ENERGY/HVAC

Home Depot in big solar initiative

BY Marianne Wilson

The nation's largest home improvement retailer has found a new use for its store roofs.

The Home Depot is partnering with GE's Current unit and Tesla on a rooftop solar project in 50 stores across five states (California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and the District of Colombia.) The initiative will reduce electricity grid demand by an estimated 30% to 35% annually at each location. Under a power purchase agreement, Home Depot will lease its roof space and buy the output from the systems.

The new rooftop solar project is part of the Home Depot's ongoing efforts to utilize 135 megawatts (MW) of alternative and renewable energy by 2020. Other alternative and renewable energy projects include:

Solar farms in Delaware and Massachusetts with a combined annual output of 14.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh);

Fuel cells in use at more than 170 stores and distribution centers that produce roughly 90% of the electricity each store needs to operate; and

The 50 MW Los Mirasoles Wind Farm northeast of McAllen, Texas, announced this January, and The Zopiloapan Wind Farm located in central Mexico, added this June.

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ECOMMERCE

eBay helps social media powerhouse boost marketplace sales

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Facebook is getting in on the “daily deals” game.

The social media giant is teaming up with eBay to bolster third-party sales. Through the collaboration, Facebook’s Marketplace service — a section on its mobile app — now features a selection of inventory from eBay’s Daily Deals program, according to TechCrunch.

The deals will encompass products across the consumer electronics, fashion, and home & garden categories. Approximately 100 new items will be posted daily, and deals can be shared via SMS or Facebook Messenger — which will link to the deal via eBay’s ShopBot app. A countdown reveals how long the deals are available, and each item also displays the percentage off, the report said.

The Marketplace launched last fall. Originally created as a way to aggregate the social network’s “for sale” postings across various “buy and sell” groups, it’s intended to deliver an easier, more centralized way to search and shop for items from local sellers. Users can also list their own items, and chat with buyers or sellers via Marketplace’s integration with Messenger. But it has morphed into a peer-to-peer marketplace — not a source for deals from third-party websites, like eBay, according to TechCrunch.

Further extending the breadth of the Marketplace, Facebook announced on Monday that it is rolling out the service to 17 new countries across Europe, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. These will join six other countries — Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand and the U.K. — that recently launched the service.

In May, more than 18 million new items posted for sale in Marketplace in the United States, and that number continues to grow, according to Facebook.

To read more, click here.

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FINANCE

Analyst: Walmart shows that traditional retail can thrive if they adapt, evolve

The second quarter numbers show that Walmart remains firmly on the front foot and is more than holding its own in a challenging and competitive retail market. It is particularly pleasing to see sales growth accelerate since Q1 — a clear sign that the various initiatives and investments are paying dividends.

Admittedly, some of the growth numbers may seem small. The 3.3% uplift in Walmart's U.S. sales, for example, looks rather weak compared to the 17% increase in Amazon's retail sales over a similar timeframe. However, in monetary terms the gains are significant. Walmart US took $2.5 billion more than the same period last year. In this context, Walmart's performance compares favorably to Amazon, which added $3.5 billion to its retail sales line on a global basis.

One of the particular areas of success for Walmart is grocery. Our data show continued gains in customer share, even in areas where discounters like Aldi have expanded. The reason for this is mostly, although not completely, down to Walmart's continued investment in everyday low prices. As the grocery sector enters one of its toughest phases, we believe that Walmart is well positioned to make further gains. It is one of the few firms that have the firepower to cope with the push towards compressed prices and margins.

It is certainly true that investments in price, especially on grocery, have eroded gross margins. So too have the various e-commerce activities that Walmart is undertaking. However, it is also pleasing that, for the second consecutive quarter, the U.S. business managed to increase operating income, which rose by 2.2%.

Focusing more on e-commerce, we remain supportive of Walmart's efforts to boost its online business through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions. The addition of firms like Moosejaw, Shoebuy, and Bonobos not only give Walmart more of a stake in the digital marketplace but also expand its reach into higher margin categories, niche areas, and more affluent shopper segments. Although these businesses have a somewhat different position than Walmart's core operation, they still benefit from the firm's expertise in logistics and its scale and reach.

The results of the efforts made in digital are evident from the 67% increase in online gross merchandise value over the period. Acquisitions made a big contribution to this, but schemes like free two-day shipping and discounts for products collected in stores have also increased shopper numbers and encouraged more people to use Walmart.com. All in all, we believe that Walmart is making considerable progress in online and is using its significant scale and reach through stores to its advantage.

While the home market remains robust, the international picture has also improved. In Mexico, Walmex continues to perform well with a 7% increase in comparables. However, Walmart will be most cheered by the turnaround in U.K. performance, where Asda's same-store sales rose by 1.8%. While this comes off the back of a 7.5% decline in the prior year, it is nevertheless an early sign that Walmart is addressing some of the issues that have long since plagued the U.K. operation.

All in all, we are pleased with the progress Walmart is making. We note the decline in net income, but believe that some short term erosion is necessary as the business invests in its future. In our view, Walmart is a demonstration that traditional businesses can survive and thrive in this era of retail if they are prepared to adapt and evolve.

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M.Brandley says:
Aug-18-2017 05:44 pm

walmart.
you ignore the fact they burned through more than 100 pct cash on hand. 3.4 billion in dividends and 4 billion in stock buybacks in the first 6 months alone! they burned through all cash on hand and then some! nice way to censor the entire article

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