News Briefs


Kroger Expands Fulfillment Network With New Michigan Facility

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Kroger has expanded their fulfillment network with the addition of a new customer fulfillment center in Romulus, Michigan. 

Powered by Ocado Group technology, the new delivery center's services will employ a suite of technology, including advanced robotics, temperature-controlled vans and delivery trucks guided by machine learning algorithms. 

The 135,000-square-foot Romulus facility will deliver to customers located up to 90 minutes away, and will eventually employ more than 700 associates as Kroger continues their Michigan expansion, the company said.

[See Also: Kroger Revamps Loyalty Program Following Successful Expansion Pilot]

Kroger has served customers in the state of Michigan for more than a century and we are thrilled to bring Kroger Delivery to greater Detroit,” said Bill Bennett, Kroger vice president, and head of e-commerce. “We are passionate about delivering a fresh, convenient customer shopping experience with zero compromise on quality, selection, and affordability.” 

Other Retailers Expanding Fulfillment Capabilities 

Kroger is not the first retailer to channel money into growing their fulfillment footprint.  In June, Walmart  laid out plans to build four next-generation fulfillment centers over the next three years. These four facilities alone could reportedly supply 75% of the U.S. population with next- or two-day shipping and, once built, will collectively employ more than 4,000 people. More recently, Walmart invested in a new high-tech consolidation center in Pennsylvania, designed to support all 42 of Walmart’s regional distribution centers. Once complete, this 400,000 square-foot facility will reportedly create close to 1,000 new jobs. 

Target also recently outlined a comprehensive list of priorities for modernizing their distribution centers. According to the store, the goal is to keep their network operating at or below 85% capacity to reduce costs and operational challenges. To do so, the retailer plans to build additional upstream capacity, expand the number of sortation centers across the U.S., and automate processes wherever possible across inventory management.


Rite Aid Gives the Pharmacy Experience a Modern Upgrade

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Rite Aid is looking to elevate the pharmacy experience, modernizing its vision by implementing improved insights, increased agility, and overall better customer experiences. 

The retail pharmacy has entered into a multi-year agreement with Google Cloud, migrating key applications to Anthos, the software’s platform for application deployment. The technology will provide Rite Aid’s 2,350 pharmacies with cloud computing capabilities on-site. 

Through the upgrade, Rite Aid can ensure elevated care even through volatile events such as natural disasters, ensuring robust patient information, advanced prescription management, and continued recommendations without having to connect to a centralized, legacy mainframe. 

[Read more: Rite Aid Opens New Modern Headquarters in Philadelphia]

As part of the partnership, Rite Aid will migrate its enterprise data to Google Cloud using BigQuery, allowing the pharmacy to improve visibility into its finances, inventory, and customer information. 

Rite Aid customers will experience an improved search functionality, providing more precise results on the e-commerce site and mobile app. In the back-end, Rite Aid will have a better understanding of customer intent. 

Additionally, Rite Aid will update its current pharmacy benefits management application suite to a cloud-first experience with artificial intelligence- and machine learning-driven capabilities. This will help the pharmacy benefits manager better manage prescription benefits on behalf of health insurers.

"The power of pharmacies, and the important role pharmacists play in the health of their communities, greatly expanded during COVID. Realizing that potential means making strategic investments in technology that can truly help our customers and maximize the capabilities of our pharmacists," said Justin Mennen, executive vice president and chief digital and technology officer at Rite Aid. "Google Cloud's solutions are uniquely positioned to run at each pharmacy location to allow our store teams to help our customers to achieve whole health for life."

"As a healthcare company with a retail footprint, Rite Aid is at the intersection of two quickly evolving industries and making strategic technology investments to meet rising customer expectations," said Carrie Tharp, vice president of retail and consumer solutions, Google Cloud. "Through these innovations, Rite Aid is defining the modern pharmacy."


Walmart To Offer Supply Chain Partners Free Basic-Level Data Insights

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Last year, Walmart launched Walmart Luminate, a system that analyzes data from Walmart’s hub of consumers and offers insights into audience behavior, perception, and channel performance for the various brands at Walmart. Now the retailer said it will be providing a Basic package free of cost to select suppliers.

Basic subscribers will gain access to a subset of Channel Performance insights, including the standard operational metrics needed to run their business. Walmart Luminate Basic is expected to become available in 2023.

Walmart said in 11 months it grew revenue over 80% quarter-over-quarter.Earlier this year, Brett Biggs, Walmart’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the new data monetization business had over 75% growth quarter-over-quarter “as more supplier partners collaborate with merchandisers to utilize new customer insights in our platform.”

While Walmart will move to give some insights away for free, Charter-level subscribers will continue to receive the full suite of Channel Performance insights, in addition to Shopper Behavior and Customer Perception insights. Access to a dedicated account team and engineering support for API ingestion will still only be available to Charter subscribers. Charter-level subscribers will also get additional incremental data sets as Walmart adds them. For example, digital product transactability (i.e., insights regarding items added to cart and purchased via grocery pick-up and delivery) has been added to the roadmap for the upcoming fiscal year.

Walmart also said it’s exploring new ways to embed Walmart Luminate insights into other areas of its business.

“For example, we are working to directly integrate Walmart Luminate insights into existing merchandising tools to better facilitate data collaboration with suppliers. We are also piloting ways for actionable Walmart Luminate insights to be deployed, automated, and scaled across Walmart Connect’s advertising ecosystem, and have seen positive results to date.

Walmart said it will be communicating with suppliers directly about how to receive exclusive access and updates to the Basic package, but those interested in learning more about Walmart Luminate Charter can get in touch today.


Saatva Sees Significant Results From Digital Experience Analytics Investment

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Luxury mattress brand Saatva has seen a notable uptick in exposure rates, conversion rates and overall engagement through their new digital experience analytics investment. 

Over the last 10 months, Saatva has been working closely with digital experience platform Contentsquare, running A/B tests, conducting zone-based heat mapping to pinpoint certain trends, carrying out merchandising analysis and looking into customer journeys. 

[See Also: Saatva Brings Its Online Retail Experience to Brick and Mortar] 

Contentsquare is now also the primary platform Saatva uses for digital analysis and quantitative/qualitative testing. The mattress company says they have gleaned particularly useful insights from Contentsquare’s “Session Replay” tool, which essentially recreates an individual user's visit time on a webpage. Using this information, Saatva can look into visitor engagement with certain design elements and rearrange the page based on these findings. Data gathered on key metrics such as hover, clicks, time spent, scroll rates, and bounce rates have also helped Saatva optimize their conversion rates, the company said. 

“Based on Saatva’s 3-5 year trajectory goal, Saatva needed tools that were able to handle our growth while simultaneously adapting to our growing digital landscape,” said Natalie O’Flaherty, vice president of analytics, Saatva, adding that Contentsquare’s capabilities integrated well with their existing tech stack and has allowed the company end-to-end visibility into the consumer journey. 



Kroger to Recognize New Brands at Inaugural Innovation Summit

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The Kroger Co. is inviting submissions to their first-ever Our Brands Innovation Summit. In launching the event, the grocer hopes to expand their offerings, bolster their product roster with new brands and remain up-to-speed with evolving market trends. 

Applications are open to private brand suppliers in a range of segments, including food and beverage,  general merchandise, hard goods, textiles and apparel, packaging and health and beauty. Submissions open October 10th, 2022 and close October 31st 2022. The two-day summit will take the form of virtual meetings, held in the new year between January 24 January 26, 2023.  The plan is for accepted brands to showcase their services, connecting directly with potential buyers to discuss their products and build up their networks. 

[Read more: How Kroger Revamped Loyalty Program Following Expansion] 

In 2019, Kroger unveiled a new logo along with an updated tagline — “Fresh for Everyone” — and the messaging around the Our Brands Innovation Summit seems to align with the underlying vision of this recent rebrand.  

“At Kroger, we're constantly innovating, studying customer data and working to stay ahead of trends so we can provide customers with the highest quality products they're looking for at affordable prices,” said Juan De Paoli, Kroger's vice president of Our Brands, adding that the initiative would help the store to “find fresh ideas and innovative products to expand our portfolio of offerings and support the growth of new businesses we bring into our supplier network.” 


Walmart Acquires Robotics Automation Company Alert Innovation

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As part of their plan to expand omnichannel fulfillment capabilities, Walmart has acquired robotics automation developer Alert Innovation. The goal is for Alert Innovation to help the retailer to streamline their warehouse space and reach more customers, faster.  

The two companies have been working together since 2016, with Alert Innovation developing autonomous bot technology specifically for Walmart’s market fulfillment centers (MFCs). In 2019, Alert Innovation rolled out their Alphabot System in Walmart’s first MFC in Salem, NH.The investment will bring Alert’s tech capabilities in-house, with a view to reaching customers faster through the deployment of MFCs with greater speed and agility. Alert’s bots also take up less space and are able to move vertically and horizontally without lifts or conveyors. 

“Further investing in this technology will enable us to leverage our store footprint — 4,700 stores located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population — for storage and fulfillment,” David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation at Walmart U.S., said in a post on the company’s website. “For customers, this means orders can be fulfilled quickly and conveniently through pickup and delivery, giving them the items they want, when and where they want them.”

In a press release, Alert said they will continue to work in the Boston area under the Alert Innovation name. 

“Our mission to improve people’s lives through innovation will now be dedicated to Walmart customers and associates which is an inspiring undertaking,” said John Lert, Alert Innovation Founder and Executive Chairman.