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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Companies Test New Ride-Share Marketing Program

June 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Customers of ride-share companies like Uber will now be able to purchase, or sample for free, an array of products – snacks, electronics, health and beauty items, etc. – available through the Cargo Systems mobile website. Cargo provides a box to ride-share drivers that can be installed in their cars. Customers order products on Cargo’s website, the products are delivered to the driver, and the driver hands the products to the customers in transit. Brands like Mars, Kellogg's, Michel et Augustin, Emergency Stain Rescue and Leaders Cosmetics USA have products in the boxes. Cargo says drivers can earn an extra $1,500 a year in tips and review-based bonuses by selling products or distributing free items. [ Image credit: © Uber  ]
Robert Williams, "Mars, Kellogg's Test Drive Cargo's Ride-Share Product Box", Mobile Marketer, June 28, 2017, © Industry Dive
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Hangzhou Wahaha Group Buys Smart Beverage Vending Machines From DeepBlue

June 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
China’s largest beverage vendor is taking a step beyond FMCG toward automated retail with the signing of a 10-year contract with DeepBlue Technology to buy a million TakeGo smart vending machines. The machines use DeepBlue’s quiXmart payment system, as well as machine vision, biometric identification, and deep learning. The machines automatically assign items picked up by customers to a digital shopping cart. Customers are charged using Alipay when they exit. [ Image credit: © DeepBlue Technology / People's Daily Online ]
Du Xiaofei , "Wahaha Group eyes next-generation vending machines", People's Daily Online, June 27, 2017, © People's Daily Online
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Nestlé Waters Expands Home Delivery Capabilities

June 26, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé Waters North America is taking advantage of the growth in “consumer engagement” with its digital channels by expanding its ReadyRefresh online beverage shopping and delivery service. The company’s new 10,000-square-foot branch in Denver, Colo., will make it easier to fulfill water and tea orders submitted on its mobile-friendly website. The company expects to grow its two-truck fleet in the Denver area to 30 to serve customers within a radius of 50 miles. The service operates a fleet of 2,100 Nestlé-branded trucks, and is available to homes and businesses in 23 states. [ Image credit: © Nestlé Waters North America  ]
Mary Ellen Shoup , "Nestlé Waters North America sees increased demand for ReadyRefresh online delivery service", Beverage Daily, June 26, 2017, © William Reed Business Media
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Sephora Digital SEA Adopts Advanced Personalization Technology

June 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Sephora Digital SEA (formerly Luxola) is implementing Dynamic Yield's personalization technology stack technology to tailor individualized e-commerce experiences to each customer.  Sephora SEA is responsible for the e-commerce activities of Sephora across South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. With Dynamic Yield’s technology, Sephora SEAcan provide individualized beauty product recommendations on website pages based on country and prior shopping behavior. A Sephora SEA spokesman said personalization is “at the core of our e-commerce strategy.” [ Image credit: © Sephora  ]
"Sephora SEA Chooses Dynamic Yield to Personalize the Entire Customer Journey", News release, Dynamic Yield, June 22, 2017, © Dynamic Yield
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Nestle Takes Part In Freshly’s New Expansion Funding Round

June 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Nestlé USA announced it is taking a big step into the burgeoning, $10 billion direct-to-consumer ready meals business in the U.S. with the investment in one of its leading companies. New York-based Freshly operates in 28 states, delivering meals to homes weekly. Nestlé is the lead investor in Freshly’s new $77 million funding round that will help pay for the company’s construction of an East Coast kitchen and distribution center in 2018, as it prepares to expand to nationwide service. [ Image credit: © Freshly  ]
"Nestlé USA Acquires Minority Interest in Freshly", News release, Nestlé, June 20, 2017, © Nestlé USA
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Amazon’s Target In Whole Foods Deal Is Ultimately High-Margin CPG

June 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon’s deal with Whole Foods Market certainly threatens low-profit-margin – around two percent annually – retail grocers like Krogers. But Amazon’s real target is not the stores: it’s the profitable products on their shelves. In other words, it’s the higher-profit-margin – 16 percent annually – consumer packaged-goods (CPG) companies that should be worried. Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive have grabbed large market shares because of an economic and distribution model – economies of scale, lower prices, and acres of store shelf space – that is now breaking down, thanks to Amazon. Its Amazon Basics brand, already gaining market share in diapers and batteries, could be extended to other high margin categories, and move into Whole Foods stores. That’s a significant threat to the CPG giants. [ Image credit: © Colgate-Palmolive  ]
Conor Sen, "Amazon's Real Target Isn't Whole Foods. It's Everything You Buy.", Bloomberg, June 20, 2017, © Bloomberg LP
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Amazon-Whole Foods Deal Signals A Major Economic Trend

June 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
The recently announced acquisition of Whole Foods Market by Amazon is an indicator of a fact well-known by retail analysts: both Amazon and Walmart are trying to be like the other. Amazon is establishing brick-and-mortar bookstores and buying 460 grocery store locations. Walmart, through its recent acquisition of Jet.com and other moves, is strengthening its online presence and infrastructure. But the larger picture is that the retail industry is undergoing consolidation among a few big companies whose resources stretch globally, whose access to sophisticated supply lines, and advanced marketing and delivery technologies, gives them major market advantages over smaller competitors. This consolidation is happening in other industries, including banking, airlines and telecommunications. And it’s creating a real economic gulf between two groups of workers: those employed by the prosperous new super companies – and those employed elsewhere.  [ Image credit: © Wikimedia Commons  ]
Neil Irwin , "The Amazon-Walmart Showdown That Explains the Modern Economy", The New York Times, June 16, 2017, © The New York Times Company
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L’Oréal Takes An Expensive Flier On Virtual Reality Technology

June 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
L’Oréal’s Beauty Lab (left), located at the company’s year-old west-side Manhattan headquarters, serves as an experimental virtual reality center to explore a technology some industry observers call “the next frontier of fashion and beauty.” Though virtual reality has taken baby steps in fashion and cosmetics, it has yet to make significant inroads, and has had almost no impact on sales. Skeptics note that researchers aren’t even sure what to do with test data that are collected. L’Oréal, however, has invested a lot of money in its VR glasses, floor-to-ceiling VR screen, and additional 3-D modeling screens. Not so much to wow consumers, but to advance and enhance internal research. [ Image credit: © L’Oréal  ]
Hilary Milnes , "How L’Oreal uses virtual reality to make internal decisions at its New York HQ", Digiday, June 16, 2017, © Digiday Media
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Some Of The Advantages Of The Amazon-Whole Foods Deal

June 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon has been tiptoeing into the huge consumer grocery business since it launched its AmazonFresh home delivery service in 2006. The acquisition of Whole Foods Market, with its 460 physical stores, accelerates the move, and offers benefits to bother companies. It is probable that the deal will mean Whole Foods’ Instacart delivery service will be replaced with an Amazon version that adapts Prime Now and AmazonFresh. As to pricing, Amazon is also likely to use its scale and efficiencies to help relieve pricing pressure on Whole Foods. And Amazon could also use Whole Foods’ partnerships with suppliers to lure them to the Amazon platform and take advantage of Amazon’s 300 million customer accounts. [ Image credit: © Whole Foods Market  ]
Michelle Grant, "The Implications Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods", Blog entry, Euromonitor International, June 16, 2017, © Euromonitor International
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Jet.com Sheds Its Costco Ethos

June 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
E-commerce company Jet.com’s co-founder Marc Lore was inspired by the Costco example. Its original business model was based on membership fees, and on bulk sales savings passed on to the customer. But now that it has been acquired by Walmart, and continues to integrate its operations with the giant retailer, it has begun phasing out the Kirkland Signature brand of products, replacing them with products offered under the Sam’s Club Member’s Mark brand. According to analytics provider 1010data, Jet accounted for 5.5 percent of online sales of the Kirkland brand in the first half of 2016, behind Amazon and Costco.com. [ Image credit: © Walmart  ]
Matthew Boyle, "Jet.com Will Phase Out Costco Products After Wal-Mart Acquisition", Bloomberg , June 12, 2017, © Bloomberg LP
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Amazon Customers Who Get Food Assistance Can Pay Cheaper Prime Fee

June 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon has adjusted its Prime program to include customers receiving government financial assistance at a lower monthly fee. Membership in Prime includes video, music, reading, photos and unlimited free shipping. The fee for people on food assistance and other programs will be $5.99 a month for a year with anytime cancelation. Customers will need to qualify with a valid EBT card linked to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC). The EBT card cannot be used to pay for membership. The regular monthly rate for Prime is $10.99, which drops to $8.25 a month if paid annually ($99). Prime Video membership is $8.99 a month. [ Image credit: © 
"Amazon Introduces Discounted Monthly Prime Offer for Customers Receiving Government Assistance", News release, Amazon, June 06, 2017, © Amazon.com, Inc.
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Walmart Tests Large Parking Lot Kiosk For Online Order Pickup

June 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart is testing the use of a large self-service kiosk that would allow customers to pick up their online purchases without contact with an employee. After purchases are paid for online, Walmart employees find and pack the orders in bins in the 20-by-80-foot test structure, which is located in the parking lot of a Warr Acres, Okla., supercenter. Customers gain entry to the kiosk, which contains refrigerators and freezers to maintain food freshness, via a typed-in code. Customers must spend at least $30 online to use the kiosk, which is open 24/7 and can fulfill hundreds of customer orders in a day. [ Image credit: © Walmart  ]
Hayley Peterson, "Walmart built a giant vending machine that retrieves groceries", Business Insider, June 06, 2017, © Business Insider Inc.
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Millennials Not Very Adventuresome When It Comes To Eating Out

June 5, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.”  [ Image credit: © Robert Douglass  ]
Nicole Spector, "Why Millennials Are Hooked on Chain Restaurants", NBC News, June 05, 2017, © NBCNews.com
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How Walmart Might Foil Incursions By Discount Grocers Aldi, Lidl

June 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart has been doing a good job of beefing up its e-commerce program to stay close to online retail competitor Amazon. But analysts say another big challenge is to better compete against the German no-frills grocery retailers Aldi and Lidl. That battleground is mainly about price, but not completely. Walmart’s U.K. grocery unit Asda, whose unique selling proposition was low prices, got beat in the price arena by Aldi and Lidl. It is still trying to recover. As the two German retailers expand their presence in the U.S., Walmart needs to make sure it is not out-discounted again. It also needs to make sure its house brands compete on quality as well as price. The good news is that the company’s growing e-commerce strengths could help it fend off low-tech discounter competition, especially if it continues to boost its shop-online/pick-up-in-store strategy. [ Image credit: © MidAmerica Nazarene University  ]
Andrea Felsted, "Walmart's Big New Problem Isn't Amazon", Bloomberg , June 02, 2017, © Bloomberg LP
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Walmart Tests Use Of Employees As Delivery People

June 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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.” [ Image credit: © Walmart  ]
Marc Lore, "Serving Customers in New Ways: Walmart Begins Testing Associate Delivery", Blog entry, Walmart, June 01, 2017, © Walmart Stores, Inc.
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Peapod Fine-Tunes Customers’ Online Search Options

May 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [ Image credit: © Peapod  ]
"Peapod Expands Nutrition Filter Options To Help Shoppers Make Mindful Food Decisions Even Faster", News release, Peapod, May 31, 2017, © Peapod
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Health And Personal Care Sales Booming Online, Led By Amazon

May 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [ Image credit: © Wikimedia Commons  ]
Nathan Rigby, "Amazon Pantry Drives Health & Personal Care Sales: The Amazon Effect", One Click Retail, May 31, 2017, © One Click Retail
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Apartment-Based Cake Baker Transformed Herself Into A Social Media Star

May 30, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [ Image credit: © FoodNetwork.com  ]
Polly Mosendz, "Bakers Are Cashing In on Instagram’s Cake Obsession", Bloomberg, May 30, 2017, © Bloomberg Finance L.P.
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TECHNOLOGY: Coke CEO Sees Technology As Major Challenge, As Well As Solution

May 26, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Technology advances are helping Coca-Cola cut costs. Company has turned to cheaper off-the-shelf software, for example, to run human resources and bill payment, allowing it to cut obsolete jobs. But evolving technology also presents new marketing challenges, according to CEO James Quincey. Rise of online beverage purchasing is disrupting soft drink buying patterns: shopping trips that used to lead to soft drink purchases at food courts or vending machines are being replaced by smartphone purchases and home deliveries. Quincey sees technology such as social media as key to answering these challenges, including decline in foot traffic, and ultimately believes surmounting them will make Coca-Cola a winner, here and abroad, in the digital age.
Jennifer Kaplan, "Coca-Cola’s CEO Fights Digital Threat to Buying Habits", TheRecord.com, May 26, 2017, © Metroland Media Group Ltd.
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Walmart Opens Flagship Online Store For China Market On JD.com

May 25, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart opened its flagship online store on China-based shopping portal JD.com. Aimed at providing same-day and next-day deliveries to more than 600 million consumers in the country, the opening came almost a year after Walmart and JD.com formed a strategic alliance for the China market. In October 2016, Walmart invested $50 million in New Dada, JD.com's joint venture with delivery services firm Dada.
Bien Perez, "US retail giant Walmart launches flagship online store on JD.com", South China Morning Post, May 25, 2017, © South China Morning Post
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Lidl Opens Online Store In China

May 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Germany-based retailer Lidl launched its China-focused online store on Alibaba's online platform Tmall Global. According to the company, the website will offer several of its private labels. With European products being popular in China, Lidl wants to launch its Combino, Bellarom, and Sondey brands in the country.
Yoni Van Looveren, "Lidl launches Chinese web shop", RetailDetail, May 22, 2017, © RetailDetail
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Facebook Expands Food Order/Delivery Feature On Desktops And Phones

May 19, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
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. [ Image credit: © Facebook  ]
Sarah Perez, "Facebook Rolls Out a New “Order Food” Option in its Main Navigation", Tech Crunch, May 19, 2017, © AOL Inc.
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