Mixed responses to Amazon Fresh’s automated grocery store
Queuing up at the grocery store is probably one of the most dreaded things about doing errands. While companies have come up with self check-out and delivery options for their customers, Amazon Fresh is introducing an entirely automated system with AI technology — but what could this mean for the service industry? This new concept does away with cashiers as customers are able to just walk out with their items to be paid later on. All they need is a phone with a Amazon Fresh QR code, and AI technology will do all the work of listing everything in their cart via surveillance cameras. Customers don’t even need to scan every product individually. Given its Black Mirror-esque nature, it’s only expected that people are taking issue with Amazon Fresh stores. Concerns have been raised over data privacy and the ethical use of such complex technology. Other users have shared that this concept is harmful to the working class as it not only takes away jobs, but it is generally not accessible.
US: Costco Wholesale upholds comp-sales momentum in March
A year after COVID-19 was declared a national emergency, Costco Wholesale posted double-digit sales gains for March, despite declines in grocery and sundries categories. For the five weeks ended April 4, net sales climbed 17.6% to $18.21 billion from $15.49 billion a year earlier, Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco reported after yesterday’s market close. In the year-to-date period, covering 31 weeks, net sales totaled $111.37 billion, up 15.7% from $96.25 billion a year ago. In its U.S. clubs, Costco maintained double-digit comp sales growth from March 2020, which covered a chunk of the consumer panic-buying period of the pandemic, when members loaded up on food and groceries and other essential supplies. The retailer’s U.S. comp sales increased 10.7% (12.1% excluding fuel and FX) for the five weeks ended April 5, 2020.
Walmart hires Disney VP as First Chief Creative Officer
Jean Batthany takes the creative helm at Walmart after 4.5 years as VP of global creative at the Walt Disney Co., where she led Yellow Shoes, a creative agency for Disney parks, experiences and consumer products. In her new role at Walmart, according to a LinkedIn post, Batthany will direct consumer-focused communications across all channels and connect teams to “develop breakthrough and innovative marketing at all consumer touch points.” Batthany indicated on LinkedIn that she will remain based in Los Angeles and will travel back and forth to Bentonville, New York and San Francisco. Batthany said she was excited and humbled to join “such an impactful brand with huge scope, scale and heart.” Beyond Batthany’s addition, Walmart hired Courtney Carlson, a former marketing executive at Under Armour and Target, to be SVP of marketing.
Source: Winsight Grocery Business
Amazon to open its first grocery stores on the East Coast
Amazon plans to open four grocery stores on the East Coast, the company confirmed Thursday. It’s unclear if the stores, which will be based in Washington, D.C., northern Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland, will mirror Amazon’s Fresh grocery chain. Amazon opened its first Fresh grocery store in California in September and it has since expanded rapidly. The company plans to open two grocery stores in the Washington, D.C., area. One will be in the city’s Logan Circle neighborhood and the other will be in the northern Virginia town of Franconia, not far from Amazon’s second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, which is in the Crystal City section of Arlington. Two other grocery stores are planned for the Philadelphia suburb of Warrington, Pennsylvania, and for Chevy Chase, Maryland, Amazon confirmed Thursday. The company declined to comment on whether the four stores will be Fresh stores or when the locations will open.
UK: Morrisons becomes first supermarket to ditch all plastic bags and replace them with paper alternatives
Morrisons has become the first supermarket in the UK to ditch the sale of plastic bags entirely, announcing today its plastic ‘bags for life’ will be removed from stores and replaced with paper alternatives. The removal of plastic ‘bags for life’ from stores will save 3,200 tonnes of plastic each year, Morrisons said. The phase-out will start in Morrisons’ Scottish stores this month, followed by England and Wales later in the year. Instead of plastic, shoppers will be offered paper bags to carry their groceries, costing 30p each. String, jute, cotton and reusable woven bags will also be on sale, costing between 75p and £2.50. Chief executive David Potts said the removal of plastic bags was a “significant milestone” for the supermarket.
Croatia: SPAR Croatia opens largest supermarket in the greater Zlatar area
Spar has opened a new supermarket in the town of Zlatar, northern Croatia. With a retail sales area of 704m2 and 66 customer parking spaces, the new Spar Supermarket is the largest food store in this area. Customers are provided with a large selection of food and non-food products. A clear store highlight is the premium butcher’s counter, which offers an extensive assortment of fresh meat. The food-to-go department features a varied choice of warm and prepared dishes. Four self-checkouts have been installed to speed up the payment process. Products from local suppliers play a starring role at the new Spar Supermarket. Customers of the new supermarket in Zlatar have access to frozen vegetables and fish from local producer ZMH Horvat and dried meats from Kudelić.
France: Colruyt gives up Parisian ambitions and sells stores to Carrefour
Colruyt will sell its Parisian stores to competitor Carrefour, thus acknowledging its formula did not catch on in the region. In the northeast of the country, the Belgian group will continue to invest in growth. It concerns supermarkets in Périgny-sur-Yerres, Saint Pathus and Valenton. If all goes to plan, the stores will be converted into Carrefour Contact shops by the beginning of July. As it involves a transaction between two industry colleagues, the plans were submitted to the competition authorities, where the colleagues of Linéaires picked up the message. This does not mean, however, that Colruyt is completely abandoning its growth ambitions in France. On the contrary: the group is shifting up a gear in the northeast of France. At the end of March, Colruyt opened a new distribution centre for fresh fruit and vegetables in Gondreville, near Nancy.
UK: “Amazon could paint bleak future for other UK supermarkets”
Amazon has set its sights on the UK supermarket sector. From the Amazon Fresh initiative to its partnership with Morrisons, offering free, next day delivery to Prime customers, the arch disruptor is looking to turn the UK multiple market on its head. Free next day delivery for everyday, household essentials will totally change consumer buying patterns, says Russell Loarridge, Director UK, ReachFive, leading to a reinvigorated high street but creating a pretty bleak future for Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda et al. While the ‘walk in, walk out’ Amazon Fresh stores in London may not make a ripple on the big supermarket pond, offering eligible Prime customers free, same day Amazon Fresh deliveries on orders over £40 was a clear indicator of Amazon’s plans. And those plans have come very quickly to life: with its latest partnership with Morrisons, Amazon Prime customers can now get free, next day delivery on Morrisons’ products.