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Interactive Bottle Connects With Smartphone Tequila Shoppers

December 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Astral Tequila is introducing in seven U.S. states this month interactive spirits bottles that allow smartphone shoppers to touch a bottle of its award-winning spirit to access exclusive content. The bottles use a “near field communications” (NFC) collar that shoppers use to tap into content that includes a video from Jonathan Goldsmith, the actor best known for his former role as "The Most Interesting Man in The World" in Dos Equis beer ads.  [ Image credit: © Astral Tequila  ]
"Astral Tequila Introduces U.S.'s First 'Smart' Spirits Bottle Featuring NFC to Fuel In-Store Consumer Engagement", News release, Astral Tequila, December 05, 2017, © Astral Tequila
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New Digital Guru Hopes To Use Data To Make Coca-Cola More “Consumer-Centric”

December 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola’s new chief digital officer has the challenging mission of crafting how to serve customers better by making the most of its digital platforms. The company is testing the use of data, artificial intelligence, and connected devices to enhance the customer experience, provide optimal service and become more “consumer-centric." David Godsman, who started at Coca-Cola a year ago, says his job isn’t just about changing digital experiences, it’s “also about helping customers make decisions in a more effective manner. It’s about an operational transition.”
Marty Swant, "Coca-Cola Is Embracing AI and Chatbots in Preparation for a Digital-First Future", Adweek, December 04, 2017, © Adweek
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Smartphones Have Had A Profound Effect On The Restaurant Industry

November 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Thanks to smartphones, which have penetrated to half of the global population, consumers have a broad array of options for “eating out,” a trend that continues to have a major impact on restaurants themselves. Restaurant meals are diversifying, and becoming available outside restaurants, in the age of mobile shopping and food ordering. Eateries have figured out that they need to provide “compelling” dining experiences to grab attention. In addition, many new players are taking advantage of advanced technology to reach consumers through delivery-only “virtual” restaurants, fully-automated production, etc.  [ Image credit: © Restaurant Engine  ]
Stephen Dutton, "Technology Reshapes the Restaurant", Blog entry, Euromonitor International, November 28, 2017, © Euromonitor
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Coca-Cola Adapts Marketing Expertise To The E-commerce Experience

November 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola, which knows a thing or two about driving store traffic, is using that knowledge to enhance its e-commerce tactics in a world where customers are increasingly likely to purchase beverages using an online cart rather than a grocery store cart. To that end, it is improving the appearance of its digital store shelves,” integrating with voice technologies like Amazon Echo, and adding impulse buy options to click-and-collect pickup lockers. The idea behind these changes is to focus on current customers to drive digital sales, with the help of grocers and other online partners. It is also experimenting with direct-to-consumer marketing.
Jennifer Kaplan, "Coca-Cola Bid for Amazon Shoppers Means Boosting Digital Lineup", Bloomberg Technology, November 17, 2017, © Bloomberg Finance L.P.
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U.K. Trademark Filing Signals Imminent Launch Of Amazon Meal Kits

November 17, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon has filed for a trademark for a meal kit slogan at the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office. The slogan – “We Prep. You Cook” – echoes a similar slogan used in the U.S. Amazon’s meal kits were launched in the U.S. and retail at $15.99 to $19.99. The U.K. trademark filing signals an imminent launch of the product, according to industry watchers. [ Image credit: © Amazon.com  ]
Ben Stevens, "Amazon’s Meal Kits Set to Hit UK as Patent Filed", Retail Gazette, November 17, 2017, © Retail Gazette
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Successful Innovators Embrace Failure

November 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
While many top executives pay li[p service to the virtues of innovation and creativity, they fear mistakes, missteps, and disappointments. Creativity and innovation disappear. People and organizations need to keep learning as the world changes, or they will stop growing and evolving. One of the reasons for the success of companies like Netflix, Amazon.com, and Coca-Cola, is that their leadership embrace failure as a learning and innovation tool. Coke CEO James Quincey, for example, recently told his executives to shed their fear of failure – remember the “New Coke” fiasco? – so they could really ramp up innovation. “If we’re not making mistakes,” Quincey said, “we’re not trying hard enough.”
Bill Taylor, "How Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon Learn from Failure", Harvard Business Review, November 10, 2017, © Harvard Business School Publishing
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Aldi Customers Using The Venmo Payment App Can Donate Meals To Needy

November 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Discount grocery chain Aldi has partnered with the PayPal Venmo payment app to donate Thanksgiving meals to Feeding America. The meals are automatically donated every time a Venmo user adds a Turkey Hand Thanksgiving emoji on the payment screen. Feeding America annually provides meals to more than 46 million people through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs. Germany-based Aldi operates 1,700 stores in 35 U.S. states. [ Image credit: ©  Aldi ]
Chantal Tode, Robert Williams, "Aldi Partners with Venmo for Emoji-Based Holiday Giving Campaign", Mobile Marketer, November 07, 2017, © Industry Dive
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Amazon Closes Two Whole Foods Stores In UK

November 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon said it plans to close two Whole Foods stores in the UK. Included in the shutdown list are the stores in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and in Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, cutting the number of Whole Foods store in the country down to seven. About 150 people work at the two stores.
Ashley Armstrong, "Amazon closes two UK Whole Foods stores just two months after completing its £10.7bn takeover", Telegraph, November 06, 2017, © Telegraph Media Group Limited
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Danone Russia Tests Selling Dairy Products Online

November 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Danone’s Russian division has launched a test website to sell dairy and baby food products online. The Tema, Prostokvashino, Activia, and Actimel (drinkable yogurt) brands will be offered on milkdirect.ru with a minimum purchase of $8.68, and free delivery within 30 km of the Moscow Automobile Ring Road (MKAD). Industry experts say at least a thousand orders a day are required for profitability. Danone plans similar projects in the U.S. and France.
"Russia: Danone launches online store", Esmerk, November 01, 2017, © Esmerk Oy
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Data Analytics Platform Helps Tesco India Detect, Prevent Shopping Fraud

October 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Indian technology center for supermarket chain Tesco has created a platform and team that detects online and offline fraud involving its massive amounts of collected customer data. The 18-member staff is focused on combating fraud for online businesses (food and non-food), buyer-supplier collusion fraud, and employee fraud at checkout counters. The platform is programmed to detect anomalies in purchasing patterns that might indicate fraud, such as bulk purchases of products like alcohol and cigarettes.  [ Image credit: © geograph.org.uk  ]
"Tesco unit builds anti-fraud platform for online businesses", Economic Times, October 27, 2017, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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Coke Exec: The Online Shopper Today Expects A Lot More

October 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A Coca-Cola executive says online customers have grown impatient, demanding, and bored, as their expectations become “higher and higher” when it comes to service. Coke’s global customer director Simon Miles told a recent grocery industry meeting that companies need to up their game to meet shopper expectations, which can be summed up in one word: “free” (or close to it). That presents a lot of challenges in terms of logistics, supply chain, and products. Online grocery selling will evolve into two streams: auto-replenishment of boring but essential basics, and service-orientated ways to lure shoppers into buying products they may not have previously considered.
Victoria Craw, "Coca-Cola Global Customer Director Says Online Shopping Has Failed to Inspire Consumers", News.com.au, October 15, 2017, © News Limited
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Carrefour Brasil Introduces Online Shopping Service In Sao Paul

October 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Grupo Carrefour Brasil, the French retailer's unit in Brazil, plans to launch an online grocery shopping and rewards platform in Sao Paulo. After raising $1.6 billion in an IPO in July 2017, the company will launch the services through the Meu Carrefour mobile app. According to the company, which has 4 million registered online users, it plans to issue about 100 million coupons each month through the mobile app.
Gram Slattery, "Carrefour Brasil opens online grocery shopping in Sao Paulo", Reuters, October 10, 2017, © Reuters
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Amazon Angers India’s Big Retailers With Unapproved Gift Coupon Scheme

October 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Big retail chains in India are crying foul over what they feel was a sneaky tactic by Amazon to steal their customers using gift coupons distributed via ITC, Nestlé, and Coca-Cola products. The tactic – dubbed “below the belt” and “ambush marketing” – infuriated Big Bazaar, Hyper-City, Star Bazaar, Walmart-owned Best Price Modern Wholesale, and others. The brands involved in the Amazon campaign include ITC’s Yippee Noodles, Nestlé’s KitKat chocolate, and Coca-Cola’s Sprite and Fanta soft drinks. The stores have since removed products carrying the coupons. A D-Mart executive criticized the brands for not talking to his company first. Amazon downplayed the ruckus, calling the campaign a normal promotional activity.
Ratna Bhushan et al., "Big Retailers like ITC, Nestle & Coca-Cola Cry Foul over Amazon’s ‘Ambush’", The Economic Times, October 09, 2017, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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New Beverage Dispensing Technology Being Tested In U.K.

October 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola European Partners is testing its Coke Freestyle fountain dispensers among students and staff at the University of Reading in the U.K. The machines work with refillable containers sold by the school that have RFID technology and microchips that interact with Validfill dispensing software. Customers choose from more than 100 brands, including Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke, and Fanta, as well as low- and zero-calorie varieties, caffeine-free and still drinks. The technology ensures payment, keeps track of refills, and ranks drinks on popularity.
Andy Morton, "Coca-Cola European Partners to track refillable bottles on UK university campus", Just-Drinks.com, October 09, 2017, © Just-Drinks.com
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Big Data Is Helping Companies Transform The Customer Experience

October 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Using tools like advanced digital technologies and the cloud, marketers of food and beverages are mining both public and proprietary data to enhance data analytics, improve efficiency, and drive sales while personalizing the customer experience. One beverage industry example is Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, whose sales staff has exchanged its bulky data binders for iPads packed with crucial marketing, distribution, and customer metrics. The platform the company uses applies app-based machine learning and business intel analytics. Staff use the app to gather recommendations, check operational scorecards, gauge performance against projections, and gain insights on how to adjust tactics to meet goals.
David Sanderson , "How to shape your customer experience with big data", The Drum Network, October 09, 2017, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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Costco Introduces Online Shopping Services

October 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Membership-only warehouse club Costco Wholesale introduced two online shopping services, as part of efforts to expand its online retail presence. Available at present at 376 stores in the US, Costco's partnership with Instacart will be expanded to include more locations across the country. Launched on October 1, 2017, the company's CostcoGrocery online shopping service include about 500 nonperishable dry grocery products delivered free to Costco customers who make orders worth at least $75.
Jon Springer, "Costco Launches Online Grocery Offering", Supermarket News, October 06, 2017, © Penton
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'Supermarket' Startup Seeks To Go Storeless

October 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Farmstead believes it can reinvent the supermarket model by eliminating its physical structure altogether. The San Francisco based startup has a series of micro-warehouses stocked with a range of local farm produce and grocery products and uses AI to predict a customer’s future needs based on their initial order. The selection is then delivered to the customer. Farmstead claims to have made over 15,000 deliveries in the Bay Area and has raised $2.8 million from venture funds.  [Image credit © Farmstead]
Dan Orlando, "Startup Believes it Can ‘Reinvent’ Supermarket Model", Supermarket News, October 05, 2017, © Penton
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Amazon Seeks To Expand Own Delivery Capabilities

October 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon.com Inc. is expanding its in-house delivery capabilities in order to increase the number of products available for free two-day delivery and decrease warehouse overcrowding. Dubbed by the company as Seller Flex, the proposed service first began in India. Amazon began testing the service in West Coast states in 2017 and plans to launch the service across the country in 2018.
Spencer Soper, "Amazon Is Testing Its Own Delivery Service to Rival FedEx and UPS", Bloomberg, October 05, 2017, © Bloomberg LP
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Upcoming GDPR Legislation Set To Have Global Impact

October 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST

New General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are due to arrive in May 2018. GDPR will create a standardized data privacy law for EU members. It will also affect companies and individuals selling goods or services to EU citizens. The legislation will give individuals more rights to their data, including the “right to be forgotten” and asking consent for data processing. Potential fines for not adhering to the regulations can be up to $24m, or 4% of a company’s annual turnover. A recent PwC survey revealed that GDPR is a top data priority for more than 50 percent of US multinationals. [Image credit © EDPS]

Ronan Shields et al., "What Does the EU’s Privacy Reform Mean for US Marketers? And what Should You Do Now?", The Drum, October 05, 2017, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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Amazon Talks Logistics Collaboration With French Retailer Leclerc

October 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon has discussed possible logistics partnerships with Leclerc, according to the French retailer's chief executive Michel-Edouard Leclerc. French newspaper Le Monde earlier reported that Amazon has approached local supermarket companies regarding the possibility of establishing distribution deals or acquiring retail company in the country.
Pascale Denis, "French retailer Leclerc approached by Amazon over logistics partnership", Reuters, October 04, 2017, © Reuters
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Wal-Mart Buys NYC-based Last-Mile Delivery Service Parcel

October 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Wal-Mart said it has acquired Parcel, a technology-enabled, last-mile delivery service company specializing in perishable and non-perishable products in New York City. Operating 24/7, Parcel relies on technology, a fleet of leased vehicles, and employee-based workforce to rapidly sort, load, and deliver products to customers. Wal-Mart said it plans to use Parcel to deliver packages to customers in New York City.
"Walmart Announces the Acquisition of Parcel, a Technology-Based, Same-Day and Last-Mile Delivery Company", Walmart, October 03, 2017, © Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
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L’Oréal Paris Brings 'Beauty To Everyone' At Paris Fashion Week

October 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
At this year’s Paris Fashion Week and in pursuit of a goal to democratize beauty, L’Oréal Paris presented a 20-minute fashion show, featuring a 60-meter runway, for several thousand members of the public at Champs Elysees. The brand claims the show was aimed at real people, and included real-sized women as well as famous L’Oréal Paris ‘faces;’ Pierre-Emmanuel Angeloglou, President of L’Oreal Paris said: “This is part of our brand mission - to portray diversity, to open up the best in beauty to everyone.” The public could buy the fashion items from Printemps and Galleries Lafayette, as well as taking a masterclass to learn the secrets of the runway. Angeloglou explains that the U.S. is L’Oréal Paris’ biggest market, with China the second largest. Perfumes and cosmetics were France’s 8th largest export last year, bringing in $15.6 Billion.
Shellie Karabell, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Beauty: L'Oréal Paris Brings Diversity to the Runway", Forbes, October 01, 2017, © Forbes Media LLC
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Whole Foods Says Customer Card Payment Information Hacked By Cyberthieves

September 29, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Whole Foods has warned customers that hackers gained access to payment card information at several stores. Acquired by online retailer Amazon for $13.7 billion in June 2017, Whole Foods said the cyberattack affected the company's taprooms and restaurants and not the main checkout lines of its stores. Whole Foods operates 449 stores in the US, with more than 40 branches selling beer on tap.
Alfred Ng, "Whole Foods hit by credit card hack at several stores", CNET, September 29, 2017, © CBS Interactive, Inc
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Wal-Mart Aims For High-End Market With Jet.com

September 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is repositioning its Jet ecommerce unit toward the high-end market, as part of the retailer's efforts to compete with online rival Amazon. Acquired by Wal-Mart for $3.3 billion in 2016, Jet plans to sell apparel from online retailers bought by the retail giant in the previous year. Also, Jet plans to introduce a new line of private-label food and grocery items.
Sarah Nassauer, "Wal-Mart Tries to Take Jet.com Upscale", The Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Nestle: Detailed Knowledge Of Consumers Makes Digital Marketing Very Precise

September 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider told investors recently that digital marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. In fact, it involves developing and using region- or even country-specific Internet marketing tools. As an example, the company’s cross-matching of its own Nescafe customer data with China’s Alibaba consumer data – a 460 million-record database – has made targeting in that country “three times more effective.” The personalization encompasses ad banners on computer screens and delivery of free nutritional product samples. As the “push” model of marketing fades, Schneider said, all you need now is a consumer's phone number or e-mail address to “really target specifically to the needs of that person.”
Jeff Gelski , "Nestle taking country-specific digital approach", Foods Business News, September 28, 2017, © Sosland Publishing Company
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Coca-Cola Is Accumulating Mountains Of Data, And It’s Using All Of It

September 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola recognized as early as 2012 that it had amassed a goldmine of data from social media, mobile apps, cloud computing and e-commerce that could be used to support strategic decision-making. Since then, the company has been applying artificial intelligence (AI) to squeeze insights from its big data. For example, Coke applied AI in the development and launch of the new flavor Cherry Sprite. The decision was based on monitoring data collected from new generation self-service soft drink fountains, where customers mix their own drinks. The company saw which flavor combinations were the most popular and created a ready-made, canned beverage to fit the profile. Big data analysis is also being used to modernize vending machines, customize marketing messages, and develop healthful drink options, such as orange juice varieties.
Bernard Marr, "The Amazing Ways Coca Cola Uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) And Big Data To Drive Success", Forbes.com, September 18, 2017, © Forbes.com LLC
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Coca-Cola’s Douglas Says E-Commerce Is Not Really A Sales Channel

September 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The head of Coca-Cola North America says the company is succeeding in e-commerce, but brick-and-mortar retail remains the backbone of sales. Sandy Douglas told the Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference that e-commerce is not really a sales channel but “a way for consumers to research, to buy, to experience brands.” It is a way for companies to reach potential buyers who use mobile and other digital devices. Coke’s big opportunity is in “quenching thirst,” something that is delayed in the e-commerce experience. Douglas said Coca-Cola still looks to the shopping routine, takeaways, delivery, and home consumption as the big opportunities in selling.
Leonie Roderick, "Coca-Cola: Ecommerce should not be seen as a channel", Marketing Week, September 06, 2017, © Centaur Communications Ltd (a member of the Centaur Media plc group)
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Innocent Rides The “Health And Wellness” Wave To Booming Sales, Profits

August 29, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
British drinks brand Innocent, a unit of Coca-Cola Company, saw sales increase by 23 percent in 2016, its “biggest year ever.” Profit topped $11 million after last year’s loss of $900,000. The company has tripled in size since 2012, with half its revenues derived from international sales. Its success dovetails neatly with the “health and wellness” trend: the company does not add any sugar, and the British public understands that fruit juice and smoothies are “vital for a healthy diet.” The company has capitalized on the demand for more healthful beverages, recently adding coconut water, protein smoothies, and flavored sparkling water.
Leonie Roderick, "Innocent to focus on ‘health and wellness’ as it preps brand refresh", Marketing Week, August 29, 2017, © Centaur Communications Ltd (a member of the Centaur Media plc group)
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High-Tech Water Dispenser From Coca-Cola For “On-The-Go Hydration”

August 25, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola is testing a high-tech water fountain that dispenses filtered Dasani water for free, but charges if customers want flavored – peach-ginger or berry – or carbonated versions for “a unique solution for on-the-go hydration." The test of the Dasani PureFill station is being conducted at Georgia Institute of Technology. Customers use a smartphone app to find a nearby machine, and then pay using a cashless system. The company said the idea, which tested well among Millennials, is based on the finding that college students always carry a water bottle and a smartphone. The company may add more flavors as well as vitamins and protein.
Andy Morton, "The Coca-Cola Co pilots free Dasani water fountain with a twist", just-drinks.com, August 25, 2017, © just-drinks.com
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Campbell Ramps Up Online Delivery Infrastructure For Evolving Retail Environment

August 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Though the percentage of food sold online today is in the low single digits, by 2021 it will be a $66 billion business. Campbell Soup is determined to part of that phenomenon.
It recently announced the hiring of Amazon (and eBay and Kohl’s) veteran Shakeel Farooque to lead the new e-commerce division. This “revealing” hire, as Quartz put it, underscores the company’s goal of selling more soup online. Campbell says its new distribution centers will operate differently from its warehouses that keep supermarkets stocked. The new distribution centers will focus on e-commerce only, customizing delivery of foods for different channels, whether meal kits or online grocery orders. [ Image credit: © Chef'd  ]
Chase Purdy, "Even Campbell Soup is taking a Page from Amazon", Quartz, August 24, 2017, © Quartz
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Sephora Launches Online Store In India

August 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Beauty retailer Sephora has launched its own online store, sephora.nnnow.com, in India. Combining the company's online and offline stores, the online channel will let the brand reach consumers across the country. According to the company, the online store will feature makeup, skincare, fragrances, bath, and body care products, as well as the rest of its product lineup.
Bhagyashree Nair, "Sephora goes online exclusively only at sephora.nnnow.com", ETRetail.com, August 23, 2017, © ETRetail.com
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Plenty Of Demand For Wonky Fruits And Vegetables

August 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
California-based Imperfect Produce, which sells subscriptions for delivery of blemished and misshapen fruits and vegetable, is expanding from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Portland, Ore., and eventually to the Seattle, Wash., area. The idea for the company came from the fact that most grocery stores won’t sell scarred plums or odd-shaped eggplants. They are discarded, even though they’re perfectly edible. The company gathers the unmarketable produce from 70 West Coast farms. After just three weeks of marketing in Portland, the service has added 1,500 new subscribers. [ Image credit: © Wikipedia  ]
Cassandra Profita, "'Ugly' Produce Delivery Service Expands to the Northwest", Oregon Public Broadcasting, August 23, 2017, © Oregon Public Broadcasting
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Amazon Launches Business Grocery Delivery Service

August 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon.com is expanding the coverage of its AmazonFresh grocery delivery service to include business customers. Similar to the company's grocery delivery service for consumers, the Amazon Business service for business customers will feature access to produce and groceries from the company's online store and local shops with same- or next-day delivery.
Taylor Soper, "Amazon Rolls Out AmazonFresh Grocery Delivery Service for Business Customers", GeekWire, August 23, 2017, © GeekWire, LLC
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Unilever Tests High-Tech Direct-To-Consumer Marketing Scheme

August 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever’s Hellman’s mayo brand is working with the Quiqup on-demand delivery app and platform in a direct-to-consumer marketing test. Users will be able to choose a recipe, then have all of the ingredients delivered to their door within an hour. Hellman’s is betting that consumers will appreciate the free time provided by the service. Quiqup, a member of the Unilever Foundry’s network of start-ups, developed the concept that is targeted at Millennial shoppers in London who are likely to make “impulse purchases.” [ Image credit: © Quiqup  ]
Jennifer Faull, "Unilever’s Hellmann’s to deliver ‘Impulse’ Groceries in First Direct-To-Consumer Tests", The Drum, August 23, 2017, © Carnyx Group Ltd
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Ulta Beauty's Loyal Customers Empower It Against Amazon, Other Online Retailers

August 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Ulta Beauty's loyalty program, as well as the unique experience the beauty retailer offers to its customers, will allow it to compete with online retailer Amazon, according to investment bank and securities firm Jefferies. Also, Ulta Beauty's business model can hold its own against the growing threat of online retail. Jefferies analyst Stephanie Wissink said the company's loyalty program has 24.5 million members and they account for 90 percent of the retailer's total sales.
Tae Kim, "Here's one retailer that may survive the Amazon onslaught because its customers are so loyal", CNBC.com, August 23, 2017, © CNBC LLC
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Marketers Try To Meet Demand For “Authentic” Products And Services

August 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Though debate continues about the true meaning of words like “genuine,” “authentic” and “real,” they represent important marketing and promotional themes. In fact, the most lucrative word used to sell products on eBay in 2016 was authentic. Social media marketers are trying to figure out how to create marketing material that deliver “authentic and relatable” messages. When marketers fail at this – using dishonest marketing schemes such as greenwashing or “realwashing” – they are lambasted mercilessly on social media. In the food world, the authenticity trend is reflected in: the “natural” and ”green-tinged” movements; buying quality products with real value; buying misshapen or wonky produce; adopting traditional diets; and showing concern about food waste.  [ Image credit: © Wyoming SBDC  ]
"The Allure of Authenticity: A Top Consumer Trend for 2017", Blog post, Euromonitor International, August 16, 2017, © Euromonitor
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Smart Labeling Technology Could Revolutionize Retail Food Industry

August 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Advocates of smart packaging and labeling that use short-range wireless technology – aka, near field communication – say that interactive labels can provide product information while reducing cost and waste, and boosting store profits. The technology doesn’t require a separate app like QR codes. Consumers need only tap the phone and receive info, without any additional steps. To advance the use of the technology, the NFC Forum has partnered with the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association to create the smart labels. It will be a while before the technology hits grocery stores, but NFC is compatible now with millions of contactless cards and readers worldwide. [ Image credit: © PSFK  ]
Matt Vitone, "Smart Packaging Could Provide a Wealth of Information about Food Items", Report, PSFK, August 15, 2017, © PSFK LLC
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Coke Unveils Huge Times Square 3D Robotic Billboard

August 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola Company has extended its century-old tradition of using large signs to advertise its products in urban landmarks and settings. It recently unveiled the world’s first and largest – certified by Guinness World Records – 3D robotic billboard in New York’s Times Square. The 68-ft. by 42-ft. billboard consists of 1,760 independently moving and choreographed LED screens that will be seen by 300,000 passersby daily. The company was among the first to advertise with painted wall murals in the 1890s, moving on to neon billboards in the 20th century.
Jay Moye, "Coca-Cola and Fans Celebrate World’s First 3D Robotic Sign in Times Square", News release, Coca-Cola Company, August 08, 2017, © The Coca-Cola Company
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Some Restaurants Spurn Food Delivery

August 8, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
A major trend in the foodservice world is home delivery of meals to people who don’t want to dine out, but also don’t want to cook. It represents a total of 1.7 billion restaurant transactions a year. Some restaurants, however, have said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” A main reason is fear that the meals won’t arrive in time to eat warm. Casual dining chain Texas Roadhouse doesn't do delivery, and even encourages competitors “to do as much delivery as they can so they can deliver lukewarm food to their people." Besides quality and temperature concerns, though, the company worries about staff preparing delivery orders at peak dinner times, when dining rooms are packed. [ Image credit: © Pixabay  ]
Samantha Bomkamp, "Delivery is the Hot Dining Trend, but it's Not for Every Restaurant. Here's Why.", Chicago Tribune, August 08, 2017, © Chicago Tribune
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With Little Caesars Pizza Pick-up Machine, Shy Customers Can Avoid Humans

August 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The Little Caesars pizza chain has made it much easier for recluses, hermits, and other introverts – in Tucson, Ariz., for now – to buy pizza without seeing or talking to a store employee. The company’s Pizza Portal machine lets pick-up customers avoid lines, snatch their pizzas, and escape without human interaction. To make use of the machine, customers need to download an app to order and pay for the pizza. CEO David Scrivano says, "It's all about convenience, in and out in seconds, no line, no wait." The company plans to add about one hundred of the machines in the U.S. in 2018. [ Image credit: © Little Caesars  ]
Kellie Ell, "Little Caesars Unveils Pizza Portal, Letting Customers Grub and Skip Human Interaction", USA Today, August 07, 2017, © USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC.
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CeraVe Achieves Cult Status On Social Media

August 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
L’Oréal’s CeraVe is the drugstore skincare brand that is followed closely on Reddit’s huge Skincare Addiction thread patronized by dermatologists, experts, and full-blown skin care lovers. It has turned CeraVe into a “legit cult-favorite and desert-island necessity.” Launched in 2005 with a cleanser, moisturizing lotion, and moisturizing cream, the brand has expanded to include a full line of moisturizers, cleansers, body washes, and SPFs. Visitors to the Skincare Addiction thread on Reddit focus on CeraVe’s ability to get rid of stubborn breakouts and moisturize oily skin without aggravation. A key to the success is CeraVe’s low-cost, easy-to-find products that work with all skin types. [ Image credit: © Wikimedia  ]
Ruby Buddemeyer, "How CeraVe Became the Internet’s Cult-Favorite Drugstore Brand", stylecaster, August 05, 2017, © stylecaster
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Costco Posts Strong July 2017 Sales Numbers; Thrives Despite Amazon Threat

August 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Costco reported comparable sales grew 6.2 percent in July 2017, compared with the same month in 2016. In the US market, comparable sales grew 6 percent, or 5.6 percent with gasoline sales excluded. Customer visits rose 4.2 percent, a significant contrast with other retailers, which are seeing fewer customer visits. Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods, however, poses a threat to Costco's ability to resist the online retailer's competitive advantages, which have been eroding other retailers' market shares. Costco has been expanding its ecommerce presence in order to boost its online retail operations.
Andria Cheng, "Costco is Still Amazon-Proof... Relatively Speaking", eMarketer, August 03, 2017, © eMarketer Inc.
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Direct-To-Consumer Distribution Of Vitamins: The Future Is Now

July 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
National Business Journal (NBJ) says vitamin supplement producers have embraced the trend toward direct-to-consumer distribution, now the largest sales channel for multivitamins. Use of vending machines and other novel modes of multivitamin delivery – could drone delivery be far off? – are gaining legitimacy. According to NBJ, new delivery technologies and formats could finally convince the federal government to allow multivitamins as a permitted purchase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). At any rate, NBJ expects vitamin sales to surpass $15 billion by 2021, led by multivitamins. [ Image credit: © NBJ  ]
"Is the Future of Vitamins in Vending Machines?", New Hope Network, July 27, 2017, © Penton
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Amazon's 2Q 2017 Profit Drops 77 Percent; Blames Expansion Costs

July 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon.com Inc. reported profit fell 77 percent to $197 million in the second quarter of 2017, compared with the same quarter in the previous year. Sales grew 25 percent to $38 billion; however, the high cost of expansion efforts, which include new warehouses and delivery capacity for its retail business and datacenters for its cloud services business, caused the drop in quarterly profit. Amazon is expanding its brick-and-mortar business, highlighted by its acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. in June 2017.
Laura Stevens, "Amazon’s Expansion Costs Take a Toll as Profit Falls 77%", Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Consumer Shopping: Speed Is Of The Essence

July 26, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Now that consumers have the technological capability to shop at the speed of light, they expect instant gratification at online stores. Retailers have put in place a wide array of technologies and practices that speed transactions and fulfillment, from one-day delivery to in-store beacons (left) that communicate with shoppers via smartphones. Other advancements created to satisfy the new “I want what I want when I want it” shopping culture are: experimental delivery drones, same-day doctor appointments,, virtual doctor consultations, one-hour delivery of food and groceries, in-store restaurants and bars, and the “see-now, shop-now” trend that lets consumers order new fashion items seen on Instagram almost immediately. [ Image credit: © Estimote  ]
"Faster Shopping: A Top Consumer Trend for 2017", Blog entry, Euromonitor, July 26, 2017, © Euromonitor
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Tesco Expands Same-Day Delivery Service Across UK

July 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Tesco said it has expanded its same-day online grocery delivery service across the UK. Launched in 2014 in London and the South East, the service is now available for customers of more than 300 stores across the country, the company said. Free for a limited period to members of the Tesco's Delivery Saver online delivery program, the service will cost between ₤3 and ₤8. Customers need to place their order by 1:00pm to have their purchases delivered by 7:00pm or later.
"Tesco becomes first retailer to offer same day grocery delivery nationwide", Tesco, July 24, 2017, © Tescoplc.com
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Amazon-Whole Foods Deal Portends An Accelerated, Automated Grocerants Trend

July 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
“Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert says the $13.7 billion Amazon-Whole Foods deal is likely to speed up development of ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat grocery store items known as “grocerants.” Techno-centered Amazon will bring new intelligence from computer wizards, molecular biologists, and sustainability experts into retail grocery. Lempert says the Amazon-Whole Foods store will apply technology to improve efficiencies and reduce in-store labor costs. That means more robotics in the back room and interactive robots all around the store. [ "Pepper" Humanoid Robot, Image credit: © Softbank  ]
Kacey Culliney, "The Future Of Grocerants? Deliveries, Humanoids and a Good Dose of Life-Hacking, says Supermarket Guru", FOODnavigator-USA.com, July 19, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Enterprise Software Company Tackles Food Waste, Small Farm Management

July 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Enterprise IT software giant Cisco Systems says its products are being used to solve food waste and farm management problems. A start-up company that helps manufacturers and farms make use of extra food raised $2.5 million to buy Cisco's enterprise software. Boston-based tech start-up Spoiler Alert’s cloud-based software links food producers, food banks, and pantries. The company helps them track food they throw away or donate. In addition, Cisco’s software has helped smaller and rural farms connect their “Farm from a Box” units with Wi-Fi capabilities and an Internet of Things (IoT) system to optimize everything from water and energy use to guidance on farm management. [ Image credit: © Spoiler Alert  ]
Stephanie Chan, "Technology that Helps Reduce Food Waste", News release, Cisco Systems, July 12, 2017, © Cisco Systems
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New Coke App Uses AI Technologies To Modernize Vending Machine Use

July 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coca-Cola’s innovation chief Greg Chambers (left) says a new AI-powered app debuting soon will allow customers to order, and get, two drinks from vending machines equipped with special circuitry. The app will debut in late July at U.S. universities and in Australia and New Zealand. With the app, customers can order a Coca-Cola drink from multiple selections for themselves and a friend using a colorful touchscreen. The drinks will then be available on the vending machine. With AI technologies, “My goal is to push boundaries and push the brand forward,” Chambers says. [ Image credit: © Michael O' Donnell / Venture Beat  ]
John Brandon, "Coca-Cola reveals AI-powered vending machine app", Venture Beat, July 11, 2017, © Venture Beat
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Pizza Hut’s Japanese Customers To Have A Quick, Secure Ordering Solution

July 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
MasterCard has partnered with Pizza Hut to integrate the Masterpass digital payments technology into the pizza chain’s mobile ordering application. The two companies are launching the initiative in Japan, where time-pressed customers will be able to order pizzas quickly, securely and easily by safely storing credit card information, as well as delivery addresses, in their Masterpass account. Ordering pizzas will require only three clicks on a smartphone, the companies said. [ Image credit: © MasterCard  ]
"MasterCard, Pizza Hut Partner on Digital Payments Solution in Japan", Digital Market Asia, July 03, 2017, © DMA
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