TECHNOLOGY

Natural foods grocer jumps into on-demand home delivery

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market now offers same-day deliveries.

Through its partnership with on-demand grocery delivery service Instacart, the value-based natural foods grocer is delivering online orders in as little as an hour. The service, called Fresh Thyme Delivers, is available in 55 of Fresh Thyme’s 70 stores throughout the Midwest.

Customers can place an order online or the Instacart smartphone app, and choose from 30,000 items across fresh, healthy, natural and organic categories. These merchandise ranges from private label products to paleo, gluten-free and plant-based options.

“Fresh Thyme Delivers gives shoppers greater access to affordable groceries and products whenever and wherever it’s convenient for them,” said Chris Sherrell, president and CEO of Fresh Thyme.

“The demand for delivery services has never been greater,” Sherrell said. “We’re pleased to combine this new delivery option with access to Fresh Thyme’s 5,000 plus organic items, 8,000 SKUs of vitamin and body care products and many more healthy, wholesome options.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Report: Amazon’s newest patent combines driverless trucks and drones

BY CSA Staff

Amazon was awarded another patent — one that highlights the value of using autonomous technology to streamline the final leg of deliveries.

The online giant was granted a patent for self-driving delivery truck technology that could work with drones, a combination that could deliver packages more quickly and efficiently, according to The Puget Sound Business Journal.

The driverless trucks, or “mobile bases,” can roam around a city with packages ready for delivery. Rather than drive packages to an individual address, the driverless vehicles could be equipped with automated storage and retrieval systems to hand off packages to drones, bike messengers, cars, or robotic couriers for the final leg of delivery, the report explained.

The patent was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in December, 2014.

To read more, click here.

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Luxury department store retailer co-develops merchandise buying app

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Neiman Marcus is digitizing its inventory sourcing process through a mobile solution it co-created.

The luxury department store retailer teamed up with the digital wholesale marketplace, Joor, to co-develop a mobile, iPad-specific app designed to support retail buyers transacting on the wholesale platform. The solution digitizes all buying processes, which helps retailers reduce labor and errors.

The buying process is typically very manual, paper-driven, time-consuming, and sometimes error-prone due to reliance on disparate systems. In addition to providing disjointed views of brands’ collections, disparate systems also limit buyers’ abilities to plan assortments efficiently across many brands, and lack visibility into what others across their retail organization are purchasing.

The new mobile platform centralizes data, creating a digital hub. Now buyers can view all of their brands’ complete collections; create merchandised looks, plan assortments, and purchase merchandise. A budget tracker tool provides a unified view of all planned purchases, and delivers real-time insights on where a buyer stands versus their budget. Members across the buying team can also communicate in-app, a move that helps create more synergistic purchases across departments and locations.

Since using the app, Neiman Marcus’ retail buyers reported a 40% increase in productivity, and 30% reduction in appointment times, according to the company.

“Collaborating with Joor to modernize the team’s approach to market aligns with Neiman Marcus’ long-standing tradition of innovation and retail leadership,” stated Nathan Johnson, senior VP, merchandise planning, Neiman Marcus Group.

“We see Joor as an important tool to reduce friction in the purchase order process, freeing up merchant time to focus on driving assortment differentiation,” he added. “When this increased efficiency is coupled with improved real-time visibility into buying decisions, we believe there is tremendous potential to not only improve sales and margins, but more importantly, to improve the customer experience.”

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