TECHNOLOGY

Kroger creates new website to help identify local product vendors

BY Michael Johnsen

Kroger on Friday launched a new website to welcome local and emerging brands to partner with the company.

"Kroger has always had a commitment to supporting small-business owners and local vendors," stated Mike Donnelly, Kroger executive VP merchandising and procurement. "Our business has a track record of successfully blending centralized and decentralized decision making to promote local products while also enjoying economies of scale. Since Kroger's day one, we have had a longstanding, 365-day-a-year commitment to support and source from local farmers, ranchers, food producers, wineries, breweries and product makers. There are tastes and products that are unique to every region."

Kroger's team of buyers continuously look for opportunities to purchase regionally that allow the company to expand its product portfolio for customers, stimulate the local economy and enhance product freshness. now vendors will be able to contact them through the new website, called Kroger.Com/WeAreLocal. Sourcing locally also supports the company's sustainability commitments, including Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative launched earlier this week.

"Kroger has led the way for over a decade in making local, natural and organic products more affordable and accessible to America – especially for shoppers on a budget," Donnelly said. "We've always believed that our customers shouldn't have to pay higher prices just because a product is local, natural or organic. There are a lot of headlines about making local, natural and organic foods more affordable. The truth is, we've always been affordable. That's why we developed our Simple Truth brand, which today is the biggest natural and organic brand in the country by volume."

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TECHNOLOGY

The busiest online shopping day in history will be…

BY Marianne Wilson

Black Friday is still No. 1 when it comes to setting sales records.

Black Friday, which falls on Nov. 24 this year, will be the busiest digital shopping day in U.S. history, exceeding Cyber Monday (Nov. 27) for the second year in a row, according to a report by Salesforce.

Mobile traffic to retail sites will grow to 60% of total across the globe this shopping season (compared to 34% for desktop and 5% for tablets). Orders placed on phones will approach 40% on big shopping days such as Black Friday, according to Salesforce's 2017 Holiday Season Predictions report.

Consumers will only have 50% of their holiday shopping completed by Sunday, Dec. 3 and 80% completed by Friday, Dec. 15. Cyber Week (Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) will see both the deepest discounts (average of 28% off list price) and highest rate of free shipping (86% of all orders will have it). Beyond Cyber Week, Monday, Dec. 11 will have the deepest discounts and highest availability of free shipping.

In other insights from the Salesforce report:

o The most popular online shopping time for website visits and orders is from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

o Seven to 10% of all iPhone orders will go through Apple Pay.

o The most used channels for research before buying online include website (74%), email (43 %), social media (38%) and a retailer's mobile apps (36%).

o Voice-enabled digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and Google Assistant will be used by 40% of Millennials (ages 18-36) to research merchandise before buying online.

o Fifty-eight percent of consumers think that store associates need the ability to look up product details on-demand on a mobile device in order to help deliver an excellent customer experience.

o Over a third of Millennials (35%) say the ability to search merchandise in a physical store or online catalog using an image and receiving product recommendations based on the attributes of that image would be appealing.

o Millennials are also 2.5 times more likely (28% vs. 11%) than Baby Boomers (ages 53-71) to say personalized digital offers from retailers based on their purchasing history would appeal to them.

o Despite a desire for more personalized experiences, 63% of consumers feel like retailers don't truly know who they are.

o In addition, 61% believe that in order to help deliver an excellent customer experience, store associates need visibility into all available inventory at other stores or warehouses if an item is out of stock.

"Just like watching television, holiday shopping has moved from an appointment based activity to an on-demand activity," said Rob Garf, VP industry insights, Salesforce Commerce Cloud. "Salesforce expects to see continued growth not only in mobile orders and website visits, but also in newer technologies such as mobile payments and artificial intelligence. It's not too late for retailers to make adjustments today in order to meet consumer expectations and better compete this holiday season."

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TECHNOLOGY

Report: Consumers to get early jump on holiday shopping

BY Marianne Wilson

More and more Americans plan to get an early start on their holiday shopping. And they also plan on spending more.

Nearly half (45%) of Americans plan to start holiday shopping before November, with one in four starting before October, according to RetailMeNot's 2017 Holiday Retail Trends and Guide. Retailers are capitalizing on this earlier start: Nearly 80% indicated they will begin holiday marketing efforts earlier this year.

Consumers plan to spend an average of $743 during the Black Friday (Nov. 24) to Cyber Monday (Nov. 27) shopping weekend, up 47% from last year’s average of $505, according to the report. Echoing the trend observed in 2016, RetailMeNot expects that Black Friday deals will start well in advance of Thanksgiving Day, and last beyond Cyber Monday. In fact, the holiday shopping weekend of Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday will likely now expand into two full weeks of deals.

According to RetailMeNot, Cyber Monday is becoming just as important as Black Friday as it gains popularity amongst consumers. Fifty-six percent of consumers said they plan to shop Cyber Monday deals in 2017 versus just 39% in 2016.

“With the expanded shopping season this year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer single-focus days. It’s now a two-week-long promotional opportunity,” said Marissa Tarleton, CMO, RetailMeNot. “Not only are these two days as important as ever, retailers must consider how to win the two-week period.”

This year’s holiday season gives shoppers an extra Saturday before Christmas Eve for last-minute shopping. Four in 10 retailers are setting aside more than a quarter of their overall holiday marketing budget for last-minute promotional activity. RetailMeNot recommends retailers plan to trigger special “pulses” of savings for maximum ROI. On average, RetailMeNot data shows the ideal promotional length to be about three days — and this data shows a 3x conversion lift when retailers combine short pulse promotions with longer, evergreen promotional content.

Download the full study at rmn.com/holidayinsights2017.

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