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Walmart intros employee-based app to help shoppers order items

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A new app enables Walmart associates to place online orders for customers — directly from store aisles.

Walmart on Tuesday introduced a new employee-based app designed to save the sale. Internally known as “Dotcom Store,” the app enables customers to work with associates to order items that may not be available on store shelves, as well as pay for merchandise.

Here’s how it works: Using the app, which is downloaded on a mobile device, associates can look up out-of-stock merchandise. (The app is directly integrated to Walmart’s e-commerce site.) Customers can choose to have the item shipped to their home or delivered to the store for free, and the associate will print a receipt or send an email that must be presented at any register in the store, according to a blog on Walmart’s website.

Customers pay for orders using cash, check (a new option), credit card or Walmart Pay, a mobile wallet that stores customers’ preferred gift, debit and credit cards, and enables them to pay through their device.

“This new app connects our stores and Walmart.com to enable a new, convenient service, and it’s also the latest in a series of apps associates now have to help them serve customers even better,” the blog reported.

Walmart’s other custom-built employee apps include PlanIT, which keeps associates up-to-date on company and store announcements; the Receiving App that reveals which products have just arrived at the store, and the Downstock App that keeps associates abreast of merchandise available on store shelves, according to separate blog on Walmart’s website.

Walmart’s Price Change app delivers information about necessary product price updates. It also categorizes them by aisle so associates receive them in the order they should be made, creating an efficient path through the store.

An Availability app gives associates insight into how their store is performing over time, including when out-of-stocks occur. Meanwhile, the Sales app updates a store’s sales numbers in real time so that associates know how their designated areas are performing against the previous year, down to specific products.

“[The] suite of custom-built apps for associates … allows them to manage a variety of routine activities directly from a mobile store device. From the moment a product arrives in the back room to the second a customer finds it on the shelf, an ecosystem of data gives associates new visibility that helps them make informed decisions quickly, thus allowing them to take on more ownership of their work,” according to Walmart.

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Dollar General sees sales increase in Q3 results

BY Marianne Wilson

Dollar General reported better-than-expected third quarter sales and earnings, but cut its full-year outlook on hurricane-related costs.

The discounter also revealed its expansion plans for the upcoming year. It plans to undertake some 2,075 real estate projects in 2019, including 975 new store openings (up from 900 in 2018), 1,000 mature store remodels, and 100 store relocations.

“We remain very excited about our future real estate growth opportunities,” said CEO Todd Vasos. “We believe our ongoing investment in high-return real estate projects, along with our strategic initiatives, will not only continue to drive long-term shareholder value, but will also allow us to further enhance our ability to serve our communities and our customers.

Dollar General’s net income rose to $334.1 million, or $1.26 a share, for the quarter ended Nov. 2, from $252.5 million, or 93 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding a 5 cents-per-share negative impact from hurricane-related expenses, earnings per share came in at $1.31. Analysts had expected earnings per share of $1.27.

“As a result of the third quarter hurricanes and other disasters, we will record greater-than-anticipated expenses in the second half of 2018,” said John Garratt, Dollar General’s CFO. “In total, the impact to third quarter EPS was an estimated $0.05 per diluted share and we expect to see an additional estimated $0.04 impact on our fourth quarter diluted EPS. We have adjusted our full-year outlook to reflect the estimated $0.09 impact of these events, ongoing transportation cost pressures and year-to-date results.”

Third quarter sales increased 8.7% to $6.42 billion, above estimates of $6.39 billion. Same-store sales rose a better-than-expected 2.7%, driven by an increase in average transaction amount and positive results in the consumables, seasonal and home categories. Customer traffic was essentially flat, the company said.

For fiscal 2018, Dollar General lowered its sales growth outlook to just 9.0% from 9.0% to 9.3% and cut its earnings per share guidance to $5.85 to $6.05 from $5.95 to $6.15. It expects same-store sales growth to be in the middle of the previous range of mid-to-high two percent.

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Take a look inside the first Walgreens-Kroger pilot store

BY DSN STAFF

When Walgreens and Kroger announced plans in October to collaborate on a pilot store format at 13 locations in northern Kentucky, the biggest question was what it might look like. The wait is over. Alongside news that the companies were expanding the partnership bringing the pilot to shoppers, the companies noted that the first of the stores currently is open in Florence, Ky.

The store — photos of which are above — features Kroger Express — an assortment of roughly 2,300 products that runs the gamut from national brands to Kroger’s private-label products and Home Chef meal kits. The store also includes a selection of fresh produce and fruit, as well as dairy and meat.

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