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Loblaw is expanding its food waste programme with Flashfood to additional stores across Canada.

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Waitrose & Partners announces a new collaboration with Today Development Partners (TDP) as it seeks to treble the size of its online grocery business.

Tripling capacity

Together and TDP will develop three state-of-the-art automated customer fulfilment centres (CFC).

Currently fulfils its online orders through a combination of picking from store and its CFC in Coulsdon. The retailer has also previously announced plans to open a second CFC to serve the North London area.

A new partner to accelerate growth

This news follows the end of Waitrose's long-standing commercial arrangement with Ocado.

TDP may be a new name to many, but its co-founders Jonathan Faiman (co-founder of Ocado) and Mo Gawdat (former chief business officer of Google X, the company's innovation arm) will not be. 

TDP is a new organisation that uses automation and artificial intelligence to advance the retail industry. These cutting edge technologies will be employed to deliver an outstanding online customer experience for  

Appointment of digital director for Waitrose & Partners

Ben Stimson has been appointed to the new role of digital director with immediate effect. Stimson's responsibilities will include leading the delivery of growth in capacity and sales of and managing the new relationship with TDP. 

Waitrose & Partners: broader plans to get fit for the future

MD of Waitrose & Partners Rob Collins commented "The plans announced...represent a clear commitment to achieve rapid step-change in's capacity and capability as we build a modern, well invested digital business that is fit for the future"

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Retail Analysis subscribers: download the Waitrose & Partners strategic outlook report

We look at how Loblaw is using gamification to drive home its low-price credentials within its No Frills discount business.

Supporting the brand’s new marketing campaign

No Frills has launched a new web-based game, Hauler: Aisles of Glory. The retro 8-bit 2D animation video game, which can be played in-browser on mobile, tablet and desktop, supports the brand’s new marketing campaign which launched earlier this month. The ‘Haulershop’ initiative includes a range of branded merchandise, a dedicated website,, and an edgy TV campaign. The use of the game and the 'hauler' brand helps to create new buzz and a sense of fun for No Frills and should support it with its goal to reach a younger audience. 

Source: Loblaw

Linking with its loyalty programme

Users of the game can claim up to 50 PC Optimum points daily by hauling groceries and avoiding unnecessary frills and obstacles not commonly found within grocery stores. The game will continue to reward points until 50m PC Optimum points have been rewards nationally. Linking to it the retailer’s loyalty programme helps to raise its profile, given that rewards-based initiatives are not typically found within discount stores. The points can be redeemed for additional in-store savings.

Source: YouTube

Intensifying discount competition

The launch of this campaign comes as competition in the discount channel is set to intensify. Last month, Sobeys launched the first of its FreshCo discount stores in western Canada. Over the next three to four years, it will convert up to 70 of its Safeway branded stores in the region to this format. Loblaw’s other price-focused format, Real Canadian Superstore, has also recently launched a new price led-campaign in the region. It emphasises key reasons to shop at its stores, including everyday low prices, 10 for $10 programmes, its private label ranges and its extensive ethic foods offer.

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We look at how Walmart has transformed an existing supermarket into a live retail lab to understand how artificial intelligence can be used to improve the customer experience. 

Understanding how artificial intelligence can help improve the customer experience

To create the Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL), Walmart has equipped an existing 50,000 sq ft Neighborhood Market in Levittown, New York with artificial intelligence-enabled cameras, interactive displays and a data centre. It has been developed to enable the retailer to understand how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to improve the in-store experience. Initially the IRL will focus on data-gathering, helping the retailer to better understand what delivers a customer benefit and what is potentially scalable.

Source: Walmart

Practical use cases, focused initially on product availability

Developed as part of Walmart’s Store No.8 tech incubator, the IRL will initially be used to understand how the technology could be used to improve product availability. The combination of the cameras and real-time analytics will identify when products are likely to go out-of-stock, triggering a notification within an associate app to re-stock the products. The technology must be able to detect each individual product and compare current availability to forecast sales demand. This will enable Walmart to prioritise replenishment routines for its store associates. The technology will also be used to understand when shopping carts need to be collected and how many checkouts need to be open.

Source: Walmart

Providing shoppers with opportunities to learn about the technology

While the look and feel of the store will be familiar to Neighborhood Market shoppers, it features several distinct elements. Walmart has made a conscious decision to make the technology visible to shoppers. These include a glass-encased data centre bathed in a blue glow, multiple information stations which enable customers to understand how AI is being applied, an interactive wall demonstrating how AI can be used to estimate body positioning and a front of store welcome centre.

Source: Walmart

Builds on launch of Sam’s Club Now live retail lab

This launch builds on the opening of Sam’s Club Now, in Dallas, late last year. This is a unique club concept, developed to enable the retailer to test the latest tech-led initiatives and adapt the in-store layout. Envisioned as a technology lab, it enables the retailer to incubate, test and refine technologies within a live store environment. The goal is to build a customer experience which will be relevant for consumers today and in the future.

Source: Sam’s Club

This will be the only club of this type, although learnings and best practices will be rolled-out across the broader network. At 32,000 sq ft it is significantly smaller than a traditional club. One of the key differences at this club is that all members use the retailer’s Scan & Go app to shop the club, creating a check-out free experience.

Equipping the business for the digitisation of retail

Both these developments bring to life the pace of change and innovative approach which underpins Walmart’s future-focused strategy. It is determined to play a leadership role in shaping the store of the future and understand how it can apply new technologies for both operational and customer benefit. They also highlight the gap which it is opening up on many of its peer group in the US, undertaking significantly deeper investments in these areas. Along with the use of in-store robotics, self-driving vehicles and virtual reality, the business is transforming the nature of work within its stores, building a workforce which is equipped with the capabilities for the digitisation of retail.

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