Walmart partnership boosts global presence
Walmart is teaming up with the largest e-commerce company in Japan in a deal that will strengthen its efforts to compete with Amazon both in Asia and the United States.
The nation’s largest retailer has entered into a strategic partnership with Tokyo-based Rakuten in a collaboration that includes the launch of an online grocery delivery service in Japan. The service, to be operated by Walmart’s Japanese unit, Seiyu GK, and Rakuten, will be called “Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper.” It will kick off in the latter half of 2018, and will replace Walmart’s existing online grocery delivery offering in Japan.
In addition, the partnership will enable Walmart to sell eBooks, audiobooks, and eReaders from Rakuten Kobo in its stores and online in the United States. Starting later this year, Walmart will sell digital book cards in stores, enabling more than 4,000 stores to carry a broader selection of books for customers. Owned by Rakuten, Toronto-based Kobo offers nearly 6 million eBooks and audiobooks to customers in 190 countries.
“Rakuten is a strong e-commerce business and we’re excited to collaborate with the top online shopping destination in Japan,” said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon. “We look forward to expanding our grocery footprint in Japan and launching a new offering of eBooks and audiobooks for our customers in the U.S.”
The e-book alliance with Kobo will give Walmart entry into a category that is largely dominated in the United States by rival Amazon. Walmart and Kobo will also release a co-branded Walmart/Kobo e-reading app for iOS and Android as an alternative to Amazon’s Kindle app, as well as a desktop app.
“We are adding an entirely new category to our U.S. assortment—e-books and audiobooks. … ,” Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer, Walmart U.S. e-commerce business, said in a blog post. “We have long been a destination for entertainment including digital content – whether movies through VUDU or the digital game cards we sell in our stores. eBooks and audiobooks are a great addition to our assortment. Working with Rakuten Kobo enables us to quickly and efficiently launch a full eBook and audiobook catalog on Walmart.com to provide our customers with additional choices alongside our assortment of physical books.”
Regional grocer looks to AI for pricing, promotions
A new platform is helping Harps Food Stores create more relevant promotions.
The supermarket operator, which operates 87 stores across Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas, has described its print circular its largest advertising expense. In a move to make the circulars more relevant for shoppers, Harps Food Stores is using an artificial intelligence-based platform from Daisy Intelligence Corp.
The platform analyzes years of collected transactional information, and delivers insights into customer buying behavior. This analysis also uncovers specific, actionable product and marketing recommendations, and reveals which products should be featured in its weekly circulars, according to the company.
“We use Daisy Intelligence solution to analyze customer transactions and track the relationship between every item in every customer’s basket,” said David Ganoung, VP of marketing at Harps. “Daisy’s ability to provide us with the associated sales on every item within the individual transactions helps us to promote the items most pertinent to our customers.”
This data is also helping the chain to optimize its pricing and promotional efforts. “Daisy’s A.I. enables us to analyze Harp’s transactional data on a giant scale,” Ganoung added. “As a result, this significant improvement in promotional effectiveness supports our ability to meet the needs of our shoppers by keeping our prices competitive, and enhancing our profitability.”
Target, Shipt ready to launch same-day delivery
Target is moving quickly to leverage its $550 million acquisition of Shipt.
The discounter announced that it will debut same-day delivery services via Shipt on Feb. 1 across 57 stores in South Florida and Birmingam, Alabama. It will move quickly to expand the service, making it available at nearly half its 1,834 stores by the end of the first quarter (February 12), and the majority of its stores in time for the 2018 holiday season.
“Our teams moved at lightning speed to get Target up and running on Shipt’s platform in less than eight weeks,” said John Mulligan, COO, Target. “And we’re not stopping there—we’ll keep expanding….making Target the first retailer to be able to offer same-day delivery in all major markets across the country.”
Shipt is a membership-based service, with an annual fee of $99. (To celebrate the addition of Target to the Shipt marketplace, new Shipt members who sign up prior to expansion will receive an annual membership for $49.)
Members use Shipt’s online marketplace to browse participating local retailers’ aisles online and purchase from a full selection of grocery and household items. Shipt’s army of shoppers then take the orders, visit the stores to buy the products and deliver them to the user on the same day, usually within just a few hours.
Target will kick-off same-day delivery with an assortment of groceries, essentials, home, electronics and other. By the end of 2019, same-day delivery will include all major product categories at Target, according to Shipt.
Target’s acquisition of Shipt was one of the largest in the retailer’s history. It came as Walmart and Amazon were expanding their own same-day delivery offerings.
“This acquisition will mark an important milestone in an ambitious strategy we laid out in early 2017, which included strengthening Target’s supply chain and digital capabilities to make shopping at Target easier, more reliable and more convenient for our guests,” Mulligan stated in a blog on the retailer’s website back in December. “By acquiring Shipt, we’ll be able to take advantage of our network of stores and Shipt’s technology platform and shopper community to quickly offer same-day delivery to millions of our guests.”