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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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Viking Global Snaps Up Major Stake In Birchbox

May 1, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Direct-to-consumer subscription beauty business, Birchbox is heavily in debt and has been seeking a buyer since last summer. After talks with QVC failed to reach an agreement, Birchbox has sold the majority of its shares to Viking Global, a hedge fund investor that has committed $15 million investment. Other venture capital investors, including Accel Partners and First Round Capital, agreed the deal but will likely exit empty-handed. Birchbox CEO and co-founder Katia Beauchamp will keep her position post-acquisition. Birchbox assured that there will be no layoffs associated with the deal. With over 2.5 million customers across six countries, Birchbox has been a forerunner in subscription commerce since its founding in 2010. [Image Credit: © Birchbox]

Jason Del Rey, "Birchbox has sold majority ownership to one of its hedge fund investors after sale talks with QVC fell through", Recode, May 01, 2018, © Vox Media, Inc.
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Alibaba Deploys Blockchain Pilot To Ensure Food Authenticity

April 30, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Alibaba is testing blockchain technology to track products and ensure food authenticity. It is working with two food products, one from Australia and one from New Zealand – and giving consumers the ability to scan a QR code to verify product authenticity. Fake food has long been a problem in China and Michigan State University estimates it costs the global food industry $40 billion per year.  First announced in March 2017, the goal of this blockchain integration is to “achieve end-to-end supply chain traceability and transparency to enhance consumer confidence and build a trusted environment for cross-border trade,” said Alibaba.  Investment in blockchain technology has doubled to $2.1 billion and industry projections see that expenditure reaching $9.7 billion in 2021, according to reports from IDC. Numerous firms, such as Alibaba’s industry rival JD, are also delving into blockchain tech to streamline the supply chain, auditing, and compliance processes.[Image Credit: © congerdesign from Pixabay]
Steven Millward, "Alibaba rolls out blockchain pilot to tackle fake food products", Tech in Asia, April 30, 2018, © Tech in Asia
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Raw Pressery Juices Are Now Being Sold By Subscription In India

April 17, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Indian beverage company Rakyan Beverages, maker of the Raw Pressery cold-pressed juice brand, is among a handful of juice marketers in the country that are turning at least partly to a subscription-based sales and delivery model. According to Euromonitor, selling fresh juice via subscriptions to health-conscious consumers is gaining traction because plans can be customized to fit individual buyers. Rakyan offers juice subscriptions of one to three months.
"Parched this summer? Online juice delivery startups are here to save the day", YourStory, April 17, 2018, © YourStory Media Pvt. Ltd.
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Aldi and Lidl See Continued UK Growth And Plan To Invest £2 Billion For Expansion Push

March 25, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Brexit has not deterred the growth ambitions of Germany’s biggest discount groceries in the U.K., with Aldi on track to grow its presence from 762 to 1,000 stores by 2020 while Lidl expects to increase future store count from 710 to 1,500. In 2018 alone, Aldi is allotting £1 billion to grow its business and Lidl invested £1.45 billion for the period 2017-18 with the goal of opening 50 stores this year. The two discounters combined are expected to account for 15% of the UK grocery market by 2020. In contrast, business expansion at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons has slowed, resulting in job cuts to compete with their lower-cost rivals. While traditional retailers have attempted to mirror a similar discount format, they question the sustainability of the cut-price model used by Aldi and Lidl, particularly amid falling profits and the rise of tech-savvy newcomers such as Amazon.[Image Credit: © Aldi Stores Limited]
James Davey, "Aldi and Lidl Dig Deeper into Britain’s Grocery Market", Reuters, March 25, 2018, © Thomson Reuters
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Consumers, Workers Give Amazon.com High Marks In Several Categories

March 22, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
A Harris Poll customer satisfaction survey of more than 25,000 adults put Amazon.com in the top spot across several. Another survey by LinkedIn recognized Amazon as the most desirable workplace in the U.S., based on data about where job seekers want to work and how long employees stay with companies. The Harris survey asked consumers to evaluate companies on six categories:  workplace and leadership, and products and services. Amazon has been ranked at the top for four of the last five years. The company also topped the ACSI Retail Report Internet retail category for the eighth year in a row. To thank customers for the strong ratings, Amazon announced a 20 percent discount on some Alexa-enabled devices. [Image Credit: © Amazon.com]
"Amazon Thanks Customers for Third-Straight #1 Ranking in 25,800-Person Harris Poll on Corporate Reputation", News release, Amazon, March 22, 2018, © Amazon.com, Inc.
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Some Of U.K.’s Fashion Retail Centers, Outlets, Doing Fine Against Online Competition

March 22, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Data from Kantar Worldpanel confirm that online shopping hasn’t wiped out the U.K.’s bricks-and-mortar fashion retail segment, though it has been a challenging sales and growth environment. Store sales overall have fallen 2.4 percent since 2017, but not every sector is suffering. Retail centers and outlets are outpacing the fashion market, growing as much as 3.5 percent. One reason is that fashion stores at retail parks are only competing with each another for spend rather than with restaurants, cinemas and home furnishing shops. Also, retail parks and outlets cater to value-sensitive shoppers looking for bargains, while the high street or shopping centers may not. The fastest-growing retailers in the top 10 fashion retailers in the U.K. are the value-based fashion retailers. The discounted market is growing at 5.1 percent compared to full-price sales growing 3.3 percent. [Image Credit: © VisitLondon.com]
"The Thread: The Silver Lining in bricks and mortar", News release, Kantar Worldpanel, March 22, 2018, © Kantar Worldpanel
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Automated “Mini Bakery” Using AI, Data Analytics Technology, Targets Grocers

March 9, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
A Washington State-based baking company working with a marketing firm recently debuted a product that promises to “create fresh bread right in front of your eyes.” BreadBot is a mini-bakery targeted at retailers looking for a “local bakery feel” while reducing carbon footprint, eliminating preservatives, and reducing waste. The smart bread robot or "Mini Bakery", from Wilkinson Baking Company and Bonin Ventures, is fully automated, produces 10 loaves an hour, and uses smart technology like AI, big data analytics and facial recognition. It customizes each purchase experience, providing real-time insights into customer purchasing behavior for retailers. The product debuted early in March at the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) in Austin, Texas.  [Image Credit: © Wilkinson Baking Co.]
"Food for Thought - Bonin Ventures Backed #BreadBot Feeds SXSW's Hungry", News release, Wilkinson Baking Co., March 09, 2018, © Wilkinson Baking Co.
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Kroger Reports Healthy Sales, Profits; CEO Says Tax Reform Will Help

March 8, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Retail grocery giant Kroger Co. posted fiscal 2017 net earnings of $1.9 billion ($2.09 a share) on sales of $122.7 billion, a 6.4 percent increase over 2016. Net earnings in 2016 were $2 billion ($2.05 share).  CEO Rodney McMullen said the company ended 2017 “with positive momentum in our sales and overall business” after launching Restock Kroger, a strategy to use the company’s food and data analytics expertise to create better customer experiences online and in stores. He waxed optimistic about the impact of President Trump’s tax reform measure. "The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a catalyst that is enabling us to accelerate investments in Restock Kroger,” McMullen said. “We are taking a balanced approach to ensure tax reform benefits our associates, customers and shareholders.” [Image Credit: © Kroger]
"Kroger Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2017 Results", Earnings release, Kroger Co., March 08, 2018, © Kroger Co.
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Target’s Solid Financials Signal Progress In “Rapidly-Changing” Retail Environment

March 6, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Target Corporation posted a net profit of $2.9 billion ($5.32 a share) on fiscal 2017 sales of $71.9 billion, a year-over-year sales increase of 3.4 percent. The earnings per share result compares to $4.58 in 2016. The company cited the success of strategic initiatives and long-term investments in delivering strong traffic growth in stores and online “in a rapidly-changing consumer and retail environment." In 2018, Target said it expected a low-single digit increase in comparable sales, and both GAAP EPS from continuing operations and adjusted EPS of $5.15 to $5.45. [Image Credit: © Target]
"Target Reports Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2017 Earnings", Earnings release, Target, March 06, 2018, © Target Brands, Inc.
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Walmart Unveils High-Tech Produce Spoilage Initiative At Distribution Centers

March 1, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart has introduced an “Intelligent Food” initiative to improve perishable food quality and eliminate waste from the produce supply chain. Dubbed “Eden,” the initiative has been implemented company-wide in 43 grocery distribution centers and other facilities over the last 12 months. The company says Eden has already reduced spoilage by “tens of millions of dollars” in fiscal 2018 (since January 27, 2018), and will eliminate $2 billion in spoilage over the next five years. Under the program, visual inspection of fresh produce at distribution centers is being automated and digitized. Algorithms and other advanced technologies monitor the temperature and freshness of produce and perishable foods from farm to supplier to warehouse to Walmart’s shelves. [Image Credit: ©   Walmart]
Michael Browne, "Walmart Introduces Eden, its High-Tech Fresh-Food Initiative", Supermarket News, March 01, 2018, © Informa USA, Inc.
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Despite Hiccup In 4th Q Online Sales, Analysts Don’t See Walmart Losing To Amazon

February 20, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Investors are nervous that a dip in Walmart’s 4th quarter e-commerce sales – the announcement triggered a nine percent stock price drop – could portend an online future in which the mega-retailer plays second fiddle to Amazon. Online sales grew only 23 percent during the holiday quarter. Yet the company continues to forecast 40 percent growth for the current fiscal year, and analysts and industry experts seem to be on board with that. The company’s investments in its website and overall e-commerce operations will begin to pay off later in the year. Walmart also has a substantial brick-and-mortar retail base, something Amazon lacks. A Cowen & Co. analyst said “the future of e-commerce is physical + digital,” a strategy that “will drive a 'productivity loop.'" [Image Credit: © Walmart ]
Lauren Thomas, "Walmart Has Big Year of E-Commerce Investments Planned to Bring Growth Back to 40 Percent", CNBC, February 20, 2018, © CNBC LLC
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Amazon Rewards Whole Foods Shoppers With Access To Prime Visa Benefits

February 20, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Amazon has extended the benefits of Amazon Prime membership to shoppers at Whole Foods Market, its newly-acquired grocery retail chain. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Cardmembers who shop at Whole Foods Market and use the card to purchase animal welfare-rated meat, sustainably caught wild and responsibly farmed seafood, or any local, Whole Trade, or organic produce will earn five percent bac. The discount is in addition to any other rewards they receive, including five percent back on Amazon.com purchases, two percent back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and one percent back on all other purchases. The rewards never expire and are redeemable, as long as the account is open, on millions of products at Amazon.com. [Image Credit: ©   Amazon.com]

"Prime Members Now Earn 5% Back When Shopping at Whole Foods Market Using the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card", News release, Amazon, February 20, 2018, © Amazon.com
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Kroger Divests Its C-Store Business

February 5, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Kroger announced it is selling its convenience store business to British petrol forecourt C-store retailer EG Group. As part of the $2.15 billion deal, EG Group will set up headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, home of Kroger. EVP/CFO Mike Schlotman said the company’s review of assets determined that the C-store business would “better meet its full potential outside of our business." Kroger said it plans to use the proceeds from the sale to repurchase shares and to lower its net total debt to adjusted EBITDA ratio.  [Image Credit: © Kroger   ]
"Kroger and EG Group Announce Definitive Agreement for Purchase of Kroger's Convenience Store Business", News release, Kroger , February 05, 2018, © The Kroger Co.
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Israel May Ease Tax Burden To Lure Walmart, Other Retailers

February 4, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
A senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disclosed that Israel is leaning toward loosening the tax structure that makes foreign investment more difficult. Netanyahu economic adviser Avi Simhon said “some drastic changes” – including tax cuts – are needed to lure foreign retailers like Walmart to Israel to help lower the cost of living. Netanyahu spoke with John Furner, a senior Walmart executive, at the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. According to Simhon, the two discussed the idea of Walmart’s opening a retail branch and investing in Israeli technologies after the country eased some regulatory burdens. “The door to Netanyahu’s office is open,” Simhon said. Walmart did not comment on the discussions. [Image Credit: ©   Benjamin Netanyahu via Twitter ]
David Wainer et al., "Is Walmart Coming to Israel? Netanyahu Says the Door Is Open", Bloomberg, February 04, 2018, © Bloomberg Finance L.P.
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Amazon.com Posts $3B Profit For 2017; Cites Success Of Alexa Platform

February 1, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon.com posted a full-year profit of $3 billion ($6.15 per share) for 2017 on net sales of $177.9 billion, a sales increase of $41 billion year-over-year. Profit was up $600,000 over 2016. Fourth quarter profit was $1.9 billion ($3.75 a share) on $60.5 billion in sales, compared with a profit of $749 million ($1.54 a share) in the same period in 2016. The company also reported: five billion items shipped with Prime worldwide in 2017; Fire TV Stick and Echo Dot were the best-selling products in 2017; the Alexa Skills store now offers more than 30,000 skills; Alexa Voice Service (AVS) adoption among device makers continues to grow; and new tools and developer kits were introduced. “Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them,” CEO Jeff Bezos said. [Image Credit: © Amazon.com ]
"Amazon.com Announces Fourth Quarter Sales up 38% to $60.5 Billion", Earnings release, Amazon.com, February 01, 2018, © Amazon.com, Inc.
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Walmart’s Wrestling Match With Amazon.com Now Moves To India

January 31, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart’s strategy in its game of catch-up versus Amazon.com is to acquire companies with the talent and technological expertise it needs to become an e-commerce behemoth. The company recently closed a $3 billion acquisition of Jet.com, after a five-year shopping spree in the world of young e-commerce companies, filling its shopping cart with 15 startups. It is now eyeing an investment in another, this time India’s Flipkart. Industry observers speculate that Walmart is looking to buy a 20 percent stake in the company, which sells a variety of consumer goods online, including electronics and appliances. Flipkart is looking to move into the food and grocery business, and an investment by Walmart could make that happen. Amazon.com, meanwhile, has pledged to invest $5 billion in India. [Image Credit: ©   Flipkart ]
Arun Kumar & Chaitali Chakravarty, "Walmart in talks to buy a significant minority stake in Flipkart", The Economic Times, January 31, 2018, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd
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Kroger’s Scan, Bag, Go Digital Shopping Service To Expand Nationwide This Year

January 31, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Kroger said it will introduce its Scan, Bag, Go shopping technology this year in 18 operating divisions and 400 stores. The company said it tested the service in several locations and decided to expand its availability across the U.S. through Restock Kroger. Scan, Bag, Go allows customers to use a wireless handheld scanner or the smartphone app to scan and bag products as they shop. Shoppers can view and download digital coupons, keep a running total of their order, and view the current week's sales ad. They can then provide payment directly through the app so they can exit the store quickly.  [Image Credit: © Kroger ]
"Kroger Announces Divisions for Scan, Bag, Go Expansion", News release, Kroger Co. , January 31, 2018, © The Kroger Co.
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Walmart Makes Operational Changes To Speed Stock Replenishment, Delivery

January 30, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart has decided it can compete more effectively with Amazon.com if it shares more investory data with suppliers so out-of-stock items can be replenished more quickly. Formerly available only internally, the company’s On Shelf Customer Availability (OSCA) data information will be shared at the Supplier Growth Forum, a two-day event at Walmart headquarters. The retailer also said it will tighten deadlines for delivery. It is now requiring large suppliers to deliver full orders within a specified delivery window 85 percent of the time or face a fine of three percent of the cost of goods. Previously, large suppliers had to hit a 75 percent threshold to avoid fines. The delivery threshold for smaller suppliers will move to 50 percent, up from 33 percent, effective in April.   [Image Credit: ©   Walmart ]
"Walmart to share inventory data with suppliers in battle with Amazon", Reuters , January 30, 2018, © Reuters
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Kroger Looks To Bolster “Restock Kroger” Initiative With Executive Changes

January 30, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Kroger announced it is shuffling two management positions to bolster Restock Kroger, a data-drive initiative focused on pricing, personalized communications with customers, and a large revamp of product assortments. The company, the largest collector of food purchase data in the U.S., wants to put that data to competitive advantage as it expands meal- and food-shopping solutions. Thirty-seven-year Kroger veteran Steve McKinney, president of the Fry's Food Stores division, will become senior vice president of retail divisions, effective February 5. Monica Garnes, corporate vice president of produce-floral merchandising, will succeed McKinney as president of the Fry's division. She has been with Kroger for 23 years.  [Image Credit: ©   Kroger ]
"Kroger Names Steve McKinney Senior Vice President of Retail Divisions, Monica Garnes President of Fry's Division", News release, Kroger Co., January 30, 2018, © Kroger Co.
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