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TODAY’S TOP RETAIL STORIES

 

FierceRetail March 29, 2016
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Today’s Top Stories

1. Harris Teeter makes shopping more express

2. Sears’ Eddie Lampert buys debt

3. EBay optimizes for 5 stages of shopping

4. Instacart expansion keeps rolling along

5. Hy-Vee opens training and fulfillment center

This week’s sponsor is Shoptalk.

Also Noted

New drones roll through Walmart country

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Today’s Top News

1. Harris Teeter makes shopping more express

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Harris Teeter is expanding online ordering options with the addition of home delivery through UberRush.

The Matthews, North Carolina–based grocery is piloting the program at a single Harris Teeter store in Washington, D.C.

The grocer currently operates an online platform that allows shopping via the Web or mobile device for in-store pickup. Now shoppers within a five-mile radius of the test store can have purchases delivered same day.

Shoppers log on to the Harris Teeter mobile app, order, checkout and select delivery or pick-up options. For those choosing delivery, the store dispatches an UberRush driver and the shopper receives real-time updates, much like ordering a car through the Uber app.

The service is only available to mobile users; computer orders are restricted to in-store pickup.

“Harris Teeter is excited to enhance the online ordering process by offering home delivery,” said Danna Robinson, communication manager for Harris Teeter. “UberRush delivery will help us reach our customers where they are by making the grocery shopping experience even more convenient.”

Harris Teeter joins a growing list of retailers partnering with third-party delivery services to provide same-day service in this highly competitive market.

And the competition is only heating up as UberRush, Google Express and Amazon Prime Now all ramp up service offerings and partnerships. Instacart recently announced a partnership with Whole Foods, expanding delivery and making Whole Foods an investor in the business.

For more:
-See this Harris Teeter press release

Related stories:
Delivery.com delivers lunch to WeWork members
Amazon launches crowdsourced delivery Flex
Target to test grocery delivery
Deliv acquires delivery startup WeDeliver
Deliv expands to new cities and malls

2. Sears’ Eddie Lampert buys debt

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Sears Holdings’ (NASDAQ:SHLD) chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert has acquired a portion of a $750 million loan that will help Sears pay down older debt. But the structure of the loan ensures that its backers will be paid off in the event of Sears’ liquidation, according to Reuters.

   Eddie Lampert

Lampert bought the debt through his hedge fund, ESL Investments, and now has a couple hundred million dollars of a new term loan, according to the report. The loan is backed by Sears’ inventory and receivables and pays an interest rate of more than four times that of the average loan made to other retailers.

The information comes from unnamed sources and Lampert declined to provide Reuters with a comment. Sears’ official stance is that it has enough financial resources and liquid assets fund its transformation. The company is focused on growing through its Shop Your Way member program, but continues to close stores and report lower sales year over year.

Sears has also relied on selling its assets, including real estate and other businesses. Sears Auto Centers could be the next such asset spun off to fund this transformation.

For more:
-See this Reuters article

Related stories:
Sears’ new exec to help manage transformation
Sears CEO: Retail is struggling
Sears to accelerate store closings
Sears to shutter some Kmart stores
Sears’ sales plunge 20%

3. EBay optimizes for 5 stages of shopping

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | By Laura Heller

EBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) has rolled out new enhancements to its technology platform to provide shoppers with better search returns and make it easier for shoppers to discover and compare products.

The changes are based on an examination of shopper behaviors that eBay breaks down into the five stages of shopping.

“When looking at shopping behaviors, we often find that providing too many options can be overwhelming for some people,” said Jason Fletchall, eBay’s product manager for shopping experience. “In our research, we’ve found that there are five stages in the shopping journey: want, discover, compare, decide and buy. Our goal is to help shoppers quickly make sense of the options available to them, and help them easily compare options so they can decide with confidence.”

So eBay made improvements to its Product Related Pages (PRP) and Search Results Pages (SRP). It leveraged machine-assisted learning to reorder the items listed on category pages during the search and discovery process and on the SRP pages as shoppers begin to comparison shop.

The site provides a “top pick” and offers more options to better show the breadth of inventory, according to the company.

“I see these enhancements giving our shoppers a much easier time finding the best values for them,” said Fletchall. “Through simple browsing, shoppers will naturally land on these pages which help them narrow down which items they want to view.”

EBay celebrated its 20th anniversary in September and refocused its digital presence by spinning off PayPal, streamlining mobile offerings and testing new delivery and membership programs.

For more:
-See this eBay announcement

Related stories:
EBay launches shipping membership program
EBay shuts down 3 apps, delivery service
EBay turns 20 with new app
EBay offers valet service for high-end apparel
EBay expanding local delivery test

4. Instacart expansion keeps rolling along

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Instacart is expanding in Southern California, adding Orange County to its growing list of service areas.

Shoppers can now order from Whole Foods Market, Gelson’s Market, Stater Bros. Markets, Ralphs, Smart & Final, Costco (no membership required), Petco and H Mart. Delivery is promised within one hour.

The Los Angeles market grew by 350 percent in 2015, making Orange County a natural next step, according to Instacart.

“We’ve received thousands of customer requests from Orange County residents to bring Instacart to their community, along with incredible interest from retail partners here,” said Apoorva Mehta, founder and CEO of Instacart. “We are passionate about saving our customers time and money, which is why we partner with local and national retailers to bring our customers groceries from their favorite stores wherever, and whenever they want them. We couldn’t be more excited to launch in Orange County.”

Instacart’s initial delivery area in Orange County covers Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Corona del Mar and much of Irvine.

Instacart is aggressively expanding to new markets and with new partners. It recently announced a partnership with Whole Foods to be its exclusive delivery partner. The supermarket company is also investing in Instacart, according to terms of the agreement.

California is a hot market for grocery expansion. Aldi is prepping for its Southern California entry and Whole Foods will open its first 365 Market in Los Angeles this year.

For more:
-See this Instacart announcement

Related stories:
Instacart taps vendors to offset costs
Whole Foods expands with Instacart
Whole Foods invests in Instacart
Instacart, AllRecipes partner for ingredient delivery
Instacart adds same-day service to D.C. market

5. Hy-Vee opens training and fulfillment center

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Hy-Vee is about to transform a shuttered retail store into a training facility and fulfillment center to support the grocer’s growing online operations.

The 82,000-sq.-ft. facility in near the company’s Des Moines headquarters was purchased for $3.6 million, according to The Des Moines Register. Once remodeled, it will come online in the fall.

The building will house Hy-Vee University to provide training in retail services, management and business leadership. There will also be an advanced masters of retail operations. Additional facilities include a test kitchen and lab, auditorium and collaboration areas.

It’s a chance for Hy-Vee to expand programs currently offered at is corporate campus.

“We want to make sure we’re training our employees on all the latest trends in grocery and in their specific department areas,” Denise Broderick, Hy-Vee VP of education and training, said in a statement. “With this new facility, we can bring in multiple outside experts to one location or use video conferencing technology to virtually connect with them.”

The facility will do double duty to support Hy-Vee’s online sales, relieving the growing burden on stores. Online ordering is available for at all 240 Hy-Vee stores, and shoppers can opt for in-store pick up or home delivery.

For more:
-See this Des Moines Register article

Related stories:
Hy-Vee expands online shopping to all markets
Aldi’s prices cheaper than Walmart’s
Traditional grocery stores rank highest for customer loyalty
Dash’s Markets launches delivery service
Instacart adds same-day service to D.C. market


Also Noted

New drones roll through Walmart country

The University of Arkansas is about to begin testing a terrestrial drone, or robot, from London-based Starship Enterprises that could be used to make deliveries. Story

© 2016 FierceMarkets, a division of Questex, LLC This email was sent to budley5@gmail.com as part of the FierceRetail email list which is administered by FierceMarkets, 1900 L Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 628-8778.

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