Category Archives: Awesomeness

Artificial Intelligence in Brick and Mortar Retail

Retail Law Advisor Goulston & Storrs PC

Headlines about brick and mortar retail tend to be dominated by how these establishments are in decline while online retail is burgeoning. Fortunately for brick and mortar retailers, their demise is not preordained since tools from the online retail universe may also help them succeed. One such tool is artificial intelligence (AI), which is expected to grow rapidly in the next few years.

Online retail is able to target customers easily because of the large data collection that occurs with every transaction. However, brick and mortar retail establishments may employ various AI tools to collect data to tailor in-store shopping experiences and target consumers. For example, video and/or audio surveillance can be used to track shopper activity in stores, and stores can then predict customer preferences and behaviors by analyzing and conglomerating in-store surveillance. Such surveillance methods can use facial and/or voice recognition software to analyze facial and voice expressions to understand how customers react to particular products or experiences.

Robots are another AI tool that may help brick and mortar retail compete more effectively with online retail. Robots may enhance the physical shopping experience in many ways. Humanoid robots can be deployed into retail establishments to greet customers, answer questions, and guide them through the store. Lowe’s has piloted a robot program at its Bay Area stores, where robots help customers search for products and guide them in the stores. Also, robots are being used and expanded to check and resupply inventory, deliver products, and assist with checkout and payment.

Finally, the collection of sales data can help retailers personalize a customer experience and ultimately help increase sales – whether in-store or online. Data can be collected online and then used in stores, or data collected from a customer’s previous visit can be used to enhance his or her next visit to a bricks and mortar store. “Machine learning” can discover patterns in a customer’s behavior and then make suggestions or produce incentives, such as instantly printing coupons for products that are likely to be desirable to an individual customer. The same data collection can be used to better tailor inventory, customize shopping experiences, adjust pricing, and refine product selection. While all of these techniques are equally useful online retail tools, their utility in the bricks and mortar environment may help these physical establishments remain competitive with their online counterparts

I Was Invited To Buy “DRONE INSURANCE”!

No I do not usually look at email advertisements.

Before I clicked on “SEE MORE”, I tried to imagine what I needed drone insurance for. I thought it was a delivery person who was PO’d at me because I am very difficult to deliver anything to.

I live at the same address as about 50 other people. Yes I have a mailbox with my name on it, but many things (like checks) sometimes need a signature. The difference between me and the other 50 people at my address is location. They all live in a 6 story building. I live in a “cottege” at the end of the entrance corridor in a big courtyard surrounded on three sides by 6 story appartments.

Yes, they usually call my cell phone (usually when I am busy writing or washing my hair or cooking).

Nobody has tried a drone on me yet! I have a 110-year old palm tree right in front of my house! Now THAT should keep most drones away without buying insurance!!!

Maybe if a drone crashed in front of my house somebody would listen to my idea: Deliver to what the French call a “relais”: a nearby store that accepts packages for people in the neighborhood. Certainly smarter than paying a delivery person to wander around “like a chicken with his head cut off”.

Finally my curiousity got the better of me and I looked at the advertisement before hitting SPAM!

It was for MY DRONE!

 

The Lehigh Valley Is The Second-Fastest-Growing Industrial Market On Earth

That sounds great! Looked at the satellite view of the industrial park. Lots of cars…………….no railroad.

Search the town…Carlisle and only reference is a rail-trail (a DEAD RAILROAD).

Wonder how many more trucks are on nearby roads?

Hope this is not the industrial park of the future.

Super train that would speed between cities at 700mph has its first successful test

The concept of a ‘hyperloop’, a rail system that works in a vacuum tube and thus reaches very high speeds, has been a pipe dream for a while now.

Elon Musk mentioned the concept back in 2012 and liked its immunity to weather, speed and low power consumption.

The speeds of such creations, which some analyses suggest could reach up to 760mph, would reduce a 6 hour journey by car to 35 minutes – even quicker than a flight, which currently takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Now, one of the startups working on this transportation system, just shared footage of their first full-scale test in a vacuum.

The trial run in a track built outside Las Vegas, saw the test vehicle reach 70 mph using magnetic levitation, pulling 2 Gs of acceleration.

A HYPERLOOP ONE affiliate “The Muhammad Ali Hyperlink” has plans to build this new revolutionary transportation system between Louisville and Chicago; It will follow Interstate 55 and stop in Indianapolis!!!

So it is closer than you think! Check it out!

Walmart commissioning Griffiss Airport for drone delivery research

From Utica OD

ROME, NY — Drone delivery service just got a little closer to becoming a reality — at least for Walmart.

The Oneida County Legislature Wednesday approved two resolutions that will allow the national corporation to rent and commission research on the possibility of drone delivery for orders.

″(Walmart) is working with another UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) test site; they’ve already started doing preliminary work and they’re working out West,” said Oneida County Aviation Commissioner Russell Stark. “We’re going to basically be the East Coast arm for research and development.”

The first resolution is for a lease agreement for Nose Dock 785 at Griffiss International Airport in Rome. The agreement started July 1 and will end June 30, 2018, for $84,000. Included in the lease, there are provisions for nine one-year extensions following the first year.

The other resolution is for a research services and testing agreement between the county and Walmart. The agreement is for a two-year term, ending June 30, 2019, and will bring in $1,674,816.

How Retailers Can Stay OFF The Closing List

MultiChannelMerchant

In April, Swiss brokerage firm Credit Suisse released a report that sent shock waves through the retail universe. It predicted that more than 8600 brick and mortar stores could shutter before the end of 2017. That would make it the worst year on record for store closures. It’s the stuff of nightmares for retailers.

Whether or not you believe the Credit Suisse analysts are right, you can avoid being one of those stores — all it really takes is providing the experiences that today’s consumers demand. Movie theaters in the 1980s faced a similar environment when home video hit big. The industry feared that once people could rent and watch videos at home, nobody would pay to go to a theater and they would all go out of business.

In April, Swiss brokerage firm Credit Suisse released a report that sent shock waves through the retail universe. It predicted that more than 8600 brick and mortar stores could shutter before the end of 2017. That would make it the worst year on record for store closures. It’s the stuff of nightmares for retailers.

Whether or not you believe the Credit Suisse analysts are right, you can avoid being one of those stores — all it really takes is providing the experiences that today’s consumers demand. Movie theaters in the 1980s faced a similar environment when home video hit big. The industry feared that once people could rent and watch videos at home, nobody would pay to go to a theater and they would all go out of business.

Integrate Ecommerce and POS inventory
Omnichannel shoppers see no difference between your ecommerce and POS offerings and neither should you. Make every store’s inventory visible to online shoppers so that you can take advantage of the “buy online, pick-up in store” model. Integrated ecommerce and POS inventory management systems show real-time availability so consumers do not face unexpected out-of-stocks at brick and mortar locations. If an item is not available at the customer’s selected store, provide fast and free transfer from another store.

Use brick and mortar stores as fulfillment centers
Every physical store should also double as a fulfillment center for web orders. This opens up every item in inventory to sales from any channel and reduces time in transit for ecommerce orders. Orders that are automatically routed to locations closest to customers can reach front doors faster than from a central warehouse, often overnight or within two days without incurring express shipping charges.

Go mobile
It’s official — mobile internet usage has surpassed desktop traffic. If your website does not display properly on mobile devices, you’re missing out on a huge number of consumers. But just displaying properly is no longer enough. Navigation, inventory visibility and checkout must all be optimized for mobile users. This has massive benefits for brick and mortar as well when customers on the go can locate items in your stores; they may even make purchases from inside a competitor’s location.

Automate ordering with vendors
The long-time promise of just in time inventory management finally eliminated worries about out-of-stocks. Set minimum and maximum thresholds for SKUs and let your retail management platform automatically order the right amount of inventory from suppliers at the exact right moment. When you know every product you sell will be automatically replenished before it sells through, you do not have to keep as much inventory on hand and can open up shelf space for additional offerings likely to attract customers. You also don’t have to worry anymore about selling out on popular items and sending frustrated customers home empty handed.

Empower every employee as a checkout
One of the worst things that can happen in a store is when customers with intent to purchase leave upon seeing long checkout lines, or can’t find anyone to take their money. The in-store experience must be as smooth and easy as it is online — consumers are no longer willing to wait. Arm every employee with a tablet loaded with mobile POS software so they can complete transactions, look up inventory, and place customer orders from anywhere in the store.

Personalize direct marketing to customers
Target individual customer segments with the offers most likely to appeal to them through marketing automation. Integrate online and POS customer data to segment personas effectively and send promotions that are personalized to known preferences and likely to bring customers into stores. Specific behaviors should trigger customized messages, and look for opportunities to leverage ecommerce and in-store offerings. For example, an abandoned shopping cart may trigger a reminder message that could also include a note like, “this item is also available at your nearest store, would you like us to hold it for you?”

Expand inventory exponentially with drop shipping
Drop shipping today does not resemble what it looked like 15 years ago. Many vendors offer drop shipping that can use your branding and fulfill lightning fast. Offering items for sale that you do not have hold in inventory opens up your website to endless opportunities and it can also be integrated into “buy online, pick up in store.” Give customers the option of having the item sent to their homes or to their nearest store with no shipping charges. If they select a store, simply have the vendor pack the item along with your next regular order.

The next time you see a headline about a retailer closing stores, refer back to this list. It will become clear that one of the major reasons the merchant is in trouble is because it is not responding quickly enough to the changing demands of modern consumers. Provide the experiences today’s empowered shoppers expect and you will have much less to fear from predictions of impending doom.

The BIG “Last Mile” of Home Delivery

Since last week all the news has been about Amazon and Whole Foods merger. Jim Cramer on CNBC-News has pushed “buy at home” like crazy. Just recently Wal*Mart announced that employees will be making deliveries.

Sounds great if you are “in” to home delivery. Basically, I am not. These hoards of delivery people choke our narrow streets. Besides, I live in a house that is not “deliveryman-friendly”. We are “set-back” from the street in a “cottage” surrounded by 6-story buildings. It is a great place to live but not great to tell someone how to find it.

I like the idea used by a small appliance company: it is called a “relais”(like in “relay). It set up a relais in a neighborhood. You get an electronic message your purchase is in the relais…..not a harried delivery person with a truck triple-parked calling your phone. You give up what you are doing and just walk out to the street. The Relais is great: you go out on YOUR time.

As you can tell, I am not a great fan of home delivery. Certainly not a fancy meal. I would rather go to a place like Stew Leonard’s “The Disneyland of Dairy Stores”.

The LONGEST Interurban Trip!

“The longest continuous trip one could take by interurban was, naturally, in the Northeast and Middle West. Between 1910 and 1922 it was possible to travel by interurban from Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin…to Oneonta, New York…a distance of about 1,087 miles. There is no recorded instance of anyone’s taking such a trip, but in 1910…22 businessmen of Utica, New York, chartered car 502 of the New York Central Railroad’s Oneida Railway for a round trip on interurban track to Louisville, Kentucky. Traveling by day and spending nights in hotels, the passengers were royally entertained by interurban executives en route. Although long trips were taken by individual enthusiasts, this was probably the most extensive organized trip ever taken entirely by interurban. *** It was never possible to travel by interurban from Chicago to New York; gaps between Little Falls and Fonda and between Hudson and Tarrytown, both in New York, were never filled.”

Excerpted from _The Electric Interurban Railways in America_, by George W. Hilton and John F. Due, Stanford Univ Press 1960, p. 42: I think this insert was originally written by Robert Gurley of New Hartford, New York (New Hartford is a suburb of Utica; I grew up there so maybe I even know what I’m talking about).

This is a guest post by my boss, Penney

Check out our WebSite on the Southern New York Railway
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/the-southern-new-york-railway/

My Railroad Stock!

I am sure some of our readers think I own all kinds of railroad stock.

They are wrong! I own one share of railroad stock! It is from the “Warwick Valley Rail Road Company”. In 1882 in joined in a merger that saw the Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad emerge.

The line extended from Belvidere, NJ to Maybrook, NY where the New Haven Railroad provided a gateway to New England. The L&HR built a bridge between Phillipsburg, NJ and Easton, PA and ran via trackage rights on the Pennsylvania RR and the Jersey Central Railroad to Allentown, PA. The L&HR handled zinc traffic from the area around Franklin, NJ but mostly it was a bridge line carrying overhead freight. The mergers and abandonments of the 1960 did the L&HR harm, but the New York Central – PRR merger in 1968 caused much traffic to be diverted. The line went bankrupt in 1972 and inclusion in Conrail spelled the end in 1976. The line north of Sparta Jct. became part of the New York, Susquehanna & Western main line in 1982 and the line south of that point was abandoned by Conrail in 1986.

Read more about the Lehigh & Hudson River
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/the-warwick-valley-and-other-railroads-west-of-the-hudson/

Top 10 Railroad Blogs We Have Posted

#1 The Fabled “Rutland Milk”
A Rutland Railroad “Rider Car” rolls through Troy Union Station on the milk train from Ogdensburg, NY to West Side Freight Yard in New York City.

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#2 The Tobin Packing Company in Albany, New York (MAKERS OF FIRST PRIZE HOT DOGS). Yes, Tobin was a railroad customer; but very popular with hot dog fans.

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#3 Here You Go Railfans, Although the Harlem Division to Hudson Division Connection, Part is Sill In Operation.

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#4 Newington Junction Railroad Stations. The depot on the left was built in 1891 by the New York & New England RR. The passenger station on the right and the freight depot behind it were constructed by the NYNH&H in 1890.

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#5 Connecticut’s WALK BRIDGE: Save It, Replace It or reuse parts.

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#6 NY Central Accident in 1960 at “BN”
Picture shows huge electric “P-Motor” that hauled the wreck train

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#9 Return Of Albany’s Night Boat

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#10 ADIRONDACK ORE RUN ON THE NEW YORK CENTRAL CALLED FOR HIGH CLASS RAILROADING