All the news that’s fit to print from the frontlines of retail technology

Grocery, grocery, and more grocery, along with a deep look into who’s competing in the e-tail space and why it matters.

  1. Primed and ready

Another Prime Day e-tail sale spectacular has come and gone, and this year Amazon made sure they’d suffer no profit losses. The internet megastore is reportedly going to charge grocery brands “additional funding” if their Prime Day sales resulted in a revenue loss for the company. To make Prime Day sales worth it for these brands, Amazon waived the promotion placement fee, usually $500 per deal. Amazon, it seems, is willing to give up top-line growth if it saves bottom-line in the end.


2. The nostalgia factor

Speaking of grocery, CEO Rich Niemann of Niemann Foods saw the traditional American grocery store dying, and wanted to do something about it. As Joe Fassler said in Longreads, “You no longer need grocery stores to buy groceries.” So in order to keep customers coming back to Niemann’s, he turned to Kevin Kelly of Los Angeles architectural design firm Shook Kelley.

The result was Harvest Market, a Chicago grocery store in a giant glass barn, focused on the nostalgia and human element of buying groceries from local providers. Will more Harvest Markets be enough to beat out the Amazons and Walmarts of the world? Only time will tell, but so far they’ve done well, and Niemann Foods isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.


3. Playing catch up

Three years ago, Walmart to a risky jump into the e-commerce space by buying in order to compete with Amazon’s skyrocketing popularity. Now, its stock is up 53 percent, and the company is objectively more able to compete with mega e-tailers than it was before aquiring Jet.

However, internal tensions are high as Walmart is still way behind Amazon when it comes to profit. Projected losses for this year are close to $1 billion, and the pressure is on for Walmart execs to make that up.

E-commerce is still only 5% of Walmart’s overall revenue, but as the industry is headed increasingly in an online direction, much of the team’s energy and spend will be focused in that direction.


4. The personal touch

Boston Consulting Group, a global management and consulting firm, has taken steps to help retailers deliver the levels of personalization that they expect and crave. The team conducted research to find out what customers want when it comes to personalization in retail, and what’s lacking in current personalization techniques.

“Retailers can raise their level by, for example, partnering more effectively, boosting targeted advertising, and improving their use of data to make real-time customer recommendations,” the Group said.

Among their findings, one of the most striking statistics found that customers were 110 percent more likely to add more items to their carts and 40 percent more likely to spend more than they had planned when retail experiences were personalized, reminding retailers everywhere that the personal touch is not an element to skimp on.


5. See you later, Aggregator

The difference between platforms and Aggregators can be a tricky one to understand. As The Stratchery excellently put it, “Platforms are powerful because they facilitate a relationship between 3rd-party suppliers and end users; Aggregators, on the other hand, intermediate and control it.”

Aggregators include tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, even though Google loves to refer to itself as a platform. However, platforms are Aggregators’ biggest competition — just think of Spotify in relation to Amazon.

“Amazon is pursuing customers and bringing suppliers and merchants onto its platform on its own terms; Shopify is giving merchants an opportunity to differentiate themselves while bearing no risk if they fail,” The Stratchery said.

Shopify, thus, may wind up being Amazon’s biggest competitor, without technically selling any of its own merchandise.