Who was essential in retail this week?

The UK's largest retailer Tesco announced that it will unveil a brand new shopping and leisure destination in Watford on Monday 12 August, which will include its new food concepts Giraffe, Harris + Hoole, Euphorium and The Bakery Project all under one roof.

Other new features being trialled by Tesco at the store include a new-look general merchandise area, a nail bar and a community space that people can use for events such as yoga.

UK Managing Director Chris Bush, who is leading the reshaping of Tesco's business in the UK after a difficult recent period, said: "Watford represents a fundamental change in the way that people are doing their shopping. More and more of our customers are shopping for leisure; they want to browse for clothes, eat a meal or grab a cup of coffee, as well as do their weekly shop. It offers us a glimpse into what stores of the future might look like and we’re really excited to be sharing that with our customers."

Meanwhile, online payment solutions provider PayPal is piloting a facial recognition smartphone app in Richmond, Surrey that allows customers to pay for goods without having to use cards or cash.

The app, for iOS, Windows OS and Android phones, maps nearby shops and restaurants which accept the payments. Users then check-in to their phones once inside the shop, their name and image appear on the retailer's payment system, and the business takes a payment with the click of a button.

Rob Harper, head of retail services at PayPal, said: "This is another step on the journey towards a wallet-less high street, where customers will be able to leave their wallet or purse at home and pay using their phone or tablet. We predict that by 2016 this will become a reality."

Earlier this week the UK's largest electrical retailer Dixons unveiled the first in a series of new concept stores for its travel brand, Dixons Travel, at Gatwick Airport's South Terminal.

Instead of offering traditional point of sale solutions, the store uses digital signage showing the latest products and allows customers to easily browse for more information. There is also a KNOWHOW bar in-store, which offers hands-on tech advice and product repairs.

Jeremy Fennell, managing director for Dixons Travel, commented: "This is the store of the future for us. We are focused on delivering a better range and store experience for Travel customers, including a focus on portable items, accessories and other flight-ready products."

An updated Oracle Retail Allocation solution was unveiled in the US this week, aiming to help retailers improve customer experience levels and increase their inventory sell-through. According to Oracle, the solution enables retailers to deliver the right product, in the best assortment, for each location using real-time inventory levels along with sales and planning information.

Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager at Oracle Retail, remarked: "Smarter allocation is the last mile to improving customer experience and protecting margins. The latest update to Oracle Retail Allocation delivers deep retail functionality, actionable insight, and a user interface that makes sense for today's users."

Back on the other side of the Atlantic, John Lewis reported that its online sales for the week ended 3 August 2013 were up 24% year on year. Sales of electricals and home technology were particularly strong, according to the department store chain.

Mark Lewis, online director at John Lewis, said: "One of the ongoing trends in online is the increased preference of our customers to access John Lewis through their mobile devices. The overall number of visits to johnlewis.com continued to gain momentum up 16% year on year with traffic from handheld mobile devices growing at over 70%. This is a trend that we expect to continue."

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