Blog

A First Peek Inside Amazon’s New Grocery Store Concept in Los Angeles

The e-commerce giant’s facility in the Woodland Hills neighborhood looks remarkably similar to a conventional supermarket.

The company has kept construction inside the store firmly under wraps, and, until now, no one has peeked in on Amazon’s latest plan to upend how food is sold. Based on never-before-seen photos of the facility at 6245 Topanga Canyon Blvd., as well as planning documents filed with the city, the store looks remarkably conventional—with a few Amazon-style flourishes.

Numbered aisles await staples like rice, beans, pasta and canned vegetables; waist-high coolers sit between some shelves.  In the back of the 33,000-square-foot space, which is about average size for a supermarket, a meat and seafood counter sits in one corner. In the other, there’s an area called “Fresh Kitchen” for prepared foods and soups. The new chain makes it possible for Amazon to stock and sell the high-volume products that the purists at Whole Foods won’t touch—things like Coca-Cola, Smucker’s jam and Tide detergent.

At the center of the store, long aisles of conventional-looking shelves appear to carry the digital tags that the company uses in its Amazon Books and 4-Star stores, which let the retailer quickly circulate inventory and change prices. But Amazon has said the new supermarket will not be equipped with the cashierless system from its Go convenience stores.

Read more.. Bloomberg.com

Walmart’s grocery business is winning over more affluent shoppers

  • Walmart’s online grocery orders have been a major driver in its e-commerce business.
  • The company acquired Jet.com in 2016 to expand its reach to younger, urban and more affluent customers.
  • Proprietary brands acquired and launched in-house have also drawn new shoppers to Walmart.

Walmart is reeling in higher-income customers — including some who are new to the retailer — with its online grocery business, company executives told investors Tuesday at an event in New York.

As its online grocery business grows, the company is seeing pricier items like choice cuts of meat and organic fruits and vegetables in customers’ virtual baskets, said John Furner, president and chief executive officer of Walmart U.S. He said the convenience of the service “aligns well with someone who is time-starved and has higher income levels.”

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant has an expansive footprint across the U.S., but has tended to have stronger loyalty among shoppers in suburbs, small towns and rural areas. It bought Jet.com for $3.3 billion in 2016, with the hopes of winning over the e-commerce company’s customers that tended to be younger, more affluent and urban. Jet.com has been wound down, but the company has bought other brands to expand its customer base — such as menswear company Bonobos.

Walmart offers online grocery pickup at about 3,200 stores and same-day grocery delivery at more than 1,600 stores, as of the fourth quarter. It’s testing a new service called InHome that delivers groceries straight to customers’ refrigerators. It is only available at some stores in Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Vero Beach, Florida.

Furman said Walmart’s range of groceries, including prime beef and organics, has helped draw in different kinds of customers. Once they buy groceries, he said those new or more affluent customers may purchase an item in another department of the store or part of Walmart’s website.

“Those quality levels then enable us to be able to appeal to that consumer across other channels,” he said. 

Walmart is attracting higher-income customers outside of groceries, too.

Marc Lore, president and chief executive officer of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce business, said first time Walmart customers are buying goods from the retailer’s proprietary fashion and home brands.

Kathryn McLay, president and CEO of Sam’s Club, said the membership-only retail warehouse store pivoted a few years ago to target customers with incomes of about $100,000 and larger families. “That’s driving membership growth, and it’s also driving traffic,” she said.

Ahead of the investor day presentation, Walmart reported disappointing fourth-quarter earnings, which it attributed to lower demand for toys, video games and apparel over the holiday season. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said he is looking for ways to gain further market share online for its apparel and home goods

Source: cnbc.com

7-Eleven tests cashierless store at Texas HQ

7-Eleven announced that it is testing a cashierless store at its corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas. The 700 square-foot store is available to 7-Eleven employees and features various popular products sold in stores, including snacks, groceries, food and beverages.

The company has implemented multiple proprietary algorithms and predictive technology to distinguish customers and their purchases from others in the store, the company said in a press release.

To shop at the store, 7-Eleven employees download an app, sign up, check in at the store, shop and leave. Afterward, shoppers will receive a detailed receipt via the app.

The debut of the cashierless store is the latest tech component 7-Eleven has introduced into its operations. As the company notes in its announcement, the retailer launched its mobile checkout feature and the 7NOW delivery service. The company also announced in September that it was providing franchisees with Microsoft 365 and Power BI to analyze their overall performance.

“Introducing new store technology to 7-Eleven employees first has proven to be a very productive way to test and learn before launching to a wider audience. They are honest and candid with their feedback, which enables us to learn and quickly make adjustments to improve the experience,” Mani Suri, 7-Eleven senior vice president and CIO, said in a statement.

Of course, 7-Eleven isn’t the first to launch a cashierless store, nor is it the only retailer trying to perfect the cashierless retail technology. Amazon has been opening Amazon Go stores in various cities across the country, but consumers have been shopping less at Amazon Go than traditional competitors, a report from Earnest Research found.

As 7-Eleven and Amazon Go test the waters of cashierless commerce, retail startups are developing their own tech. Last July, autonomous checkout startup Standard Cognition raised $35 million in Series B funding. Trigo raised $22 million in September to scale its checkout-free technology to bigger stores. Plus, cashierless checkout tech provider Zippin raised $12 million in Series A funding in December to set up in more stores.

Source: retaildive.com

H-E-B opens the new format “Beauty by H-E-B”

Grocery chain H-E-B has opened the doors to its first Beauty by H-E-B store-within-a-store in San Antonio, TX. The highly-curated department features an expanded beauty and personal care selection and an experienced, dedicated team of trained beauty advisors to provide expert advice.

“Beauty by H-E-B provides that oasis within the store where the customer can pamper themselves,” said Tracy Bliss, H-E-B director of Beauty. “We’ve created a destination within the store where a talented team of beauty advisors will help customers pick out the perfect items that lend themselves to the creation of new beauty rituals.”

The first Beauty by H-E-B is located inside the H-E-B plus! store at Highway 281 and Evans Rd. and spans nearly 4,000 square feet. Designed with the customer experience in mind, it’s an interactive space that allows customers to shop as well as experiment and play with everything from foundation and facial cleanser to lip stick and lotions. Throughout the department are digital screens that provide informational videos, bright tester stations with mirrors and a voice activated screen where customers can take photos to share on social media.

Each beauty advisor, who received more than a hundred hours of expert training for the position, can provide personalized services such as establishing skin care routines and personal care rituals as well as identify products for more precise color matching. At the Beauty Connections kiosk located at the front of the space, the advisors will showcase new products and offer customers product recommendations and demonstrations daily.

Leading the group of beauty advisors is Ashley Gallegos, a 13-year H-E-B Partner and licensed esthetician. The former pharmacy technician worked her way into the beauty department after graduating from H-E-B’s School of Retail Management.

“For me it’s simple, we want to make people feel good about themselves and connect with customers in a positive way,” Gallegos said. “We have such an amazing, talented team here to educate and help our customers look and feel their best.”

Source: risnews.com

Amazon confirms plans to open a new grocery brand

Amazon said it plans to open its first new brand of grocery store in California next year, as it amps up its ambitious push to become a bigger name in food.

“Amazon is opening a grocery store in Woodland Hills in 2020,” an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to CNET, soon after the company published four new jobs postings for the location. Woodland Hills is a neighborhood in Los Angeles.

The store will be different from Amazon-owned Whole Foods, the company said. It didn’t say whether it will open more of these locations, what its selection or pricing will be, or what the brand name is. But in the jobs postings, the company described the Woodland Hills location as “Amazon’s first grocery store,” suggesting that it will have the Amazon brand name and that the company could expand to multiple sites.

The store won’t use the company’s Amazon Go technology, which allows customers to check out without waiting in line. Instead, checkout will be conventional as at other grocery stores, the company said.

In addition to Whole Foods, which Amazon bought for $13.2 billion in 2017 and has over 500 stores, the company offers grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh, the main Amazon website and Prime Now, as well as food at Amazon Go.

The Wall Street Journal in March wrote about the existence of Amazon’s new grocery store format, which the company hadn’t confirmed until this week. Last month, the publication said Amazon was already working on additional stores in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.

The new store, though with only one confirmed location so far, points to Amazon’s growing ambition in the roughly $800 billion US grocery market, where rival Walmart is the leader and Amazon, even after its Whole Foods deal, remains a small player. Expanding in the grocery sector helps Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, in a number of ways: It reinforces customer loyalty because people tend to shop at a local store every week and it could allow the company to continue its fast revenue growth, which typically hovers around 20% every quarter despite its massive size.

Additionally, the new line could let Amazon move into the more mainstream grocery store business, while maintaining Whole Foods as a higher-end store for organic and specialty foods. This work could offer new competition to KrogerSuperValu and many other supermarket chains.

While Amazon is known for skillfully pushing into new markets, the new store comes with lots of risk. Several of Amazon’s other physical store lines, including Amazon Go and Amazon Books, aren’t yet huge moneymakers. It’s also shuttered its line of mall kiosks, which sold Amazon devices and smart-home gear. Plus, the company would have to spend years building out a new chain of stores then bank on people switching their weekly habits to go to them. Added to that, the grocery business offers razor-thin margins, so there’s little wiggle room for Amazon to lower prices while still trying to bring in a profit.

Amazon posted job openings for a store lead, grocery associates and food service associates at the Woodland Hills store. The store has been reported to be a former Toys R Us that’s about 35,000 square feet in size.

When asked if the new stores will compete against Whole Foods or signal a move away from investing in that brand, Amazon said no, offering strong support for continuing to grow that business.

“When it comes to grocery shopping, we know customers love choice, and this new store offers another grocery option that’s distinct from Whole Foods Market, which continues to grow and remain the leader in quality natural and organic food,” the Amazon spokesperson said, noting that Whole Foods opened 17 locations this year and that more are planned. The spokesperson said Amazon will continue to invest in grocery delivery with Whole Foods.

In another sign of Amazon’s growing interest in the grocery business, the company last month did away with its $14.99 monthly fee for Amazon Fresh grocery delivery. The change undercuts rival Walmart’s new Delivery Unlimited program, which costs $12.95 a month and was just introduced in September.

Source: cnet.com

Wegmans’ first New York store opens in Brooklyn

Wegmans, the 103-year-old grocery chain that has a rabid following, opened its first New York City store. The 74,000-square-foot location, which was first announced in 2015, is located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Wegmans is the buzziest part of the former military base on the East River that’s currently undergoing a billion-dollar renovation with new offices and retail space.

The grand opening reportedly drew long lines of thousands of fans, according to multiple news reports. The grocery store has developed a fanatical following for its affordable prices and high-quality food. Wegmans said its Brooklyn store sells nearly 50,000 items, 2,000 of which are organic.

Besides the usual array of grocery food, the new Wegmans is a destination in itself. The location has several seating areas for people to eat fresh pizza, sushi and from assorted food bars. There’s also a cocktail bar and coffee shop.
A “vast majority” of the nearly 600 employees were hired locally, the company previously said. The Brooklyn location is its 101st store; its other locations are primarily on the east coast, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and upstate New York.
Besides the usual array of grocery food, the new Wegmans is a destination in itself. The location has several seating areas for people to eat fresh pizza, sushi and from assorted food bars. There’s also a cocktail bar and coffee shop.
A “vast majority” of the nearly 600 employees were hired locally, the company previously said. The Brooklyn location is its 101st store; its other locations are primarily on the east coast, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and upstate New York.

Whole Foods to test robot barista

Whole Foods Market will install a robotic barista to provide in-store coffee service at its new Houston-Midtown location through a partnership with Austin-based Briggo, according to a press release.

After launching in 2018, Briggo is making its grocery store debut with Whole Foods, offering a novel concept for the retailer and its customers in one of its newest stores.

Briggo’s order-ahead app promises to shave time off shoppers’ morning coffee runs, while digital kiosks address efficiency and customer experience in-store. Restaurant chains across the U.S. have added ordering kiosks in recent years, so the technology shouldn’t be a leap for shoppers to use. Customers can also purchase packaged Briggo coffee to brew at home, which will be available at the Houston-Midtown store or online.

The novelty of the robotic barista may draw curious coffee drinkers in the short-term and could drive a sales bump as the new Houston store gets going. Long-term, the retailer will need to see sustained sales and labor savings to justify expansion to other stores.

Grocers are applying this same cost-savings assessment to other automated technologies flooding the industry, from shelf-scanning bots to micro-fulfillment.

Whole Foods is widely known for its in-store coffee service. The retailer has a full-service espresso and coffee bar at many locations and a Capital Commons cafe in its flagship Atlanta store, all of which sell its house Allegro brand. Its Lincoln Harbor, New Jersey, location is slated to have an outpost of the Brooklyn-based coffee shop Cafe Grumpy.

The U.S. coffee market has increased in volume by 3.8% in 2018, according to Allegra World Coffee Portal’s 2019 Project Cafe USA report. Allegra conducted a survey and found that the U.S. coffee shop market grew to a valuation of $45.5 billion last year, but the industry faces issues with labor costs and increased competition.

The store is set to open Nov. 7.

Source: grocerydive.com

Walmart selling ModCloth

Walmart is selling ModCloth to Go Global Retail. The terms of the deal, expected to close later this year, were not announced.

The discount giant acquired ModCloth in March 2017 as part of a move to increase its brand portfolio and target younger, higher-income shoppers with brands not available on Amazon. But ModCloth, along with several other of the acquired brands, including Bonobos, have yet to turn a profit, according to Recode.

Founded in 2002, ModCloth sells exclusive indie fashions and its own vintage-inspired line of apparel and accessories, with a target audience of women 18 to 35. In addition to its e-commerce capabilities, ModCloth has opened several showroom-styledstores. It also has a deal with Nordstrom.

Go Global Retail describes itself has a brand investment platform for strategic investors in the consumer sector. It has worked with other apparel companies including Guess and Billabong, according to its website.

“We believe that ModCloth’s strong brand equity positions it for growth in the future,” said Ashley Hubka, senior VP of corporate strategy, development and partnerships at Walmart. “We feel good about the progress at ModCloth and believe that Go Global’s team and scale out strategy presents an attractive opportunity for the employees and customers of this beloved brand.”

Go Global said that ModCloth will continue to operate as a freestanding, independent brand out of its current operational set up. Go Global Retail will invest in the fashion retailer’s digital capabilities, including artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.

“We believe that together with current management, ModCloth has the ability to become a stronger player in the premium fashion market, nationally as well as internationally,” stated Go Global’s Jeff Streader.

ModCloth will continue focusing on its core customers; championing values of female empowerment and inclusivity; and further serving their passionate buying community by celebrating their stories and offering a full range of sizes, the company stated.

Source: chainstoreage.com

Casino in talks to sell discount chain Leader Price to Aldi

Debt-laden French retailer Casino is in talks to sell its French discount store chain Leader Price to German low-cost rival Aldi.

The move, which confirms a report by French daily Les Echos, comes as Casino CEO and controlling shareholder Jean-Charles Naouri is hunting for ways to ease the company’s debts – and those of parent company Rallye – in part via asset sales.

Casino said in a statement that following an expression of interest from Aldi France, the two groups had “entered into discussions with a view to have Aldi France submit a binding offer,”

Les Echos said earlier that Casino was poised to sell Leader Price, which had 2018 sales of 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion), to Aldi in a deal estimated to be worth 400 million euros.

A sale of Leader Price was expected by analysts after Casino said last month it was targeting the sale of 2 billion euros worth of assets in addition to the 2.5 billion initially sought to reduce its debt burden.

The retailer has mandated BNP Paribas to handle a possible deal, Les Echos added.

Source: uk.reuters.com

Meijer makes checkout even easier

Midwestern retailer Meijer has completed a transformative 15-month initiative to streamline the checkout process at all of its stores.

The company has now introduced Shop & Scan technology at all of its stores across the Midwest.

“As we’ve rolled the program out in six states, the response has been incredibly enthusiastic,” said Stephanie Brackenridge, director of customer experience for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer. “Customers have appreciated the ability to have a choice in shopping how they want, depending on how their day is going. Many are finding the opportunity to personalize their store visit with a cell phone is a great way to save time and help avoid lines.”

Shop & Scan works through an innovative mobile app that allows customers to shop and bag as they go, giving them the opportunity to avoid lines and personalize their shopping depending on their day.

Once they download the free Meijer Mobile App, customers use Shop & Scan  to scan bar codes on items and bag their own groceries. A running total of items purchased is viewable as they shop throughout the store. Once a customer has finished shopping, they simply scan their phone at a self-checkout lane and pay, making the checkout experience quick and easy.

Brackenridge said that the most popular features among Meijer customers included the integrated shopping list, running total, and the ability to clip any available mPerks loyalty program coupons for items scanned.

In addition to Shop & Scan, the retailer offers Meijer Home Delivery and a pickup option at all 246 stores in six states, providing customers multiple ways to shop the retailer’s stores depending on their needs for that day.

Since the original pilot launch last year in Grand Rapids, the Meijer Mobile app has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times, while the initiative has steadily expanded to stores throughout Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky. Once the app was downloaded, more than 80 percent of Meijer customers have repeatedly used Shop & Scan as part of their shopping experience.

Source: progressivegrocer.com