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eSalon Expands Distribution Beyond The Direct Channel

May 17, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Hair color brand eSalon is expanding beyond the direct-to-consumer channel by introducing its products on the QVC home shopping channel and in 1,500 CVS stores. The rationale is new customer acquisition, according to CEO and co-founder, Francisco Giminez. The brand used to rely on paid promotion on social media, but Giminez believes that a move into mass retail could double the 15,000 new customers it currently acquires each month. The company has been growing fast and recently relocated to a new and larger headquarters in in El Segundo, Calif., which includes office space and production facilities. (Image Credit: @Creative Commons)

Ellen Thomas , "D2C Hair Color Brand eSalon Moves Into Retail", Women’s Wear Daily, May 17, 2018, © Penske Media Corporation
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Panera Rolls Out Delivery Program Nationwide

May 8, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Panera Bread is expanding its food delivery service nationally to 897 cities and 43 states via the Panera app or website. The company said its products will be available for lunch and dinner to officers, hospitals, college campuses and, in participating markets, to homes.According to CEO Blaine Hurst, "Delivery is fueling our next phase of growth.”Panera is using its own delivery drivers in the expansion – it has hired 10,000 so far – and says it has already created 13,000 jobs. Digital sales at Panera comprise online, app and kiosk orders and represent 30 percent of total company sales. Deliveries are possible with orders as small as $5 menu purchase plus tax and a $3 delivery fee in most markets. The company operates 2,076 bakery-cafes in 46 states and in Ontario, Canada. (© Panera Bread)
"Panera Bread Unveils National Delivery Service", GlobeNewswire, May 08, 2018, © GlobeNewswire, Inc.
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Study Concludes Brands Should Use Original Digital Video To Connect With Millennials

May 7, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

According to a recent Interactive Advertising Bureau report, brands should use original digital video (ODV) to engage with the more diverse and technology-aware younger consumers. The report also says that ODV viewers report higher levels of brand engagement and have a stronger affinity and awareness off some of the new direct-to-consumer brands, like Birchbox and Bonobos. Almost half of ODV viewers are “Brand Seekers”, who are more receptive to new brands and see the benefit in ads. (Image Credit: @Creative Commons)

Bulldog Reporter, "Original digital video connects brands with young, diverse, techie consumers", Agility PR Solutions, May 07, 2018, © Agility PR Solutions LLC
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Toothpaste Inventor Comes Back After 100 Years In AR App

May 3, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

The Dr. Sheffield’s Naturals brand its launching its first direct-to-consumer brand in modern times. The launch of Dr. Sheffield's Naturals Toothpaste, from Sheffield Pharmaceuticals, includes the Sheffield AR app, which allows users to see company founder, Dr. Washington W. Sheffield, via augmented reality when they are stood next to the packaging on store shelves in chains including CVS and Bed Bath & Beyond. The range is free of sweeteners, flavors, artificial colors, foaming agents and flouride. The brand claims that Sheffield was the first to sell a crème dentifrice instead of tooth powder. (Image Credit: @Creative Commons)

"Technology That Brings to Life a 168-Year-Old Legend? There's an App for That", PRNewswire, May 03, 2018, © PR Newswire Association LLC
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Clairol, Snapchat Makes Hair Color Try-On Tech For Shoppers

May 2, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Clairol is using Snapchat’s shoppable augmented reality platform, Lens, to allow users to “try-on” the brand’s Color Crave hair color products. The lenses will run through June 30, and users can also share and buy the products from the app. Clairol, a Coty brand, said the initiative is part of its effort to merge beauty and technology by creating a seamless shopping experience that bridges the gap between content and commerce. (Image Credit: @Creative Commons)

Gisselle Gaitan, "Clairol, Snapchat join forces to make shopping easy", Drug Store News, May 02, 2018, © Drug Store News
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Israel’s Coca-Cola Bottler Targets Online Retailer Selling Lookalike Cola

May 1, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Super-Sol, Israel’s biggest supermarket chain, has been selling a cheaper private-label brand of cola whose packaging resembles Coca-Cola’s. To counter that tactic, Coke’s bottler in the country, Central Bottling Company, has acquired a 25 percent stake in BringBring, a new online food retailer. Though the founders and majority owners of BringBring say Coca-Cola’s investment does not amount to a declaration of war against Super-Sol, it does represent a major challenge to Super-Sol, which controls 70 percent of the online grocery market. BringBring promises grocery deliveries within four hours of ordering with no charge for orders over $56. It’s a big improvement over Super-Sol’s service, which promises only same-day service and charges $8 for orders less than $207.
Gabriela Davidovich-Weisberg , "Coca Cola Israel to Battle With Israel's Largest Supermarket Chain With New Online Retailer", Haaretz, May 01, 2018, © Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd
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Cosmetic Giants Turn To AR Tech To Lure Customers

May 1, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Some of the biggest names in the cosmetic industry are seeing the value of augmented reality (AR) to boost customer reach and improve sales. MAC Cosmetics used AR to develop a mirror to show customers how they would look with makeup. According to the firm, this will help avoid "buyer's remorse" when shopping for makeup. Benefit Cosmetics launched a mobile app called Brow Try-On, which helps customers visualize their face with different eyebrow shapes and sizes. The app also has a tutorial that features Benefit products. (Image Credit: @Creative Commons)

Romany Reagan, "Why AR Access Is Important for Retailers", Exchange Wire, May 01, 2018, © RETAILTECHNEWS
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Coty Magic Mirror Is World's First Blended Reality Makeup Try-On Service

April 20, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Coty seeks to provide the "next generation" of personal consumer experience with its new Magic Mirror, which combines virtual reality and physical products in a blended reality makeup try-on service. The new technology was unveiled during the relaunch of Coty's Borjois Paris boutique. Shoppers can pick a makeup product and watch the Magic Mirror "apply" it to their reflection. Visitors can use the Magic Mirror with lipsticks, eye makeup, and brushes that the Mirror "matches" with their skin tones thanks to computer vision and augmented reality technology. Magic Mirror can also take selfies of customers with the virtual makeup, which it can then e-mail to its users or print in-store. (Image Credit: @Creative Commons)

"Coty Introduces Blended Reality Beauty Magic Mirror Powered by Physical Products", Coty, April 20, 2018, © Coty Inc.
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Coca-Cola Unveils New Cans In Celebration of 23 Chinese Cities

April 19, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Coca-Cola China has unveiled limited edition Coke can designs that celebrate the diversity of 23 Chinese cities.  The “visually captivating” packaging, created by McCann Shanghai and illustrator Noma Bar, is being promoted with a film celebrating city cultures, as well as print, billboards and a partnership with Chinese technology firm Baidu. The firm developed an augmented reality (AR) experience in which consumers may interact with the 23 city cans. According to a Coca-Cola design executive, the idea behind the city can is to capture the “essence” of each metropolis through its culture, food, “idiosyncrasies,” and landmarks.

"Coca-Cola China celebrates city cultures through ‘Faces of the cities’", Marketing-Interactive.com, April 19, 2018, © Marketing-Interactive.com. Lighthouse Independent Media Pte Ltd
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Dr Pepper Uses Sponsorships To Penetrate The eSports Gaming World

April 10, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Multi-player video game competition – known as eSports – is increasingly supported at the professional level by corporate sponsorships. About 60 percent of the revenue generated in 2018 will come from sponsorships, some of which are more successful than others. Team SoloMid recently announced that Dr Pepper Snapple Group has become a sponsor for all its competitive teams, joining other non-endemic (i.e., non-gaming related) brands Gillette and Geico. Another team, FlyQuest, recently announced that its squad would wear the logos of Snickers and 5-Hour Energy. The idea behind the sponsorships is target marketing. Dr Pepper’s media VP recently said the company has a clear goal: to reach a younger audience in a way that “felt authentic.” Blaise D’Sylva said. “We want fans to be exposed to Dr Pepper in an environment that’s relevant to them.”
"What Brands can Learn From the Dr Pepper/Team SoloMid Sponsorship", Esports Business Solutions UG , April 10, 2018, © Esports Business Solutions UG
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Some Of U.K.’s Fashion Retail Centers, Outlets, Doing Fine Against Online Competition

March 22, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Data from Kantar Worldpanel confirm that online shopping hasn’t wiped out the U.K.’s bricks-and-mortar fashion retail segment, though it has been a challenging sales and growth environment. Store sales overall have fallen 2.4 percent since 2017, but not every sector is suffering. Retail centers and outlets are outpacing the fashion market, growing as much as 3.5 percent. One reason is that fashion stores at retail parks are only competing with each another for spend rather than with restaurants, cinemas and home furnishing shops. Also, retail parks and outlets cater to value-sensitive shoppers looking for bargains, while the high street or shopping centers may not. The fastest-growing retailers in the top 10 fashion retailers in the U.K. are the value-based fashion retailers. The discounted market is growing at 5.1 percent compared to full-price sales growing 3.3 percent. [ Topshop image credit: © VisitLondon.com ]
"The Thread: The Silver Lining in bricks and mortar", News release, Kantar Worldpanel, March 22, 2018, © Kantar Worldpanel
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Consumers, Workers Give Amazon.com High Marks In Several Categories

March 22, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
A Harris Poll customer satisfaction survey of more than 25,000 adults put Amazon.com in the top spot across several. Another survey by LinkedIn recognized Amazon as the most desirable workplace in the U.S., based on data about where job seekers want to work and how long employees stay with companies. The Harris survey asked consumers to evaluate companies on six categories:  workplace and leadership, and products and services. Amazon has been ranked at the top for four of the last five years. The company also topped the ACSI Retail Report Internet retail category for the eighth year in a row. To thank customers for the strong ratings, Amazon announced a 20 percent discount on some Alexa-enabled devices. [ Image credit: © Amazon.com ]
"Amazon Thanks Customers for Third-Straight #1 Ranking in 25,800-Person Harris Poll on Corporate Reputation", News release, Amazon, March 22, 2018, © Amazon.com, Inc.
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Amazon’s Powerful Data Resources Helped Drive Bai’s Skyrocketing Sales

March 13, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon.com marketing gurus helped antioxidant water brand Bai target their online advertising in a way that sent sales skyrocketing. Bai had invested heavily in online marketing since it was founded in 2009. It then began to work with Amazon to create an end-to-end marketing strategy. Amazon analyzed Bai’s shopper data and merged it with its own, shedding light on the appropriate Bai customer demographics. Amazon then deployed native, search, and targeted display ads to ensure the right message was being served to the right customer, according to Tamir Bar-Haim of Amazon’s Canadian advertising unit. The program was so successful that sales soared, eventually leading to a 2017 Super Bowl TV ad featuring Justin Timberlake and Christopher Walken.
Kristin Laird, "How Amazon Helped Give Bai a Boost", Canadian Grocer, March 13, 2018, © EnsembleIQ
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Mutual Fund Company Hopes To Force Amazon To Issue A Food Waste Report

March 2, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
A mutual fund company with an environmental conscience has petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to compel Amazon.com’s shareholders to vote on a proposed food waste report. Boston-based Green Century Capital Management says it has worked with Kroger, Costco and other retailers on food waste; Safeway, Publix, Ahold USA, and Target have all addressed the issue. According to the company, which had begun talking about the issue with Whole Foods Market management before last year, it sent a letter to Amazon’s management and board outlining its concerns. But when Amazon said it did not want to issue a food waste report, Green Century filed a shareholder resolution asking that the proposal be voted on by shareholders. Amazon has challenged the shareholder request to the SEC. [ Image credit: ©  Green Century ]
Richard Turcsik, "Amazon Latest Retailer Being Prodded on Food Waste", Supermarket News, March 02, 2018, © Informa USA, Inc.
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Despite Hiccup In 4th Q Online Sales, Analysts Don’t See Walmart Losing To Amazon

February 20, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Investors are nervous that a dip in Walmart’s 4th quarter e-commerce sales – the announcement triggered a nine percent stock price drop – could portend an online future in which the mega-retailer plays second fiddle to Amazon. Online sales grew only 23 percent during the holiday quarter. Yet the company continues to forecast 40 percent growth for the current fiscal year, and analysts and industry experts seem to be on board with that. The company’s investments in its website and overall e-commerce operations will begin to pay off later in the year. Walmart also has a substantial brick-and-mortar retail base, something Amazon lacks. A Cowen & Co. analyst said “the future of e-commerce is physical + digital,” a strategy that “will drive a 'productivity loop.'" [ Image credit: © Walmart  ]
Lauren Thomas, "Walmart Has Big Year of E-Commerce Investments Planned to Bring Growth Back to 40 Percent", CNBC, February 20, 2018, © CNBC LLC
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Amazon Rewards Whole Foods Shoppers With Access To Prime Visa Benefits

February 20, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Amazon has extended the benefits of Amazon Prime membership to shoppers at Whole Foods Market, its newly-acquired grocery retail chain. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Cardmembers who shop at Whole Foods Market and use the card to purchase animal welfare-rated meat, sustainably caught wild and responsibly farmed seafood, or any local, Whole Trade, or organic produce will earn five percent bac. The discount is in addition to any other rewards they receive, including five percent back on Amazon.com purchases, two percent back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and one percent back on all other purchases. The rewards never expire and are redeemable, as long as the account is open, on millions of products at Amazon.com. [ Image credit: ©  Amazon.com ]

"Prime Members Now Earn 5% Back When Shopping at Whole Foods Market Using the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card", News release, Amazon, February 20, 2018, © Amazon.com
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Nestlé Deploys Coffee-Serving Robots In Battle Against Starbucks For Chinese Customers

February 18, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé has launched a marketing campaign targeting Chinese tourists in Tokyo that features the deployment of a Chinese-speaking humanoid robot with a tablet offering a variety of types, sizes, and strengths of coffee. When the selection is made, the humanoid places the order with another robot that makes the coffee. The cash-free, cashier-free system in the city’s Asakusa shopping district uses Alipay, Alibaba Group Holding's mobile payment system. The experiment is an attempt by Nestlé to expand sales of its instant coffee among the traditionally tea-drinking Chinese as it fights increasing competition from U.S. rival Starbucks.
Mitsuru Obe, "Nestle Serves up Robots in Japan to Woo Chinese Customers", Nikkei Asian Review, February 18, 2018, © Nikkei Inc.
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iFresh Adopts Alipay Mobile Payment Platform For Online, Store Purchases

February 15, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Asian-American supermarket chain and online grocer iFresh announced it is partnering with Alipay and CITCON to provide customers with access to the Alipay mobile wallet function to make purchases at stores and online. Digital payment platform Alipay, operated by Ant Financial, is popular among Chinese consumers.  iFresh will provide Alipay services online and in stores in the U.S. through CITCON, a cross-border mobile payment and marketing solutions provider that helps connect merchants with Chinese mobile wallet users. [ Image credit: © iFresh  ]
"iFresh Announces the Acceptance of Alipay Online and in Stores Nationwide", News release, iFresh, February 15, 2018, © iFresh
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Steam Oven/Meal Kit Start-Up Gets Cash Infusion From Tyson Foods

February 7, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
The Tyson Foods investment unit has purchased a stake in a start-up subscription meal kit company that also sells an steam-based "smart" oven. Tyson Ventures will also collaborate with Chicago-based Tovala on Tyson-branded meals. Tovala began three-and-a-half years ago when the founder connected with an engineer with an idea for a modern version of the steam oven that looks like a microwave oven. The concept attracted the attention of Origin Ventures, which led the company’s $9.2 million round late last year, along with the Chicago-based Pritzker Group Venture Capital; Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto; restaurant and real estate entrepreneur Larry Levy; and Y Combinator. Tovala’s oven retails for $399, but the price drops when customers subscribe to the meal kits service.. [  Image credit:  © Kickstarter.com  ]
Jonathan Shieber, "Tyson Foods Invests in Tovala’s New Oven and Meal Kit Business", TechCrunch, February 07, 2018, © Oath Tech Network
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Amazon.com Posts $3B Profit For 2017; Cites Success Of Alexa Platform

February 1, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon.com posted a full-year profit of $3 billion ($6.15 per share) for 2017 on net sales of $177.9 billion, a sales increase of $41 billion year-over-year. Profit was up $600,000 over 2016. Fourth quarter profit was $1.9 billion ($3.75 a share) on $60.5 billion in sales, compared with a profit of $749 million ($1.54 a share) in the same period in 2016. The company also reported: five billion items shipped with Prime worldwide in 2017; Fire TV Stick and Echo Dot were the best-selling products in 2017; the Alexa Skills store now offers more than 30,000 skills; Alexa Voice Service (AVS) adoption among device makers continues to grow; and new tools and developer kits were introduced. “Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them,” CEO Jeff Bezos said. [ Image credit: © Amazon.com  ]
"Amazon.com Announces Fourth Quarter Sales up 38% to $60.5 Billion", Earnings release, Amazon.com, February 01, 2018, © Amazon.com, Inc.
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Kroger’s Scan, Bag, Go Digital Shopping Service To Expand Nationwide This Year

January 31, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Kroger said it will introduce its Scan, Bag, Go shopping technology this year in 18 operating divisions and 400 stores. The company said it tested the service in several locations and decided to expand its availability across the U.S. through Restock Kroger. Scan, Bag, Go allows customers to use a wireless handheld scanner or the smartphone app to scan and bag products as they shop. Shoppers can view and download digital coupons, keep a running total of their order, and view the current week's sales ad. They can then provide payment directly through the app so they can exit the store quickly.  [ Image credit: © Kroger  ]
"Kroger Announces Divisions for Scan, Bag, Go Expansion", News release, Kroger Co. , January 31, 2018, © The Kroger Co.
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Walmart’s Wrestling Match With Amazon.com Now Moves To India

January 31, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart’s strategy in its game of catch-up versus Amazon.com is to acquire companies with the talent and technological expertise it needs to become an e-commerce behemoth. The company recently closed a $3 billion acquisition of Jet.com, after a five-year shopping spree in the world of young e-commerce companies, filling its shopping cart with 15 startups. It is now eyeing an investment in another, this time India’s Flipkart. Industry observers speculate that Walmart is looking to buy a 20 percent stake in the company, which sells a variety of consumer goods online, including electronics and appliances. Flipkart is looking to move into the food and grocery business, and an investment by Walmart could make that happen. Amazon.com, meanwhile, has pledged to invest $5 billion in India. [  Image credit:  ©  Flipkart  ]
Arun Kumar & Chaitali Chakravarty, "Walmart in talks to buy a significant minority stake in Flipkart", The Economic Times, January 31, 2018, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd
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Walmart Makes Operational Changes To Speed Stock Replenishment, Delivery

January 30, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart has decided it can compete more effectively with Amazon.com if it shares more investory data with suppliers so out-of-stock items can be replenished more quickly. Formerly available only internally, the company’s On Shelf Customer Availability (OSCA) data information will be shared at the Supplier Growth Forum, a two-day event at Walmart headquarters. The retailer also said it will tighten deadlines for delivery. It is now requiring large suppliers to deliver full orders within a specified delivery window 85 percent of the time or face a fine of three percent of the cost of goods. Previously, large suppliers had to hit a 75 percent threshold to avoid fines. The delivery threshold for smaller suppliers will move to 50 percent, up from 33 percent, effective in April.  [  Image credit:  ©  Walmart  ] 
"Walmart to share inventory data with suppliers in battle with Amazon", Reuters , January 30, 2018, © Reuters
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Alibaba Opens E-commerce Platform To Liquor Sales, With Suntory’s Help

January 27, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is launching online sales of distilled spirits in partnership with Japanese brewer Suntory Holdings, which has opened a store on the Tmall e-commerce platform. Suntory’s U.S. distillery and group member Beam Suntory has begun selling Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbon whiskey, and Courvoisier cognac, on the site. Alibaba is also selling whiskey and other liquors in its physical stores, including RT-Mart superstores and Hema supermarkets, following its strategy of blending online and brick-and-mortar shopping. Beam Suntory opened a liquor store in China in July 2017.
"Suntory to Team with Alibaba to Sell Booze Online in China", Nikkei Asian Review, January 27, 2018, © Nikkei Inc.
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Dairy Co-op Fonterra Enters Chinese Market On Alibaba Platform

January 17, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
New Zealand’s Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has signed on with China’s traditional and online retail marketplace Hema Fresh (Alibaba) to offer “Daily Fresh,” a fresh milk range available in Hema’s 14 stores in Shanghai and Suzhou in 750 ml bottles. Hema shopping is based on a downloadable app that allows customers to scan barcodes in the store for product information, or to order online for delivery. Sourced from Fonterra’s farm in Hebei province, Daily Fresh product labels match each day of the week to emphasize freshness. Volumes have started at three metric tons a day, but will increase over time with expansion to other stores in China. Fonterra is banking on the increasing sophistication and rising incomes of Chinese consumers to grow the business.
Jim Cornall, "Fonterra Launches New Milk Product with Hema Fresh", DAIRYreporter.com, January 17, 2018, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Walmart Brazil Plans To Combine Physical Stores With Online Retail

January 9, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart Brazil said it plans to spend $464 million in the next four years to integrate its brick-and-mortar stores with the company's online retail operations. Also, the retailer said it will expand its e-commerce platform to allow third-party retailers to sell goods on its online marketplace.
Ivanha Paz, "Walmart Brazil Is Integrating Physical And Online Retail", PSFK, January 09, 2018, © PSFK LLC
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Amazon's Mexico Initiatives Gain Recognition From Euromonitor

January 2, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
In the second half of 2017, online retailer Amazon launched three initiatives in Mexico, market research firm Euromonitor found interesting. In October 2017, the online retailer launched Amazon Cash, a service that allows consumers to load their Amazon accounts with credit by paying in cash at retail locations across the country. Also, Amazon launched its Handmade marketplace for artisan-made products, including jewelry, home décor, and accessories. Amazon also increased its focus on fast-moving consumer goods, such as pet care, beauty, and home care products.
Amanda Bourlier, "Three Interesting Initiatives by Amazon in Mexico", Euromonitor International, January 02, 2018, © Euromonitor
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L'Oréal To Tap Into Strong Chinese Demand For Premium Cosmetics

January 2, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Acknowledging a rise in demand for high-end cosmetics in China, L'Oréal’s luxury beauty and skincare brand Giorgio Armani Beauty plans to open an online store on the Alibaba Group’s Tmall platform this month, along with a separate store on Tmall's invite-only "Luxury Pavilion." The online stores will offer product browsing as well as interactive digital experiences such as scheduled in-person makeup sessions with beauty advisers. [ Image credit: © Giorgio Armani  ]
Huixin Deng, "Even Giorgio Armani is Launching an E-Commerce Flagship on TMall", Jing Daily, January 02, 2018, © Herlar, LLC
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Data Chief At L’Oréal Complains Of Poor Data Quality For Analytics

December 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
L’Oréal’s data acquisition head told a recent IAB conference that her company is struggling to find useable consumer profile data for measurement and attribution analytics. Data for media activities is much easier to locate and obtain. But brands need to test new data sources – like the direct data available to e-commerce and retail sites – that can be used in analytics. Aruna Paramasivam [left] said activation in programmatic requires at least one million consumers per segment on the open market, and that’s not easy to come by. “It’s frustrating for us because the attribution and measurement decisions right now don’t have the granularity and data quality we’d like.”  [ Image credit: © IAB  ]
Louise Prance Miles, "L’Oreal Head of Data: ‘Testing New Data Sources to Stay Current is Critical’", Global Cosmetic News, December 07, 2017, © Global Cosmetic Media Limited
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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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How Online Grocery Shopping Could Worsen Food Waste Problem

December 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The increase in the number of online food grocery options may exacerbate America’s food waste problem: 130 billion pounds of food are wasted a year. Online grocery sales are growing at an incredible pace. Amazon’s U.S. grocery sales, for example, surged 93 percent year-on-year to $575 million in the third quarter of 2017. But a new scientific paper by a Hofstra University professor says that trend could make the food waste problem even worse. Consumers shopping in a store invest energy and time buying food, and feel responsible for its use and disposal. But with online food purchases, that energy is transferred to the store’s employees. This impacts the “psychological ownership” of the food, reducing responsibility. And that leads to food waste. [ Image credit: © Wharton  ]
Stephen Daniells, "Could e-Commerce Boost Food Waste vs Conventional Retail?", FOODnavigator-USA.com, December 04, 2017, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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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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