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China's Online Retail Market To Experience 15 Percent Growth Through

March 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
China's online retail market will expand at a CAGR of 15 percent in 2016 to 2021, reaching RMB 1.3 trillion in total value by the end of the period, according to Mintel. Data  revealed the country's overall e-commerce market grew from RMB 53 billion in 2011 to about RMB 626 billion in 2016, a CAGR of 64 percent. Also, 73 percent of online shoppers shop for imported products from local online stores, while only 27 percent shop from overseas retail websites. Mintel research also showed 31 percent of consumers purchase imported food from Taiwan, 36 percent buy wine from France, and 45 percent buy beauty and personal care products from South Korea.
"China’s online retail market is expected to reach RMB 1.3 trillion in 2021", Mintel, March 22, 2017, © Mintel Group Ltd.
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Carrefour Launches Online Banking Service

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
France-based retailer Carrefour launched its C-zam online banking service. Part of company CEO Georges Plassat's plan to expand Carrefour's online business, the move sees the retailer moving into an already crowded market. Telecoms company Orange and partner Groupama also plan to launch Orange online banking in May 2017. C-zam lets anyone older than 18 years old and who can present two identification cards to open and activate a current account online in 10 minutes.
Dominique Vidalon, "French Retailer Carrefour Launches New Online Banking Service", Reuters, March 21, 2017, © Reuters
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Amazon To Hire 10,000 Full-Time Workers In Europe

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon plans to create 10,000 full-time jobs across Europe in 2017, including 5,000 in the U.K.  Also, Amazon's plan to open fulfillment centers in Daventry, Doncaster, and Tilbury confirms the company's growing commitment to the British market despite the Brexit decision to leave the European Union. Amazon is also increasing the number of employees at its development centers in London, Cambridge, and Edinburgh.
Holly Browne, "Amazon Plans To Create 5,000 U.K.Jobs", Retail Analysis, March 21, 2017, © The Institute of Grocery Distribution and IGD Services Limited
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Brand Consultant Says Walmart Can’t Match Amazon’s “Value Proposition”

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Brand building consultant Denise Lee Yohn says Walmart’s current plan to “out-Amazon Amazon” is improving its e-commerce capabilities, which is a good thing, but in the long run it’s not a winning strategy. Offering free shipping on orders over $35, for example, makes the customer think about money with every online transaction. Amazon’s Prime members pay an annual fee and forget about it. Moreover, Prime gives members access to movie streaming, photo storage, music streaming, and early access to time-sensitive “Lightning Deals.” Walmart can’t compete with this “value proposition.” What it should do, Yohn says, is leverage its excellent physical distribution and retail network, improve the in-store experience, promote omnichannel shopping and fulfillment options, and develop in-person service innovations.
Denise Lee Yohn, "Walmart Won’t Stay on Top If Its Strategy Is “Copy Amazon”", Harvard Business Review, March 21, 2017, © Harvard Business School Publishing
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Amazon Ramps Up Efforts To Expand Internationally

March 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon is boosting its efforts to expand overseas. In Mexico, the company launched its Prime shipping service for a first-year subscription fee of $23, offering free same-day and one-day shipping. For China-based sellers, Amazon offers the option of using its air cargo service to send products to external markets. With data from L2 showing only 14 percent of e-commerce-friendly brands offering international shipping, Amazon is expected to have a significant advantage in competing in overseas markets.
Evan Bakker, "Amazon is Globalizing its Retail Empire", L2 Daily, March 21, 2017, © L2 Inc.
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Retail Responds To Lower Profits By Dumping Some Stores, Revamping The Rest

March 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retail chain CEOs are wondering what to do over the long term about declining store traffic and slipping profit margins. At the core of the problem, some analysts say, is the overheated expansion of brick-and-mortar outlets in the 1980s and 1990s. So far, the options seem to be: filing for bankruptcy (Gander Mountain) or closing stores (Macy’s, Sears). Money saved using these tactics can be applied toward reworking e-commerce operations. Other options include: online buying/store pickup, launching exclusive brands, keeping prices competitive, and installing gadgets and software to make better use of stores. The goal of today’s retail stores, one consultant says, is transformation by “leveraging existing resources.” [ Image credit: © Gander Mountain  ]
Khadeeja Safdar, "Retail Store ‘Bubble’ Has Burst and CEOs Search for Answers", The Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Walmart Will Sell Newly Acquired Women’s Fashion Company’s Products On Jet.com

March 18, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart’s pursuit of a strategy to expand its e-commerce presence has led to the acquisition of the assets and operations of an online women’s fashion retailer. The company said that Modcloth, “one of the top online specialty retailers of unique women’s fashion and accessories," has 300 employees in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. Walmart will sell Modcloth’s product line on its e-commerce site Jet.com.
Alana Abramson, "Walmart Acquires Online Women’s Clothing Retailer ModCloth", Fortune, March 18, 2017, © Time Inc.
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Meijer Expands Home Delivery Service Across Midwestern Market

March 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Meijer is expanding its home delivery service across the Midwestern market. Meijer's move follows the success of a test of the service in the Detroit area where more than 65,000 orders for home delivery were received by the company. Mejier, in partnership with Shipt, offers the membership-based service with $99 annual subscription fee and offers unlimited free grocery deliveries on orders worth more than $35. Meijer president Rick Keyes said the company learned many lessons from the Detroit test, including the demographic groups that used the service.
Dale Buss, "Groceries on Demand: 5 Questions With Meijer President Rick Keyes", Brandchannel, March 16, 2017, © Interbrand
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Ferrero Acquires Fanny May Confectionery Assets From 1-800-Flowers

March 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Italian confectioner Ferrero International is acquiring the Fannie May confection brands of 1-800-FLOWERS.com, including Fannie May and Harry London chocolate brands, in an all-cash $115 million transaction. Ferrero will acquire all related assets and liabilities including Fannie May’s e-commerce business,79 retail stores located mostly in the Chicago area, as well as a factory, warehouse and distribution facility. As part of the deal, 1-800-FLOWERS will continue to sell Fannie May and Harry London chocolates through its e-commerce and wholesale channels, and will add some of Ferrero’s chocolate brands, including Nutella, Ferrero Rocher and Raffaello, to its offerings. [ Image credit: © Fannie May ]
"1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. Announces the Signing of a Definitive Agreement to Sell Its Fannie May Confections Brands, Inc. Business to Ferrero International S.A. for $115.0 Million", News release, 1-800-FLOWERS, March 15, 2017, © 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.
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McDonald’s Enters The World Of Smartphone Food Ordering

March 15, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Hoping to win back the drive-in customers it lost over the past four years, McDonald’s is at last testing a mobile ordering app it is satisfied with. The company is showing off the technology in Chicago where a new high tech demo restaurant was built with a redesigned kitchen that speeds order flow. McDonald’s hopes to avoid the disasters Starbucks encountered when its app generated a flood of orders that overwhelmed stores and drove away impatient walk-in customers. The company says order automation will cut transaction times, reduce errors, and free up workers to deliver food to tables or to cars parked in mobile order spots.[ Image credit: © McDonald's Corp. ]
"McDonald’s Finally Has Mobile Ordering", Fortune, March 15, 2017, © Time Inc.
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Birchbox Tries Offering Customers Personalized Subscription Boxes

March 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Birchbox is testing a beauty-subscription service called Birchbox Select Beta. Priced at $15 a month, the program offers customers the option to subscribe to boxes customized based on their beauty needs. Birchbox's launch of the service follows the company's announcement of its plan to open a retail store in Paris.
Allison Collins, "Birchbox Beta Tests More Customized Boxes", Women’s Wear Daily, March 07, 2017, © Penske Media Corporation
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Aldi To Use Alibaba Online Platform To Market German Brands In China

March 3, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Germany’s fast-growing discount grocery chain Aldi hopes to interest Chinese consumers in German food and beverage brands, especially wine, snacks and breakfast foods. With that goal in mind, the company will "soft launch" an online presence on Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform, followed by a full launch event in Shanghai on April 25. The Chinese venture is being managed by Aldi South, owner of Aldi U.S. and manager of the British chain. An Alibaba manager said the Chinese middle-class is increasingly interested in German products.
Victoria Bryan, "German discounter Aldi to start online sales in China", Reuters, March 03, 2017, © Thomson Reuters
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Amazon Anticipates Permission From India To Launch Produce Delivery Venture

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon Fresh, a growing competitor of supermarkets in the U.S., U.K., and Europe, is waiting for foreign direct investment approval from the Indian government before launching a grocery delivery operation there. The company expects to be delivering produce, lentils, milk, and other staples sourced from local farmers. Amazon already sells fresh produce and dairy products through its Amazon Now venture in four Indian cities, though the food is sourced from local supermarkets.[ Image credit: © SounderBruce ]
Writankar Mukherjee, "Amazon Awaits FDI Approval to Deliver Groceries at Doorstep ", Economic Times, March 01, 2017, © Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
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Campbell Soup Says Its Four Platforms Will Ensure Future Growth

March 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison told consumer industry analysts recently that she and her company understand that the “future food world” will be complex and challenging, with unpredictable and unrelenting change. There will be both “opportunities and disruptions” caused by advancements in food, health and wellness, and technology. With that in mind, the company has established four platforms for growth: further developing its omnichannel strategy, especially e-commerce; focusing on affordable, high-quality, and even functional snacks; taking advantage of the future biometrics-based personalization of foods; and applying the concept of “limitless local” that embraces smaller and more regional farming and food production models. [ Denise Morrison, iImage credit: © Campbell Soup Company ]
Lynne Cooke, "Campbell Soup Outlines Four Platforms to Drive Growth", CPG Matters, March 01, 2017, © CPG Matters
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Olay Releases New Version Of Skincare App To Help Consumers Navigate Options

February 28, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Procter & Gamble’s Olay is rolling out a new version of its mobile app that features expanded artificial intelligence capability. The previous Olay Skin Advisor app relied on a selfie, “smart skin analysis” and personalized product recommendations. The latest release uses “pixel-tagging capabilities” that compares the selfie with a databank of hundreds of thousands of photographs of women to help women diagnose their “most troublesome skin problems.” Olay were motivated by research that showed up to 33 percent of women are “overwhelmed” by the choice of available products. Since the app was launched last year it has had 1 million “visits.” Other brands, such as Benefit, with its Brow Genie, and Cover Girl, are using AI in their apps to engage consumers digitally, while others push into physical stores – Make Up For Ever, for example, opened in February a global flagship store in New York that offers Go Pro Makeup small tutorials led by professionals, covering makeup application techniques.  [Image credit © P&G]
Sarah Mahoney, "As Beauty Gets More Digital, Olay Expands AI", MediaPost, February 28, 2017, © MediaPost
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Watsons Kiosk In Shanghai Features YouCam Makeup App, Allows Customers To Virtually Try On Cosmetics

February 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Retailer Watsons' flagship store in Shanghai features a kiosk that comes with augmented-reality-powered facial detection technology. Developed by Perfect Corporation, the YouCam makeup app allows customers to try on more than 30 products from leading makeup brands, such as MaxFactor, Maybelline, and Kate Cosmetics.
"YouCam Makeup App Becomes an Interactive Makeup Consultant in Watsons Shanghai", Business Wire, February 24, 2017, © Business Wire, Inc.
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Vitamin Start-Ups Pull Industry Into The 21st Century

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Half of all Americans take a daily vitamin or supplement. But, despite that, the vitamin industry has been slow to adapt to evolving consumer trends. Now, thanks to a blend of lifestyle branding, wellness influence, and retail convenience, the vitamin industry is advancing into the 21st century with numerous changes. Start-up Care/of, for example, last year launched customizable vitamin packs that offer "honest guidance and better ingredients." Users are quizzed about their age and lifestyle, then sign up for a $30/month subscription to a custom vitamin blend. The Ritual brand also offers vitamin blends by subscription, targeting Millennial women. The bright branding is vastly different from traditional supplements. Ritual's products contain few ingredients, and their sources are well-documented.  [ Image credit: © Ritual ]
"Vitamins Get a Makeover", Report, J. Walter Thompson Intelligence, February 23, 2017, © J. Walter Thompson Intelligence
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Amazon Is Top Online Beauty Seller In 2016, Report Says

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon.com Inc. accounted for 21.1 percent of online beauty sales in 2016, according to 1010data. Online sales excluding those sold by its marketplace sellers reached 14.4 percent of total online beauty sales. Macy's Inc. and Sephora USA Inc. grabbed 17.4 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively. Data from the market research firm showed the online beauty segment expanded 14 percent in 2016, compared with 2015.
April Berthene , "Amazon nabs the top spot for online cosmetics sales", Internet Retailer, February 23, 2017, © Vertical Web Media
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Digital Consumerism Is Already Changing The Health Industry, And Healthcare

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Smartphones are fast becoming important medical devices as digital consumerism takes hold, challenging the consumer health industry and healthcare generally. Thanks to digital consumerism, healthcare providers will have to handle huge amounts of new customized data. It’s happening already: mConsumers – i.e., mobile consumers – are using physical fitness apps to set and pursue fitness goals; paying monthly subscription fees to have round-the-clock access to their physicians; and are using mHealth apps that detect different physical conditions during emergencies, including heart attacks. Start-up companies are moving quickly to take advantage of the changing technological landscape. One such company is applying a fast-emerging advanced technology known as 3-D printing to make drugs and vitamins. Euromonitor envisions mConsumers will someday be able to customize 3-D printed drugs and vitamin supplements from their mobile devices.
Carolina Ordonez, "Consumer Health in the Age of Connectivity", Nutraceuticals World, February 23, 2017, © Rodman Media
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Doughnut Fries Catch On Big In Australia

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Yet another in the seemingly endless stream of doughnut hybrids – this time the “doughnut fry” – has become a major hit in Australia and on social media. The dessert (or snack or pastry) combines the sweetness of a doughnut with the shape of a French fry, according to an Australian food writer, who adds that it is “sending Australians wild.” The owners of The Doughnut Bar in Brisbane say they came up with the idea independently – similar treats are available in Europe and the U.S. – when they were looking for a bite-size snack that would be more appropriate than doughnuts for summertime munching. Doughnut fries are served with chocolate, caramel or raspberry dipping sauces. [ Image credit: © The Doughnut Bar  ]
Sinead MacLaughlin, "Do You Want Doughnut Fries with That? Mouthwatering Fast Food Hybrid is Now Available in Australia", Daily Mail, February 23, 2017, © Associated Newspapers Ltd
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Food Deliverer Thistle Launches Frozen Meal Kits For Infants, Toddlers

February 23, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Food delivery startup Thistle is launching meal kits for busy parents who want to make nutritious baby foods at home. The founders say available baby and toddler foods are not particularly nutritious, and even the healthier options are over-processed, pureed, watery, and don’t taste like real fruits or veggies. The vacuum-sealed, flash-frozen Thistle meal kits are steamed, pureed and spiced at home. The company specializes in organic, gluten-free plant-based ingredients, but also offers omnivore meals. The main competition is baby foods sold in boxes, pouches, and jars by grocery stores. But a few e-commerce companies deliver kid-friendly meals or meal kits to the home. Though 14 percent of consumers are buying food online (Nielsen), it remains to be seen what portion of the $30 billion baby foods and formula market will shift to e-commerce models.
Lora Kolodny, "Thistle Launches Meal Kits to Make Nutritious Baby Food at Home", Tech Crunch, February 23, 2017, © AOL Inc.
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Canadian Grocery Delivery Service Offers New Ben & Jerry’s Treats Daily

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever is using a Canadian grocery delivery service to introduce two dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s frozen dessert flavors: P.B. & Cookies and Coffee Caramel Fudge. Toronto-based Urbery began offering the new flavors before their official store release late last month. A pint of the non-dairy dessert sells for $9.99, and regular flavors sell for $8.99. Urbery’s $4.99 delivery fee is waived if customers order three or more pints. The desserts are purchased on a dedicated website that offers daily delivery between 5 and 10 p.m. in downtown Toronto within 30-45 minutes. [ Image credit: © Ben & Jerry's ]
Chris Powell, "Ice Cream, On-Demand", Canadian Grocer, February 21, 2017, © EnsembleIQ
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Walmart Posts Robust Quarterly Sales, But Big Drop In Profit

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart’s same-store sales were impressive during the winter holidays, but the company’s e-commerce battle with Amazon is hurting profit. Same-store sales rose 1.8 percent in the quarter that ended January 31, 2017, the tenth consecutive quarterly rise. But profit fell 18 percent as the company pursues its strategic goal of becoming “more of a digital enterprise,” as CEO Doug McMillion put it. Online sales, which included full quarter sales performance from Jet.com, acquired last September, rose 16 percent. E-commerce sales rose 21 percent in the previous quarter. Other downward pressures on profit include plans to raise store workers’ wages and lower prices. [ Image credit: © Walmart ]
Sarah Nassauer, "Walmart Posts Strong Holiday Sales, But E-Commerce Battle With Amazon Pinches Profit", The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Mondelez Invests In High-Growth Channels And Products

February 21, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
N.J.-based snack maker Mondelez International's strategy is to boost its presence in high-growth channels like e-commerce, discounters, convenience stores and traditional trade. To build its e-commerce snacks business, it is spending heavily on capabilities, infrastructure and broadening the online product portfolio. The effort is working: net revenues in e-commerce grew more than 35 percent last year. More specifically, the company is investing in what it calls its “power brands” – namely, Oreo, Milka and belVita – which account for 70 percent of global revenues. The effort is paying off: last year those brands grew organic net revenue at twice the rate of the company overall and continue to outpace category growth, according to Chief Growth Officer Tim Cofer.
Jeff Gelski, "Mondelez Sees Opportunity in 'power Brands,' E-Commerce", Food Business News, February 21, 2017, © SOSLAND PUBLISHING CO.
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Tough Times Ahead For America’s Agricultural Suppliers?

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Small-town stores and co-ops that for decades have supplied seed, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides to farmers, may be in for a rough patch. Farmers are beginning to catch on to the financial benefits of shopping online, even if they have to forego the expert advice of local suppliers. Several trends have contributed to this phenomenon, not the least of which is that broadband is now available to 63 percent of rural residents. Online ag-suppliers like Farmers Business Network have much lower overhead expenses than brick-and-mortar suppliers, so prices are lower. Delivery of supplies, even in huge amounts, is now economically and technically feasible. A surplus of commodities has driven down crop prices and farm incomes, forcing farmers to shop for better deals. And they are finding them online. One Illinois farmer last year spent $26,000 on the Internet on herbicides for his corn and soybean fields, about half of what he usually spends at a local farmers’ co-op. [ Image credit: © Farmers Business Network ]
Jesse Newman et al., "E-Commerce for Farmers: Shopping Online for $26,000 of Herbicides", The Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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More China Consumers Expected To Buy Foreign Goods By 2020, Study Reveals

February 16, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
By 2020, 25 percent of China’s population, or 325 million people, are expected to purchase products from abroad via online retailers, according to eMarketer. Data from the market research firm revealed more than 15 percent of the Chinese population bought $85.8 billion of foreign goods in 2016. With local consumers spending about $473 each on cross-border purchases in 2016, foreign products accounted for 4.2 percent of the total online retail market in the country.
He Wei, "Survey says more e-shoppers to buy foreign stuff by 2020", China Daily, February 16, 2017, © China Daily Information Co (CDIC)
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Smartphones Will Be The Pillar Of U.K. E-Commerce By 2020

February 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Smartphones are rapidly becoming the technological engine powering e-commerce in the U.K., according to a report from OC&C Strategy Consultants, Google and PayPal. Within three years, mobile purchases will account for two-thirds of e-commerce sales – £43 billion – up from £13.5 billion in 2016. Another £14 billion of online retail will involve a smartphone in product research and price comparison, meaning that 80 percent of all U.K. e-commerce by 2020 will be handled over a smartphone. But despite these forecasts, U.K. retailers lag behind U.S. and Asian competitors in terms of mobile readiness, the report notes.  [ Image credit: © Jason Howie  ]
Paul Skeldon, "Smartphone Shopping to Account for Two Thirds of UK E-Commerce by 2020, says Google, PayPal Study", Internet Retailing, February 10, 2017, © SJP Business Media
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Candy Companies Should Get The E-Commerce Ball Rolling Now

February 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Candy makers need to develop an e-commerce strategy now to get a head start on developing relationships with online retailers that stock their product lines. A good example of how an early start reaps rewards is the German unit of Mars Chocolate, which has gained a lot of experience and insight since it launched a B2C website selling personalized M&M’s (MyMM.com) ten years ago. Confectioners should not be dissuaded by the fact that e-commerce accounted for only 4.4 percent of global FMCG sales last year. E-commerce is expected to account for nine percent of the market by 2025 ($150 billion). A Mars Germany exec says it’s a small share now but is “gathering speed so you need to act quite quickly in this area.”  [ Image credit: © Mars MyMMs.com ]
Oliver Nieburg, "E-Tail-Volution: Why Confectionery E-Commerce Strategies Shouldn’t Be Put on Hold", FOODnavigator.com, February 10, 2017, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Amazon Expands Its Order Fulfillment Capacity With Two New Centers in California

February 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon.com said it will build two new fulfillment centers in California, adding 2,000 jobs for associates who will pick, pack, and ship customer orders. The company did not say when the new centers in Eastvale and Redlands will open, but together they will have nearly two million square feet of storage space. A center being built in Sacramento is expected to open this year. Amazon employs 15,000 associates in California.
"Amazon to Create 2,000 New Full-Time Jobs at Two New California Fulfillment Centers", News release, Amazon.com, February 09, 2017, © Amazon.com, Inc.
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Effective Social Media Involvement Of Super Bowl 51 Fans Stretched Ad Dollars

February 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Interactive ad strategy – use of live-streams, paid social advertising, and giveaways – were the hallmarks of successful social media and mobile campaigns for several Super Bowl 51 advertisers. Especially effective was PepsiCo’s Lady Gaga halftime show strategy for its Pepsi Zero soft drink, but Budweiser, casual dining chain Buffalo Wild Wings, and Snickers were also able to stretch their airtime ad dollars using social media. Pepsi sponsored a number of giveaways during the game in which football fans who were social media users could interact with Pepsi sites up to halftime. They were then given a chance to win merchandise by re-posting Pepsi’s tweets.   [ Image credit: © PepsiCo ]
Brielle Jaekel, "How Pepsi was One of Few to Leverage Mobile for Super Bowl LI", Mobile Marketer, February 07, 2017, © Napean LLC
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Amazon Says List Of Users Of Payments Service Grew By 10 Million

February 7, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon said more than 33 million customers have used its Amazon Payments electronic payment platform as of February 2017. Launched in 2013, the service had a cumulative total of 23 million customers in 2016. Known as Pay with Amazon, the service lets customers use their Amazon accounts to pay for purchases made on other online stores.
Jillian Stampher, "Amazon Adds 10M Users to its Payments Service, Escalating PayPal Rivalry", GeekWire, February 07, 2017, © GeekWire, LLC
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Amazon's Fourth Quarter Profit Up, But Sales Disappoint

February 2, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon's decision to focus on revenue growth and investments rather than on heavy promotions led to a 55% jump in profits for the fourth quarter. But sales hit only the midpoint of the company target, with revenue up by $43.7 billion, a less-than-expected 22% increase from the previous quarter. CFO Brian Olsavsky says the company continues to focus and made great progress on "things we can directly control", referring to price, selection and customer experience. While many retailers turned to heavy promotions during the holidays, Olsavsky said promotions weren't a major factor in fourth-quarter revenue. Amazon continue to dominate online sales, commanding an estimated 42% of total holiday online spending growth in 2016, with Apple Inc. in poor second at 5%. [Image credit © Amazon Inc.]
Laura Stevens, "Amazon’s Profit Jumps, but Sales Growth Disappoints", The Wall Street Journal, February 02, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Walmart Ups Ante In Fight With Amazon By Abandoning ShippingPass

February 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
To stay competitive with Amazon, Walmart is ditching its $49-a-year two-day shipping subscription, dubbed ShippingPass, and replacing it with free shipping for purchases over $35. In doing so, the retailer is acknowledging that free two-day shipping is now the standard in online shopping. The new strategy takes aim at Amazon’s highly successful Prime offer, which offers free two-day shipping for an annual $99 subscription fee. Data from Cowen and Company show that by November 2016, almost half of U.S. Internet users were living in a household with a Prime subscription. Some observers speculate that Walmart’s battle with Amazon will lead to even more tactical moves, such as deep discounting. [ Image credit: © Walmart ]
Yory Wurmser, "Walmart Challenges Amazon with New Shipping Plan", eMarketer, February 01, 2017, © eMarketer Inc.
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Walmart Launches Free Two-Day Shipping For US Customers

February 1, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart launched a two-day shipping service across the US. Aimed at improving customer experience online, the service is available with a minimum purchase of $35, compared with the $50 threshold for Shipping Pass, the retailer’s previous home delivery service. Unlike Amazon’s Prime program, which costs $99 in annual fee, Walmart’s two-day shipping comes with no membership fee.
Stewart Samuel, "How Walmart is Aiming to Build Ecommerce Loyalty", Retail Analysis, February 01, 2017, © The Institute of Grocery Distribution and IGD Services Limited
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Wal-Mart Replaces ShippingPass Delivery Service With Free Shipping

January 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Wal-Mart is replacing its ShippingPass two-day shipping service with free two-day shipping for purchases worth at least $35. One of the significant online-retail-related changes made by Marc Lore since Wal-Mart bought Jet.com in 2016, the new shipping service will cover more than 2 million products. Wal-Mart designed ShippingPass to compete with Amazon's Prime shipping service.
Krystina Gustafson, "Wal-Mart scraps Amazon Prime competitor in favor of new free shipping tactic", CNBC.com, January 31, 2017, © CNBC LLC
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A Better Customer Experience Is A Major Marketing Priority These Days

January 31, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Improving the customer experience in all marketing channels – making it seamless and connected – is a top priority among retailers and manufacturers because it leads to higher sales. Seventy-one percent of business execs ranked improving customer experience higher than increasing revenue, reducing costs, or other traditional goals, a Forrester survey found. Consumer behaviors, expectations, and demands continue to rise, and they are especially influenced by personalization, good prices, and efficient fulfillment. Improving customer experience is important in all channeles because: 94 percent do research online before visiting a store; 81 percent have looked up inventory on a retailer’s website, 80 percent won’t visit a store if product availability isn’t shown; 93 percent have reviewed product ratings before purchasing; and 57 percent said loyalty often drives a purchase.  [ Image credit: © Wikipedia  ]
"Consumer Trends Report - 2017 Edition ", Report, Kibo, January 31, 2017, © Kibo Software, Inc
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Consumer FMCG Spending Growth Continues In China, Report Says

January 27, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Consumers in China bought 2.2 percent more FMCG products during the 12-week period ending December 2, 2016, compared with the same period in the previous year, according to Kantar Worldpanel China. Data from the market research firm showed online spending grew 50 percent during the period, which includes the Double 11 festival. For the four-week period ending December 2, 2016, ecommerce penetration grew to a record 20.5 percent, driven by Double 11 festival spending.
"China’s ecommerce grows by 50%", Kantar Worldpanel, January 27, 2017, © Kantar Worldpanel
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App Helps Volunteers Find, Deliver Salvageable Food Donations

January 25, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Add to the list of technologies created to help reduce food waste an Uber-like app from a Pittsburgh, Pa.- based nonprofit known as 412 Food Rescue. Food Rescue Hero, available free on iTunes and Google Play, helps its 1,000 volunteer drivers (or walkers or cyclists) find salvage food considered unmarketable and deliver it to shelters and charities. Hero lists salvage opportunities at grocery stores and restaurants and the target charities who distribute the food, provides details on the donations, and lets volunteers pick the donation that works best for them. There is even a navigation system that guides volunteers to the pick-up locations and destinations.  [ Image credit: © 412foodrescue.org  ]
Dana Cizmas, "412 Food Rescue Mobilizes Volunteers with Uber-Like App", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 25, 2017, © PG Publishing Co., Inc.
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E-Retailers And CPG Manufacturers Need To Prepare For Strong Growth Now

January 24, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
E-commerce today accounts for only a small portion of consumer packaged goods (CPG) sales, with the food and beverage sector lagging somewhat behind non-food. But both sectors are set for strong growth, according to IRI. Over the next five years, CPG e-commerce will average 10 percent of industrywide sales. Digital is expected to play a major role in influencing that sales growth, and will drive as much as 77 percent of all retail sales generally, representing about $2 trillion. E-retailers are rapidly laying the groundwork for growth, with Amazon leading the way. Meanwhile, CPG manufacturers could grow online sales by up to 150 percent by building a strong online presence and earning shopper awareness.
"Build, Drive and Earn E-commerce Growth for Retail Success", Report, IRI Worldwide, January 24, 2017, © IRI Worldwide
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UK Fashion Retailers Shift Spending From High End To Online

January 22, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
UK's leading fashion retailers are shifting their capital spending from the high street to online shopping. During the holiday season, online shopping was the leading sales growth driver for the sector. Marks & Spencer is spending money on apps, its online store, and logistics. Department store operator John Lewis said it was reducing staff bonuses in order to invest in its online operations.
Kate Holton, "UK High Street Retailers Race to Keep Up with Online Demand", Reuters, January 22, 2017, © Reuters
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Advanced Store Shelf Technology Seeks To Personalize Shopping At Kroger Stores

January 20, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Supermarket chain Kroger has begun experimenting with in-store shelf-based sensor systems that detect shoppers via their smartphones and apply analytics technology to customize product offers. Dubbed the “digital shelf edge” project, the initiative is a facet of the company’s plan to automate and personalize shopping to battle online competition from Amazon.com Inc., Walmart’s Jet.com unit and others. E-commerce in traditional food and beverage stores accounted for $1 billion in sales in 2014, less than 0.2 percent of the $670 billion market. Sensors have been installed in 14 stores near the company’s Cincinnati headquarters.  [ Image credit: © ParentingPatch  ]
Kim S. Nash, "Kroger Tests Sensors, Analytics In Interactive Grocery Shelves", The Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2017, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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Carrefour Announces Plans To Expand E-Commerce And Acquire Tecno Stores

January 13, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
As part of its expansion moves in markets across Europe, Carrefour announced plans to expand its e-commerce operations in Belgium. Steps the company plans to take include increasing the number of pickup points from the present 84 to 184 by the end of 2017. Also, the retailer plans to extend its collaboration with bpost to expand coverage of its home delivery service in the country. Carrefour said it also will do a test run of the bringr-enabled home delivery service launched by bpost. In addition to e-commerce expansion, the company also plans to acquire nine Tecno stores from Tecno Kempen.
"Carrefour Belgium growing store base and online", Retail Analysis, January 13, 2017, © The Institute of Grocery Distribution and IGD Services Limited
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Amazon Announces Plan To Create 100,000 New Jobs In US

January 12, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Online retailer Amazon said it plans to create 100,000 new full-time, full-benefit jobs in the US by middle of 2018. According to the company, these jobs are for people with “all types of experience, education, and skill levels.” As of 2016, the company employs 180,000 workers, making the online retailer one of the largest employers in the country. More than 10,000 military veterans are part of the company's workforce, while 9,000 employees have taken part in Amazon's Career Choice program, which pays 95 percent of tuition for degrees in high-demand professions, such as aircraft mechanics and computer-aided design.
"Amazon to Create More Than 100,000 New, Full-Time, Full-Benefit Jobs across the U.S. over the Next 18 Months", Amazon, January 12, 2017, © Amazon.com, Inc.
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L’Oreal’s Smart Brush Demonstrates Internet Of Things Application For The Beauty Industry

January 11, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
L’Oreal’s smart brush, unveiled at CES 2017, is just one of a number of products responding to opportunities provided by the Internet of Things within the consumer products industry, including Beauty. Smart devices are allowing brands to brands to become more involved in consumers’ daily routines. The smart brush is being sold at around $200, and only time will tell if consumers regard that as a price worth paying for the benefits it provides – better and more personalized information, performance monitoring and suggestions for improvements, as well as tips and recommendations. These aren’t necessary attributes for a hairbrush or toothbrush, but they will make life a bit easier for consumers, and brands can become better connected to consumers’ lifestyles and preferences, allowing valuable insights for future innovation and marketing efforts.  
Nikki Gilliland, "How the beauty industry is embracing the Internet of Things", Econsultancy, January 11, 2017, © Econsultancy.com Limited
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Coty Partners With Online Social Selling Platform Younique

January 10, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Coty Inc. said it has partnered with Younique, an online peer-to-peer social selling platform focused on the beauty market. As part of the agreement between the companies, Coty plans to purchase a 60-percent stake in Younique, with the online company's founders holding on to the remaining 40 percent. Also, Younique founder and CEO Derek Maxfield and chief visionary officer Melanie Huscroft will stay on in their leadership roles.
"Coty to Enter Into Partnership With Younique, a Leading Online Peer-to-Peer Social Selling Platform in Beauty", Coty, January 10, 2017, © Coty Inc.
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Walmart CEO Sees Big Challenges Ahead For Retailers, And Big Opportunities

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon believes strongly that retailers need to adapt quickly to rapidly advancing technologies that have accelerated the pace of modern living, particularly when it comes to shopping, purchasing, and taking delivery of products. These technologies will create unprecedented opportunities for retailers. Looking ahead 10 years, he says customers will be able to fulfill everyday needs easily through stores, e-commerce, pick-up, delivery, thanks to sophisticated technologies. Retailers will need to adjust to the fact that customers globally will see what people in other countries have, and will want it too. Lastly, embedded social and environmental sustainability will require tighter collaboration among retailers, NGOs, governments and educational institutions so that customers, associates/employees, shareholders, communities, and suppliers will all benefit. “I can’t think of a more exciting time to be in retail,” McMillon concluded.[Doug McMillon, Image credit: © Shane Bevel (Walmart corporate), Wikimedia  ]
Doug McMillon, "3 Predictions for the Future of Retail – from the CEO of Walmart", Blog entry, Walmart CEO, January 09, 2017, © Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
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Amazon Making Progress With Prestige Skin Care, Provides Rich Content To Engage Consumers

January 9, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Amazon continues to build out its offering across new categories and its Amazon Luxury Beauty store shows it will be a contender in premium segments. The company recently added a page targeted at prestige shoppers - Amazon Professional Skin Care -that provides a range of ‘tools and kits to help you develop a complete daily care regimen.’ Amazon offers simple to use filters (shop by concern, expert advice…) along with videos and educational features that engage consumers. Color cosmetic players have for a while offered rich and engaging content but skin care brands have lagged and Amazon is moving to plug the gap - content on the Amazon page exceeds what is available at retailer websites and many beauty blogs.  It also looks to be winning over large brands that were previously dismissive. Elizabeth Arden recently became an official distributor on Amazon’s Luxury Beauty store, a move that will give the online retailer credibility. [Image credit © Innocentj]
Homa Zaryouni, "Amazon Makes Strides in Skin Care", L2 Daily, January 09, 2017, © L2 Inc.
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2017: The Year Of The Brand Chatbot?

January 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
2017 could the year of the chatbots for brands looking to automate consumer engagement. They reside within Messenger Services, like Skype and Facebook Messenger, as well as internal messenger services, like HipChat. They are becoming increasingly sophisticated with more user functionality, and as artificial intelligence becomes better understood, chatbots will be able to do even more, with development moving from what the bot builders believe consumers want to a machine-learned reflection of what they really want. Chatbots will proliferate and become an essential element of any integrated marketing campaign, supporting highly targeted campaigns delivered in the environment in which the consumer spends the majority of their online time.  
John Mccarthy, "What, Why and How: Chatbots for Brands", The Drum, January 06, 2017, © Carnyx Group Ltd.
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Shifting Power Balance Between Brands And Retailers As Brands Diversity Channels

January 6, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
For decades, brands and traditional retailers have been joined at the hip, but that mutual dependency is starting to change. Consumers are purchasing ever more online: in 2016 and for the first time more shoppers (51 percent) made purchases online, up from 48 percent a year earlier (ComScore). And the range is extending, with e-commerce pushing into previously largely untouched categories, such as groceries and prestige. Some retail stores are having to scale back – this week Sears Holdings announced it would close nearly 150 Kmart and Sears outlets, while Macy’s plans to shut 68 stores by the middle of 2017, but for the most part, brands seem indifferent. Brands are increasingly investing to reach consumers wherever they can find them. "Ultimately, we don’t care how or where consumers get our products," said Sarah Ortman, National Associate Director at Clorox. "We just want to be where they are." As brands diversity their consumer contact points and make ever more sales in non-conventional channels, prospects for traditional stores continue to decline. [Image credit © Hybrid Images]
Ilyse Liffreing, "Do brands care if bricks-and-mortars survive the Amazon era?", Campaign Live, January 06, 2017, © Haymarket Media Group Ltd.
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Revlon Names Gwen Stefani As Brand Ambassador

January 4, 2017: 12:00 AM EST
Revlon announced the appointment of celebrity Gwen Stefani as its latest brand ambassador. With the brand planning to feature Stefani in various digital-first campaigns, the pop singer will appear in Revlon’s Choose Love campaign, which will run on broadcast, digital, and social media. Also, the brand’s designed-for-mobile website offers behind-the-scenes looks and content from the celebrity’s campaigns. Content will also be available on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat.
Rakin Azfar, "Revlon will Feature New Brand Ambassador Gwen Stefani in Digital Content", Mobile Marketer, January 04, 2017, © Napean LLC
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