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Walmart continues expanding autonomous vehicle delivery efforts

BY Dan Berthiaume

Walmart is staying in the fast lane when it comes to piloting autonomous vehicle deliveries.

The discount giant’s latest venture in this space is a pilot with autonomous vehicle company Udelv in Surprise, Arizona. The program will test the effectiveness of custom-made driverless cargo vans from Udelv in delivering groceries handpicked by Walmart personal shoppers to customers.

Walmart has been active in piloting different autonomous vehicle technologies as a means of delivering online grocery orders. In November 2018, Walmart partnered with Ford and Postmates to test self-driving vehicles to deliver fresh groceries. The pilot, which is taking place in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, uses Ford driverless cars to deliver fresh groceries hand-picked by Walmart’s personal shoppers. Postmates, which is already connected to Ford’s digital platform, serves as Walmart’s delivery partner.

In addition, through a partnership with Waymo, Google’s self-driving car project, Walmart uses Waymo vehicles to transport customers to and from a local store to pick up their groceries. The pilot, which is conducted out of one Walmart store in Chandler, Arizona, is being tested among a group of Waymo’s 400 daily users.

In a corporate blog post, Tom Ward, senior VP, digital operations, Walmart US, said Walmart will continue to stay abreast of the latest developments in omnichannel grocery shopping.

“There’s no telling what innovation the future will bring,” said Ward. “But, Walmart is committed to staying on the forefront of change to make getting groceries simple, quick, and easy.”

Other recent notable driverless food and grocery delivery pilots include an upcoming March 2019 joint pilot from DoorDash and General Motors’ Cruise Automation self-driving vehicle division to use autonomous vehicles to deliver meal and grocery orders in San Francisco, as well as an ongoing test of driverless delivery in Scottsdale, Arizona by Kroger.

A post announcing the partnership on the Udelv site also promoted the pilot as a harbinger of things to come.

“This partnership with Walmart is an affirmation of our goals and vision: That ADVs (autonomous delivery vans) can improve lives and drive the future of e-commerce,” said the blog.

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Sears agrees to consider revised takeover bid

BY Marianne Wilson

Sears is still in the game — at least until Jan.14.

After widespread reports that the struggling, the 126-year-old retailer would seek the approval of a bankruptcy court judge on Tuesday to proceed with liquidation, Sears agreed to consider a revised takeover bid from chairman Edward Lampert — via an affiliate of its ESL Investments hedge fund — that would keep the company in business.

Lampert must submit the revised offer for Sears, along with a $120 million deposit, by 4 p.m. Eastern on Jan. 9. Sears will then allow Lampert to participate in a previously scheduled auction on Monday, Jan. 14, when it will compare his offer to others by liquidators, reported CNBC.

After an auction winner has been determined, a deal will require approval from the bankruptcy court on Jan. 31, the report said.

On Dec. 28, Lampert made a $4.4 billion bid to takeover Sears. One of the main points of contention in the negotiations between Lampert and Sears was whether Lampert’s bid fully addressed the bankruptcy costs that Sears has racked up.

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Ahold Delhaize appoints new chief digital officer

BY Marianne Wilson

Ahold Delhaize has a new digital head.

The global supermarket giant named Farhan Siddiqi as chief digital officer and member of the executive committee, effective January 28, 2019. Farhan will drive digital transformation and innovation across Ahold Delhaize’s local brands, focusing on loyalty, data analytics and personalization.

Farhan joins Ahold Delhaize from McDonald’s, where he most recently served as the chief digital officer and led the restaurant chain’s digital transformation, including the launch of mobile commerce in 20,000 restaurants, a new mobile app and the upgrade of self-service ordering kiosks. He was also responsible for data analytics and extending customer relationship management capabilities.

Prior to McDonald’s, Farhan held several key leadership positions within Bank of America, Target and General Electric, where he focused on implementing successful customer loyalty programs, digital payment solutions, and launching strategic partnerships.

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