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Costco rolls out expanded delivery options amid Q4 results

BY Marianne Wilson

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco Wholesale Club is upping its home delivery game for online food orders as the grocery delivery market continues to heat up.

The retailer has introduced a new two-day delivery service, called CostcoGrocer, for customers across the United States (with the exception of those in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.). The service, which has a fee of $3, offers delivery of non-perishable foods and sundries, with about 500 items available. The delivery fee is waived for orders over $75.

Costco also is expanding its same-day delivery partnership with Instacart to more markets. The program, which includes both dry and fresh foods, is available at some 375 Costco locations. It also is being expanded to include more products.

Costco's moves to expand online delivery come as Walmart and Target are also upping their games. On Oct. 3, Walmart announced it had acquired Parcel Inc., a last-mile delivery startup that specializes in delivery of perishable items and general merchandise to customers in New York City. Target recently expanded the rollout of its next-day delivery service of household essentials, Target Restock, to eight new markets.

“There’ll be a number of additional U.S. locations planned – added between now and the end of calendar 2018 as our partnership expands,” Costco CFO Richard Galanti said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.

The call accompanied the wholesaler’s posting of better-than-expected fourth-quarter sales results, which notably saw e-commerce sales rise 21% over the year-ago period.

Net sales for the 17-week fourth quarter ended Sept. 3 rose 15.8% to $41.36 billion, compared with $35.73 billion in the year-ago period, which had 16 weeks. Total same-store sales rose 6.1%, with a 6.5% increase in the United States and a 4.9% increase in Canada. International same-store sales rose 5.6%.

Costco's net income for the quarter was $919 million, compared with $779 million last year. 

Net sales for the 53-week fiscal year rose 8.7% to $126.17 billion. Net income was $2.68 billion, compared with $2.35 billion last year.

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Walmart’s Google Home shopping partnership goes live

BY Marianne Wilson

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has officially gone live with voice shopping on the Google Home platform.

As announced in August, the discounter is partnering with Google to allow its customers to shop for Walmart items through voice via Google Assistant, the search giant's online shopping platform that lives on its smart speaker. On Wednesday, the partnership went live, with more than 2 million Walmart items available through voice.

(Read more about the partnership here.)

In addition, Walmart noted in a blog on its website that Google is launching the Google Home Mini, a voice-activated speaker that sells for only $49.

"Everyone should have access to a virtual assistant, especially when it can be a tool to help make shopping more convenient," Walmart stated. "That’s one of the reasons why we’re excited about the launch of the Google Home Mini. With a price tag of $49, it offers an affordable option for consumers who want to experience how a voice assistant can help them with everyday tasks – from getting answers to hands-free shopping.”

Walmart is offering an incentive to encourage shoppers to use voice shopping. Any customer who buys a Google Home or Google Home Mini from Walmart will receive up to $25 off (Between Oct. 4, 2017 and Jan. 15, 2018) a Walmart order when they link their Walmart account to Google Express. By linking their accounts, customers save time and money by receiving recommendations based on their previous purchases made in Walmart stores and on its website, the retailer said.

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More retailers step in with Puerto Rico relief contributions

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. — As Puerto Rico continues to recover from the impact of Hurricane Maria, retailers are continuing to step in with resources to help the island get back on its feet — with all three of the biggest retail pharmacy chains stepping in. 

The Rite Aid Foundation announced Tuesday a $150,000 donation to the American Red Cross to help the victims, families and communities in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria.   

"Nearly two weeks after being hit directly by Hurricane Maria, a category four storm, the need in Puerto Rico remains great," stated Tracy Henderson, director of The Rite Aid Foundation and charitable giving initiatives. "The Rite Aid Foundation hopes that this donation to the American Red Cross will help the people of Puerto Rico in their time of need and let them know they are not alone as they recover and rebuild."  

"We're deeply grateful for the generosity of The Rite Aid Foundation, whose support will help provide immediate assistance to thousands of families affected by this horrific disaster," said Jeri Sims, CEO of the American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region. "There is a long, difficult road ahead for those impacted by Hurricane Maria and support from partners like The Rite Aid Foundation is critical to aid in the recovery process."  

CVS Health, which has been raising funds from its customers and colleagues since Hurricane Harvey, announced this week that the total raised from that effort was $4 million, and it pledged an additional $6 million of products and supplies. The money will be split between Unidos for Puerto Rico, Rebuild Texas Fund and the Florida Disaster fund, and the products will be distributed to communities most in need, the company said. 

"We are incredibly grateful to our colleagues and customers who have demonstrated our values of caring and integrity over the past few weeks during these historic storms," CVS Health EVP and CVS Pharmacy president Helena Foulkes said. "The rebuilding process for many of these communities will take a long time, and we will continue to do our part by providing support during this difficult time."
 
The supplies and funds are in addition to the company's efforts to ensure that patients got their medication in Puerto Rico, even amid widespread power outages. The company transported specialty medications and essential equipment to Puerto Rico to support store operations, sometimes delivering medication directly to patients. These efforts followed its work helping patients prepare for the storms by using its messaging platform to enable rapid and urgent communications to patients. 
 
"While it is never easy to manage through storms of this magnitude, hundreds of our colleagues have gone above and beyond to ensure that our patients, customers and communities are being served, despite the devastation impacting their own personal lives," CVS Health Charitable Foundation president Eileen Howard Boone said. "Their generosity, compassion and dedication to serving others whether it be patients, residents or co-workers is truly amazing."
 
Besides the funds raised through the in-store campaign, CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation, employees and customers had previously donated nearly $800,000 in cash and in-kind product donations to the American Red Cross, Direct Relief, Salvation Army, Florida Disaster Fund, Unidos por Puerto Rico, Rebuild Texas Fund, the Greater Houston Community Foundation and the CVS Health Employee Relief Fund, a public charity designed to help CVS Health employees during unanticipated and unavoidable financial hardships and emergencies.
 
Both CVS Health’s and the Rite Aid Foundation’s efforts follow Walgreens’ commitment of $250,000  to American Red Cross Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

 

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