Walmart's footprint now spans more than 10,800 retail units under 69 banners in 27 countries, employing 2.2 million associates worldwide, including 1.3 million in the U.S. alone. This year, Walmart reclaimed the top spot on the Fortune 500 after dropping to second place a year ago, buoyed by 2012 fiscal sales of $443.9 billion, up 5.9 percent year-over-year. Big-box retailers simply don't come any bigger. The @Walmart Labs unit may require an introduction, however. The Silicon Valley-based technology and innovation center spearheads the chain's mobile and online commerce initiatives, including its iOS and Android applications as well as in-store trials …
NFC technology continues to break away from the realm of mobile commerce as innovative tech developers push the boundaries of the increasingly popular technology. John McLear, an ambitious tech expert and inventor, has created the NFC Ring. Like the name suggests, the NFC Ring is literally a ring that is equipped with NFC technology. The ring can be worn on the finger, of course, but what makes it stand out is its capability to interact with smartphones, tablets, and any other NFC-enabled device.
Sierra Trading Post released a shopping mobile application for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad about a year after rolling out its Android app. Since Sierra Trading Post is in the closeouts business, products sell out fast, so the app allows consumers to have quick and easy access to the newest products anywhere and everywhere. To celebrate the app release, Sierra Trading Post is offering free shipping on orders placed from the app.
FedEx is trying to promote its mobile application and increase downloads with in-store signage that integrates QR codes. The company displayed posters on tables and walls that direct consumers to "Turn your phone into a printer" by downloading the app. FedEx's app is available in Apple's App Store and lets users print documents directly from their phone as well as track shipments and job orders.
Equity Bank and Airtel Kenya have entered into a partnership that will offer comprehensive mobile commerce solutions to their customers in Kenya, through Airtel Money. The service, available to all Equity Bank customers with Airtel lines, will enable customers from both Airtel and Equity Bank to access Airtel mobile banking platforms, perform agency cash transactions at Equity Bank branches and also enable Airtel services customers to withdraw money at any Equity Bank countrywide.
Will algorithms or crowdsourced recommendations lead the way when it comes to the mobile shopping done via aggregators like Fancy, Wanelo, Polyvore or Fresh? A startup called Wish is betting on the former, likening itself to "an AdWords for shopping." Today, the company is expanding its automated matching technology, which pairs people to product, into a new area: a mobile marketplace called "Wish Closet." This feature will now allow the company's nearly 15 million users to buy and sell items found in each other's closets.
One of the world's largest banking organizations has announced the launch of a new mobile payment initiative based on NFC technology. The organization has partnered with MasterCard for the initiative, allowing customers to utilize their line of credit in order to purchase products from their smartphones. These smartphones will be equipped with NFC-enabled SIM cards provided by Gemalto, a leading security firm. The initiative is meant to provide consumers with an efficient and security way to participate in mobile commerce.
Mobile payments may be set to see explosive growth in Australia, at least among retailers. Mobile technology has established a strong presence in Australia, just as it has done throughout much of the world. Consumers have become heavily reliant on smartphones and tablets, favoring these devices when it comes to shopping and, in some cases, banking. This trend has been a double-edged sword for retailers, some of whom have expressed concern that the growing prevalence of mobile commerce is keeping consumers from visiting physical stores. The Australian Retailers Association sees mobile payments as a promising opportunity, however.
News America Marketing has launched an on-shelf retail program that uses near-field communication to deliver mobile coupons to consumers. News America Marketing's new SmartSource with NFC program is rolling out to the majority of the company's 52,000 retail stores. Kraft, Nilla Wafers and Philadelphia are all brands that have tested the technology, with results suggesting that NFC is effective at increasing coupon redemption, application downloads and time spent in front of a shelf.
Even though the newer-technology augmented reality is also up-and-coming, quick-service restaurants such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's are sticking with mobile bar codes to add shelf life to their packaging. Quick-service restaurants continue to rely on QR codes because it is easy to test different types of content to see what consumers respond to most. One of the brands currently experimenting with this is McDonald's, which made a big investment in QR codes earlier this year.