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This week’s FIERCE RETAIL news


FierceRetail April 05, 2016
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Today’s Top Stories

1. Kroger invests in Lucky’s

2. Amazon goes global with payments partner program

3. Target adds vendor coupons to Cartwheel

4. Former Walmart exec Tom Coughlin dies at 66

5. Best Buy and Aaron’s add Cricket shops

Also Noted

Spotlight: Court rejects Walmart appeal

Stories from around the Web

News from the Marketing & Retail Industry




Today’s Top News

1. Kroger invests in Lucky’s

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Kroger (NYSE:KR) announced a strategic partnership with Lucky’s Market and will invest in growing the specialty grocer known for its focus on natural, organic and locally grown products.

Boulder-based Lucky’s is known as an affordable outlet for healthy and fresh foods. “Organic for the 99 percent” is the motto, with a large selection of natural and organic food, including fresh produce, meat and seafood, prepared foods and baked goods, wine and beer, and personal care goods.

The average store is 30,000 sq. ft. and the interior is intended to resemble more of a farmers market with bins, barrels and wooden crates than a traditional supermarket.

Lucky’s also offers a private label line of grocery items free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. The store contributes 10 percent of the profits from the “L” label store brand back into the communities where it operates.

Lucky’s has 17 stores in 13 states in the Midwest and Southeast United States. Kroger plans to make “a meaningful investment in Lucky’s, which will significantly accelerate Lucky’s Market’s growth in new and existing markets,” according to a company statement.

The financial terms of the transaction, which has already closed, were not disclosed.

The partnership comes hot on the heels of Kroger’s rumored interest in The Fresh Market. That company sold last month to private equity firm Apollo Global for roughly $1.36 billion.

Kroger has been challenging Whole Foods and taking market share among shoppers seeking out healthy and fresh foods. Lucky’s could be a growth vehicle for the chain as it continues to grow this effort, even as it tests new initiatives and formats such as Main & Vine, which opened earlier this year near Seattle.

For more:
– see this Kroger press release

Related Articles:
Kroger expands online ordering
Kroger names group VP
Kroger to expand Fry’s Food Stores

2. Amazon goes global with payments partner program

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is expanding its Payments Partner Program to merchants beyond the United States to now include those in Germany, United Kingdom and Japan.

The program allows merchants – on an invite-only basis – to offer shoppers the option to checkout using their Amazon account. The idea is that it streamlines the process and grows average orders.

Those merchants allowed to participate offer the “Login and Pay with Amazon” option in the customer’s shopping cart. When selected, the user and payment method is authenticated by Amazon using the stored information in that person’s account.

But the new Global Partner program offers an expanded set of services to third party e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, one of the companies now listed as a Partner. Shopify merchant partners now have access to Amazon Payments as a tool through the platform without signing on directly with Amazon.

“Our merchants want to offer their customers a payment solution that is trusted, easy and familiar,” said Brennan Loh, director of business development at Shopify.

There are three tiers available: Premier Partner, Certified Partner and Certified Developer. Each level has distinct certified categories for e-commerce platform providers and developers. Members are eligible to receive account management, planning support, technical resources and training, Partner directory listing and Partner designation with logos. Certain Partners may also be eligible for co-marketing activities.

The Amazon Payments Partner Program launched in 2013. In January, the company said transactions volume had jumped 150 percent and the number of merchants using Pay with Amazon grew by 200 percent.

More than 23 million account holders have paid with Amazon on other sites, and with more than 285 million account holders, there’s a lot of room to grow this business, online and with mobile wallets.

And while Amazon is hardly alone in trying to grow their payments business – PayPal, Google, Visa and Apple all have payment programs – the ability to integrate the option into an existing platform could gain traction particularly among smaller to mid-sized merchants, many of which are already selling on Amazon in some form.

For more:
– see this Amazon press release
– see this TechCrunch story
– see this Reuters article

Related Articles:
Postmates takes on Amazon Prime
7-Eleven tests delivery
Walgreens offering up same-day delivery

3. Target adds vendor coupons to Cartwheel

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Target (NYSE:TGT) has bulked up the savings available on its Cartwheel app with the addition of digital manufacturer coupons that let shoppers clip coupons on a smartphone to use just like paper versions.

The offers are available for single use and will give users a discount with a dollar amount, rather than a percentage off.

Cartwheel has been a shopper favorite among Target customers, according to the company. To date, shoppers have used app-available discounts worth roughly $475 million.

Target continues to strategically operate two mobile apps: one for its brand and the Cartwheel savings app. Cartwheel debuted in 2013 and has been bolstered over time with personalized recommendations, interactive store maps to locate saved items, proximity messages and now vendor-issued coupons.

The retailer is focused on true omnichannel initiatives, making in-store merchandising and programs like mobile apps and ship-from-store priorities to equal degrees. Last year, CEO Brian Cornell declared mobile Target’s front door, citing research that app users visit stores more frequently and stay longer.

Now Cartwheel gives them more reasons to clip, save and stay.

For more:
– see this A Bullseye View blogpost
– see this TechCrunch story

Related Articles:
Target call for startups nets 500 responses
Target CIO: It’s still early days for mobile
Target doubles Threshold store brand furniture

4. Former Walmart exec Tom Coughlin dies at 66

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Tom Coughlin, who helped lead Walmart (NYSE:WMT) for the better part of two decades, passed away on April 1 at age 66.

Coughlin began his career with Walmart in 1978 in the company’s security division, and was named vice chairman and elected to the board in 2001.

But his tenure ended in scandal when in 2005 he was accused of stealing from the company and an investigation found he misused roughly $500,000 in company gift cards and fraudulent reimbursements.

Coughlin pled guilty to five counts of wire fraud and one count of filing a false income tax return. He served his sentence in home confinement and paid more than $460,000 in fines.

Still, Coughlin was respected in the retail community and continued to attend and speak at industry events. He was a protege of Sam Walton and was considered a dynamic and personable leader.

“Like me, many of you worked with Tom over his more than 26 years with the company. I know firsthand how much he loved our associates and this company,” CEO Doug McMillon said in an email to company executives, according to The Wall Street Journal.

For more:
– see this Wall Street Journal article (tiered subscription)
– see this Northwest Arkansas online article

Related Articles:
Walmart’s new card offers rewards
Walmart to raise $3M to fight hunger
Walmart grows grocery, millennial market share

5. Best Buy and Aaron’s add Cricket shops

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Cricket Wireless (NYSE:BBY) is expanding its store footprint with the addition of 1,000 stores within Best Buy locations and another 2,000 at Aaron’s.

The deals expand the wireless provider’s distribution to more than 11,000 outlets nationwide, while the retailers can now boast additional sales and lease revenue from the prepaid plans.

Best Buy is one of the largest sellers of wireless phones – plans and handsets – in the United States, and while Aarons’ specializes in renting or leasing-to-own furniture, electronics, appliances and accessories, it currently sells and leases unlocked mobile devices that can be activated on several networks, according to FierceWireless.

“Cricket and Aaron’s share a simple goal – give customers more than they ever thought possible from their retail experience – and this deal helps us continue to deliver,” said Dave Fine, VP of sales, Cricket Wireless. “Our relationship with Aaron’s not only brings Cricket’s distribution network to more than 12,000 retail locations nationwide, it also carves out a new path to let consumers experience all that Cricket has to offer – great network coverage, phenomenal value and no hidden costs or fees.”

Best Buy added 250 AT&T shops inside stores last year. Cricket is a subsidiary of AT&T.

For more:
– see this FierceWireless story
– see these Cricket press releases

Related Articles:
AT&T shops open in Best Buy
Macy’s to open in-store Best Buy shops, close 35 to 40 stores
Interactive Samsung shops to open in 200 Best Buy stores

Also Noted

Spotlight: Court rejects Walmart appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by Walmart to overturn an earlier ruling that it must pay $187 million to employees who worked in Pennsylvania between 1998 and 2006. A lower court found the retailer had failed to pay for all the hours worked or to provide full breaks. Read more.

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