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Retail Business Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

<<234567891011>> Total issues:161

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June 01, 2015, to June 15, 2015

Walgreens Expands Cosmetics Offerings To Attract Customers Back To Stores

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is renovating the cosmetics section of its stores, as part of the drugstore chain's efforts to reconnect with consumers. Also, the company is highlighting its Boots No7 line of skincare products, while scaling back its fresh food lineup. Walgreens is targeting women who are health conscious and who make most of the purchasing decisions of their families. According to the company, results of tests conducted at its Phoenix store revealed consumers are “making more repeat purchases and spending more money” when they visit the store.

Whole Foods Will Begin Opening “Streamlined” Stores Next Year

Whole Foods Market, saddled by a reputation as being too expensive (“Whole Paycheck” or "Whole Foods Markup") and facing stiff competition from specialty grocers and big box retailers, in 2016 will begin opening smaller “streamlined” stores offering lower-priced private-label natural and organic products. The company hopes the new stores, to be called 365 by Whole Foods Market, will appeal to younger shoppers looking for more affordable fresh and locally-sourced foods. The new business unit, located in Austin, Texas, will be headed by Jeff Turnas, a 20-year Whole Foods Market employee.

Lidl Italia Receives Awards From Palo Alto School

Lidl Italia won the Positive Business Award in the innovation, repositioning, and social network categories. Created by the Italian business school Palo Alto School, the award recognizes companies, entrepreneurs, and managers for their understanding of how people's happiness can help build success.

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May 15, 2015, to June 01, 2015

Alibaba Is World's Most Valuable Retail Brand,

Alibaba is the world's most valuable retail brand, according to the 2015 BrandZ ranking of the 100 most valuable brands. After its $25-billion IPO in New York in September 2014, Alibaba became eligible for the ranking, and its landing on the 13th spot helped push the retail category's value by 24 percent. Its strategy of providing market links between buyers and sellers also helped the company overtake rivals Amazon and Walmart, data from the market research firm revealed.

Tesco Reports Weaker Sales, Falling Profits In 2015

UK retailer Tesco reported sales declined 1.3 percent to £70 billion in fiscal year 2014‒2015, compared with the previous year on a 52-week basis at constant currency. Also, trading profit dropped 58.1 percent to £1.4 billion, due mainly to a fall in the company's like-for-like sales, costs of inefficiencies in operations, and actions taken in the second half of the year to stabilize its business. After charging one-off items of £7.0 billion, the company reported a statutory loss before tax of £6.4 billion.

Walmart Executive Says Retailers Should Go Carefully When Expanding Overseas

Retailers should not rush into international expansion, according to Walmart senior director of international Kristen Wilkinson. Speaking at Retail Week magazine's Supply Chain Summit, Wilkinson said her company's expansion overseas showed her that retailers must focus on the basics. Also, they must be prepared for some serious investment, she added. Walmart, which operates in 27 countries, has continued growing its market share in China for the eight consecutive quarters until the end of 2014. It has created a “common framework” for global expansion; however, this platform is always localized, the company said.

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May 01, 2015, to May 15, 2015

New Whole Foods Stores Will Target Millennials

Whole Foods is trying a new store format that it hopes will broaden its appeal and expand its brand by targeting Millennial shoppers intrigued by the company’s social and ethical standards but unable to afford the high prices. The new format will take the form of a separate chain of stores that will offer lower prices. Thanks to the rise of natural and organic foods competition from mainstream grocery chains, Whole Foods has lost some of its cachet. That loss is reflected in recent financial performance: the company’s 2nd quarter profit missed analyst expectations, and its stock dipped 10 percent. The new format stores will begin opening in 2016.

Walmart Tweaks Distribution System To Serve Customers Who Have Already Paid

Borrowing a leaf from the Amazon.com book of digital retail success, Walmart is forging ahead with plans to take greater advantage of online and smartphone technologies – and its 4,200 U.S. stores – to make it easier for shoppers to buy products, pick them up or receive them quickly at home. The company hopes to provide “choice and convenience” by boosting the number of pickup points, either at stores or at other locations, and by adjusting supplier dynamics to include faster home delivery. A Walmart representative said the process “requires a whole different level in terms of precision, pickup performance, and distribution” because “the customer has already given you the money.”

Panera Bread Hops On Food Simplicity Bandwagon

Panera Bread is responding along with other food companies and restaurants to consumer demands for simple, transparent foods. The restaurant chain announced it will eliminate three chemicals – an artificial sweetener, a preservative and a flavor enhancer -- from its products by 2017. Panera CEO Ron Shaich said the move is a way of “drawing a line in the sand” that will result in consumers knowing “what’s in the food they buy.” Since last year, a dozen food companies and restaurant chains have said they will reformulate products to eliminate certain ingredients. A food industry consultant said the “powerful trend” is becoming too entrenched to call it a fad.

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April 15, 2015, to May 01, 2015

Lidl Plans Increased Investment, Expansion In Italy

Discount supermarket chain Lidl will hire 400 people to staff a planned 570 stores, 10 regional directorates and headquarters in Arcole (Verona), Italy. The hiring is part of a five-year expansion plan in the country that will add a total of 2,000 jobs and spend more than €1 billion. Headquartered in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, Lidl has been operating in Italy for 24 years.

dunnhumby Ltd, Kroger Create Joint Venture To Gather Kroger Customer Insights

dunnhumbyUSA announced that joint venture partners dunnhumby Ltd and Kroger will replace their joint venture with a new long-term license and service agreement and the acquisition of certain assets from dunnhumbyUSA by Kroger. To operate the assets, the companies created a company called 84.51°. Under the new arrangement, dunnhumby will be able to take advantage of the North American market by working with new retailers, consumer brands and media partners. British firm dunnhumby analyzes global shopper data to create personalized customer experiences in digital, mobile, and retail environments. 84.51° will have a license to use dunnhumby Ltd's analytical tools to find customer insights in Kroger's data.

Amazon Fresh Takes Early Pricing Lead In Online Grocery Shopping/Delivery

A pricing study limited to New York City has found that Amazon.com is cheaper than its online grocery delivery competitors Instacart, Peapod and Fresh Direct. For the study, Nomura Securities ordered a cart of 30 items from each of the companies. Amazon’s bill for shopping and delivery was $122.03 ($5 tip included). The Instacart bill (ordered through grocery store Fairway) was $142.86. Fresh Direct came in at a whopping $158.74. The $10.9 billion online grocery market is growing rapidly – 9.6 percent annually through 2019.

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April 01, 2015, to April 15, 2015

Membership Model Of Grocery Delivery Could Be A Game-Changer For Industry

A report from BI Intelligence says that the trick to succeeding as an online grocery delivery service is to make it membership-based. The membership strategy, based on Costco’s model, is being applied successfully by several companies, not the least of which is Amazon, and could prove a disruptive force in the $600 billion retail grocery industry. The main benefits of the membership model include (for the business): repeat customers and lower per-order delivery fees; and (for the consumer):  guaranteed fresh food from the local supermarket and less time spent in-store. The report looks at the grocery delivery services of Amazon, Instacart, Shipt and Thrive Market.

Biscuit Taco: Another Weapon Added To Taco Bell’s Breakfast Arsenal

Taco Bell is determined to make breakfast sales at least 20 percent of its annual revenues, and to do that it must make America aware that it’s “open for breakfast” in a big way. The latest flare it has sent up in that strategy is the Biscuit Taco, a biscuit shaped like a taco and stuffed with eggs, cheese and sausage or bacon. Analysts expect the company to replace the recently unveiled waffle taco with the new biscuit. Its revamped breakfast menu – launched a year ago with TV ads featuring real people named Ronald McDonald – helped Taco Bell post a six percent hike in same-restaurant sales for its fourth quarter ended in February.

Asda Starts Search For New COO

Discount retailer Asda began its search for a chief operating officer as part of its efforts to strengthen its board of directors and find a potential successor for CEO Andy Clarke. The search followed retail director Mark Ibbotson's transfer to US parent company Wal-Mart to become senior VP for innovation. Asda, which has not had a COO since Judith McKenna's move to Wal-Mart two years ago, is looking for an executive with operational experience.

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March 15, 2015, to April 01, 2015

Tesco Ireland Chief Clarke Announces Plan To Retire

Tesco Ireland chief executive Philip J. Clarke announced his plan to retire less than two years after his appointment to the position. A 40-year veteran of the supermarket company, Clarke also served as chief executive of Tesco's units in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Japan. He was appointed as Tesco Ireland chief executive by former Tesco CEO Phil Clarke in July 2013.

Retailers Need To Upgrade Loyalty Programs For Digital Age, Study Reveals

Consumers are dissatisfied with retailers' existing loyalty programs, according to a study by Capgemini Consulting focusing on customer sentiment on social media. Results of the study revealed the average household in the United States has more than 21 loyalty program memberships; however, it only actively uses 44 percent of these programs. Data revealed almost 90 percent of social media sentiment was negative, with the negativity pervading across all industries. Among Millennial consumers, who are forecast to spend more than $200 billion annually by 2017, negative perception of loyalty programs was at 85 percent. Cosmetics retailer Sephora aimed to improve consumer participation in its loyalty program by launching its Beauty Insider scheme.

Tesco's Director Cescau Announces Retirement Plans

Patrick Cescau announced his plan to resign as non-executive director of retailer Tesco in 2014. The fifth non-executive director to depart the company, Cescau has overseen the reorganization of the retailer's senior management as its senior independent director and chairman of the nominations committee. Former CEO of Unilever, Cescau was involved in the ouster of Philip Clarke as chief executive and appointment of Dave Lewis as Clarke's replacement. According to Tesco, Cescau will retire from the board of directors effective April 7, 2015, after six years as a non-executive director.

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March 01, 2015, to March 15, 2015

With Grocery Prices Lower Overall, British Shoppers Consider Other Store Benefits

Despite the turbulence of a price war among supermarket chains and discount grocers, Tesco not only managed to boost sales, it also maintained a solid reputation among British grocery shoppers. A poll by VoucherCodesPro.com put Tesco at the top of the list of “go-to” supermarkets, and showed that Britons choose grocery stores for a variety of reasons, not just price. Respondents who switched to Tesco from Aldi and Lidl pointed to a lack of parking, large checkout lines and “too many non-branded goods” at the discounters’ stores. Twenty-nine percent of respondents voted Tesco the best grocery retailer, and 37 percent of those said their second choice would have been a discount retailer. Tesco was followed by Aldi, Lidl, Asda and Sainsbury’s in popularity.

Selfie-Based Digital Contouring Advice Service Helps Sephora Customers

Sephora has launched a service on its mobile Web site that allows smartphone users to upload a selfie for automatic analysis and subsequent personalized makeup application tips. The service was created for use with Sephora’s Pocket Contour Class app with help from startup company Map My Beauty. Sephora recently identified contouring as a trend taking hold, but the technique is difficult to master. The new service resulted from Sephora’s recognition of a need to "educate and empower" customers to create the contoured look themselves.

Beacon Technology Test Is Encouraging For Unilever

A Unilever beta test involving beacon and smartphone technology and Knorr soup brand and food vans proved successful enough for the company to investigate expanding the availability of the app to other media outlets. For the test, Unilever deployed branded food vans in Sweden where people could sample Knorr soups. When shoppers were within ten meters of the vans, the beacon devices picked up their smartphone IDs. The next day they were sent a personal message referring to the taste test and providing a discount coupon redeemable in-store. The results were encouraging enough for the company to ponder a mass rollout across all brands.

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February 15, 2015, to March 01, 2015

Beacons Offer Advertisers A Sophisticated Way To Gather Consumer Intelligence

The tiny Bluetooth transmitters known as beacons offer marketers a new layer of consumer intelligence that reveals digital actions and exposures. Beacons – currently placed around stores to push coupons and user reviews to shopper phones and tablets -- allow advertisers to pull together online ad and marketing exposures to offline behaviors. They also make the process of retargeting offline behaviors with online ads very accurate “because real-world behaviors can be located to extremely precise locations and interactions”. The insights on the potential of beacons were presented at a recent Mediapost conference.

Economic Signs Suggest Lower Prices At Grocery Stores, Too, Not Just Gas Stations

The most visible drops in commodity prices – oil and gasoline – are not the only ones that could have an impact on consumers in the near future. Farmers and miners are keenly aware that prices of copper, iron ore and corn are way down, along with soybeans, tin, sugar, wheat and cotton. So when will these price drops begin to help consumers? It’s difficult to predict because lower commodity prices are rarely passed on quickly to consumers. Producers concerned about volatility want to be sure cheaper raw material prices remain low. But there is reason for grocery shopper optimism, perhaps later this year. Farmers are experiencing bumper crops and surpluses; there’s plenty of cheap feed for livestock; farmer energy costs are lower; food imports are cheaper; and there’s reduced foreign competition for food.

Target Lowers Minimum Purchase Required For Free Shipping

Retailer Target lowered the minimum purchase that shoppers need to make online to qualify for free shipping from $50 to $25. Target's move puts it lower than rival Walmart, which still requires a minimum purchase of $50, and significantly below department store chains, such as Macy's and JCPenney, which offers free shipping for purchases higher than $99. In contrast, leading online retailer requires a minimum purchase of $35. Target also began shipping some orders directly from its stores, improving delivery time and inventory management.

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February 01, 2015, to February 15, 2015

Walmart Canada Launches Major Expansion Initiative

Walmart Canada says it will spend about C$340 million ($273 million) building 29 supercenters, and enhancing distribution and e-commerce. The company says the investment will create about 5,000 jobs in construction, stores and supercenters, and add 230,000 feet of retail space. The added distribution centers will allow expansion of the company’s fresh food and e-commerce capacity. “Our mission is to provide multiple access points for customers to save money,” said CEO Dirk Van den Berghe.

Walmart Sends Veteran Exec To China To Restore Reputation

Walmart is trying to polish its image in “critical market” China after damaging news reports about questionable accounting, inventory and food-safety practices. The company named veteran Walmart employee Maggie Sans as senior vice president and chief corporate affairs officer in China to help improve its reputation. A story published by Bloomberg News in December showed that Walmart’s China unit had for years engaged in unauthorized sales and accounting practices that made the business appear healthy in the midst of an actual slowdown in retail transactions.

Walmart Moves Asda Exec From U.K. To Lead Innovation In U.S.

The COO of Walmart British subsidiary grocery retailer Asda is transferring to the U.S. to take charge of innovation at the parent company. 10-year-veteran Mark Ibbotson – described by CEO Andy Clarke as a “first-class retailer” -- led Asda’s online, click and collect and grocery home shopping. In the U.S., he will concentrate on developing Walmart innovation for customers. The transfer is the latest in a series of executive moves at Asda.

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January 15, 2015, to February 01, 2015

Is Online-Based Grocery Delivery An Idea Whose Time Has – Finally – Come?

The enterprising fellow who tried to build a Web-based grocery delivery business 15 years ago – and went bankrupt after burning through $800 million – still believes the idea has merit. So does a new generation of entrepreneurs who see a great opportunity. Defunct Webvan’s George Shaheen says “somebody will figure out” the right way to do it, because no one really likes to shop for groceries. Among the companies trying to prove him right are Instacart, which has raised hundreds of millions in venture capital while racking up $100 million in sales in 2014. It has yet to turn a profit, however, and that may be a major hurdle. Profit margins are notoriously slim in the grocery business. But that is not deterring Instacart or its competitors, which include Amazon.com, Fresh Direct LLC, Good Eggs, Wal-Mart Stores and Safeway.

Tesco Expands Corporate Finance Team, Looks For Corporate Development Head

Tesco is expanding its in-house corporate finance department, as part of the retailer's efforts to improve management of its assets. This move includes searching for a leader of corporate development for the team the company expects to perform tasks related to corporate finance, including investment opportunities, portfolio reviews, spinoffs, and mergers and acquisitions activities. According to Tesco, the proposed team will report to CEO Dave Lewis, finance director Alan Stewart, and group strategy director Benny Higgins.

Walmart Chile CEO And President Nucci Retires

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced the retirement of Walmart Chile CEO and president Gian Carlo Nucci effective June 2015. Also, the retailer said it has invited Nucci, who has served as a leader and an important member of the company's Latin America team during his 22 years with Walmart, to become a member of the boards of directors of Walmart Chile and Walmart Mexico and Central America. Nucci, who successfully managed different formats in Mexico before his transfer to Chile, will be succeeded by Horacio Barbeito, Walmart Argentina's current president and CEO.
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