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Walmart in major expansion of grocery delivery

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart has brought in a new partner to help it expand its delivery of online grocery orders.

The discounter announced it is teaming up with on-demand delivery service Postmates to help expand Walmart online grocery deliveries to more than 40% of U.S. homes. The initiative will start in Charlotte, North Carolina, and expand in the coming months. It comes on the heels of a previous announcement by Walmart that it plans to expand its grocery delivery business across the U.S. in 2018, going from six metro areas to 100 during that time.

Under the agreement with Postmates, after orders have been picked by Walmart’s personal shoppers, a Postmates courier retrieves the order from a Walmart store and delivers it to the customer during their specified delivery window. (Groceries can be delivered same-day.) There is a $30 minimum order threshold, and a $9.95 fee for the delivery services — with no subscription fee. The first order will be free with a $50 minimum and a special code.

“Both Walmart and Postmates strive to make the lives of our customers easier,” said Dan Mosher, senior VP, merchant lead, Postmates. “With our growing fleet of 160,000 couriers, we are confident that we’ll be providing Walmart customers with the ultimate convenience.”

Postmates is not Walmart’s only delivery partner. Uber and Deliv have been helping Walmart test deliveries in select markets, including Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa and San Jose.

In addition, Walmart offers a free service at 1,200 stores that allows customers to order online and pick up their groceries curbside. The service will be expanded to another 1,000 stores this year.

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Supermarket giant in big hiring push

BY Marianne Wilson

The Kroger Co. is going on a hiring blitz.

The company is looking to fill 11,000 positions in its supermarket division, including almost 2,000 management jobs. Kroger said it created 10,000 new jobs in 2017 and 12,000 in 2016, not including jobs created as a result of capital investment, such as temporary construction jobs, or increases as a result the company’s mergers.

In addition, Kroger is investing an incremental $500 million in associate wages, training and development during the next three years. The company noted that last month in Cincinnati, Kroger associates ratified a labor agreement with the UFCW 75 that set the stage for starting wage and overall wage increases in multiple markets across the country. The agreement raised starting wages to at least $10 per hour, and accelerated wage progressions to $11 an hour after one year of service, for associates in the Cincinnati/Dayton division.

As previously announced, Kroger has also committed to invest a significant portion of the tax benefit it received from the recent tax act in its employees’ future. The company plans to announce the details of the program this month.

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Study: Nearly half of online orders to be delivered within two hours by 2028

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Retailers are rethinking — and speeding up — their logistics operations to create a faster purchasing journey for customers.

To satisfy online consumers that want a faster purchasing experience, 78% of logistics companies expect to provide same-day delivery by 2023. Meanwhile, 40% anticipate two-hour delivery windows by 2028, according to the “Future of Fulfillment Vision study,” from Zebra Technologies.

To better meet the growing expectations of the on-demand economy, 76% of retailers use store inventory to fill online orders, and 86% of companies plan to implement buy online/pick up in store in the next year. Retailers are also investing in retrofitting stores to double as online fulfillment centers, and shrinking selling space to accommodate e-commerce pickups and returns.

In addition, 87% of retailers expect to use crowdsourced delivery, or a network of drivers that can get orders to customers faster, by 2028.

Next-generation supply chains will reflect connected, business-intelligence and automated solutions that will add newfound speed, precision and cost effectiveness to transportation and labor. The most disruptive technologies will be drones (39%), driverless/autonomous vehicles (38%), wearable and mobile technology (37%) and robotics (37%).
In other key findings:

• Supply chains will also become less error-prone, as 49% of companies will add more radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, tagging solutions and inventory management platforms in the next few years. The technology heightens inventory accuracy and shopper satisfaction while reducing out of stocks, overstocks and replenishment errors.

• While 72% of organizations currently utilize barcodes, 55 are still using inefficient, manual pen-and-paper based processes to enable omnichannel logistics. By 2021, handheld mobile computers with barcode scanners will be used by 94% of respondents for omnichannel logistics.

• Accepting and managing returns also remains a challenge for 87% of respondents, especially as the increase in free and fast product delivery corresponds with an increase in returned merchandise. Seven in 10 surveyed executives agree that more retailers will turn stores into fulfillment centers that accommodate product returns.

• More than 60% of retailers that currently do not offer free shipping, free returns or same-day delivery plan to do so, while 44% expect to outsource returns management to a third party.

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