US: BJ’s expands into Michigan
BJ’s Wholesale Club plans to enter a new state next year with the opening of two stores in eastern Michigan. BJ’s reported fiscal 2018 third-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street’s projections, fueled in part by revenue and same-store sales gains. The Westborough, Massachusetts-based warehouse club chain said it aims to open clubs in Madison Heights and Taylor, Michigan in 2019. Serving metropolitan Detroit, the new clubs will carry a wide array of prepared foods; an extensive selection of fresh foods, including produce, meat, bakery and deli; and a range of convenience-focused services, including buy online/pickup in-club and digital coupons. Each club also will have a BJ’s Gas Station.
Amazon re-opens U.S. store to Australian shoppers after backlash
Amazon.com Inc said it would stop blocking Australians from shopping on its U.S. site after a customer backlash, unwinding a move which has tarnished the e-commerce giant’s launch in the world’s 12th-largest economy. The reversal relieved shoppers who had complained since July about being locked out of the much larger range of offerings they had grown accustomed to on the U.S. site following the opening of Amazon’s local platform a year ago.
Colombia: Grupo Éxito reports revenue of US$4bln
Casino-owned, Colombia-based Grupo Éxito has released its Q3 results. The retailer reported an increase in consolidated net revenue of 9.5%, to US$4bln, before adjusting for exchange rate differences. The group recorded growth in each of its four operating countries: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay. At the end of the quarter, Grupo Éxito had a total of 1,536 stores; 29 in Argentina, 870 in Brazil, 549 in Colombia and 88 in Uruguay.
France: Auchan rolls out AR Christmas app
Auchan France has created a new app, ‘Auchan Kids’, in collaboration with start-up Vertical. The app uses augmented reality (AR) and focuses on children’s demand for video content. Through the app, children can earn points by throwing snowballs at ‘Wishmiz’ characters and ‘catching’ them in store locations. The ‘Auchan Kids’ app also allows children to scan pages from the retailer’s catalogue and add them to their wish lists. Wish lists can then be forwarded onto parents via email, along with web links for each product. The app is available in France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Ukraine.
Qatar: Ooredoo provides range of services to grocery retailer Al Meera
Ooredoo Qatar announced a partnership with retailer Al Meera, making Ooredoo the preferred partner for Al Meera's digital modernisation. Ooredoo will provide telecommunications and ICT services including ISP, data centre and disaster recovery services, smart Wi-Fi, and IoT service with connected fleet management. Yousuf Abdulla al Kubaisi, Chief Operating Officer at Ooredoo, said the partnership will support new levels of retail innovation to enhance competitiveness and customer service. Al Meera operates more than 50 branches of hypermarket, supermarket and convenience store in Qatar and Oman.
Holland: Albert Heijn opens first ‘circular economy’ supermarket
Dutch retailer Albert Heijn has opened what it says is its most sustainable supermarket to date in the Westergouwe district in Gouda, which implements various principles of the circular economy. The construction of the building optimised the use of recycled and recyclable materials for paving and sewerage purposes. Anneke de Vries, senior vice-president of real estate, construction & franchise at Albert Heijn, said: "Building a 'circular store' is a real challenge. We are inventing the wheel here. Not in a laboratory, but in daily practice. That is why we worked closely with our suppliers, contractors, consultants and with the municipality of Gouda in this pilot project." Additionally, the building has been designed to enable the dismantling of its steel structure, roof, and facade for future reuse. Materials used in the finishing of the store, such as lighting, ceiling cladding, floors, and fire hose holders, are made of recycled materials.
UK: Payment by instalments at Asda
In an agreement between the giant retailer Asda and the credit and payments provider Jajapay, shoppers are offered an option to pay in instalments for items and clothing available on Asda’s George.com. However, this service has been provided by the Arcadia Group which they called “Slice it in 3” which allows customers to pay for their clothing and items in three equal payments. Asda has announced that the approved customers will have an introductory service to differ payment for 90 days without interests. In a statement, Matt Collinge, head of ways to pay at ASDA, said: “We reviewed the market to find the best launch partner for this proposition and recognized the Jaja solution to be the best fit for our customers and for us as a business.”
Sweden: Coop launches new app
Coop Sverige has invested SEK100mln (€9.7mln) into launching its latest app. The app has been designed to fully integrate with the company’s ecommerce business. The app is user-friendly and has been designed with “simple and flexible solutions that make it easier for the search”. Claes Hessel, ecommerce manager at Coop, commented: “The app is a long-awaited addition that will make it easier for many, while we can increase our online sales”. It features 5 options: a search function, product categories, previously purchased items, saved shopping baskets and current offers. There is also a large bank of recipes available. Offers are tailored towards the customer, based on their previous purchases and so advertising is more personalised. 60-70% of customer orders are based on purchasing history. Customers can choose their preferred delivery time slot and add multiple addresses through the app. Free delivery is available and customers can receive delivery follow-up information through push notifications. Coop Sverige is currently trialling the service at Stora Coop stores in Falun and Sisjön.
Auchan launches a chatbot in Spain
Auchan Spain has added a virtual assistant to its Alcampo site and Facebook profile. The chatbot is called Tim and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to maintain conversations with customers. It can also customise product choices based on the customer’s age and budget. The chatbot was designed by start-up BotsLovers and helps Auchan advance its digital offer. The retailer stated it is looking “to offer a unique experience to its customers”.
UK: Co-op to open 12 new London stores in four weeks
Co-op is investing £9mln in 12 new stores in London that will open in the next 30 days, creating hundreds of jobs. The first locations to launch - which will all have a focus on fresh, healthy foods, meal ideas and essentials - are Rotherhithe Street (Southwark), Portman Square (Westminster) and Hampton Road (Twickenham). Co-op recently announced a £45mln investment in a new Bedfordshire distribution centre to support its growth plans in London and the south east.