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E-Tail Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

<<12345678910>> Total issues:91

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June 15, 2017, to July 01, 2017

Apartment-Based Cake Baker Transformed Herself Into A Social Media Star

A Manhattan cake baker no longer sells her apartment-made cakes to friends to make money. A much easier revenue-generating scheme allows her to create masterpieces in her kitchen, videotape the process, and share the edited results with fans on social media. She has 250,000+ followers, and her videos regularly generate hundreds of thousands of views. An Instagram celebrity, Chelsey White makes money basically selling the concept of cake, rather than the cake itself, with help from partners such as the Food Network and AwesomenessTV.

Peapod Fine-Tunes Customers’ Online Search Options

Online grocer Peapod’s smart shopping technology now has more search filters so shoppers can further refine selections based on personal dietary tastes and preferences.. In addition to common search filters like brand preference, price and sale specials, the company now offers 16 nutrition options, including non-GMO, sugar free, vegan, and vegetarian. The new filters were selected based on consumer food and nutritional trend data. For example, 42 percent of consumers read nutrition labels before purchasing, 33 percent of Millennials say they eat a meat alternative product every day, and sales of non-GMO products will hit $330 billion by 2019.

Millennials Not Very Adventuresome When It Comes To Eating Out

According to new Harris Poll research, Millennials are extremely loyal to chain restaurants like Five Guys, Chick-fil-a, and Starbucks. The data are somewhat counter-intuitive because Millennials are known to favor experiences like travel over collecting “stuff.” But it turns out they also value convenience, affordable prices, and familiarity, which chain restaurants have in spades. It doesn’t hurt that chain eateries have taken to social media platforms to make ordering and picking up easier. Facebook and Instagram enable chains to engage with customers using mouth-watering pix of menu items, a phenomenon known as “food porn.” 

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June 01, 2017, to June 15, 2017

Facebook Expands Food Order/Delivery Feature On Desktops And Phones

Facebook users are now able to tap an icon on their smartphone or desktop to place food pickup and delivery orders from participating restaurants that use Delivery.com or Slice. The innovation means users needn’t leave the Facebook platform to visit a restaurant or delivery site. The new feature expands a deal with the two online ordering businesses announced last October that allowed Facebook users to order food from Facebook pages of supported restaurants using a “Start Order” button. The “Order Food” icon eliminates the need to visit restaurant sites because all participating restaurants are listed together on the user's Facebook page.

Health And Personal Care Sales Booming Online, Led By Amazon

U.S. sales of health and personal care (HPC) products slowed in the first quarter by one percent year-over-year, mainly in brick-and-mortar stores. Online sales were up in the quarter, led by Amazon.com. As of the first quarter of 2017, the U.S. HPC market was valued at $80.6 billion, while Amazon sales represented $1.3 billion. Year over year growth of HPC sales on Amazon in the first quarter was 30 percent. According to One Click Retail, consumers are abandoning in-store shopping for HPC products in favor of online shopping. Within Amazon, the rate of growth for HPC is highest in Prime Pantry, with top categories multiplying revenue by as much as five times.

Walmart Tests Use Of Employees As Delivery People

To further save customers time and money, Walmart is experimenting with the use of employees on their way home from work to deliver online purchases to nearby buyers. The new program is strictly voluntary and participation levels are up to the employee. Walmart’s technology allows them to set preferences: choose how many packages they deliver, sizes and weights, and which days they can make the after-work deliveries. “It just makes sense,” Walmart eCommerce CEO Marc Lore, says. “The best part is this gives our own associates a way to earn extra income on their existing drive home.”

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May 15, 2017, to June 01, 2017

Get Revenge On Internet Trollers With A Cake

People victimized by Internet trolls and their hateful online comments can repay the perps with a cake, as long as they know the troller’s actual physical address. For a fee of $35, Brooklyn’s Troll Cakes Bakery and Detective Agency will bake a cake, decorate it with the troll’s hateful words, and then deliver it right to their door. Even if they don’t know the address – this is where the “detective agency” takes over – for $60 the service will research an unknown address and take it from there. The company even has a service for Donald Trump haters: it will decorate a cake with a customer’s favorite Trump tweet (or nasty comment) and send it to the White House. It’s called the “Tiny Hands Special.” 

Feds Crack Down On Misleading Social Media Celebrity Product Endorsements

The Federal Trade Commission has warned companies that use celebrity endorsers on social media – notably Instagram – must disclose that the endorsements, which include photos of celebrities displaying products, are paid and not voluntary. The agency sent 90 letters to brand holders and endorsers allegedly in violation of federal law. Companies notified included dietary supplement firms, personal care brands, food companies and consumer goods companies like Adidas and Puma. Endorsers included Heidi Klum, Naomi Campbell, Allen Iverson, Jennifer Lopez, and former NFLer James Harrison. FTC guidelines say a company that has a “business relationship” with a celebrity endorser should “clearly and conspicuously” disclose that relationship in the endorsement ad.

PepsiCo Expands E-Commerce Relationship With China’s Alibaba Platform

PepsiCo’s China unit has extended its marketing relationship with giant online and mobile commerce company Alibaba with a new strategic agreement. The company said the pact is an effort to expand its own e-commerce capabilities while enhancing customer online experiences. PepsiCo will take full advantage of Alibaba's platform and data “to carry out more innovative experiments” and “perfect PepsiCo's products and services.” Cooperation with Alibaba began five years ago in the e-commerce segment when PepsiCo established a flagship store on Tmall  It has launched several online marketing campaigns, including the 2016 Super Brand Day, Quaker's co-branded campaign with Tmall, and Kumamon-branded Lay's gift campaign during Chinese New Year.

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May 01, 2017, to May 15, 2017

Watsons Kiosk In Shanghai Features YouCam Makeup App, Allows Customers To Virtually Try On Cosmetics

Retailer Watsons' flagship store in Shanghai features a kiosk that comes with augmented-reality-powered facial detection technology. Developed by Perfect Corporation, the YouCam makeup app allows customers to try on more than 30 products from leading makeup brands, such as MaxFactor, Maybelline, and Kate Cosmetics.

Smart Lock Technology May Solve Major E-Commerce Problem

One of the biggest worries of online buyers is the fate of a delivered product when the buyer isn’t at home. It can be stolen, rained on, or simply returned to the seller if too many delivery notices are ignored. This “cognitive load” dampens online sales – it's the number one problem inhibiting e-commerce – according to the founder of August Smart Lock. His technology automatically unlocks the door when the correct codes are presented, giving delivery companies one-time, specific-time, or anytime access to the house. A camera monitors the whole process. A pilot test showed that lock owners, though nervous at first, were extremely happy with the process. Bottom line: “This is how I want everything delivered to my house.”

“Blessed” Panera Streamlines Food Ordering, Ramps Up Delivery

Panera founder and CEO Ron Shaich says his company is “blessed” because it has not only applied the principle of “digital utilization” to streamlining the ordering process, its menu – soups, salads, sandwiches – is perfect for easy delivery to homes and businesses. This blessing has meant that the company can reduce the number of workers handling food, but has to hire 10,000 delivery people by the end of 2017, as it adds delivery services to as many as 40 percent of its eateries this year. The streamlining process, known as Panera 2.0, has meant changes across the board, including redesigned kitchens and reworked assembly lines, plus implementation of new ordering technology like digital kiosks.

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April 01, 2017, to May 01, 2017

Retail Responds To Lower Profits By Dumping Some Stores, Revamping The Rest

Retail chain CEOs are wondering what to do over the long term about declining store traffic and slipping profit margins. At the core of the problem, some analysts say, is the overheated expansion of brick-and-mortar outlets in the 1980s and 1990s. So far, the options seem to be: filing for bankruptcy (Gander Mountain) or closing stores (Macy’s, Sears). Money saved using these tactics can be applied toward reworking e-commerce operations. Other options include: online buying/store pickup, launching exclusive brands, keeping prices competitive, and installing gadgets and software to make better use of stores. The goal of today’s retail stores, one consultant says, is transformation by “leveraging existing resources.”

Amazon Working To Iron Out Kinks In Its Cashierless Store Model

Technical glitches are delaying the debut of Amazon.com’s cashierless brick-and-mortar convenience store, Amazon Go,scheduled to open at the end of April in Seattle. The innovative store automatically charges customers when they exit.  No cash registers are used. The delay spotlights the difficulties the online retailer is experiencing as it implements a strategy to broaden its retail influence, especially in food sales. Observers say the cashierless technology works perfectly as long as there are 20 or fewer customers in the store. It also has a problem tracking items once they leave the store shelf.

Will Costco Put More Energy Into Online Bulk Sales?

Costco has for the most part downplayed the e-commerce side of its business while emphasizing store traffic, impulse buying, and a “treasure hunt” atmosphere of constant churning of new products. It’s a strategy that continues to be profitable. But investors and analysts think it’s time the bulk-selling giant adapts to modern times. The logistical technology is certainly available, even for Costco-size shipments. A Costco spokesman says the company has been slow on the uptake “on purpose,” but acknowledges “there are things we can do or should be doing.” Now it may be getting tougher: carriers like UPS and FedEx Corp. are beginning to charge based on package size as well as weight.

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March 15, 2017, to April 01, 2017

Campbell Soup Says Its Four Platforms Will Ensure Future Growth

Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison told consumer industry analysts recently that she and her company understand that the “future food world” will be complex and challenging, with unpredictable and unrelenting change. There will be both “opportunities and disruptions” caused by advancements in food, health and wellness, and technology. With that in mind, the company has established four platforms for growth: further developing its omnichannel strategy, especially e-commerce; focusing on affordable, high-quality, and even functional snacks; taking advantage of the future biometrics-based personalization of foods; and applying the concept of “limitless local” that embraces smaller and more regional farming and food production models.

McDonald’s Enters The World Of Smartphone Food Ordering

Hoping to win back the drive-in customers it lost over the past four years, McDonald’s is at last testing a mobile ordering app it is satisfied with. The company is showing off the technology in Chicago where a new high tech demo restaurant was built with a redesigned kitchen that speeds order flow. McDonald’s hopes to avoid the disasters Starbucks encountered when its app generated a flood of orders that overwhelmed stores and drove away impatient walk-in customers. The company says order automation will cut transaction times, reduce errors, and free up workers to deliver food to tables or to cars parked in mobile order spots.

Ferrero Acquires Fanny May Confectionery Assets From 1-800-Flowers

Italian confectioner Ferrero International is acquiring the Fannie May confection brands of 1-800-FLOWERS.com, including Fannie May and Harry London chocolate brands, in an all-cash $115 million transaction. Ferrero will acquire all related assets and liabilities including Fannie May’s e-commerce business,79 retail stores located mostly in the Chicago area, as well as a factory, warehouse and distribution facility. As part of the deal, 1-800-FLOWERS will continue to sell Fannie May and Harry London chocolates through its e-commerce and wholesale channels, and will add some of Ferrero’s chocolate brands, including Nutella, Ferrero Rocher and Raffaello, to its offerings.

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March 01, 2017, to March 15, 2017

Canadian Grocery Delivery Service Offers New Ben & Jerry’s Treats Daily

Unilever is using a Canadian grocery delivery service to introduce two dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s frozen dessert flavors: P.B. & Cookies and Coffee Caramel Fudge. Toronto-based Urbery began offering the new flavors before their official store release late last month. A pint of the non-dairy dessert sells for $9.99, and regular flavors sell for $8.99. Urbery’s $4.99 delivery fee is waived if customers order three or more pints. The desserts are purchased on a dedicated website that offers daily delivery between 5 and 10 p.m. in downtown Toronto within 30-45 minutes.

Digital Consumerism Is Already Changing The Health Industry, And Healthcare

Smartphones are fast becoming important medical devices as digital consumerism takes hold, challenging the consumer health industry and healthcare generally. Thanks to digital consumerism, healthcare providers will have to handle huge amounts of new customized data. It’s happening already: mConsumers – i.e., mobile consumers – are using physical fitness apps to set and pursue fitness goals; paying monthly subscription fees to have round-the-clock access to their physicians; and are using mHealth apps that detect different physical conditions during emergencies, including heart attacks. Start-up companies are moving quickly to take advantage of the changing technological landscape. One such company is applying a fast-emerging advanced technology known as 3-D printing to make drugs and vitamins. Euromonitor envisions mConsumers will someday be able to customize 3-D printed drugs and vitamin supplements from their mobile devices.

Doughnut Fries Catch On Big In Australia

Yet another in the seemingly endless stream of doughnut hybrids – this time the “doughnut fry” – has become a major hit in Australia and on social media. The dessert (or snack or pastry) combines the sweetness of a doughnut with the shape of a French fry, according to an Australian food writer, who adds that it is “sending Australians wild.” The owners of The Doughnut Bar in Brisbane say they came up with the idea independently – similar treats are available in Europe and the U.S. – when they were looking for a bite-size snack that would be more appropriate than doughnuts for summertime munching. Doughnut fries are served with chocolate, caramel or raspberry dipping sauces.

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February 01, 2017, to March 01, 2017

A Better Customer Experience Is A Major Marketing Priority These Days

Improving the customer experience in all marketing channels – making it seamless and connected – is a top priority among retailers and manufacturers because it leads to higher sales. Seventy-one percent of business execs ranked improving customer experience higher than increasing revenue, reducing costs, or other traditional goals, a Forrester survey found. Consumer behaviors, expectations, and demands continue to rise, and they are especially influenced by personalization, good prices, and efficient fulfillment. Improving customer experience is important in all channeles because: 94 percent do research online before visiting a store; 81 percent have looked up inventory on a retailer’s website, 80 percent won’t visit a store if product availability isn’t shown; 93 percent have reviewed product ratings before purchasing; and 57 percent said loyalty often drives a purchase. 

Walmart Ups Ante In Fight With Amazon By Abandoning ShippingPass

To stay competitive with Amazon, Walmart is ditching its $49-a-year two-day shipping subscription, dubbed ShippingPass, and replacing it with free shipping for purchases over $35. In doing so, the retailer is acknowledging that free two-day shipping is now the standard in online shopping. The new strategy takes aim at Amazon’s highly successful Prime offer, which offers free two-day shipping for an annual $99 subscription fee. Data from Cowen and Company show that by November 2016, almost half of U.S. Internet users were living in a household with a Prime subscription. Some observers speculate that Walmart’s battle with Amazon will lead to even more tactical moves, such as deep discounting.

Amazon's Fourth Quarter Profit Up, But Sales Disappoint

Amazon's decision to focus on revenue growth and investments rather than on heavy promotions led to a 55% jump in profits for the fourth quarter. But sales hit only the midpoint of the company target, with revenue up by $43.7 billion, a less-than-expected 22% increase from the previous quarter. CFO Brian Olsavsky says the company continues to focus and made great progress on "things we can directly control", referring to price, selection and customer experience. While many retailers turned to heavy promotions during the holidays, Olsavsky said promotions weren't a major factor in fourth-quarter revenue. Amazon continue to dominate online sales, commanding an estimated 42% of total holiday online spending growth in 2016, with Apple Inc. in poor second at 5%.

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January 15, 2017, to February 01, 2017

Amazon Making Progress With Prestige Skin Care, Provides Rich Content To Engage Consumers

Amazon continues to build out its offering across new categories and its Amazon Luxury Beauty store shows it will be a contender in premium segments. The company recently added a page targeted at prestige shoppers - Amazon Professional Skin Care -that provides a range of ‘tools and kits to help you develop a complete daily care regimen.’ Amazon offers simple to use filters (shop by concern, expert advice…) along with videos and educational features that engage consumers. Color cosmetic players have for a while offered rich and engaging content but skin care brands have lagged and Amazon is moving to plug the gap - content on the Amazon page exceeds what is available at retailer websites and many beauty blogs.  It also looks to be winning over large brands that were previously dismissive. Elizabeth Arden recently became an official distributor on Amazon’s Luxury Beauty store, a move that will give the online retailer credibility.

Carrefour Announces Plans To Expand E-Commerce And Acquire Tecno Stores

As part of its expansion moves in markets across Europe, Carrefour announced plans to expand its e-commerce operations in Belgium. Steps the company plans to take include increasing the number of pickup points from the present 84 to 184 by the end of 2017. Also, the retailer plans to extend its collaboration with bpost to expand coverage of its home delivery service in the country. Carrefour said it also will do a test run of the bringr-enabled home delivery service launched by bpost. In addition to e-commerce expansion, the company also plans to acquire nine Tecno stores from Tecno Kempen.

Advanced Store Shelf Technology Seeks To Personalize Shopping At Kroger Stores

Supermarket chain Kroger has begun experimenting with in-store shelf-based sensor systems that detect shoppers via their smartphones and apply analytics technology to customize product offers. Dubbed the “digital shelf edge” project, the initiative is a facet of the company’s plan to automate and personalize shopping to battle online competition from Amazon.com Inc., Walmart’s Jet.com unit and others. E-commerce in traditional food and beverage stores accounted for $1 billion in sales in 2014, less than 0.2 percent of the $670 billion market. Sensors have been installed in 14 stores near the company’s Cincinnati headquarters. 

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January 01, 2017, to January 15, 2017

Online Grocery Deliverer Fulfills Orders Using Advanced Warehousing, Robotics

British online grocery delivery firm Ocado is applying an array of advanced technologies to speed grocery purchases to consumer homes. The company maintains a 350,000 square-foot warehouse near Birmingham that beats Amazon at automated order fulfillment. Most of the 48,000 lines of products it sells are perishable, many chilled or frozen. The complex, time-sensitive optimization challenge is handled by sophisticated technologies like swarm robotics – teams of robots that cooperate to find, lift and grab products from shelves – as well as autonomous delivery vehicles, and machine-learned preferences. The company is expanding its warehousing and robotics capabilities to be able to handle and deliver more products even faster in the future.

Research Suggests An Omnichannel Strategy Can Boost Traditional Retailer Sales

In a rare piece of good news for traditional retailers that have for years seen slow growth and share declines – digital channel sales rose 23% in 2015 and 26% of all online retail sales now go to Amazon – research published in Harvard Business Review suggests that an omnichannel approach can give them an advantage. Omnichannel strategies aim to engage shoppers through multiple touchpoints and provide a seamless shopping experience across digital and brick-and-mortar platforms. Retailers that do this well can differentiate themselves through providing a multi-channel experience pure-plays simply can’t.  Researchers found that omnichannel consumers, which are by far the majority (73% in this study), commonly interact with retailers in many different ways – in-store, online, on mobile. Importantly, these consumer spend some 4% more per shopping occasion than single-channel shoppers, while customers who used 4+ channels spent 9% more in the store, on average, when compared to those who used just one channel. They are also more loyal, as measured by repeat shopping trips and likelihood they’ll recommend a brand to family and friends.

Amazon Fulfillment Services Reports Significant Growth In 2016

Online retailer Amazon said it delivered more than two billion packages to 185 countries for sellers, brand owners and entrepreneurs in 2016 under its Fulfillment by Amazon program. The company said worldwide FBA shipments grew 50 percent during the holiday season. Amazon Prime members contributed significantly to the success of the program, ordering millions of items from sellers in the Seller Fulfilled Prime program that offers free two- or next-day shipping. Sellers worldwide using the FBA service grew more than 70 percent, while shipments grew 80 percent.
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