News Briefs

  • 1/24/2023

    RetailROI SuperSaturday Event Raises Almost $400,000 to Help Vulnerable Children

    microsoft nyc hq

    Over 220 retail leaders recently met at Microsoft’s New York headquarters to network for a great cause. The RetailROI SuperSaturday event – held annually at NRF – raised $384,000, which will go towards helping orphans and children in the foster care system. 

    Leaders in attendance at The Retail Orphan Initiative event included Sharon Leite, CEO of Ideal Image, who talked about her time as a contestant on “Undercover Boss, “ as well as executives from Avande, IBM Consulting, KPMG, Verizon for Business, Amperity, AWS, and many more. 

    This was the 14th SuperSaturday in NRF’s history, with the event generating over $4.2 million USD in proceeds since its inception 13 years ago. In the past, these funds have gone towards providing clean water, renovating schools, installing computer labs, and more. It’s estimated that 311,000 children in 28 countries have benefited from these projects.

    “We are humbled by the spirit and the support of the retail community,” said Greg Buzek, president of the Retail Orphan Initiative. “To see all of these executives giving up a day with their own families to help children they may never meet is truly inspiring. The combined annual revenues of the companies represented surpassed over $2.48 Trillion USD, an amount greater than the total GDP of Italy. Together we can make a HUGE difference to help children in need.”

  • 1/24/2023

    Kroger Strengthens Workforce Productivity With AI- and ML-Powered Tools

    Kroger storefront

    Kroger is elevating its store leadership and associate experience by tapping advanced tech like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data analytics to improve real-time operational decisions. 

    The company is working with Google Cloud and Deloitte, leveraging cloud tech across its 2,800 stores across the U.S. such as a new task management solution for night crew that improves merchandise visibility, provides store staffing information, and communicates stocking needs. Additionally, through a new store management application, store leaders can utilize a standardized audit checklist with a customizable walk path for audits. 

    Managed via an Android device, these capabilities use AI and ML to build tasks lists based on inbound signals like delivery data and staff availability. Additionally, through an event-driven ledger, the company can determine how associates will be most productive across stores, days, and times. Lately, using a Dataflow tool, Kroger can capture and analyze data from different sources like labor rates, transportation logistics, sales forecasting, and out-of-stock information. 

    Jim Clendenen, vice president of enterprise retail systems at Kroger said that tech and digital tools are fundamental elements of how the company continues to improve its associate experience, which then trickles down to an enhanced customer experience in stores. 

    "Google Cloud and Deloitte brought us a technology architecture and application framework that we could implement in record time,” Clendenen added. “We're already seeing results across our stores, with associate tasks being optimized and overall productivity increasing."

    Jon Yoo, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, added that today’s retailers are prioritizing and investing in tech as a strategic differentiator, “making share-of-wallet choices based on those investments.”

    Jose Luis-Gomes, managing director, retail and consumer, at Google Cloud said retail is in the details. 

    “One of the most important ones many retailers struggle with is how to maximize the time and talents of their associates when every store and every day is different," Luis-Gomes added. "Kroger doesn't just have the latest and greatest technologies — the grocer is literally putting them into the hands of their associates so their time can be used on what matters most for Kroger's customers."

  • 1/24/2023

    Walmart Plans Hourly Wage Increase Amidst Competitive Retail Labor Market

    walmart teaser

    Over the next few months, retail giant Walmart plans to roll out wage increases and a set of new learning and development opportunities for its workforce.  

    In a memo circulated to all U.S. associates, Walmart president and CEO, John Furner outlined four key areas of planned investment and growth, starting with higher salaries. Starting in March, associates stand to see the store’s average hourly wage rise to over $17.50 and $14 an hour for store employees. Currently, Walmart associates can earn between $12 and $18 an hour, meaning around 340,000 store employees – or 21% of Walmart’s 1.6 million-strong workforce – will have received a raise in the next few months. 

    Among the other plans on the agenda, the retail giant plans to invest in their Auto Care Center associates, implementing better-paid team lead positions and pushing ACC tech positions into a higher-paying bracket to reflect the specialized skill sets required for the role. 

    Thirdly, the company plans to build out their Live Better U (LBU) education program, covering full tuition for college degrees and certificates in areas that the company says focus “on where our business is headed.”

    Walmart plans to expand their Associate-to-Driver Program – a development program open to all associates which covers all fees for commercial truck driver training and licensing.  

    Speaking at NRF 2023, Furner gave an overview of the current state of retail, highlighting opportunities and acknowledging the many challenges on the horizon. The tight labor market has been one of the most acute of these difficulties for retailers, and these latest additions to Walmart’s value proposition represent another step towards trying to remedy persistent staff shortages.

  • 1/22/2023

    Karl Lagerfeld Streamlines Inventory Management With AI-Powered Allocation

    Karl Lagerfeld

    Fashion brand Karl Lagerfeld is automating allocation across its network, tapping artificial intelligence to streamline inventory management.

    The company is working with supply chain planning software ToolsGroup to improve customer satisfaction, elevate sell-through potential, and increase financial performance by expediting the planning process, reducing inaccuracies, and fine-tuning forecasts to ensure ideal stock placement. 

    Timothy Justin Dreijer, senior vice president of retail, supply chain and operations, IT and legal affairs at Karl Lagerfeld, said the company was looking to implement a solution that would prepare it for its current and future business growth goals. 

    “The fact that these solutions are backed by services teams who explain technical concepts in easily digestible ways and communicate openly and clearly only bolstered our confidence in this partnership,” added Dreijer.

    “Today’s supply chains have the potential to be differentiators in the market. Innovative retailers understand that realizing this potential depends on powerfully simple AI solutions that enable optimal decisions at the speed of business,” said ToolsGroup CEO, Inna Kuznetsova.  

  • 1/17/2023

    Albertsons Completes Rollout of Predictive Ordering and Inventory Management Software Platform


    Albertsonhave completed the enterprise rollout of a new predictive ordering and inventory management system across more than 2200 banner stores, including Safeway, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Vons and ACME.

    The implementation is powered by fresh food technology company, Afresh, and aims to help store teams to better order and plan fresh produce inventory and reduce food waste, ultimately improving sustainability across the business. While rollouts of this nature can take several years to get off the ground, Afresh and Albertsons were able to complete the project across stores in just seven months, the companies noted. 

    Afresh’s CEO and co-founder Matt Schwartz said the quick turnaround was made possible by “a strong partnership with the Albertsons Cos. team and their willingness to embrace innovation and be a real partner in technology."

    [See Also: Could the Kroger and Albertsons Merger Create a Powerhouse, Inflation-Proof Brand?]

    Afresh’s food technology also enables store managers to gather valuable data and insights through their software tools, which also leave room for a margin of error in the notoriously difficult-to-predict fresh produce grocery division. 

    “Driving sustainability practices across Albertsons Cos. is essential to our business and the communities we serve,” said Suzanne Long, chief sustainability and transformation officer at Albertsons Cos. “Our partnership with Afresh helps us improve ordering and better manage our inventory of fresh fruits and vegetables so our customers have access to fresher products, and we’re able to make meaningful progress toward achieving our goal to have zero food waste going to landfill by 2030.”

  • 1/11/2023

    The Home Depot Looks to Improve Workforce Efficiency With New Sidekick App

    Home Depot mobile app

    The Home Depot is looking to help its associates better prioritize tasks with a new machine learning-powered app called Sidekick. Part of the company’s suite of mobile devices dedicated toward improved associate and customer experiences (hdPhones), the new app communicates the highest demand product, shelves that need restocking, and where excess product can be found on overhead shelves. 

    The app has already rolled out in more than 600 stores, with plans to expand to all U.S. stores by the end of 2022. Capabilities include:

    • A cloud-enabled machine-learning algorithm that identifies actionable tasks and sets deadlines
    • Machine vision technology that can detect and automatically fill out-of-stock products, as well as locate products across the store
    • Notifications for associates about tasks that needed to be completed in order of priority, run via a tasking engine
    • A dashboard displaying where and how to complete a task with both associate and manager views
    • Data and task integration across the Home Depot’s other platforms

    Also: Walmart and Home Depot Find Strength In Mobile App and Tech Investments Amid Volatile Environment

    “The first step to customer service is being in stock with the right product that’s easy to locate,” said Muzammil Akram, vice president for store technology of The Home Depot, in a statement. “Equipping our associates with innovative technology is one key factor in delivering on that initiative. Sidekick is the perfect addition to hdPhones because it utilizes a data-driven approach to help our associates prioritize which tasks will benefit our customers the most.” 

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