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The latest in retail and loyalty, June 2019

Both Marqt and Albert Heijn tests AI-driven dynamic discounts

Marqt and Albert Heijn are the first chains in the Netherlands to work with the startup Wasteless. The promise: supermarkets sell more and waste less with Wasteless by making use of optimized price reductions via the cash register system. Wasteless has developed a self-learning algorithm that continuously determines the best price in relation to the best-before date. Shoppers see on the electronic shelf label on the shelf and at the checkout a price linked to the specific expiration date: a short expiration date makes a product cheaper, a longer expiration means a higher price. The supermarket therefore throws away less fresh products.

Based on its experience in Italy with the Iper chain, Wasteless reduced the waste in the poultry category by 89% and increased the bottom line by 25%. Shoppers adjusted their buying behaviour from the first day and understood that they can benefit by buying products with a shorter shelf life if they eat them within a few days. Wasteless is simple for the customer, very useful for the producer and increases the margin for the retailer.

Fast-fashion giant, H&M, launches loyalty programme

Shoppers who join H&M’s new loyalty programme can get discounts on blow-outs at Drybar. The fast-fashion retailer announced the launch of the H&M Member loyalty programme in the U.S. The programme rewards repeat customers by offering personalised offers, access to exclusive events and services as well as opportunities to earn points.

The two-tier programme, which has Member- and Plus-level status, also offers birthday and member day discounts and free shipping on orders over $40. As part of the initiative, H&M is teaming up with external partners, including the hair salon chain Drybar. Programme members will receive a 20% discount on Drybar services, including blowouts.

Kroger and Walgreens to test Loop reusable packaging

Kroger plans to pilot a reusable packaging system for leading consumer brands in an exclusive grocery retail partnership with Loop US, a circular online shopping platform developed by waste management firm TerraCycle. Kroger, along with retail pharmacy chain Walgreens, will be the first US retailers to employ the Loop system. Products available via the Loop platform come packaged in reusable glass or metal containers and are shipped directly to consumers in a specially designed tote bag. After use, the products are collected free from consumers’ homes and then cleaned, refilled and reused.

Lowe’s to test FedEx’s delivery bot

The home improvement retailer, Lowe’s, is to test FedEx’s first autonomous delivery robot - a fast-moving, stair-climbing bot on wheels. The robot is battery-powered and uses the same technology at work in autonomous vehicles to navigate unpaved surfaces and curbs. Lowe’s will test the bots in several unnamed markets, and FedEx will learn more about the needs of the Lowe’s customer and get practice operating in the unpredictable environment of a construction site. Lowe’s will look to discover what impact - cost and operational - robots can have on the last mile of its supply chain.

Vietnam’s first virtual store

Vietnamese supermarket chain VinMart has debuted what it terms the first virtual store in the south-east Asian nation. Run by VinGroup’s subsidiary VinCommerce, the concept store features walls displaying images of over 100 product categories that can be QR-code scanned using the VinID app for home delivery within two to four hours. The concept is now being trialed in 20 sites including apartment blocks, offices, schools and transport hubs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Tesco to cull brands from shelves

Tesco is readying another cull of the brands on its shelves. Chief executive Dave Lewis plans to shed 20% of its 40,000 products as it tries to fight back against discounters Aldi and Lidl. The first of these cuts began in 2015, just a year after Lewis’ arrival at the retailer. Since then, he has more than halved the number of individual products - at one point standing at 90,000 - stocked by Tesco across its stores. Lewis also plans to cut costs by placing bigger orders with fewer suppliers, as well as rebranding and prioritising Tesco’s own-label ranges.

Lidl reveals new flagship store in The Netherlands

Lidl has moved and renovated its flagship store in Huizen, located next to Lidl’s head office. Here is a small impression of what we noticed when visiting the store.

It is striking that the store opens with a fresh square, where bread, produce and meat / fish / vegan are brought together. This new lay-out is now the standard for Lidl and will be applied in all new and renovated stores. Furthermore, the store has not grown in size, but has been given wider aisles. The store also offers a bread slicer that can be operated by shoppers themselves. Furthermore, as with all new branches, the store does not sell any smoking products. In addition, luxury cheeses and tapas have been removed from the wall rack and placed on the head of an aisle to highlight this assortment more. Finally, worth mentioning is the innovative self-scanning system that if alcohol is purchased, the self-scan alarm will sound, and the age check will follow.

Coop Sweden acquires Netto’s Swedish stores

Coop has signed an agreement to acquire Netto’s Swedish stores. The deal includes 163 stores, which will eventually be converted to Coop’s new store format. In recent years, Coop has made millions of investments on its store network. Five store formats have become two - Stora Coop and Coop. The partners have agreed not to publish the purchase price for the transaction that is planned to be carried out during the summer. The deal requires an approval from the Swedish Competition Authority.

China Resources Vanguard partner on grocery delivery with Alibaba-owned

“Collaboration is the new competition”....; a quote that becomes truly visible in the food retail industry with many examples of strategic partnerships. A recent example is the partnership between Chinese grocery retail group China Resources Vanguard adding 2,000 of its outlets to Alibaba-owned delivery platform in 100 cities across the country. The partnership includes a range of store formats, including hyper-stores, standard supermarkets, premium supermarkets and convenience stores. As Alibaba and its subsidiaries continue to look for partnerships with brick- and-mortar retailers to drive it’s New Retail omnichannel and ecosystem agenda, CR Vanguard has been encouraged by the measurable success of the Suguo partnership, with the chain growing online sales by more than 60% over the past three months, and sales rising 80-fold in China’s tier 3 and tier 4 cities.

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