Albertsons: AI-powered health care clinics debut in Phoenix

Amazon: advanced stage of talks to buy Future Retail stake

U.S. retailers with higher reputation scores see higher store sales: Report, a cloud-based enterprise reputation management platform, has found a direct correlation between Reputation Score - a comprehensive index of a company’s digital presence and on-site customer experience - and store sales. Chains with high scores, including such food retailers as Trader Joe’s, Costco, Publix Super Markets, Wegmans Food Markets and Whole Foods Market, saw same-store sales grow 2.8%, while chains with low scores saw a 1.1% dip in same-store sales, making for a total difference of 3.9%. For its "2018 Retail Reputation Report,” which details consumer sentiment regarding in-store experiences with various retailers, covering nine key customer experience categories, among them value, service and wait times, applied artificial intelligence, machine learning and sentiment analysis to text from 4.7mln online consumer reviews posted on Google and Facebook. The reviews detailed in-store shopping experiences at almost 30,000 locations owned by 88 retail chains.

US: Albertsons debuts AI-powered health care clinics in Phoenix
The Albertsons Cos. has opened artificial-intelligence (AI)-powered medical clinics in five Phoenix-area Safeway stores, all of which now feature telehealth and onsite health professionals. Said to be the first of its kind, the new technology is developed by Phoenix-based virtual health solutions provider Akos - in conjunction with Arizona State University students and interns - and lets patients collect data on their own health that is sent to a doctor for analysis and diagnosis.

Amazon closing in on Future Retail stake buy
Online retailer Amazon is in an advanced stage of talks to buy around 9.5% stake in the Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail Ltd., according to sources. A final shape to an agreement between the two parties is expected to take place within the next 10 days, the sources said although in case of last-minute hurdles the deal could be announced as late as January 2019. When contacted, Amazon declined to comment while messages sent to Future Group founder and Group Chief Executive Officer Kishore Biyani remained unanswered by the time of filing story.

Bio-Planet to open first outlet in Verviers in Belgium
Colruyt’s organic supermarket chain Bio-Planet has announced the launch of its first store in Verviers, in the province of Liège. It is also the retailer’s twenty-ninth Bio-Planet outlet in Belgium. The new supermarket is located in a brand-new, 100% fossil fuel-free building, equipped with the latest eco-friendly technologies. The store has officially opened on Wednesday, 28 November. The supermarket, spread across 650 square metres, offers around 6,000 organic, food and non-food products.

Supermarket retailer Auchan top foreign company in Russia again, Forbes reports
French supermarket retailer Auchan has once again topped the list of the largest foreign companies in Russia by Forbes. Its revenue totaled 356.1bln rubles ($5.3bln) in 2017. According to Forbes, the list consists of companies that are more than 50% owned by foreigners, and are ranked in the order of their total revenue from last year. The final revenue figure included all of the foreign company’s assets in Russia, Forbes said in a statement.

France: Parisian robo-shopper inspired by Star Wars
Customers in one Paris arrondissement will have help taking their shopping home, as stores trial robot deliveries. In a European first, robot shopping helpers are to be tested in Paris as part of a trial that could make carrying the week’s groceries home less of a burden. Some Franprix stores in the 13th arrondissement of the capital will be able to deliver shopping orders by a Star Wars-inspired robot developed in the Lot from early 2019 within 40 minutes, according to Le Parisien. The TwinswHeel ‘droid’ travels at between 5kph and 10kph, has a range of 30km on a single charge and can carry up to 40kg of shopping at a time. Initially, it will be accompanied by the shopper or an operator as the law does not allow robots to travel alone. But, it is hoped that - in time - the robots will be able to do their rounds using geolocation technology and without human help.

UK: Lidl & Waitrose warn Sainsbury’s-Asda merger will “impact outcomes for consumers”
Rival supermarkets have warned that the Sainsbury’s-Asda merger could lead to a price hike and “impact outcomes for consumers”. According to documents published by the CMA, which is currently carrying out its probe into the proposed merger, both Lidl and Waitrose have raised concerns about the probability of rising prices for consumers. Lidl told the competition authority that the newly-formed entity would “have the capacity to increase prices” on products that do not compete directly on price with the discounters. Meanwhile, Waitrose warned that the deal could “lead to a homogenous market, in which customers will be offered a reduced range and, ultimately, an increase in prices”.

Portugal: Continente expands Click & Go service to 75 stores
Portuguese supermarket chain Continente has announced that customers can now pick up their online orders made through its Click & Go service in 75 stores. Customers can now choose from a range of around 20,000 products online, and avail a faster and more personalised collection of orders in Continente Modelo and Continente Bom Dia stores, according to the retailer. Customers can place their orders through the Continente Online website or app, pay online, and chose a time and place to pick up the order.

Auchan rolls out blockchain solution following Vietnam trial
Auchan Retail has announced that it is rolling out blockchain traceability in selected product categories, following a successful trial of the system in the Vietnam market. The retailer is working with Te-Food, a German start-up, on the project, which will cover categories such as chicken, pork, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and exotic fruits in a number of countries. Auchan deployed the blockchain solution in Vietnam in 2017, in conjunction with local government, and the initiative has already seen traceability measures applied to 18,000 pigs, 200,000 chickens and 2.5 million eggs, with the scheme set to be rolled out to aubergines, mangoes and durian in the near future.

Lulu signs deal to enter Saudi Arabia
UAE-based Lulu has signed an agreement with the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) to expand its presence in Saudi Arabia. As part of the agreement, Lulu will open two shopping centres and seven supermarkets in Dammam and Al Ahsa. The store openings are expected to create a significant number of jobs for young people in Saudi Arabia. Lulu hopes to “give employment to more than 5,000 nationals by the end of 2020”. LuLu has previously discussed how it is set to invest US$133mln by the end of 2019 to expand its presence in Saudi Arabia.

Carrefour Poland opens Media Markt corners
Carrefour Poland has opened its first Media Markt electronics corner inside one of its hypermarkets, according to reports by Wiadomosci Handlowe. The retailer will open a dozen shop-in-shops initially, with the view to opening more if successful. The first Media Markt corner has been opened in a Carrefour hypermarket in the Warsaw Wilenska shopping centre, with a second corner expected to open in its hypermarket in Lódz soon. The 800 sq. m. Media Markt corner offers an assortment selected to meet customers’ needs. The corner also features a service desk and a collection point for online orders.

Auchan France announces Minute and urban farms plans
Speaking at the FEEF Congress Auchan Retail France’s CEO, Ali Khorosvi, announced the first Auchan Minute in the retailer’s home country will open in March 2019 near the retailer’s headquarters in Villeneuve d’Ascq. He also confirmed the opening of the first urban farm will occur by 2020. Auchan Minute is the retailer’s smallest store format and has enabled it to expand quickly in China.

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