Retail Data Academy for M&S; Zalando Opens Physical Store

RetailTechNews rounds up some of the biggest stories in the European retail technology space. In this week’s edition: Marks & Spencer Creates Retail Data Academy; Zalando Goes Brick-and-Mortar; and Retailers Still Behind the Trends on Retail Apps.

Marks & Spencer Creates Retail Data Academy

British retailer Marks & Spencer continues its investment in retail tech. Partnering with Decoded, the company is founding a Retail Data Academy that will be tasked with educating M&S staff in data skills.

The programme is aimed at M&S staff from all levels, from store managers and visual merchandisers, to finance and buying specialists, to develop data skills that will help the company with its digital transformation. The company leadership, on the other hand, is to gain new practical insights into digital trends such as machine learning and AI.

Education will be provided to M&S staff through The Data Fellowship, an 18 month in-work data science skills programme where participating employees are taught working with data analytics tools such as ‘R’ and ‘Python’. Participation in the programme is certified by a Data Analytics qualification accredited by the British Computing Society.

Steve Rowe, CEO, Marks & Spencer, believes that the key to future retail success is investment in the digital skills of employees: “Transformation of our business is key to survival and a huge part of this lies with our colleagues. We need to change their digital behaviours, mindsets, and our culture to make the business fit for the digital age; and our partnership with Decoded will enable us to do this.”

Zalando Goes Brick-and-Mortar

Physical stores are the new prestige project. German fashion e-retailer Zalando has just opened their first brick-and-mortar store in Berlin. The ‘Beauty Station’ store features Zalando’s range of beauty products from more than 53 brands.

Zalando Beauty Station in Berlin

“This is a big step for Zalando and its new beauty category. With these highly established partner brands, we can enhance our beauty assortment even more for our customers”, says Claudia Reth, vice president specialities, Zalando.

The 160 sq metre store combines tangible product experiences and service stations for makeup and nail treatments to complement the online-based business of Zalando. The retailer had only started including beauty products in their mainly fashion-centric offering, in spring 2017.

Retailers Still Behind the Trends on Retail Apps

According to research by retail app platform BrandingBrand, many tech trends for mobile shopping apps, such as voice search or AR, are being ignored by the major retailers.

Voice search was only incorporated in 20% of retail apps, while AR featured on in only 12%. The focus of retailers is less on user comfort and visualisation, but on basic app capabilities such as account creation (100%) or filtering and geolocation which were included in 96% and 88% of retailer apps, respectively.

Trying to attract conversions in-store, 72% of retailer apps offer product scanning and product search capabilities while shopping in physical stores (64%). However, many retail giants ignore Apple Pay and in-app deals, BrandingBrand finds.

The study identifies a number of opportunities where retailers could significantly boost app usage, such as product reordering (currently only offered by 20% of retail apps), app-exclusive deals (24% of retail apps), or in-app rewards and loyalty (40% of retail apps).