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Solutions & Innovations (November-December 2022)

We cover the tech tools that are driving consumer understanding, engagement and conversion along the path to purchase.

In late October, Klarna announced a partnership with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. Fans can use the Klarna shopping and payments app to purchase Bulls gear from the team’s stadium store and have it delivered to their seat during a game. It also uses Klarna’s signature “Pay-in-4 method,” which splits purchases into four interest-free payments. Bulls player Zach Lavine is a Klarna brand ambassador, and a curated collection of his apparel is also available for purchase in the app.

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This fall, San Jose, California-based Olyns and Mars Wrigley launched the “Sweet Rewards Challenge” at a handful of Bay-area locations, including Safeway. When consumers first sign into the Olyns app and then deposit qualifying candy containers into Olyns’ “Cubes,” the video display starts spinning three symbols that — depending on how they line up — offer prizes of up to $100. Each Cube can compress thousands of plastic, aluminum and glass containers, and also serves as a retail media network.

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Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based LLENA (AI) Health Solutions recently began working with Walmart to provide personalized diabetes-management grocery purchasing recommendations on its platform. LLENA (which means “Learn to Love Eating Nutritiously Always”) has an AI-driven “Cook it Yourself” module that creates individualized glycemic-index-value meal suggestions based on blood sugar, blood pressure and other indicators. Users can then either pick up or receive delivery of their groceries from Walmart.

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Boston-based Pointr recently announced the “world’s largest indoor mapping deployment” without identifying the retailer. (Hint: Pointr’s site features The Home Depot’s new store-mapping TV commercials.) The company digitized 2,000 stores across 280 million square feet using AI technology that retrieved all existing maps and converted them into interactive indoor maps that are updateable in seconds. Pointr also noted that 78% of the top 50 U.S. retailers offer a “store mode” on their apps, but only 19% are actually activated as in-store maps.


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In October, Barilla expanded its year-old partnership with Be My Eyes, a platform that provides live support for visually impaired consumers, by adding QR codes to its packaging. Shoppers can use their smartphone camera to scan the QR code on top of the Barilla box and be connected to live Barilla experts to get information such as pasta cuts, recipes, cooking instructions and expiration dates.

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In mid-October, Instacart enhanced Ads Manager, its self-service ad-buying portal for brand partners. Marketers can now create a campaign by choosing an objective — "reach," "engage" or "maximize sales" — inside the system's framework and get tailored recommendations for ad formats, targeting or bidding options. In September, Instacart also launched "Carts," an in-app shopping experience where personalities create product collections. Singer and rapper Lizzo launched the feature with a shoppable Cart of her favorite vegan treats and products.

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In September, Ann Arbor, Michigan-based AdAdapted, a shopping list platform for CPG brands, announced a partnership with the Flipp shopping app. The partnership means AdAdapted can now advertise CPG products to shoppers as they build their mobile lists, letting them add the advertised items with just a single click. Flipp claims more than 50 million downloads of its list-building and deals app.


In late October, Plano, Texas-based At Home launched its At Home mobile app, which enables users to access orders and check out; get curated product recommendations; scan a tag in-store to see availability; and link to rewards and coupons. At Home, which operates 255 stores in 40 states, also announced that DoorDash and Roadie will serve as delivery partners, handling thousands of items with same-day delivery.

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In mid-October, Karma (an AI shopping tool that scans for coupons and price-drop notifications) launched a new feature, Pay with Karmaa one-swipe purchase point that works across different retailers. Payment options include credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay and interest-free installment plans. Once payment details are on the platform, users no longer need to share their info with other stores and websites. Karma claims 20,000 retail partners in a network that includes Target, Lowe's, Sephora and Urban Outfitters.

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Revieve, a personalized digital brand experience company, recently partnered with Marionnaud Italy to debut an AI Suncare Advisor app. Consumers first input their skincare concerns and product expectations; then they take a selfie that's analyzed via a patented mobile-diagnostics tool using skin metrics that can detect hyperpigmentation, melasma, freckles and wrinkles. The user is then given an "optimal sun care routine" featuring product recommendations.

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In late September, Macy's launched a curated digital marketplace of merchandise from third-party brand partners. The system is powered by Mirakl, a tech company that enables third-party sellers to integrate their products into Macy’s e-commerce architecture. Customers shopping via Macy’s website or mobile app see minimal differences in the experience. As the platform scales up, Macy’s plans to increase the number of underrepresented enterprises (women-owned, diverse-owned or sustainable options) featured.

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This fall, Los Angeles-based Route, an e-commerce app that tracks a shopper's delivery orders in one place, debuted Green Package Protectionan effort to neutralize some of the emissions caused by the shipping industry. When a shopper taps "1-Click Protect + Green" at checkout from one of Route's Green Partners, the order supports a reforestation project. No donation is required. The app's real-time tracking lets users (Route claims it has 32 million shoppers) see their collective impact.

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Earlier this fall, El Segundo, California-based Authentic Vision launched Meta Anchor, enabling brands to connect physical products with digital twins and unlock additional value for customers. Meta Anchor can be used to connect a physical collectible to its NFT version, redeem media content or gaming items, access a virtual asset such as an e-book through its paper version, or authenticate a Fintech application. Authentic Vision says it operates like a QR code or NFC chip, but without security concerns in that its holographic fingerprint can't be shared, copied or swapped out. Meta Anchor is already in use in the brand protection space.

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In October, Juniper Research named Miami-based ACI Worldwide its Retail Innovation of the Year for its "Smart Engage" technology. The platform can launch purchase interactions from scannable media and audio tags within TV, print and radio ads, posters, magazines, catalogs and window displays. A marketer or merchant can use image tags or audio tags to trigger a mobile alert or use geofencing to turn a location-based recommendation into a one-click, instant-buy option on a smartphone.

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