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Lidl Introduces Reusable Bags For Fruit And Vegetables

August 8, 2019: 12:00 AM EST

To help prevent use of flimsy disposable plastic bags used to hold fruit and vegetables, Lidl has introduced reusable bags that cost 69p (~$1) for two. It claims to be the first supermarket in the UK to introduce such bags. The effort is part of Lidl’s plan to reduce plastic packaging by 20% by 2022. The move follows similar action by other retailers such as Morrisons and Sainsbury’s that have removed plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables, encouraging consumers to use their own bags.[Image Credit: © Lidl Great Britain Limited]
"Lidl Becomes First Uk Supermarket To Introduce Reusable Fruit And Veg Bags Nationwide ", Lidl , August 08, 2019, © Lidl Great Britain Limited
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Sainsbury’s To Remove Hard-To-Recycle Black Plastic Trays From The Chiller Cabinets

July 25, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
The UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s said it will be first among retailers to eliminate the black plastic trays often used for chilled ready meals, in favour of a recyclable tray made from natural CPET. Sainsbury’s says the move, to be completed by November 2019, will reduce the volume of hard-to-recycle plastic by over 1,000 metric tonnes a year. Earlier in the same week, the company announced a trial to take away the single use plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetable, and replace them with reusable drawstring bags.[Image Credit: © J Sainsbury plc]
"Sainsbury's becomes first retailer to remove all black plastic from chilled ready meals", Sainsbury’s, July 25, 2019, © J Sainsbury plc
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UK Supermarket Chain Asda Stops Plastic Bags For Online Orders

July 22, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
The Asda supermarket chain in the UK will no longer use single-use plastic bags for online orders, eliminating some 85 million each year. The scheme has been trialed in the South-West of England and at its Dartford Home Shopping Centre, and will now be rolled out nationally from the end of July. The delivery drivers will instead offer to unload the shopping for home delivery customers and put it in a convenient place. Fresh meat and fish will still require small plastic bags. The chain stopped offering single-use bags in-store last year.[Image Credit: © ASDA]
"Asda to stop offering plastic carrier bags with online grocery shopping, in latest plastic-saving initiative", ASDA, July 22, 2019, © ASDA
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Brown Paper Bags Will Replace Plastic Bags At Boots In The UK

June 24, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
UK health and beauty retailer Boots will from next year phase out plastic bags, replacing them with unbleached brown paper ones, starting immediately with 53 stores across the country. It will also move to unbleached paper bags for prescriptions. It will charge for the new bags, even though they are not covered by the plastic bag tax. Instead, profits from the bags will go to the BBC Children in Need charity. Boots cites its own research to demonstrate the extent to which consumers support moves to address the problem of plastic waste. The bags are from Forest Stewardship Council certified recycled brown paper, easily recycled at home, and display the On-Pack Recycling Label. [Image Credit: © The Boots Company PLC]
"Boots UK to replace plastic carrier bags with unbleached paper bags in all stores", Boots UK, June 24, 2019, © The Boots Company PLC
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Which? Study Finds UK Supermarkets Could Do Better To Help Improve Recycling Rates

June 22, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
A study from Which?, the UK consumer campaigning group, found that almost half of packaging in items sold (primarily online) by the UK’s 11 supermarket chains can’t be easily recycled. Morrisons fared worst, and Tesco and Waitrose had the most items that could be recycled easily, but improvement was needed from all. It also found that recycling labels could be better, and 42% of packaging was either labeled incorrectly or not at all. Which? says that it’s not only about the use of plastic, but the type of plastic used: black plastic containers are not recyclable, and clear plastic bottles are more easily recycled than Tetra Paks. Many pizzas are still sold with non-recyclable polystyrene bases, and grease contamination of the cardboard packaging means that can’t be recycled either. Which? has made five key recommendations: make labeling clear and accurate; avoid unnecessary single-use plastic packaging; eliminate the use of black plastic PET trays; provide in-store plastic bag collection points; and offer products loose, where possible.[Image Credit: © Which?]
Vicki Crowe , "Almost half of supermarket packaging isn’t easily recyclable, Which? Finds", Which?, June 22, 2019, © Which?
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Swedish Startup Introduces The Veggio Reusable Bag For Fruit And Veg

June 21, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Carrinet, a Swedish startup, has developed a machine-washable, reusable drawstring bag, called Veggio, made from 100% recycled PET bottles, for fruit and vegetables. Each bag can hold up to 10kg and the netting design allows the produce to be rinsed while still in the bag. 2Tech is distributing the bags in the UK. It says the bags give consumers an alternative to using the free plastic bags provided in supermarkets, and it aims to persuade supermarkets to stock the Veggio bags.[Image Credit: © Allmänna villkor]
Flora Southey, "Start-up tackles packaging waste with bags made from 100% recycled bottles", Food Navigator , June 21, 2019, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Aldi UK Replaces Plastic Checkout Bags With Paper Or Compostable Options

June 10, 2019: 12:00 AM EST



Aldi in the UK will from July this year replace plastic bags in half of its stores with paper bags, and biodegradable bags at the other half. After the trial, Aldo will choose the most popular. The Bioplast 100% compostable bags will cost 6p. Aldo is charging 19p for the paper bags. [Image Credit: © Aldi Stores Limited]
Sarah Young, "Aldi announces plans to reduce traditional plastic bags with paper and compostable versions", Independent UK, June 10, 2019, © Independent Digital News and Media Limited
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Whole Foods Withdraws Some Food Packaging In Response To Study On PFAS

December 12, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
In a study of five major US grocery retail chains, Whole Foods Market was ranked as worst for food-contact packaging. The study from three watchdogs, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Toxic-Free Future, found the paper it used at its salad and hot food counters had high levels of fluorine. Whole Foods has since removed the packaging highlighted in the report. Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are getting a lot attention from concerned consumers and the Environmental Protection Agency, and finding fluorine in the packaging indicates it was treated with a type of PFAS. The chemicals have been linked to cancer and shown to hinder the immune system. Albertsons, Kroger and Ahold Delhaize had fewer items shown as containing the chemicals. Trader Joe’s had none, but does not have any food bars. [Image Credit: © vedat zorluer from Pixabay]
Tiffany Kary and Deena Shanker, "Whole Foods Ranked Worst on Cancer-Linked Package Chemicals", Bloomberg, December 12, 2018, © Bloomberg LP
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Supermarkets In Australia Seeing Up To 90 Percent Reduction In Single-Use Plastic Bag Use

December 4, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Since July, 1.5 billion fewer single-use plastic bags have been used by large Australian supermarkets. A ban by Coles and Woolworths were added to a total ban across the state of Queensland. Reusable options have helped bring about an 80 percent drop in plastic bag use, and some retailers have reported a 90 percent reduction. The supermarkets have donated profits from the sale of reusable bags to community organizations, including Clean Up Australia, Little Athletics Australia and Guide Dog.[Image Credit: © Woolworths Group Limited]
"Australian supermarkets eliminate 1.5 billion single-use plastic bags", Packaging Gateway, December 04, 2018, © Verdict Media Limited
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Waitrose Has Accelerated Its Work To Eradicate Single-Use Plastic In Own-Label Packaging

November 13, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Upmarket UK grocery retailer Waitrose has accelerated its commitment to making own-brand packaging more recyclable, reusable or compostable, bringing forward its 100 per cent target from 2015 to 2023. It has hit the 70 per cent level already and expects to reach 80 per cent by 2020. It says it is also close to taking all its own-label fruit, vegetables, meat and fish out of black plastic by the end of 2018, and will stop selling its own-label products in black plastic after the end of next year. [Image Credit: © Waitrose]
Marianne Calnan , "Waitrose brings recyclable packaging commitment forward", The Grocer UK, November 13, 2018, © William Reed Business Media
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Blockchain Technology Improves Walmart’s Food Safety, Reduces Food Loss

November 6, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart is using blockchain technology to help track and manage the chaotic and decentralized food supply system comprising producers, suppliers, and intermediaries such as processors that change constantly. Blockchain technology, like the food system, is based on a decentralized and distributed model that fits the modern food system perfectly. Each player in the network can update data, but also stops them from entering false data or making false changes. The speed with which blockchain enables companies to trace products and problems back to the source means improved food safety and less economic loss, and reduced food waste. It quickly and accurately identifies the source of a problem so that only impacted products are recalled or removed, rather than everything in the category.[Image Credit: © Tumisu from Pixabay]
Elizabeth Crawford , "From 7 days to 2 seconds: Blockchain can help speed trace-back, improve food safety & reduce waste", FoodNavigator-USA.com, November 06, 2018, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Global Companies Join The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment

October 29, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Nearly 300 organizations have has joined a global initiative to eliminate plastic waste. The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment signatories include recycling companies, packaging producers and  retailers. It was announced at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s 'Our Ocean' conference in Bali, and was launched in collaboration with UN Environment. The initiative has three main aims: eradicate unnecessary plastic and move away from single-use packaging; work towards 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging by 2025; and to circulate plastic by increasing the volume of plastics that can be converted into new products or packaging. CPG companies that have signed up include Johnson & Johnson, SC Johnson, Danone, L’Oréal, Mars, PepsiCo, Unilever and Coca-Cola. Other signatories include Walmart, Target, Carrefour, Metro AG, Lidl, Ahold Delhaize, H&M, Amcor and Novamont.  [Image Credit: © New Plastics Economy]
Beth Wright , "Inditex, M&S, Target join pledge to end plastic waste ", Just-style.com, October 29, 2018, © Just-style.com
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Brand Sites Are Losing Out To Multi-Brand Giants

October 23, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
New research finds that only around 10% of online shoppers are visiting brand sites, which are losing out to sites like Amazon. inRiver’s survey also found that consumers lose interest quickly and will move on if they can’t quickly find the information they want. The firm said that brands and retailers must take more care when selling online and consider issues such as the role of influencers and videos that showcase products, as well as providing comprehensive product information and reviews.[Image Credit: © inRiver]
Becky Bargh , "New report claims 45% of shoppers visit Amazon before brand site", Cosmetics Business, October 23, 2018, © HPCi Media
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Target Is Testing App That Highlights Foods Nearing “Best Used By” Dates That Sell At A Discount

October 21, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
A Canadian start-up that developed a food waste app is being tested at select Target stores in the Midwest and with the Loblaw (Canada) grocery chain. The Flashfood app pinpoints food close to the "best used by" or expiration dates so that users can pay via the app and then pick up the deeply discounted food at the store. Flashfood takes a cut of each sale. Stores benefit by selling food that would otherwise be tossed into the dumpster, and consumers benefit by getting lower-priced food that is still perfectly edible. Target’s goal is to reduce overall retail waste by 70 percent by 2020, and is moving forward with strategies that include waste-stream audits and an in-store tracking program to prevent wasted food at some of their stores,[Image Credit: © flashfood]
Catherine Roberts, "App aimed at cutting food waste wins pilot at select Target stores", Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), October 21, 2018, © StarTribune
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Ahold Delhaize Unit Commits To Removing Artificial Ingredients From House Brands

October 17, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Salisbury, N.C.-based Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA subsidiary, announced a commitment to making its house brands cleaner and more natural by 2025. The company promised to remove from its foods: synthetic colors; artificial flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners; MSGs; and high fructose corn syrup. It also plans to reduce salt and sugar, advance transparency and sustainable chemistry practices used in products and packaging, and reduce plastic and packaging waste. The company also promised to produce more allergen-free products. Retail Business Services, LLC, serves six East Coast grocery brands, including Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant/Martin's, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, and online grocery retailer Peapod.[Image Credit: © United States Retail Business Services, LLC]
"Retail Business Services Commits to Removing Artificial Ingredients from All Private Brand Products for Consumers by 2025", Globe Newswire, October 17, 2018, © GlobeNewswire, Inc
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North London Budgens Opens Plastic-Free Zones

October 8, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
A north London branch of supermarket chain Budgens is introducing plastic-free zones. The Belsize Park outlet, Thornton’s Budgens, offers over 1,700 products in plastic-free packaging, using alternative materials such as beechwood nets, paper and glass to wrap foods. It enlisted the help of A Plastic Planet, a campaign group, and created the zone in 10 weeks. Mr. Thornton claims his store is just the second worldwide to have plastic-free zones, with Dutch supermarket Ekoplaza the first.[Image Credit: © Booker Retail Partners GB Limited]
Sabrina Barr, "Budgens store becomes one of world's first to have plastic-free zones", The Independent, October 08, 2018, © Evening Standard Ltd
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Kroger Fund Food Waste Prevention Curriculum For El-Sec Students

October 8, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Grocery chain Kroger has joined a Zero Hunger | Zero Waste partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to prevent and recover food waste in U.S. elementary and secondary schools. WWF, whose WIld Classroom provides an environmental curriculum for teachers and parents, is expanding the curriculum with the help of a $400,000 grant from Kroger’s foundation to focus on promoting food conservation education and best practices. The Food Waste Warrior Toolkit, a classroom-friendly curriculum that aligns with USDA and state educational standards, turns the school cafeteria into a classroom to inspire students to become Zero Heroes by making a lifelong commitment to reduce food waste. The free toolkit was tested in Washington, D.C., using resources from science, math, ecology, conservation, and sustainability.[Image Credit: © The Kroger Co.]
"Kroger Partners with World Wildlife Fund to Educate Students About Responsible Food Practices", PR Newswire, October 08, 2018, © PR Newswire Association LLC
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British Supermarket Chain The Co-op Replaces Plastic Bags With Biodegradable Alternatives

September 24, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

The Co-op became the first supermarket chain in Great Britain to adopt compostable alternatives as a replacement for single-use plastic bags. The move follows the 2015 law that requires retailers to charge five pence for plastic bags and reflects the supermarket's commitment to eliminate non-recyclable plastics from its products. The biodegradable plastic bags will be distributed in all 2,600 Co-op locations. Supermarket Waitrose & Partners also indicated it would switch to compostable bags while Lidl announced it would remove all black plastic from packaging (black plastic has been targeted since it’s harder for recyclers to process).[Image Credit: © Co-operative Group Limited]
Olivia Rosane, "Supermarket Becomes First in UK to Replace Single-Use Plastic Bags With Compostable Alternative", EcoWatch, September 24, 2018, © EcoWatch
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Multinational Corporations Support Campaign To Reduce Ocean Plastic Pollution

September 20, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Multinational corporations, including Coca-Cola and Walmart, pledged their support for the Ocean Plastics Charter signed by Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy in June 2018. Despite an abstention by the two other G7 nations, United States and Japan, several non-G7 nations supported the plan to achieve 100 percent plastics recyclability by 2030. An announcement by Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKena to create a new partnership with businesses to reduce plastic waste secured support from several companies, including Loblaws, Walmart, and IKEA, and Nestle Canada. Separately, Unilever announced the launch of a not-for-profit venture to reduce consumer and business waste.[Image Credit: © kakuko from pixabay]
"Coca-Cola, Walmart to cut plastic pollution in oceans", Phys.org, September 20, 2018, © AFP
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Macy’s Announces New Technologies For Better Customer Experience And Partnership With Facebook

September 17, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Macy’s revealed it is integrating new features, including virtual reality and augmented reality, to improve the experience of consumers shopping for furniture and beauty products. Also, the company said it will join forces with Facebook to bring almost 150 ecommerce brands to the retail chain’s The Market @ Macy’s retail platform. According to the retailer, the partnership will offer participating small businesses and ecommerce brands to take advantage of a Macy’s store environment during the holidays. During the Code Commerce On-Location Event in New York City, Macy’s will highlight several technologies, including virtual and augmented reality furniture shopping, augmented reality for beauty, beauty playground, and radio-frequency identification.[Image Credit: © macys.com]
"Macy’s, Inc. Improves Customer Journey With Enhanced In-Store Technology Experiences", Business Wire, September 17, 2018, © Business Wire, Inc.
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Some Factors Limit Adoption Of Voice Commerce By Consumers And Retailers

August 16, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
There are several reasons why consumers and marketers will not adopt voice technology-enabled commerce as fast as some analysts forecast. First, consumers are not going to purchase clothes or electronics because they cannot browse products with voice. Also, retailers and brands still need to address securities issues, including parental control and control of Alexa and Siri through subliminal messages in music. Voice technology is brand-biased; for example, there is a strong probability that consumers' order for batteries will return Amazon Basics-branded products. Without enough competition, voice is not an even playing field at present.[Image Credit: © PhotoMIX-Company @ Pixabay.com]
Greg Alvo, "4 Reasons Why Retail Isn’t Quite Ready for Voice Assistants Yet", Adweek, August 16, 2018, © Adweek
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Morrisons Steps Up Fight Against Single-Use Plastic By Removing Cucumber Sleeves

August 7, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
UK supermarket chain Morrisons is responding to the call for less single-use plastic in packaging by removing the plastic sleeves on cucumbers, although the Cucumber Growers’ Association claims that the shrink-wrap keeps the cucumber hydrated and helps prevent it being damaged. Removing the sleeve reduces shelf life by two days to five. The move only applies at the moment to whole cucumbers sourced from the UK and Netherlands. Mini and pre-cut cucumbers will also retain their plastic covering. The move follows other initiatives from the chain, including replacing plastic bags in the produce aisles with brown paper bags, and selling at a discount reusable containers on its fresh meat and fish counters.[Image Credit: © Krzysztof Jaracz]
Rachel Graham , "Morrisons removes cucumber plastic sleeves to reduce waste", The Grocer, August 07, 2018, © William Reed Business Media Ltd.
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Brandless Secures $240-Million Investment From Softbank

July 31, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Japan's Brandless Inc. revealed Softbank's $100-billion Vision Fund investment unit has invested $240 million in the online retailer. In three previous rounds of funding, the online seller of exclusively own-brand, generic daily household products had easily secured $51 million. According to Softbank managing partner Jeff Housenbold, Brandless' data focus and its ability to create excitement around ordinary products have convinced the bank to invest in the online retailer.[Image Credit: © Brandless, Inc.]
Sarah McBride, "This No-Brand Startup Won $240 Million to Fight Amazon on Price and Quality", Bloomberg Businessweek, July 31, 2018, © Bloomberg
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Which? Study Shows A Third Of Plastic Packaging Used By UK Retailers Hard To Recycle

July 19, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Results of an analysis by Which?, a consumer group, revealed that as much as 29 percent of plastic packaging used by UK retailers is non-recyclable through the usual collection schemes or hard to recycle. Results of the study of packaging used for 27 everyday private-label products sold by 10 leading retail chains showed Lidl had the lowest percentage of easily recyclable packaging at 71 percent. Morrisons topped the results with 81 percent of tested products with packaging considered widely recyclable.[Image Credit: © Anja Osenberg]
Rebecca Smithers , "One-third of UK supermarket plastic is not easily recyclable, analysis shows", The Guardian, July 19, 2018, © Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies
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Carrefour Expands Blockchain-Enabled Supply Chain Testing To Include Tomatoes

July 11, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Carrefour is expanding its blockchain trial to include Filiere Qualite-branded Cauralina coer de boeuf tomatoes. According to the French retailer, the move is aimed at ensuring the transparency and traceability of its food supply chain. Carrefour has partnered with tomato supplier Les Paysans de Rougeline to support what it describes as “local, innovative and sustainable agriculture.” Blockchain technology allows the creation of a secure digital database, ensuring the integrity of information submitted or changed by users.[Image Credit: © Carrefour]

Mike Knowles, "Carrefour rolls out tomato blockchain trial", Eurofruit, July 11, 2018, © Market Intelligence Ltd - Fruitnet.com
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India’s Kerala State Taps Blockchain, IoT To Upgrade Food Supply Chain

July 8, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

In India, the state of Kerala is planning to use a combination of blockchain technology and the Internet of Things to improve its food supply, including milk, vegetable, and fish. Being implemented through the state’s Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council, the program aims to use separate ID tags for each food shipment to keep track of food products across the supply chain. To ensure fast and reliable delivery and prevent food waste, each part of the supply chain will include radio frequency identification or RFID tags integrated with mobile apps. 

Toshendra Kumar Sharma , "Kerala to use Blockchain Technology for Food Supply", Blockchain Council, July 08, 2018, © Blockchain Council
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Australian Retailers Broadcast Their Environment-Friendly Credentials

July 2, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
In Australia, supermarkets are using their environment-friendly efforts as marketing tools. Retailers are also using their “green credentials” to position themselves against their competitors and shield themselves from the bad PR effects of news reports about pollution-related disasters. For example, in April 2018, Woolworths announced it will stop using single-use bags across the country by end of June. Ikea Australia said it will buy back and resell used furniture, a practice it has been doing in other countries. As more companies make environment-friendly claims, they face the risk of consumers becoming skeptical about their corporate social responsibility efforts and, consequently, the brands being damaged.[Image Credit: © Stefan Schweihofer]
Louise Grimmer, et al., "Green is the new black: why retailers want you to know about their green credentials", Inside Retail, July 02, 2018, © InsideRetail
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Voice Search And Marketing Can Catapult Brands To Top Of Online Retail World

June 30, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Results of a study in the UK revealed 85 percent of Amazon customers prefer the recommended Amazon product when voice shopping. Because customers view Amazon as a reliable source of product reviews and suggested products, consumers tend to accept recommended products as ideal for them. Already, marketers and brands are looking at the possibility of advertising on Amazon’s Alexa virtual-assistant platform although the online retailer has repeatedly denied it plans to allow advertising. Results of a test conducted by Bobsled Marketing on Alexa’s basis and logic order for recommending products showed products with the “Amazon’s Choice” badge are top priority. Products from the user’s order history and the first products in the search result for a search term come second and third.[Image Credit: © HeikoAL]

Kiri Masters, "Amazon Voice Commerce: A Huge Opportunity For Brands Or Too Early To Tell?", Forbes.com, June 30, 2018, © Forbes Media LLC
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International Companies Urge India’s Maharashtra State To Ease Plastic Ban

June 29, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Multinational corporations, including Amazon and H&M, are reportedly urging the state of Maharashtra in India to relax its recently approved ban on single-use plastic. Coming after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign for an end to the use of single-use plastic in the country by 2022, the state’s move is expected to raise operating costs for companies. Retailers and beverage manufactures are among companies that use plastic packaging. Business groups, including the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, have called on the government to soften its anti-plastic policies.[Image Credit: © Hans Braxmeier]

"Amazon, H&M Pressing to Soften India's Plastic Ban", The Business of Fashion, June 29, 2018, © The Business of Fashion
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Majority Of Retailers And Brands To Invest In Voice-Enabled Search

June 26, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
According to digital marketing agency QueryClick, 53 percent of retailers and brands said they are planning to invest in voice search in the next 12 months. Data from the survey “The CMO Performance Report 2018,” published by the company, revealed 75 percent of CMO respondents said their brand plans to adapt their SEO strategy to ensure it comes out in voice search results. Among all respondents, 43 percent said they plan to implement this in the next 12 months, with 32 percent saying they intend to adopt voice search in over 12 months.[Image Credit: © Gerd Altmann]
Paul Skeldon, "More than half of retailers investing in voice search in next 12 months, study says...", Internet Retailing , June 26, 2018, © InternetRetailing Media
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Removing Impediments To Voice Shopping

June 25, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
AI-based voice communication is popular for accessing information, playing music and podcasts, but has yet to become ubiquitous for shopping. Professor Rahul Kapoor and Ron Adner suggests looking at the entire ecosystem of a new technology – device, voice AI, apps, personal data… - to understand how benefits are delivered and where bottlenecks lie. Denise Dahlhoff points out that while there is an extensive array of devices that support voice-assisted shopping, software components remain undeveloped. With Amazon’s solution so aligned with its core business, Dahlhoff recommends that retailers work with Google Assistant, just as Target, Walmart, Ultra Beauty and others have already done. Through mitigating shopping chores by leveraging personal data and using screens with voice to make shopping easier, Dahlhoff believes voice shopping will take off. [Image Credit: © Sebastian Bednarek]
Denise Dahlhoff, "Shopping by Voice a Hard Sell for Consumers", Strategy+Business, June 25, 2018, © PwC
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Amazon Eyes Prime Day Sale To Grab Market Share From Rival Walmart In India

June 20, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Seeking to lure consumers away from its rival Walmart-Flipkart, online retailer Amazon plans to launch its 2018 Prime Day sales event in India in close partnership with its US headquarters. Also aimed at driving membership in the company’s Prime customer loyalty program, the sale will feature discounts expected to be bigger than before. Amazon India is also expected to introduce its virtual fitting-room technology Prime Wardrobe, which lets consumers try fashion products before buying them. [Image Credit: © Mediamodifier @ Pixabay.com]

Writankar Mukherjee and Shambhavi Anand, "Amazon plans mega 30-hours sale next month to counter Walmart-Flipkart", The Economic Times, June 20, 2018, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd
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Smartphones Transform Retail Stores Into Something More Than Shopping Destinations

June 19, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Smartphones and their apps have grabbed shoppers’ attention from products on store shelves. To help regain the lost link with consumers, retailers are offering in-store experiences that completely combine with the sellers’ online operations and web stores. These enhanced retail spaces enable customers to create “virtual feeds and inspiration boards”, instead of merely encouraging them to follow their “conspicuous consumption” drive. [Image Credit: © rawpixel.com from Pexels.com]

Courtney Coffman, "Shops Aren’t for Shopping Anymore", The Atlantic, June 19, 2018, © The Atlantic Monthly Group
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Amazon Seeks To Lure Brazilian Brands Grupo Boticario and Natura Cosmeticos Into Its Online Fold

June 15, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Online retailer Amazon is reportedly wooing Brazil-based beauty and wellness brands Grupo Boticario and Natura Cosmeticos as part of its efforts to expand its online beauty business in the country. Brazil’s market for cosmetics, hair treatments, and other wellness products is worth about $30 billion as of 2018. Amazon has already been operating its online bookselling and video streaming business in the region. [Image Credit: © Simona Simonova from Pixabay.com]

"Amazon Looks To Brazil To Expand Its Hold On Beauty", PYMNTS.com, June 15, 2018, © What’s Next Media and Analytics
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Microsoft, Partner Preparing To Fight For Share Of Cashier-Less Technology Market Against Amazon, Reports Say

June 14, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Microsoft and its partner, AVA Retail, are developing a technology for grocery stores that will monitor the products that shoppers pick up, eliminating the need for checkout cashiers. Originally designed to gather data about in-store shoppers, the technology is being upgraded by the partners for physical stores. Amazon could sell to other retailers its cashier-less technology, Amazon Go, which lets shoppers swipe an app when they enter a store and keeps track of their purchases. However, retailers are likely to favor the technology from Microsoft, which they see less of a competitor than Amazon. [Image Credit: © Negative Space from Pexels.com]

Rachel Lerman and Matt Day, "Microsoft may be aiming for Amazon with cashier-less shopping technology", The Seattle Times, June 14, 2018, © The Seattle Times
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To Compete With Amazon, Rivals Need To Be Like The Online Retail Giant

June 14, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Retailers and branded companies need to adopt Amazon’s strategies in order to compete in the online and physical-stores markets. In order to match Amazon Prime, branded companies need to create an “on-demand, always-on direct connection” with consumers using a “conversational interface.” This will enable offline retailers to come up with a “customer-focused, data-driven, real-time business.” Legacy retailers and brands should learn from Amazon’s use of machine learning and the online retailer’s focus on customer service. Also, Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, is fast becoming a brand influencer, making the shopping experience easier and serving as another tool for data collection. [Image Credit: © Mediamodifier @ Pixabay.com]

Rick Braddock , "To Compete with Amazon, Big-Name Consumer Brands Have to Become More Like It", Harvard Business Review , June 14, 2018, © Harvard Business School Publishing
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Grocery Sellers Turn To Tech Firms To Enable Ecommerce Operations

June 13, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Grocery retailers are partnering with technology companies to improve their online retail operations and capabilities. According to UBS analyst Daniel Ekstein, many traditional food retailers need tech help to manage in-store product replenishment, shopper subscription, artificial intelligence, and even digital assistants. Although retailers own data on shopping habits of customers, they cannot use it as well as big tech companies can to create personalized offers, for example. [Image Credit: © Mediamodifier @ Pixabay.com]

Emma Thomasson, "Why are grocery retailers teaming up with tech giants?", Reuters, June 13, 2018, © Thomson Reuters
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Bearing Consumer Convenience, Amazon Disrupts Retail Market

June 12, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Offering convenience to consumers, online retailer Amazon has disrupted the retail industry, forcing legacy retailers to rethink their strategies. Leading physical-stores retailers had to launch their own online operations, shut down significant numbers of their locations, or totally close down their business. Wharton marketing professor and author of the book, “The Shopping Revolution,” Barbara Kahn said two basic principles can help retailers make sense of the changes caused by Amazon. First, the principle of customer value, which prompts customers to “buy something they value from someone they trust.” Second, the principle of differential advantage, which means “customers want to buy from retailers who do it better than anybody else.” [Image Credit: © MikesPhotos @ Pixabay.com]

Barbara Kahn , "Retail Reimagining: Why Being Great Is no Longer Good Enough", Knowledge@Wharton, June 12, 2018, © Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
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Powered by AI, Future Shopping Malls To Highlight Health And Wellness Services

June 12, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

International shopping-center operator Westfield introduced its Destination 2028 retail concept. According to the proposal, the company sees the future shopping mall as a “hyper-connected micro-city,” which is powered by artificial intelligence, and integrates health and wellness services and community involvement. Westfield said the concept was developed based on a growing consumer interest in health and wellness. [Image Credit: © tweetyspics from Pixabay.com]

Sarah Tilley, "2028 Retail Futures", J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, June 12, 2018, © J. Walter Thompson
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Food Industry Hits Panic Button Following Amazon’s Whole Foods Buy

June 10, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Amazon.com Inc.’s June 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. for $13.5 billion has prompted rival food retailers to reorganize, reinvent, and recalibrate their business and sales strategies. Whole Foods has seen an increase in sales and delivery following its merger with the online retailer. This is prompting grocery chains to speed up investment plans for delivery and pickup services for their online retail operations. Also, dozens of supermarket companies have entered into agreements with online grocery-delivery service provider Instacart Inc. [Image Credit: © Marco Pomella @ Pixabay.com]

Heather Haddon, "A Year After Amazon Devoured Whole Foods, Rivals Are Pursuing Countermoves", Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2018, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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Walmart Buys Majority Stake In India’s Flipkart, Sees Stronger Capabilities In Online Market

June 10, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Walmart has acquired 77 percent of India’s online retailer Flipkart for $16 billion. According to the US retail giant, the deal great improves its ability to compete in the country’s online retail market, against its biggest rival Amazon in particular. Walmart International executive vice president, president, and CEO Judith McKenna said, her company is expected to benefit from Flipkart’s online platform or ecosystem. Mckenna said Walmart also plans to integrate lessons learned from Flipkart’s operations with the company’s international operations. [Image Credit: © Alexandra / Munchen from Pixabay.com]

"Flipkart's ecosystem true advantage to Walmart: Official", The Economic Times, June 10, 2018, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd
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Strong Traditional Retailers Ready To Compete With Amazon, Study Reveals

June 8, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Traditional retailers have varying degrees of readiness and capabilities to compete with online retail giant Amazon.com, according to a study by market research firm Edison Trends. According to the report, Macy’s posted the strongest growth in online business in 2018, expanding by 28 percent in monthly order volume since the start of the year. Meanwhile, Sears’s online order volume dropped 25 percent from January to May. [Image Credit: © Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.com]

Elizabeth Winkler, "Winners in Traditional Retailing Are Also Winning Online", Wall Street Journal, June 08, 2018, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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Target Says Halfway Through Launch Of Same-Day Delivery Service

June 7, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Retail company Target said it is more than halfway through its planned launch of its same-day delivery service with Shipt, as well as the introduction of Drive Up, a curbside pickup service. Target said it plans to have majority of its stores offering the services before the holiday season. According to the company, the services will be launched first in Chicago, making the city the first in the US to have all of the retailer’s new delivery services. [Image Credit: © Alexandra / Munchen from Pixabay.com]

Lauren Thomas, "Target makes a big leap in the delivery wars against Amazon, Walmart", CNBC, June 07, 2018, © CNBC LLC
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Carrefour Announces 100% Recyclable, Reusable Or Compostable Packaging Goal

May 31, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

French supermarket chain Carrefour is aiming for own-brand packaging that is 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to stop using non-recyclable packaging for organic fruit and vegetables by the end of this year, as well as ending the sale of plastic straws. By 2022, it intends to use 50% recycled plastics in bottles for its juice, soda and water products. The announcement coincides with a European Commission announcement to ban single-use plastics like straws and drink stirrers in the European Union. Plans also cover plastic cutlery and cotton buds, and by 2025 EU states will be expected to collect 90% of single-use plastic beverage bottles.[Image Credit: © annca]

"Carrefour own-brand products to have fully recyclable packaging", FoodBev , May 31, 2018, © FoodBev Media Ltd.
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Iceland Trials Return Scheme For Plastic Bottles

May 21, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

UK supermarket Iceland has installed a reverse vending machine in its Fulham store in London. The trial supports a government plan for return schemes to cut down on single-use plastics. The machine gives a 10 pence voucher, redeemable in-store, for each returned Iceland plastic bottle. The retailer has also pledged to eliminate plastic packaging from its own-label products. Earlier in May, the Co-op supermarket said it is going to trial a deposit scheme using machines at a number of music festivals over the summer.[Image Credit: © Iceland Foods Ltd]

"Iceland reverse vending machine pays customers to return bottles", FoodBev , May 21, 2018, © FoodBev Media Ltd.
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Kroger Taps Ocado Robot Warehouses In US To Combat Amazon

May 17, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

U.S. supermarket chain Kroger is partnering with U.K. Internet supermarket Ocado to build around 20 automated warehouses or “sheds” to improve its home delivery service after Amazon's recent buyout of Whole Foods shook up the retail industry. Ocado’s robot tech to process and pack orders is expected to give Kroger an advantage over Amazon. The move is in response to Amazon’s expected transformation of existing Whole Foods stores into a grocery delivery network using gig workers. However, experts believe Amazon is still looking at other options since it still operates mostly human-staffed warehouses for its Fresh grocery delivery service.

Paul Sandle, Lisa Baertlein, "Kroger inks Ocado grocery delivery deal to battle Amazon threat", Reuters, May 17, 2018, © Thomson Reuters
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Walmart Drops ‘Scan & Go’ As Rivals Expand Cashier-Less Services

May 15, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Customer apathy has led Walmart to drop Its ‘Scan & Go’ smartphone app just as U.S. rivals Amazon and Kroger are expanding and rolling out their own versions of cashier-less checkouts. The move is indicative of its struggles to encourage its core clientele to shift to digital shopping. However, Walmart still offers online shopping and is extending a click and collect service to 2,000 stores, in which Walmart employees load the groceries in the shoppers’ cars. Walmart said it will use the ‘Scan & Go’ experience to enhance future services like ‘Check Out With Me’.

Hayley Peterson, "Walmart just abandoned cashierless checkout, and it reveals a huge challenge in its battle with Amazon", Business Insider, May 15, 2018, © Insider Inc
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China A Focus For Automated Store Innovation

May 14, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

China has become the focus for companies looking to automate the physical shopping experience. Alibaba, Tencent and JD.com have all opened automated stores in the last few months, at the start of what they believe will be a large-scale rollout of personnel-free shops. The Chinese consumer's openness to high tech and willingness to try something new is expected to drive unprecedented growth of the retail industry in China as the country's 724 million mobile phone users increasingly accept mobile transactions. Improving internet connectivity and smartphone penetration are expected to boost sales even further, and retailers are also having to deal with labor pressures due to an aging population and the trend of millennials leaving retail to seek higher-paid work.

Ralph Jennings, "Why Unmanned Stores Are About To Take Off In China's Retail Market", Forbes.com, May 14, 2018, © Forbes Media LLC
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Traditional Retailers Fine It Necessary To Partner With Amazon

May 11, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Retailers with an offline heritage are choosing to explore partnerships with the one retailer they fear, Amazon. Sears and Amazon have agreed that shoppers that buy tires on Amazon can be delivered to and fitted at Sears Auto Centers. Kohl’s is running a pilot in Chicago and Los Angeles to take Amazon returns and has made space to sell Amazon products. Other companies trying out deals with Amazon include Best Buy and Chicos. Although early signs are encouraging, previous tie-ups between Amazon and other retailers, including Toys R Us and Borders, proved unsuccessful. There are clear pros and cons: an alliance with the fast-growing internet retailer should help boost the retailers’ sales, for example, but some believe it might also make them even more vulnerable to Amazon.    

Samantha Bomkamp, "Retailers bring the wolf, Amazon, into the henhouse", Chicago Tribune, May 11, 2018, © Chicago Tribune
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Walgreens Unveils Online Skin Care Advisor Tool For Acne-Prone People

May 3, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

To help customers determine the appropriate skin care regimen to treat acne, US beauty and personal care retailer Walgreens has launched an online skin care analysis tool called SkinID. The tool, hosted on Walgreens' website, utilizes Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.'s SkinID technology and evaluates customers' skincare needs through a series of questions about their skin types and acne breakout experiences. It then recommends a personalized, three-step daily routine of cleansing, treatment, and moisturizing using products from Walgreens' pool of skin care brands. Walgreens’ Beauty Enthusiast club members can save their results on their online profiles. The tool is also available in select Walgreens stores.[Image Credit: © Walgreen Co.]

"Walgreens Launches Online Skincare Advisor SkinID™ to Provide Acne Sufferers with Personalized Skincare Regimens", Business Wire, May 03, 2018, © Business Wire, Inc.
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