Sam’s Club reportedly opening second e-commerce fulfillment center
Walmart’s wholesale club store division is putting one of its closed stores to good use.
A Sam’s Club that closed earlier this year in Matteson, Ill., will be transitioned into an e-commerce fulfillment center for the retailer. This is Sam’s Club’s second e-commerce distribution hub in the United States, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Kevin Thompson, Walmart’s director of public affairs and government relations, said in the report that the center will be a regional hub for online deliveries made by Sam’s Club members. It will serve customers in an area of a several-hundred-mile radius of Chicago.
The company will start retrofitting the store next month. Sam’s Club expects to have the facility operational by the end of this year, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The store was part of approximately 60 Sam’s locations that Walmart closed in January.
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Kroger deploys its self-driving grocery delivery pilot
Kroger has gone driverless in Scottsdale.
On Thursday, the supermarket giant formally launched its self-driving grocery delivery pilot at a Fry’s Food location in Scottsdale, Arizona. The launch comes several weeks after Kroger announced its partnership with tech startup Nuro, the maker of a fully unmanned vehicle.
Initially, deliveries will be made by Nuro’s self-driving Toyota Prius fleet. But sometime later this fall, the deliveries will be made by Nuro’s custom R1 driverless vehicle. The self-driving vehicle, which has been called a “delivery pod,” is about half the size of a Toyota Corolla, and is specifically designed for the local transportation of goods.
“We’re excited to launch our autonomous vehicle delivery pilot with Fry’s in Scottsdale,” said Kroger chief digital officer Yael Cosset. “Kroger wants to bring more customers the convenience of affordable grocery delivery, and our pilot with Nuro will help us test and learn to understand customer acceptance of autonomous vehicles in our seamless offering.”
Here’s how it works: Customers place delivery orders online or through Fry’s mobile app, and then choose a delivery time based on slot availability. Grocery orders can be scheduled for same-day or next-day delivery. Orders will arrive via the car, and be left at the customer’s curb. There is a flat fee of $5.95, and no minimum order is required to use the service.
This is only one of Kroger’s plans to bolster its digital offering and compete with rivals, such as Amazon, Walmart and Target. Earlier this month, for example, the company launched Kroger Ship, a service that delivers goods through third-party carriers. The service will initially be available in Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville, and Nashville. More markets will be added over the next few months.
In May, Kroger announced an exclusive partnership with British online grocer market Ocado and acquired online meal-kit company Home Chef. Early efforts are making an impact, as the chain reported its first-quarter digital sales grew by 66%.
To better focus on these initiatives, the grocer also established a separate headquarters for its digital team in downtown Cincinnati. It will house approximately 600 existing Kroger digital associates at first, who are being relocated from another facility. The retailer said it expects to grow its digital team to more than 1,000 over the next three years.
Best Buy acquires Jitterbug maker for $800M
Best Buy is making a big acquisition that will give it even stronger footing in the healthcare segment.
On Wednesday, the consumer electronics giant announced that it is acquiring GreatCall for $800 million in cash. GreatCall is a provider of emergency response devices for the aging. The company has more than 900,000 paying subscribers who use GreatCall’s mobile products, as well as a range of services, including a one-touch service that connects users to trained, U.S.-based agents, caregivers, and emergency personnel, among other options.
GreatCall will maintain its San Diego headquarters, as well as its Care Centers in Carlsbad, California, and Reno, Nevada. David Inns, who has been with GreatCall since its formation in 2006, will remain as CEO, according to Best Buy.
“We know technology can improve the quality of life of the aging population and those who care for them,” said Hubert Joly, chairman and CEO of Best Buy. “Now, we have a great opportunity to serve the needs of these customers by combining GreatCall’s expertise with Best Buy’s unique merchandising, marketing, sales and services capabilities.”
While the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions, it is expected to close by the end of Best Buy’s fiscal 2019 third quarter.
“We are excited to partner with Best Buy to serve the active aging population on a bigger scale. GreatCall is already a growing, profitable business with annual revenue in excess of $300 million,” Inns reported. “By joining forces, we can do even more for this population, combining our products, services and expertise with Best Buy’s customer focus and scale to meaningfully expand our reach.”
This is Best Buy’s latest move to deepen its presence in the healthcare segment. The retailer currently sells health- and wellness-related products, and the company has recently been investing in health-related initiatives focused on the aging population.
In a move that accompanied its healthcare buildup, Best Buy in May brought aboard CVS Health digital veteran Brian Tilzer as its chief digital officer.
Additionally, in September, Best Buy revealed that it is piloting a new service, Assured Living, that uses technology to help adult children remotely check in on the health and safety of their aging parents. Now available in 21 major metro markets, this pilot aims to “create peace of mind for the children while allowing the parents to live and thrive independently,” the company stated.
The acquisition of GreatCall will augment Best Buy’s existing efforts in the health space, help bring compelling solutions to more customers, and fuel Best Buy’s growth in the consumer and commercial markets, the company reported.
“We look forward to working closely with David and his management team and are excited by the opportunities we have in the health space and the strengths we can bring to bear in this area, especially our experience with technology and serving customers in their home,” Joly said.
The acquisition also coincides with the company’s “Best Buy 2020” strategy, which is focused on enriching lives through technology that addresses key human needs, according to Best Buy.