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Stakes, and costs, growing in WA’s fight against Kroger-Albertsons merger

Co-op to use Walmart's Store Assist tech for online grocery growth
Co-op plans to leverage Walmart Commerce Technologies' online fulfillment solution, Store Assist. The app allows retailers to manage pick-up, third-party marketplace, ship-from-store and last-mile delivery orders all in one place. The streamlined omnichannel fulfillment workflow enhances in-store processes and operations, removes the need for colleagues to switch between quick commerce apps or devices, and allows for faster delivery times.

Store Assist technology will focus on ease of use, scalability, and specialised and tailored use to meet the diverse demands of grocery fulfilment and a unified platform to simplify systems for online orders. It is also used in Walmart stores. The solution further supports Co-op's ambition to reach more than a one-third share of the quick commerce market.

Source: Retail Insight Network

Stakes, and costs, growing in WA's fight against Kroger-Albertsons merger
Battling potential grocery monopolies, it turns out, isn't cheap. Washington now expects to pay up to $6 million to an outside law firm handling the state's Jan. 16 suit against a proposed merger between Kroger and Albertsons, according to a June 21 state authorization for the fees.

That's double the money previously authorized for Los Angeles-based Munger, Tolles & Olson, which the state Attorney General's Office hired last August to help block the merger. It's also around of a quarter of the state's total antitrust budget for the 2023-25 biennium.

Washington contends that the $24.6 billion deal would raise grocery prices for consumers in Washington, where Kroger, which owns QFC and Fred Meyer, and Albertsons, which owns Safeway, both have a heavy presence. Kroger and Albertsons say the merger will mean lower grocery prices in part because the merged company would have the scale to compete with giants like Walmart and Costco. Trials in all three cases are set to start in August or September.

Source: Seattle Times

This Walmart rival is gaining ground in the pricing game
While Walmart is still seen as the price leader in the grocery industry, its rivals aren't far behind. In a recent report, Telsey Group analyzed online grocery prices across seven retailers including Walmart, Target, Amazon Fresh, Kroger (King Soopers), Albertsons (Safeway), Sprouts and Whole Foods (via Amazon) in Denver. Analysts specifically looked into 40 key items across two categories, including "several premium items."

In June 2023, Target and Kroger were at a 14% to 15% premium to Walmart. Today, that figure is sitting around 6% to 7%. However, what's even more interesting, according to Feldman, is the price drop at Amazon Fresh. A year ago, Amazon Fresh was 26% more expensive than Walmart. Today, it's just 7.5% more expensive, underscoring how they've been working pretty aggressively to get their prices down, according to the exec.

Source: Fox Business

Kroger shopper blasts new 'bottomless' carts and claims it's 'impossible' to shop
Kroger shoppers have expressed concerns over the retailer's new bottomless shopping carts. Customers said the carts make it hard to check out bigger items like cases of water bottles or bulk items. "The new bottomless shopping carts at Kroger (Poplar and Cleveland) make it impossible for me to do all my shopping in one trip when I need heavy items like soda, water, and cat litter," said one social media user.

"The only reason I've stuck with Kroger during its decline over the past two years has been its convenient location, but if I can't do all my shopping in one trip, it's no longer convenient." One shopper said they went to find Kroger's old shopping cart because it had the built-in panel underneath. Consumers said they understood why the retailer switched to bottomless carts. Kroger shoppers have noticed that customers sometimes forget to scan items that are placed underneath the shopping cart.

Source: The Sun

Sam's Club changes key perk policy, but it could backfire
Sam's Club Plus members have about six weeks left to use a coveted perk, and they are letting the wholesale giant know they are not happy about losing it. Effective August 19, Plus members will only get free shipping on orders from Sam's Club's website or app on "qualifying orders of $50 or more," the company announced via email on June 19.

For those who do not add $50 worth of qualifying items to their digital cart, there is an $8 flat rate fee; however, Sam's Club says, "Some category exclusions apply whereby variable shipping will be charged."

Source: Fox Business

UK: How retailers are responding to rising demand for online supermarket shopping
The numbers of consumers turning to online shopping during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic was not surprising given lockdowns throughout the UK. However, once the nation fully opened up, it would have been natural for online orders to ebb. That hasn't happened.

Asda reported this week that its online grocery sales last year were its highest since June 2020, with a staggering 39 million orders delivered to shoppers. They haven't waned; in fact, they've jumped 8%. While online is not close to being the dominant method preferred by consumers – in-store still is – it is notable that online now makes up 18% of all of Asda's grocery sales. There's no turning back now, even as Asda pours £50m into store upgrades.

Source: Produce Business UK

SPAR International adopts NIQ's space management services
NielsenIQ has announced its strategic collaboration with SPAR International BV, facilitating the integration of NIQ Spaceman services. NIQ will offer its space management services to SPAR country organisations worldwide, with the objective of enhancing the market position of all the retail organisation's partners.

The NIQ Spaceman suite is said to unlock an integrated, automated planogramming process with diverse modules to support client's needs, analysing performance and opportunities across planograms​ to help make the best merchandising decisions. "This collaboration is an exciting opportunity for us to support all SPAR country organisations in optimising their shelf space and fostering growth across diverse markets," says NIQ Analytics Leader Simon Trott.

Source: Retail World Magazine

UK: Asda scraps plans for 'four-day week of 44 hours' after staff left exhausted
Asda has scrapped plans for a four-day working week after employees insisted they had been left feeling exhausted. While the grocery giant initially brought in flexible working arrangements in January in a bid to tackle a revolt from dissatisfied store managers, a trial of the four-day week has been canned, The Telegraph reported.

Employees taking part in the trial across 20 of the grocer's stores worked a 44-hour week over four days, rather than five for the same salary. However, the pilot resulted in complaints from workers that the longer shifts had been "physically demanding," while others said it had been difficult to meet the earlier start and later finish times. A spokesman for the supermarket said a trial involving 39 hours spread across five days had proved more popular, which would run until the end of 2024. Staff are not set to be given any cuts in pay despite the reduced hours.

Source: Retail Gazette

Dr. Christian Bock focuses on shaping the future of shopping as he heads to Aldi Süd
Dr. Christian Bock is joining Aldi Süd in August where, he says in a LinkedIn post, he is "looking forward to taking the customer experience and shopping experience to the next level together with my new colleagues". He was previously at Aldi Nord where he held the position of Team Lead Store Computer Vision.

He took on that role earlier this year, having previously been Team Lead Self-Service Checkout & Cashless Payment at the retailer. In a LinkedIn post, Bock said: "The focus is on the strategic and innovative orientation in connection with technology and business. The aim is to continue to position Aldi Süd as an innovative and future oriented market leader and to offer customers a unique and unforgettable shopping experience. I and we will give everything together for this."

Source: Retail Technology Innovation Hub

Indonesia: Lulu Group now serving Far East with opening of Jakarta hypermarket
UAE-based retail major Lulu Group marked its first retail push in the Far East by opening its first hypermarket in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. The group has already announced its plans to invest $500 million as part of its expansion and intends set up 10 hypermarkets in the next three years in the country.

The hypermarket is expected to be one-of-a-kind in the region and will attract a large segment of population in Jakarta. Located in the Cakung sub-district of East Jakarta with an area of over 200,000 sqft, the new hypermarket is designed for customer convenience and provides a one-stop shopping destination for the residents of the city.

Source: Khaleej Times

New Zealand: Costs from grocery suppliers to supermarkets increase 2.7% in June
Supplier cost increases continue to slow, with the Infometrics-Foodstuffs New Zealand Grocery Supplier Cost Index (GSCI) showing an average 2.7 percent increase in what suppliers charged Foodstuffs supermarkets for goods in June 2024, compared to a year earlier.

"The slower moderation in grocery supplier costs seen in May has continued in June – the annual increase is pushing lower, but not by as much each month," said Infometrics Chief Executive and Principal Economist Brad Olsen.

Source: Supermarket News

Japan: Ocado and AEON to construct third customer fulfilment centre in Japan
Ocado Group is expanding its partnership with the AEON supermarket in Japan through the construction of a third customer fulfilment centre in the country. The group entered the exclusive partnership in 2019 when it announced that it would be developing the online operations of the AEON NEXT grocery business using the Ocado Smart Platform.

The new facility in Kuki-Miyashiro, the Saitama prefecture of Japan. is set to go live in 2027. The announcement was made as AEON celebrated the first anniversary of the official launch of its AEON NEXT online grocery delivery brand.

Source: The Retail Bulletin