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Amazon Wants to Rule the Grocery Aisles, and Not Just at Whole Foods
July 28, 2019 | The New York Times | By Karen Weise.

In early 2017, a memo, “Grocery Shopping for Everyone," circulated inside Amazon that imagined an ambitious new grocery chain........The new stores, the document envisioned, would have robust sections for produce, fresh food and prepared meals. Nonperishable products, like paper towels or canned beans, would be stored on a separate floor, away from customers. Shoppers could order those items with an app, and while they shopped for fresh food, the other products would be brought down in time for check out. There would also be an area to pick up groceries ordered online and to manage packages for delivery drivers......A few months later, in June 2017, Amazon barged into the grocery business in a different way, by announcing a blockbuster deal to buy Whole Foods for $13.4 billion.......The memo and other big grocery proposals stopped circulating inside Amazon, as Whole Foods demanded everyone’s attention.....now, two years later, instead of Whole Foods being the answer to Amazon’s grocery ambitions, it seems to have only whetted executives’ appetites.

The marriage has made clear the difficulties of selling fresh food inexpensively, either in a physical store or through delivery. Bananas are not the same as books....But the combination has also shown glimmers of success, particularly in delivery. And that has provided some fuel to Amazon executives pushing to add another food-selling option — one built from the ground up that would change how people buy groceries.....Amazon is now quietly exploring an ambitious new chain, probably separate from Whole Foods, that is not far removed from the one outlined in the old memo. It would be built for in-store shopping as well as pickup and delivery.....“People really need to understand — Whole Foods is the beginning, it’s not the end,” ......“It’s not everything.”......In an effort to shed Whole Foods’ “whole paycheck” reputation, Amazon bought more from national food distributors and cut back on the local farms......Other price-cutting efforts failed. The former head of a major produce company said Amazon told him it wanted to sell marquee fresh items at low prices every day. The executive said he had to explain that certain products, like berries or lettuce, may be available all year thanks to global supply chains, but that they cost more in the off-season. Forcing flat, low prices would put too much risk on growers.

Amazon executives, the person said, were caught off guard by the response. It didn’t seem as if they had fully appreciated how seasonality made predictable pricing far harder than selling cereal or paper towels.......Amazon has also run into some trouble integrating Whole Foods into its delivery machine.

Amazon never saw delivering cold milk and fragile fruit to doorsteps as something for the masses, according to former employees. Instead, executives thought of it as an option for people who wanted high-quality foods and could afford a premium price to have fragile and fresh items arrive at their doorstep......In theory, that was a good fit for Whole Foods and its affluent shoppers. Within six months, Amazon began making two-hour deliveries from Whole Foods in four cities for Prime members. Six months later, that had expanded to more than two dozen cities. It’s now available in 90.

But Whole Foods stores are not like Amazon’s delivery warehouses. Because Whole Foods sells so many fresh items, its stores have smaller back-of-house areas than a standard supermarket. That means employees who pick products for online orders must gather more items from the same shelves as shoppers. They roam aisles with scanners in hand, asking associates on the floor when they can’t find something......deliveries have shown big potential, making up almost all of Whole Foods’ growth......The promise of serving customers, but doing so more efficiently, has Amazon thinking again about aggressive investment in groceries.

Rather than dramatically substantially expand Whole Foods, .....Amazon is considering designing stores specifically with pickup and delivery in mind, and with a smaller area dedicated to fresh shopping — as the old memo imagined.....Amazon is interested in “creating multiple customer experiences under one roof.”.......Amazon has been looking for spaces close to Whole Foods locations, indicating a hub-and-spoke approach where one store serves as the warehouse and commissary for others.....To be a major grocery player, Amazon would need a little more than 2,000 stores, the old memo estimated. That’s far fewer than the 5,000 run by Walmart, the country’s top grocery seller, but more than the roughly 1,200 operated by Publix. Whole Foods got Amazon about a quarter of the way there.

A store designed with different shopping options......would be “highly scalable.”
Amazon  back-office  BOPIS  grocery  home_delivery  hub-and-spoke  in-store  Kroger  perishables  price-cutting  seasonality  supermarkets  Whole_Foods 
11 weeks ago by jerryking
America’s Biggest Supermarket Company Struggles With Online Grocery Upheaval
April 21, 2019 | WSJ | By Heather Haddon.

Kroger adjusts operations and invests in technology to hang on to customers who avoid stores; ‘we’ve got to get our butts in gear
Amazon  bricks-and-mortar  BOPIS  CDO  cultural_clash  delivery_services  digital_strategies  disruption  e-commerce  e-grocery  grocery  IBM  Instacart  Jet  Kroger  Microsoft  millennials  Ocado  Oracle  pilot_programs  post-deal_integration  retailers  same-day  Shipt  start_ups  supermarkets  Vitacost  Wal-Mart  Whole_Foods 
april 2019 by jerryking
Amazon to Launch New Grocery-Store Business
March 1, 2019 | WSJ | By Esther Fung and Heather Haddon.

Amazon is planning to open dozens of grocery stores in several major U.S. cities....as the retail giant looks to broaden its reach in the food business and touch more aspects of consumers’ lives......The new stores would be distinct from the company’s upscale Whole Foods Market chain. It isn’t clear whether the new stores would carry the Amazon name......Amazon in recent years has become increasingly focused on physical retail, posing a threat to traditional grocers. The new chain would help Amazon in fulfilling a yearslong initiative to build out a physical grocery presence, which was at one point potentially envisioned to reach more than 2,000 brick-and mortar stores in a variety of sizes and formats......Amazon is also exploring purchasing regional grocery chains with about a dozen stores under operation, one person said, that could bolster the new chain......Amazon’s further push into physical retail is its latest move far beyond its origins selling books and music on the web. Over the years it has become a cloud-computing giant, a major player in Hollywood entertainment and a burgeoning provider of logistics services. More recently it has emerged as a major competitor in digital advertising and launched forays in finance and health care......The new stores aren’t intended to compete directly with the more upscale Whole Foods stores and will offer a different variety of products, at a lower price point, these people said. Whole Foods doesn’t sell products with artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and sweeteners, among other quality standards.

Suppliers with big brands have hoped to have inroads into Whole Foods since Amazon bought the chain nearly two years ago. While Whole Foods has gradually expanded the big brands it carries—such as Honey-Nut Cheerios and Michelob beer—a conventional grocer can carry a much larger assortment of items. Amazon has had mixed results with its food-delivery business, and it wants to better understand how it can cater to grocery shoppers....Supermarket operators Walmart Inc., Kroger Co. and others are also trying to find ways to offer delivery and pickup to customers in a more cost-efficient manner...Amazon’s new grocery brand also comes as the retailer rolls out its cashierless Amazon Go stores in urban areas. It is testing that checkout technology for bigger retail stores. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is expanding its national footprint....For its new stores, Amazon is targeting new developments and occupied stores with leases ending soon.....Amazon doesn’t want restrictions on the type of goods it may sell at its stores and wants the ability to change the store and sell health and beauty products for instance......It is unclear whether these new stores will be cashierless, but they will be heavily tilted to customer service and pickup capabilities......a strategy where big retailers combine e-commerce with physical stores is the direction the industry is heading.
Amazon  BOPIS  bricks-and-mortar  cashierless  e-commerce  food  grocery  home-delivery  in-store  Kroger  new_businesses  physical_retail  rollouts  supermarkets  Wal-Mart  Whole_Foods 
march 2019 by jerryking
The Freshest Ideas Are in Small Grocery Stores
July 31, 2018 | The New York Times | By Kim Severson.

Most North Americans still buy their food at the classic supermarket, with its wide aisles and seemingly limitless choices. But stores like Kroger, the nation’s largest chain with more than $105 billion in sales in 2017, are being cannibalized by a host of discount competitors like Dollar General and Aldi on one side, and by the growing dominance of Amazon and online delivery on the other.

“By and large, supermarkets are kind of behind the eight ball” in responding to changes in how people shop, said Diana Smith, the associate director of retail and apparel for the market research company Mintel.

Customers, especially younger ones, want stores that offer what some industry analysts have come to call “food experiences,” with craft beer on tap, meals to go and vegetable butchers. They tend to shop only when they cook, visiting more than one store to collect ingredients, rather than making a weekly trip to stock the pantry with toilet paper, chuck roast and gallons of milk.

Large chains are throwing everything they can at the problem, planning smaller stores customized for different demographics. Kroger, which already sells clothes at some of its stores, has developed a grab-and-go fashion line called Dip, and is testing driverless delivery. The Midwestern chain Hy-Vee is adding medical clinics and spa-inspired bath boutiques to its stores.

But some of the most radical reinvention is happening at the local level, in both cities and small towns, where a new breed of small community stores use the grocery aisles to fill cultural niches and address social needs.
creativity  ideas  grocery  small_spaces  supermarkets  Kroger 
august 2018 by jerryking
Inside FreshDirect’s Big Bet to Win the Home-Delivery Fight - WSJ
By Jennifer Smith
July 18, 2018 5:30 a.m

Designed to keep food fresh longer and move it faster, FreshDirect’s 400,000 square-foot distribution centre is the online grocer’s multimillion-dollar bet on the fastest-growing sector in the grocery business, home-delivery. FreshDirect pioneered the e-commerce home-delivery market, and now with Amazon and big grocery chains like Kroger Co. piling on investments, companies are jockeying for position in a business that some believe is the future of supermarket sales.....FreshDirect's trucks now provide next-day delivery to customers across the New York-New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., metropolitan areas, with plans to expand into Boston next. The private company says it generated between $600 million and $700 million in annual revenue in 2017.

It declined to disclose the cost of the new facility, which was financed with the help of a $189 million investment round in 2016 led by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, direct funding and incentives from state and local governments......Amazon, Target Corp. and other large companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to expand food delivery and build out their grocery e-commerce operations. Supermarket chain owner Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize NV’s Peapod unit, the longest-running online grocery service in the U.S., has expanded to 24 markets and is investing in technology to cut its handling and delivery costs.

Walmart Inc. said this month that Jet.com, the online retailer it bought two years ago, will open a fulfillment center in the Bronx this fall to help roll out same- and next-day grocery deliveries in New York City.

The grocers are trying to solve one of the toughest problems in home delivery: Getting food to doorsteps in the same condition consumers would expect if they went to the store themselves. Delivering perishables is trickier than dropping off paper towels or dogfood. Fruit bruises, meat spoils, eggs break. ........FreshDirect’s logistic hurdles start well before delivery. It must get products from its suppliers to the building, process the food, then pick, pack and ship orders before the quality degrades.

That is why the new distribution centre has 15 different temperature zones. Tomatoes do best at about 55 degrees, but “chicken and meat like it to be just at 32 degrees... it gives more of shelf life to it,"....Software determines the most efficient route for each order, and tells workers which items to pick.....A big part of the facility [distribution centre] is ripping out tons and tons of operating costs out of the business.....The stakes in getting the technology right are high. FreshDirect is competing with grocery chains that often fill online orders through their stores, using a mix of staff and third-party services like Instacart Inc. So-called click-and-collect services, where consumers swing by to pick up their own orders, tend to have better margins because the retailer isn’t paying for last-mile delivery.....Online-only operations with centralized warehouses tend to be more efficient than logistics run out of stores, because they use fewer workers and can position goods for faster fulfillment.
algorithms  Amazon  big_bets  cold_storage  distribution_centres  distribution  e-commerce  food  FreshDirect  grocery  home-delivery  infrastructure  Kroger  logistics  perishables  retailers  software  supermarkets  Target  Wal-Mart  warehouses  fulfillment  same-day  piling_on  last_mile 
july 2018 by jerryking
Produce or Else: Wal-Mart and Kroger Get Tough With Food Suppliers on Delays
Nov. 27, 2017 | WSJ | By Annie Gasparro, Heather Haddon and Sarah Nassauer

Grocers are giving food companies a tougher mandate: Ship on time, or pay the price.
Food retailers want their suppliers to resolve the persistent problem of delayed or incomplete deliveries, which they say costs them millions of dollars a year in lost sales and overtime pay.
Retailers used to give suppliers more leeway, since any number of factors—bad weather, a surge in demand, technology malfunctions—can foil deliveries of cereal, cheese, candy and other packaged goods from warehouses scattered around the country.
But now as traditional grocers battle Amazon.com<http://Amazon.com> Inc. and other online retailers that prioritize delivery speed, as well as price-cutting discounters, more are taking a strict line with suppliers, telling them on-time deliveries will translate directly into more sales and profits.
Delayed deliveries can leave holes on store shelves. Sales of some $75 billion a year are lost because products are out of stock or unsalable for other reasons, according to the Food Marketing Institute, a trade organization. That is about 10% of annual grocery sales industry-wide at a time when sales growth is hard to come by. “It’s a massive opportunity from a financial and customer standpoint,” .....The country’s biggest grocers are leading the charge. Kroger is fining suppliers $500 for every order that is more than two days late to any of its 42 warehouses, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is charging suppliers monthly fines of 3% for deliveries that don’t arrive exactly on time, according to the retailers. They began issuing the fines in August........Wal-Mart has signaled it could do more than levy fines if problems persist. Charles Redfield, executive vice president of food for Wal-Mart U.S., told suppliers they could also lose shelf space if they don’t solve their delivery issues, according to people in attendance at a supplier meeting earlier this year. Retailers can threaten suppliers with loss of promotional space in stores, analysts said.....Packaged-goods companies are straining to keep up with the demands and remain in the good graces of retailers. They need GPS trackers and software to adjust routes in real time. Filling full orders fast is also challenging, since many manufacturers house items all over the country. That is particularly true for refrigerated items needing costly cold storage—which has fueled investments in more fulfillment centers......“Shipping complete orders on time is a completely reasonable request but turns out it’s harder than it sounds.”...
Wal-Mart  Kroger  grocery  supermarkets  supply_chains  retailers  delays  food  shipping  Amazon  cold_storage  penalties  delivery_times  fulfillment  CPG  Kraft_Heinz  P&G  on-time  shelf_space  supply_chain_squeeze 
november 2017 by jerryking
The Big Mystery: What’s Big Data Really Worth? - The CFO Report - WSJ
October 13, 2014 | WSJ | By VIPAL MONGA.

“Data is worthless if you don’t know how to use it to make money,” said Laura Martin, an analyst with Needham & Co. Information on individual users loses value over time as they move or their tastes change, she added. That makes data a perishable commodity and more difficult to value at any given moment.
massive_data_sets  valuations  data  Kroger  monetization  Nestlé  P&G  Nielsen  perishables  commodities  shifting_tastes 
october 2014 by jerryking
Pulling More Meaning from Big Data
August 2013 | Retail Leader | By Ed Avis

"A.G. Lafley [Procter & Gamble's CEO] spoke of the two moments of truth," says John Ross, president of Inmar Analytics based in Winston-Salem, N.C. "The first occurs when a consumer buys a product, and the second when they use it. Much of the data today is about orchestrating and understanding those two moments. But two additional moments of truth are emerging to bookend Lafley's. One occurs when a consumer is planning to make a purchase. The other happens following use, when the consumer talks about his or her experience with the product. All of these activities leave a 'data wake' that describes how the consumer is moving down the path to purchase." (jk: going to assume that data wake = exhaust data).

Like most consumer packaged goods companies, Procter & Gamble relies on data to determine what consumers are looking for. "Consumer insight is at the core of our business model. We approach every brand we make by asking the question, 'What do people really need and want from this product? What does this mean to their lives?' Let me be clear – this is not casual observation. We employ teams of behavioral scientists, researchers, psychologists, even anthropologists to uncover true insight based on intensive research and exploration," said Marc Pritchard, P&G's global marketing and brand building officer, speaking at the Association of National Advertisers' 2012 Annual Conference....Most firms haven't advanced beyond localized analytics and don't fully capitalize on the existing data they have at hand – such as POS data, loyalty club data and social media traffic – according to a 2012 Deloitte study for the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
massive_data_sets  Sobeys  grocery  supermarkets  Safeway  P&G  A.G._Lafley  Kroger  point-of-sale  loyalty_management  customer_insights  insights  CPG  exhaust_data  psychologists  psychology  anthropologists  anthropology  ethnography  behavioural_science  hiring-a-product-to-do-a-specific-job  data  information_sources  moments  moments_of_truth 
december 2013 by jerryking
A Food Fight in the Produce Aisle - WSJ.com
October 20, 2011 | WSJ | By SARAH NASSAUER

A Food Fight in the Produce Aisle
Since Fruits and Veggies Have 'Farm Fresh' Image, Other Groceries Want to Sit Alongside Them
fresh_produce  grocery  supermarkets  Kraft  halo_effect  Supervalu  Nestlé  Winn-Dixie  Kroger  Campbell_Soup 
april 2013 by jerryking
Private Matters
October 2003 | Dairy Field | by Lynn Petrak
private_labels  Safeway  Kroger  Trader_Joe's  dairy 
august 2012 by jerryking

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