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Launch of the Food Industry Exchange sponsored by FMI powered by The Seam

Albertsons: Intelligent Engagement Platform from Nuance

US: Pandemic pushes shoppers to expand ‘retailer repertoire’
Encountering empty shelves and disarray at their regular stores, many U.S. consumers turned to other retailers or went online to buy groceries and daily essentials as the coronavirus outbreak started and then escalated, a study by market research firm Kantar revealed. Of 2,000 U.S. adults surveyed, 92% reported a negative in-store experience during the week or so that COVID-19 began to significantly affect their household, Kantar said in its April COVID-19 Commerce Snapshot. More than 96% of respondents said they weren’t able to get the specific products they wanted, leading 42% of those customers to go to other retailers and 41% to go without the items they sought. Besides product outages, shoppers cited no delivery slots, unclean stores and unpleasant staff as the most stressful elements of their experience.

US: FreshDirect co-founder Jason Ackerman said surge in online grocery shopping has led to more venture capital deals
FreshDirect co-founder and former CEO Jason Ackerman said customers’ growing interest in online grocery shopping during the coronavirus pandemic has whet venture capital firms’ appetites. In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Alley,” he said the surge of online grocery shopping has inspired more investors to look closely at the sector. “I’m seeing more deals in online grocery ... than I’ve ever seen before,” he said. 

US: Albertsons assists digital shoppers in real time
Albertsons Companies Inc. is deploying artificial intelligence (AI)-based virtual assistant and live chat solutions for online customers. The supermarket giant will roll out the Intelligent Engagement Platform from Nuance as demand for online grocery shopping grows during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AI-powered application provides real-time answers to customer inquiries such as how the delivery service works, item availability, online order tracking status, and store locations and hours. Albertsons has deployed Nuance-powered virtual assistant and live chat solutions across its Vons stores, and now will deploy the technology across its Safeway, Tom Thumb, Jewel Osco, Albertsons, Pavilions, and Randalls banners.

US: FMI and The Seam partner to create digitized food supply chain platform
FMI - The Food Industry Association and The Seam, a leading provider of commodities trading and agriculture software solutions, announced the launch of the Food Industry Exchange sponsored by FMI powered by The Seam. The sustainable marketplace was created to immediately address the urgent needs of retailers and wholesalers by showcasing products and services available in a digital space and on an ongoing basis. The primary purpose of the platform is to bring vast efficiencies to the food supply chain, while also serving as a critical tool in times of need. Retailers requiring additional resources to fulfill needs at grocery stores, are connected with sellers that have capacity of products, transportation services, labor, and warehousing services.

US: Costco Wholesale Corporation reports April sales results
Costco Wholesale Corporation (“Costco” or the “Company”) reported net sales of $11.39bln for the retail month of April, the four weeks ended May 3, 2020, a decrease of 1.8% from $11.60bln last year. For the thirty-five weeks ended May 3, 2020, the Company reported net sales of $107.64bln, an increase of 7.8% from $99.89bln during the similar period last year.

Qatar: Carrefour to expand online shopping capacity
Carrefour Qatar is planning to open a new fulfilment centre before year-end aimed at further increasing its online shopping capacity as demand continues to surge, the company’s country manager, Laurent Hausknecht has said. “Our daily online capacity has reached 500 orders. Our plan, before the end of the year, is to open a new fulfilment centre, to jump to 1,000 deliveries daily”, he told Gulf Times.

India: Gurugram-based online grocery retailer Satvacart turns cash positive
Gurugram-based online grocery retailer Satvacart said that it turned cash positive over March and April, as more people order grocery at home amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Following a micro-cluster based model whereby it maintains a completely independent, tech-enabled warehouse in the centre of a 5 km cluster, Satvacart ensures a delivery slot every 30 minutes seeing to it that the customer gets its delivery within 60 minutes of the order getting placed.

China: Royal Supermarket apologises for ‘price confusion’
The management of Royal Supermarket Company Limited “sincerely apologised” in a statement for what it described as “price confusion” concerning some of its goods. The apology came hard on the heels of the Consumer Council’s rare decision to withdraw the supermarket chain’s “Certified Shop” seal of quality in response to hundreds of complaints by consumers about alleged price gouging by the company. According to the complaints, the supermarket chain is alleged to have raised its prices by up to one-third on May Day when local shoppers started to use their government-issued consumption subsidy smartcards. The widely perceived price gouging resulted in an outcry on social media. 

Marks & Spencer Food teams with Foodpanda in three markets in Asia
Marks & Spencer Food is now available through the Foodpanda food-delivery app in three Asian markets: Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. The two companies are promising orders of packaged foods, along with wine, in under 30 minutes - although delivery is restricted to areas near existing Marks & Spencer Food stores. The partnership follows Foodpanda’s development of a grocery delivery service, Pandamart which has been incorporated into its existing restaurant meal-delivery app.

Holland: Ahold Delhaize Q1 2020 results
Ahold Delhaize reports Q1 results significantly impacted by COVID-19. Net sales were €18.2bln, up 14.7%, or 12.7% at constant exchange rates. In the U.S. and Europe, comp sales growth excluding gas was up 13.8% and 9.8%, respectively. Net consumer online sales grew 37.7% at constant exchange rates. Operating income was €964mln, up 40.0% at constant exchange rates. Underlying operating margin was 5.3%, up 0.9% points from the prior year. Diluted underlying EPS was €0.59, up 49.5%; diluted EPS was €0.59.

UK online grocery sales likely to surge by a quarter amid lockdown
Online grocery sales are expected to surge by more than a quarter this year as the coronavirus lockdown prompts more families to shop from home. Supermarkets have ramped up online operations to serve millions more shoppers as fears of catching Covid-19 have driven demand from vulnerable shoppers, including the elderly, as well as families trying to avoid trips to the shops. Thomas Brereton, a retail analyst at research firm GlobalData, suggested that the switch to shopping from home was unlikely to reverse even if the government-imposed lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus is eased later in the year.

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