Aldi is one of the few retailers who still has an ambitious slate of store openings planned for this year. The discount grocer announced last week that it plans to open 100 more stores in the U.S this year, and is set to have the third largest number of grocery stores in the U.S., behind Kroger and Walmart. In addition to opening more stores, Aldi has been making other investments to become more of a household name.
Burger King is the latest quick service restaurant to announce it's launching a customer rewards program. This week, the fast food chain joins rival McDonald's in piloting a loyalty program that encourages repeat purchases and digital orders. Many of these businesses incurred increased losses during the coronavirus outbreak -- and they likely see new digital programming as a way to try and garner more customer engagement.
Companies like Walgreens and CVS have managed to keep revenue growing during the pandemic -- but they've also been hurt by falling sales of products in non-essential categories like beauty. Before the pandemic, these companies were trying to reinvent themselves as primary care destinations, by adding more spaces in store and online for health care products and services beyond just refilling prescriptions. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has only made that transformation more urgent.
After an initial slowdown in March due to supply chain constraints, online eyewear brand Zenni Optical says it saw record growth in 2020. With people stuck at home, the company received an influx of new customers trying to avoid going to the eye doctor. And since most were working from home, Zenni's line of blue light blocking lenses grew at an unprecedented clip. According to chief product officer Bai Gan, this past year was "the beginning of a new era" for eyewear brands. He joined the Modern Retail Podcast this week and talked about why.
Although there are a few regional stores now enrolled in the SNAP pilot, most prominently Texas’s H-E-B, the pilot is largely centered around three companies -- Amazon, Walmart and Aldi. And while the USDA claims that the pilot covers “over 90%” of households, only a handful of the small and medium-sized groceries that service much of the U.S. are approved to accept SNAP payments online.
Nearly a year after sales for its connected indoor bikes surged, Peloton is still struggling to fulfill demand in a timely manner. The fitness company, which went public shortly before the pandemic, is heavily investing in owning the supply chain and reducing delivery windows.
2020 was a tough year for casual dress shirt brand Untuckit, but it was able to adapt. While many retailers that catered to workwear completely changed their product lines to mesh better with the pandemic lifestyle, Untuckit opted to wait it out. "The decision was no -- no massive overhaul of our brand ethos was necessary," said Aaron Sanandres, co-founder and CEO. Sanandres joined the Modern Retail Podcast and spoke about all the changes his company experienced.
Chocolate brand Godiva is the latest brand to close its retail shops due to the pandemic. The century-old company, which also operates wholesale and e-commerce channels, will shutter its brick and mortar stores and cafes in March. Like others, the confectionary brand will shift focus to its growing digital presence.
It's been a big year for online shopping -- online car shopping too. Carvana was able to ride that wave (or, perhaps, drive that used '09 Camry). It reported year-over-year revenue growth of 41% at its third quarter earnings. According to chief brand officer Ryan Keeton, the nine-year-old company was able to use the momentum it built over the last decade to capitalize on retail shifts during the pandemic. Keeton joined the Modern Retail Podcast this week and discussed his company's overall strategy.
Airlines are promoting their excess food in part because they have so much of it in storage. But by bringing their food and drinks more closely into people’s lives, they are also building their brands. For the airlines, this might signal a brief lifestyle brand pivot, where the snacks and drinks they keep onboard become part of the larger pitch for why a customer should fly with them.
The company behind Hudson News is investing in Amazon's cashierless technology. The partnerships make a certain amount of sense. On the retailer side, this is one way to lower the barriers to entry as much as possible for customers. For Amazon, airport retail is a complex and expensive sector to enter -- so, the e-commerce giant relying on its technology to get a foothold into the market instead.
Canteen Spirits was ready to take on the hard seltzer industry -- and then the coronavirus hit. According to co-founder and CEO Brandon Cason, the first few months of the pandemic were hard. But things began to quickly ramp up once the first coronavirus peak subsided -- and the beverage brand is in growth mode once again. Canteen makes canned vodka-based sparkling beverages. Cason joined this week's Modern Retail Podcast and described the year's journey.
Retailers are trying to get their employees vaccinated -- and fast. There's a clear incentive for retailers to encourage their employees to get vaccinated as quickly as possible: as more of their employees get vaccinated, it decreases the likelihood that one of them will contract the coronavirus at work. However, mandating that employees get the vaccine presents its own set of challenges.
As retailers increasingly open more stores in strip malls or open-air shopping centers, they're also rethinking what these locations should look like. Locations of Macy's new off-mall chain, for example run only 20,000 square feet, tens of thousands of feet smaller than the typical department store. As other retailers like Sephora and Foot Locker are looking at opening more off-mall locations, they're following similar playbook.
Walmart is testing ways to keep consumers ordering groceries online long after the pandemic. As grocery sales slow down, the retailer is partnering with tech startup HomeValet to install smart coolers on customers' porches.
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