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MOBILITY

eBay makes new speedy delivery play

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Determined to fight back against online rival Amazon, eBay made a strategic move in the competitive online delivery game.

Beginning this summer, the e-commerce retailer will launch a new program, called “Guaranteed Delivery,” that will offer U.S. shoppers guaranteed delivery on 20 million eligible products in three days or less — with millions of the items offering free shipping.

In addition, shoppers will also be able to search for and filter items by one- and two day delivery.

Currently, 67% of eBay transactions already ship for free, and 63% of eBay packages are delivered within 3 days or less.

"While the majority of items on eBay already ship within three days or less, as well as for free, Guaranteed Delivery will give shoppers even faster delivery options and the confidence that their items will arrive on time," said Hal Lawton, senior VP of North America at eBay.

The program will be free to both buyer and sellers, however, sellers must meet a required set of shipping standards to participate, the company said.

The program directly competes with Amazon and the benefits — such as free shipping — connected to its annual Prime membership program. Recently, the online giant even lowered its free shipping threshold to orders of $35 for non-Prime members.

To ensure the program runs smooth, eBay is doing some early troubleshooting against unexpected snafus. For example, if a guaranteed item arrives late, the buyer will receive a coupon to be used towards their next eBay purchase. The buyer can also choose to return the item at no cost, eBay said.

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FINANCE

Hhgregg deal falls through

BY Marianne Wilson

Bankrupt Hhgregg Inc.’s proposed purchase by an anonymous buyer has collapsed.

The appliance and electronics retailer filed Chapter 11 on March 6, 2017, saying that it had reached an agreement to sell the business to an undisclosed party. But late last week Hhgregg said it “terminated its previously announced nonbinding term sheet with an anonymous party to purchase substantially all of the assets of the company through a reorganization under Chapter 11,” due to a failure “to reach a definitive agreement on terms”.

The retailer said it has received interest from other possible buyers.

"We have received strong interest from third parties interested in buying some or all of the company's assets," stated Robert J. Riesbeck, Hhgregg's president and CEO, Hhgregg. "We and our advisors continue to work with potential acquirers to help them understand our business model for future growth and our value proposition."

The company has obtained interim approval of its $80 million debtor-in-possession loan facility to fund operations of the business during the sale process. Hhgregg said it will continue to operate in the ordinary course of business throughout the restructuring process. It still anticipated exiting Chapter 11 in early May.

The retailer currently operates 220 stores in 19 states.

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BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE/ANALYTICS

Supermarket chain taps AI to improve automated replenishment

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Time-starved shoppers expect their favorite grocers to have the staples they need when they enter the store — and supermarkets are hard-pressed to deliver.

U.K. grocer Morrisons is addressing this customer demand by adopting artificial intelligence to optimize replenishment and automate ordering among 26,000 ambient and long-life product SKUs in all its 491 stores. The Blue Yonder Replenishment Optimization technology automatically analyzes sales data and other data sources from Morrisons, and combines this with external data, such as weather forecasts and public holidays.

By applying data to the system’s machine learning algorithms, the solution learns as it goes and can manage a vast and complex amount of data to make highly accurate ordering decisions. This automated analysis can predict the level of demand down to the individual product and store location. Blue Yonder’s technology then fully automates ordering per store and per product.

Based on cloud technology, the system provides a low total cost of ownership and is highly scalable.

Since it launched in 2016, the technology processes data across the chain’s 491 stores, automates over 13 million ordering decisions per day, and has reducing shelf gaps by up to 30%, the company said.

“Our new automated ordering system has been our biggest new initiative. The system is capital light, and utilizes cloud technology and store-specific historic sales data to forecast stock requirements,” Morrisons’ CEO, David Potts said. “It is reducing costs and stock levels, while also saving time for colleagues, and providing a better offer for customers.”

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