Today in the Connected Economy: Consumer Spending up, JCPenney’s Makeover

Connected economy, JCPenney, smartphone, shopping

Today in the connected economy, higher prices and growing demand lead to an increase in consumer spending in July. Also, JCPenney reinvents itself as a digital-savvy retailer thanks to its customers’ smartphone use, and delivery services Gopuff and Instacart unveil new offerings.

Mastercard Report Shows Consumer Spending Up in July

Rising demand and higher prices caused consumer spending to increase 11.2% last month in every category except automotive, according to new data from the July Mastercard SpendingPulse report.

Per the report, retail sales were up 9.0% and overall eCommerce sales were up 11.7% year over year (YoY). The report reflects nominal spending and is not adjusted for inflation. Last month’s spending increase outpaced monthly YoY growth this year, with inflation impacting how consumers navigate between their wants and needs.

JCPenney Gets Extreme Makeover With Assist From Shoppers’ Smartphones

One of the forefathers of modern retailing, JCPenney (JCP), has begun reinventing itself as a digital-savvy merchant, which means changing how the store thinks about engagement.

Speaking to PYMNTS’ Karen Webster, JCP Chief Digital and Transformation Officer Katie Mullen said that as more physical retail resumes, digital now sets the tune.

“Some of the things that we are experiencing right now, I think, are the product of many years of transition,” said Mullen. “That’s the idea that customers walk around physical stores with their phone open, with an app open, and they’re looking at a listing on their app or on a mobile website at the same time as they’re looking at a physical product.”

Instacart Integrates Catering Features as Grocers, Restaurants Compete for Group Orders

Instacart is integrating technology from catering software subsidiary FoodStorm into its app to power catering orders and delivery for grocers through its marketplace and white-label fulfillment solutions, 10 months after acquiring the company.

“Catering represents one of the highest margin categories for grocers, driving meaningful incremental growth for their business as consumer demand increases,” Instacart Vice President of Product Jeanette Barlow said in a statement. “In the first half of 2022, we’ve seen nearly a 20% increase in customers searching for ‘catering’ on Instacart compared to the same period last year.”

Gopuff Teams With Stripe, Visa Direct, Others to Give US Partners Instant Cash Out Option

Delivery firm Gopuff is working with financial infrastructure platform Stripe and partners such as real-time money movement network Visa Direct to help U.S. delivery partners cash out their earnings balance instantly with a few clicks.

The company says these new capabilities make Gopuff one of the first instant commerce businesses to offer drivers an instant payout option.

“Now more than ever, delivery partners are looking for convenience and speed when accessing their earnings,” said Daniel Folkman, senior vice president of business at Gopuff. “We’re proud to partner with Stripe to offer U.S. delivery partners a new Instant Cash Out option, which enables them to access and use their earnings within minutes, rather than days.”

Travel Platform HRS Buys German Expense Management Firm Paypense

HRS, a corporate travel platform, has acquired German expense management company Paypense in a bid to improve its corporate payment products.

“Only two years since launch, Paypense’s open platform has already made inroads with a broad range of corporations, enabling employees to use digital payment technology to pay for all work-related purchases,” HRS said in a news release. The company said the Paypense solution ensures budget compliance in addition to capturing data for auditing, steering and sustainability metrics.

Autonomy Partners With DigiSure to Offer Embedded Insurance for Car Subscriptions

Electric vehicle (EV) subscription company Autonomy has teamed up with Protection-as-a-Service provider DigiSure to offer embedded insurance for car subscriptions.

Through the partnership, which is set to go into effect in the middle of August, Autonomy can digitally onboard, evaluate and qualify subscribers for auto coverage.

“Being able to provide Autonomy subscribers with fully digital auto coverage that’s month to month, without them having to buy annual insurance, and is tailored to their needs is core to delivering on our promise of providing easy and affordable access to electric vehicles,” said Scott Painter, Autonomy’s founder and chief executive.