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RangeMe introduces RangeMe Services

BY David Salazar

RangeMe is broadening its offerings for suppliers to help them get products ready for retail faster. The ECRM-owned platform is introducing RangeMe Services, which it said would help suppliers ensure their products are optimized for buyer discovery and are ready for the shelf.

RangeMe Services helps suppliers find, evaluate and connect with service providers for such needs as insurance, design, packaging, photography and labeling. RangeMe noted that all of those elements are key components to being RangeMe Verified, a designation that lets buyers know that a supplier has met all necessary standards that make them business-ready.

“In the CPG industry today, speed is king,” said Nicky Jackson, founder and CEO of RangeMe. “If a product isn’t ready to hit the shelf when a retailer needs it, buyers aren’t going to consider that product as a serious contender to add to their product mix.”

The company noted that, while RangeMe Services can help newer brands get their first retail connection, it also can help established brands stay agile.

“Because of RangeMe, suppliers understand the prerequisites, and it cuts down on the back and forth so we can address their insurance needs and satisfy their requirements very quickly,” said Larry Allred of Veracity Insurance Solutions. “You have suppliers at the crossroads of wanting to get into retail, and offering a resource center to these suppliers with a checklist of what they need. And that is just phenomenal. When I get a phone call from a supplier looking to get into Whole Foods or CVS, they all have a common interest to get insurance based on the requirements of retailers.”

Suppliers can learn about providers, watch videos, find other suppliers’ endorsements and request quotes from the RangeMe platform.

“Offering suppliers the opportunity to get retail-ready in a single, seamless environment is good for them, good for retailers and good for the CPG industry as a whole,” Jackson said. “We’re widening the playing field of new products at a time when consumer demand is at an all-time high, and retailers can’t source innovative new products fast enough. RangeMe Services adds that needed jolt of speed to the sourcing process, and the results are being displayed front and center on store shelves across the nation.”

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Walmart grants $4M to the Colorado Workforce Development Council

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is partnering with Colorado to empower retail workers.

The discount giant announced more than $4 million in support of the Colorado Workforce Development Council, or CWDC. It is Walmart’s first grant to a state government to support workforce development and will help provide retail advancement opportunities through training and up-skilling.

The grant will allow the CWDC to partner with local workforce development boards across Colorado to launch 10 new retail sector partnerships. Through each of these public-private partnerships, representatives from workforce boards, economic development and education will work with retail employers in the community to design upskilling and training programs that support career advancement for frontline workers and can be a model for workforce development organizations across the U.S. to follow.

The funding comes at a time when there are estimated five million unfilled jobs in the U.S., but 24 million frontline workers who might be able to fill these jobs if given the opportunity to develop advanced training, according to UpSkill America. By improving the quality of skills training and increasing opportunities for advancement, retail jobs can be a powerful engine for economic mobility.

This support for the CWDC is part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s five-year, $100 million Retail Opportunity Initiative, a philanthropic initiative aimed at making it easier for frontline employees in retail and adjacent sectors to gain new skills and advance in their careers. To date, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have funded more than $80 million in grants designed to increase the economic mobility of retail and related-sector workers.

“Our support of the Colorado Workforce Development Council is a further step in our efforts to strengthen the workforce ecosystem beyond Walmart’s walls through collaboration with public and private sector leaders,” said Julie Gehrki, VP of philanthropy at Walmart.

The CWDC and sector partnerships will aim to train incumbent workers through Walmart’s funding, as well as share best practices for building retail career pathways and upskilling workers through the development of a “how-to” guide that will be shared statewide. The statewide expansion builds on the success of the Denver Retail Sector Partnership, convened by the Denver Office of Economic Development. The industry-led partnership focused on workforce as a key issue in 2016 and 2017 and provided skills training, work experience and paid youth pre-apprenticeships through a previous Walmart grant.

Through the Retail Opportunity Initiative, Walmart also recently announced nearly $4 million in grants to the Foundation for California Community Colleges, Code for America Labs, Inc. and edX.org to help provide workers access to education, training and skills to create innovative pathways for lifelong learning.

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Giant Food unveils store expansion, improvement plans

BY Marianne Wilson

Giant Food is upgrading its store experience.

The supermarket retailer announced a $175 million capital investment into expansion and improvement over the next two years. The investment includes one new store and 24 remodels. These efforts are in addition to the recently announced $21 million investment into a new location in Olney, Md., set to to open in spring 2019.

“We look forward to updating and enhancing our existing stores and constructing both new and replacement locations to give our shoppers a fresh and imaginative selection, unique in-store experiences and superior customer service,” said Gordon Reid, president, Giant Food, Landover, Md., which operates 164 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.

The new store will be located in Fairfax Circle, Va. Giant opened two new stores in Virginia — in the towns of Herndon and Alexandria — earlier this month.

Giant’s upgrade efforts will include remodeling 24 store locations to feature new amenities such as enhanced perishable, produce, beer, wine and spirits offerings, full-service florists, expanded natural and organic departments, hot Asian food bars, fresh squeezed juice bars, enhanced check-out zones, full-service pharmacies and more.

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