliminary insights show. Mastercard SpendingPulse measures overall retail spending trends across all payment types, including cash and check.

“American consumers turned the holiday season on its head, redefining ‘home for the holidays’ in a uniquely 2020 way. They shopped from home for the home, leading to record e-commerce growth,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “And, consumers shopped earlier than ever before. Across our expanded 75-day holiday shopping season, sales were up 3.0 per cent, a testament to the holiday season and strength of retailers and consumers alike.”

Key findings from Mastercard SpendingPulse underscore the shift to online spending, with e-commerce accounting for 19.7 per cent of overall retail sales – up from approximately 13.4 per cent in 2019. In addition, consumers continue to spend more time – and money – on their homes - home furniture and furnishings experienced the strongest growth of any sector compared to 2019, up 16.2 per cent, and it grew 31.0 per cent online specifically. In addition, home improvement was up 14.1 per cent, with e-commerce sales up 79.7 per cent.

Department stores saw overall sales decline of 10.2 per cent and online sales growth of 3.3 per cent, reinforcing the importance of omnichannel offerings. Buy online, pick up in store as well as technologies like contactless were key for retailers this season.

 

Digital solutions
Merlin Entertainments has partnered with QikServe to bring digital ordering and kiosk solutions to those visiting its global Resorts. The solutions include Order-to-Table, Kiosks and Order Ahead, while Hotel guests can also make use of a new Order-to-Room service.

The new technology is already available at Resorts including Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures and LEGOLAND Windsor in the UK, with plans underway for further implementations at LEGOLAND California, Florida, Heide Park and Thorpe Park.

Simon Nathan, Head of Project Delivery at Merlin Entertainments comments: “The safety of our staff and guests is always our top priority. By allowing guests to use their own phones to order food and drink throughout our Resorts means we can reduce physical touchpoints and make social distancing a little easier for everyone. Digital ordering has been a key part of our guest experience well before the pandemic, but it has also allowed us to protect revenues by adapting quickly and effectively to the constantly changing restrictions.”

Safe content for kids
Pebble Gear has launched its new Mickey and Friends & Cars kids’ tablets. Following on from the already successful Frozen 2 and Toy Story 4 tablets, the new range is aimed at 3- to 8-year-olds, and is specifically designed to allow children to access digital content safely and securely. Free from in-app purchases and unwanted pop-ups the Pebble Gear Kids’ Tablet offer parents complete peace-of-mind.

Pebble Gear will be launching the range of new Mickey and Friends & Cars 7” Android tablets in Q4 2020, both of which will come fully loaded with oodles content from the beloved franchises. Both come with full parental control, access to 500+ games, ebooks & learning apps, all free for the first 12 months. The tablets will also be accompanied by a range of themed carry cases and screen protectors for extra protection.

Neil Meredith, Director of Digital Goals Ltd, Pebble Gear’s parent company said: “It’s really clear that with everything that’s going on right now our young kids need safe digital environments to learn, relax and have fun and we feel we our tablets are giving families that balance between fun and safety.”

Smoother transactions
Global payments service provider SumUp has acquired leading POS software provider Goodtill, in a move that underlines SumUp’s long-term commitment to of its restaurant and hospitality sectors.

The acquisition, which will see SumUp investing further into Goodtill’s team and products, is the latest in a series of strategic deals secured by SumUp to bolster its product portfolio, following the 2018 acquisition of Debitoor, for accounting and invoicing, and 2019 acquisition of Shoplo, for e-commerce.

In a year which has seen restaurants, venues, and hospitality businesses operating with limited capacities due to Covid-19 restrictions, SumUp and Goodtill have been at the forefront of industry-wide efforts to future-proof the long-term prospects of merchants and clients in these sectors.

Maximilian Stella, VP New Ventures at SumUp comments: “Having worked with the Goodtill team for many years as partners, we’ve been very impressed by their growth, product and company culture.”

Customer service improvements
Yext, the Search Experience Cloud company is working with iconic brand Superdry to deliver official answers to inquiries about more than 500 of its stores and franchises in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe and United States. With Yext, Superdry provides an enhanced search experience for people seeking information about its stores, including products in stock, addresses, hours of operation, and more across 175+ search platforms like Google, Alexa, Siri, and Facebook.

With Yext, Superdry is now better able to manage and monitor online listings, reviews and individual store pages. A key focus of the relationship is that Superdry can also respond to local store reviews at scale, while also gleaning key insight from the feedback to improve the in-store experience

Expanded vision
MadaLuxe Group, North America’s leading distributor of luxury fashion has launched a licensing arm that will be led by Steven Barbery, who has been promoted from SVP of Timepieces to the newly created role of President of Licensing and Timepieces. The group’s licensing division will focus on acquiring the worldwide exclusive licensing rights for all fashion categories from leading global luxury brands.

The launch of the licensing arm is MadaLuxe’s most recent move to expand and evolve its business. In September, the company launched SLS Journey, an investment arm led by the group’s co-founder, Sandy Sholl. The investment division focuses on high-potential emerging companies that sit at the intersection of wellness, beauty, fashion and technology and that align with MadaLuxe’s vision in the luxury sector.

Learning through play
ViacomCBS Consumer Products (VCP) and Melissa & Doug, the purpose-driven global toy brand, have signed an exclusive licensing partnership to deliver PAW Patrol® and Blue’s Clues & You! co-branded toy product lines for Fall 2021. The toys will be designed to educate and empower preschoolers through active engagement with a focus on problem solving and creative thinking.

This global partnership with ViacomCBS is the largest licensing agreement Melissa & Doug has ever signed, marking a major milestone for the company. Through the partnership, Melissa & Doug will bring innovative and imaginative toys to retail that will span multiple categories focused on learning and education.

“We’re excited to work with a company as iconic as Nickelodeon, one that shares in our mission to make the world a more playful place through thoughtfully researched and designed products and content,” said David Henderson, Chief Commercial Officer of Melissa & Doug

Shop Smart Campaign
Ahead of the holiday shopping season, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center’s (GIPC) Shop Smart campaign is raising consumer awareness about counterfeit goods, the dangers of fake products, and the prevalence of online fraud and scams.

“During the global pandemic, consumers are ramping up their online purchasing and counterfeiters are exploiting this trend. Criminals have adapted to our new online-shopping standard, and it’s more important than ever for consumers to remain vigilant,” said Kasie Brill, Vice President of Brand Protection & Strategic Initiatives and Executive Director of the Global Brand Council at the Chamber.

“Counterfeit products cost the global economy over $500 billion a year. Disrupting organized crime underlying the counterfeit trade is a top priority and requires the business community, global governments, and consumers to collaborate,” Kasie added.

To avoid being scammed GIPC has ten tips to help consumers shop smart this holiday season:

• Trust your instincts

• Insist on secure transactions

• Watch for missing sales tax charges

• Seek quality assurance in the secondary market

• Be particularly careful purchasing medicine online

• Be vigilant when buying abroad

• Guard your personal information

• Scrutinize labels, packaging, and contents

• Report fake products

Report unsafe products to the Consumer Product Safety Commission by calling 800-638-2772 or by visiting their website:

www.saferproducts.gov

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