US: Schnucks deploying inventory robots at 15 stores
Schnuck Markets is rolling out a robot it calls Tally that will autonomously scan shelves for inventory and price accuracy at 15 stores. Speaking at the Grocery Shop conference in Las Vegas, David Steck, VP of IT infrastructure for the St. Louis based grocer, said the robots from Simbe Robotics would provide “groundbreaking” insights for the retailer and its suppliers, free up employees to tackle more customer-facing tasks, and provide for the groundwork for integration with a newly launched loyalty app that could, for example, arrange customer shopping lists to align with a customer's actual path through the store, aiding convenience and the opportunity to provide special offers in real time.
US: AI-Powered 'Micro-Grocer' brings autonomous grocery delivery to Bay Area
An artificial-intelligence (AI)-powered "micro-grocer" operating in the San Francisco Bay Area is the next to begin piloting grocery delivery via autonomous vehicles, following announcements in recent months from other grocers using the grocery technology. Farmstead, the San Francisco-based grocery ecommerce startup that claims to be the nation's first AI-powered digital grocer, sourcing and delivering fresh food from farm to fridge in an hour, is partnering with Burlingame, California-based autonomous-vehicle-provider Udelv in the pilot. Said to be up and running in just a few weeks, the program launched in the Bay Area last month and soon will expand to other areas served by the ecommerce grocer.
US: Online grocery shopping, spend poised to climb
More than half of U.S. consumers are projected to be shopping online for groceries next year, and those who do are expected to boost their spending, according to KPMG’s 2018 Grocery Retail Consumer Perception Survey. Of more than 2,000 grocery customers polled, 48% currently do some or all of their grocery shopping online and 59% said they plan to do so in the future. KPMG’s research also revealed a coming change in online spending. In 2018, 17% of shoppers made more than 40% of their grocery spend online, 27% made 21% to 40% of their spend online and 56% made 1% to 20% of their spend online. Yet for 2019, 25% of online grocery shoppers expect to make over 40% of their spend online, compared with 22% shoppers for 21% to 40% of their spend and 53% of shoppers for 1% to 20% of their spend.
US: iFresh, Inc. announces new retail strategic initiative for supermarkets
iFresh, Inc. ("iFresh" or "the Company"), a leading Asian American grocery supermarket chain and online grocer, announced its strategic initiative to improve its retail supermarket experience. The new strategic plan follows constructive dialogue and an improvement plan discussed with the board of directors at the board meeting held on September 28, 2018. First, underperforming stores will be closed or sold. Second, iFresh will remodel and update all other iFresh stores pursuant to the plan outlined by Mr. Long Deng, Chairman and CEO of iFresh, at the meeting. These improved stores are expected to include expanded dietary options, improved onsite fresh food preparation, improved payments systems, included unattended retail offerings, and expanded delivery options with a delivery range intended to serve customers within 4.5 miles of the upgraded stores. These upgraded stores will be titled "Life Experience Halls" to highlight the new technology and analytics intended to offer a superior retail experience by improving the in-store shopping environment, developing an online platform, and enhancing the customer experience.
US: Albertsons to shutter four stores in Dallas-Fort Worth region
Albertsons is making moves to streamline its operations to be more profitable and efficient as it continues to grow in the North Texas region. This week, Albertsons and its banner Tom Thumb announced they will be shuttering unprofitable store locations. By December 1, two Albertsons locations and two Tom Thumb locations will be closed. “After a great deal of careful analysis, we have made the decision to close four of our north Texas stores,” Albertsons Spokeswoman Connie Yates said to Dallas News. “Closing an underperforming store is always a tough decision, but sometimes a necessary step to position our company for greater success and growth.” The Albertsons stores that are closing are the location at 10800 N. Beach St. in Fort Worth and the location at 1300 W. Beltline Road in DeSoto. The Tom Thumb locations that are closing are the stores at 2600 Flower Mound Road in Flower Mound and 820 S. Macarthur Blvd. in Coppell.
US: Kroger set to place warehouse order with partner Ocado
American supermarket chain Kroger Co is expected to order the first three of 20 high-tech warehouses from online grocer Ocado by the end of the year under the terms of a breakthrough deal agreed in May. Through the deal with its largest partner, Ocado will ratchet up its delivery business by building robotically operated warehouses for Kroger in the United States, raising the stakes in the battle with Amazon.com Inc. The Kroger deal is Ocado’s biggest yet, exceeding all of the warehouses the firm has built or plans to build with Morrisons in Britain, Casino in France, Sobeys in Canada and ICA Group in Sweden.
Saudi Arabia: Al Raya enters a new digital phase, partners with Asia’s leading Saas company - Capillary Technologies
Al Raya, one of the leading supermarket chains in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is entering a new digital phase by tapping into solutions of Capillary Technologies, Asia’s leading Software as a Service (SaaS) product company. With about 50 stores across the Kingdom, Al Raya has adopted Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Loyalty and Analytics solutions of Capillary Technologies. The supermarket chain aims to leverage Capillary’s expertise in the customer engagement domain by deep diving into the consumers’ needs and wants. The solutions will help them understand what the consumer wants and when he wants it by offering the right product at the right time through the right channel.
LuLu plans US$500mln expansion in Egypt
UAE-based LuLu has announced plans to invest US$500mln to expand its presence in Egypt over the next two years. LuLu hopes to open four new hypermarkets in 6 October City, New Cairo and Obour. The expansion is expected to provide 40,000 job opportunities and is due to start in November 2018. The retailer will also build two logistic centres targeting frozen fish exports. The centres are likely to be located near the largest fish farms in the East Port Said area. However, neither locations nor dates have been confirmed. LuLu continues to expand in new and existing markets, despite the economic slowdown in the Middle East. In addition to its investment in Egypt, the company has said it is looking to open 15 hypermarkets in the next 18 months in Saudi Arabia, while it continues to investigate opportunities to enter China.
Spain: DIA supermarkets to rein in spending and focus on home market
Struggling Spanish supermarket chain DIA will cut spending and sharpen its focus on its domestic market, it said after reporting a 24% plunge in nine-month core profit. The low-cost retailer has failed to find a strategy to stem a steady erosion of market share in Spain over the past five years as the country’s economic recovery softened the edge it enjoyed with bargain-hungry customers during recession. It is now also struggling with inflation in Argentina, which accounts for about 15% of group sales, and also said it was working to restructure its debt which was thrown into the spotlight by ratings downgrades last week from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. DIA reiterated revised guidance for full-year adjusted core earnings of between 350mln and 400mln euros ($398mln to $455mln) issued two weeks ago with its third profit warning in a year. That estimate did not include the potential impact of hyperinflation in Argentina.
UK: One Stop reports sales up 6% for 2017/18
In accounts filed with Companies House, Tesco convenience subsidiary, One Stop has posted sales of £1,069mln for the year to February 2018. The growth came in spite of marginally falling store numbers, which dropped back to 776, and was supported by a market-beating like-for-like performance, with underlying sales up an impressive 5%. One Stop remains focused on improving its store estate and it opened 11 new company-owned stores over the 12 months, as well as refitting another 69 to its latest look and feel. It also added 21 new franchisee operated stores, bringing the total number of franchise stores to 168, a net increase of 10. Sales were especially strong in fresh food categories and this has been driven by by a focus on improving its private label offering in particular. One Stop has now relaunched around 350 private label lines offering both enhanced quality and all round value for money.
Firm linked to Alibaba opens China's biggest robot warehouse to help deal with Singles Day demand
A Chinese logistics firm majority-owned by Alibaba has opened a warehouse with over 700 robots working in it to deal with the demand from Singles Day, the huge annual shopping festival run by the e-commerce giant. The company, Cainiao, unveiled what it would be doing to support the shopping festival, which takes place on November 11 and last year raked in over $25bln in sales. The logistics firm runs warehouses and works with delivery companies to get packages to customers. It says it uses technology to make the process more efficient and its publicly stated goal is to eventually deliver to anyone in China within 24 hours and internationally in 72 hours. Automation in its warehouses has become a huge focus for Cainiao, which is 51% owned by Alibaba.