Eataly opens its doors in the heart of Paris

The first Eataly food hall in France opens its doors, in the heart of the Marais district of Paris. An impressive 4,000 square metres store, 2,500 of which are open to the public at 37, rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, in a historic architectural building belonging to the Galeries Lafayette group, that is franchisee of the Italian brand.

The block is bordered by the great BHV (Bazar Hotel de Ville) Marais, one of the oldest department stores in Paris, and by the Lafayette Anticipations Foundation, a place dedicated to the creativity of artists, designers, and performers. Eataly physically unites these two realities of the neighborhood by creating a new destination dedicated to the promotion of Italian food and wine culture and thus adding a new identity in the renowned district.

The building housing Eataly Paris Marais has been transformed into a multifunctional space on three levels with a market, catering and education, the 3 pillars of Eataly, and where about 300 people are working – half Italian and half French. Each Eataly location is dedicated to an immaterial value. Eataly Paris Marais is dedicated to the value of the Fraternité (Fraternity), with reference to the Latin word frater, which expresses deep friendship encouraging solidarity and mutual understanding, also promoting Italy’s “cousins from beyond the Alps” to the more intimate degree of brothers. As brothers, or rather sisters, are in fact the two greatest and most recognized cuisines in the world: the Italian and the French.

Open every day of the week, Eataly Paris Marais offers 7 restaurants including Pasta and Pizza, La Piazza, Pizza alla Pala, Pasta Fresca Bar, Coffee and Ice Cream, Osteria del Vino and Bar Torino. Customers can taste not only some of the most iconic Italian dishes but also specialties from different regions and seasonal products. Moreover, there is the opportunity to shop in a large Italian market where people can find fresh fruit and vegetables, mozzarella, burrata and ricotta cheese – produced every day in the laboratory at the heart of the store – meats and cheeses, the butcher’s shop, the bakery with wood oven, fresh handmade pasta, and the largest Italian wine cellar in Paris with 1,200 labels. The offer is completed by Eataly School where adults and children can experiment with a recipe learning about the most authentic Italian traditions.

“We open our first Eataly in France in the most lively and dynamic district of Paris, with great pride and humility – explains Andrea Guerra, Executive President of Eataly -. It took 12 years for us to feel ready to realize the dream of bringing the best of Italian regional excellent cuisine in the country that more than any other has been able to enhance and tell its products. After Munich and Stockholm we finally arrive in Paris. Soon we will be in London to offer the best of Italian food and wine culture in Europe.”

Oscar Farinetti, founder of Eataly, comments: “Eataly will do everything possible to offer Parisians the best of Italian cuisine and culture. The French have always shown great appreciation for Italian food and we will not disappoint them. We are very proud to be represented by the Galeries Lafayette group, a very prestigious brand, and we thank the Houzé family for having so deeply shared our values.”


Amazon cuts prices on hundreds of Whole Foods products

After its acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon introduced a sweeping lineup of lower prices on Whole Foods products. From Whole Trade bananas and organic avocados to animal-welfare-rated ground beef and almond butter, grocery staples were discounted by as much as 43%, according to Bloomberg.

The low prices didn’t last long, with some shooting back up just a couple months later. Since then, Whole Foods and Amazon have received criticism for their subpar efforts to further slash prices. The companies have touted weekly specials and lower prices on hundreds of products, but a September analysis from Gordon Haskett showed that a basket of Whole Foods groceries was only $1.50 cheaper than before the acquisition. Last month, The Wall Street Journal noted that Whole Foods prices had increased again, with the company citing inflation costs.

Amazon Prime members have fared better when it comes to the price of Whole Foods groceries, with an extra 10% off sale items and member-only discounts on a variety of products. Amazon is pumping up its Prime enticements with the $10-off deal — a reminder of how heavily invested Amazon is in driving its core membership base to stores and bringing more shoppers into its Prime ecosystem.

So far, research shows the integration of Prime hasn’t been as potent as many predicted. According to a recent survey from Wolfe Research, only 5% of Prime members shop at Whole Foods several times a month, and 42% of Prime members say they never shop at Whole Foods.

Amazon’s announcement that it will launch its own grocery chain overshadows its efforts with Whole Foods to some degree, making it hard not to wonder what the e-tailer’s ultimate plans are with the natural grocer. Is it a testing ground for pricing at its new grocery store, or a way to identify what products are most popular? The company is also mining valuable shopper data from Whole Foods customers, and could be using that information to help shape its new offering.

Strengthening its brick-and-mortar footprint, whether through Whole Foods or its new grocery chain, is imperative for Amazon. Wolfe Research found that online purchasing penetration may be reaching capacity, with 44% of people reporting there were no categories in which they planned to increase online spending next year. This is particularly challenging for online food sales, which have not gained major traction compared to other retail industries, and could signify future challenges for Amazon’s online grocery offerings.

Whole Foods has long struggled with its high-priced reputation, which doesn’t necessarily align with Amazon’s low-price offerings across grocery and numerous other categories. If Amazon can consistently keep Whole Foods pricing in line with the discounts it offers through Prime and on, it could start to build more customer loyalty.

The latest round of price cuts could help attract more shoppers who avoided “Whole Paycheck” prices, especially if they have a Prime membership. But with Amazon’s shaky track record on holding prices down at Whole Foods, it could be tough to convince customers to make the switch.


Walmart launches voice-activated grocery shopping

Voice ordering is still in its infancy across all industries, Jon Reily, vice president of commerce strategy at Publicis.Sapient, told Grocery Dive in a recent interview. But Walmart, known for its e-commerce and tech advancements, is staying ahead of the curve.

In January, Walmart ended its partnership with Google Express, which launched in 2017 and included voice ordering for more than 2 million products, and with the tech company’s Shopping Actions service. The retailer said at the time it planned to focus efforts on the voice-shopping feature announced today.

With grocery, many shoppers are making repeat purchases, and using data to save prior purchases will help Walmart avoid one of the main causes of friction in voice shopping, which is the constant need for customers to provide details.

Experts say voice shopping for grocery has plenty of room to grow because unlike clothing or other products, many food items don’t need to be looked at or tried on, and much of it includes replenishment items.

“I think simplicity is the easiest way to do it where there’s a lot of repeat purchases of groceries we do on a weekly basis and it’s easy to purchase things like laundry detergent,” Carolina Milanesi, consumer tech analyst at Creative Strategies, recently told Grocery Dive. “It has a clear brand and you don’t have to specify the details of the actual product.”

During a recent presentation to investors, Walmart chief financial officer Brett Biggs emphasized the role grocery will play in the retailer’s e-commerce growth this year, expected to be around 35%. Grocery was a key driver in Walmart’s growth last year, with record comp sales in fresh foods and private labels. The new offering should win favor with customers as Walmart aims to maintain its edge in grocery e-commerce.

The retailer offers grocery pickup to about 2,100 stores and announced plans to expand to 3,000 stores by the end of 2019, Biggs said. Grocery delivery is available at 800 stores, with 800 more expected to offer the service by the end of this year.

Walmart’s biggest competitor, Amazon, also offers voice shopping through its Echo devices. In a survey conducted by Retail Feedback Group, Walmart came ahead of Amazon as online grocer of choice, and its latest efforts with conversational commerce could solidify that further.

Voice ordering adoption is still low, however. According to Gartner, consumers prefer in-store shopping versus other methods with only .58% of those surveyed prefer shopping on smart speakers. Voice commerce sales were projected to reach $2.1 billion in 2018, making up less than half of 1% of all U.S. e-commerce sales, according to eMarketer.

Although analysts agree that voice shopping will take a while to mature, Walmart’s decision to focus solely on grocery with Google and use data to maximize convenience for consumers could help the retailer further boost its grocery e-commerce sales and strengthen its reputation as a go-to grocery provider.