From Aldi to Vons, How Grocery Stores Are Our Connection to L.A.—and Ourselves

In L.A., a beloved grocery store’s closing can leave your adrift in a cold, lonely world.

We know we’re in the boonies up here. I’ve met life-long Angelenos—Westsiders, mostly, as charmingly foggy as Oxford dons about anything east of La Cienega that isn’t DTLA—who aren’t totally sure where Altadena is. Cultivating our inner Paiute, we’ve learned to be stoic about the fact that virtually every eatery listed in TripAdvisor’s top “Altadena” restaurants is in Pasadena. All the same, it hurt when we lost our only Ralphs, which first opened its doors on upper Lake Avenue as a Market Basket when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. I still miss Angela, my rowdily opinionated favorite among its checkout clerks. There were times when our conversations were the jolliest ones of my day. Continue reading “From Aldi to Vons, How Grocery Stores Are Our Connection to L.A.—and Ourselves”

H-E-B the new Amazon? Grocery giant acquires food-delivery company Favor with eye on digital sales

Following in the footsteps of Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase, the Texas-based grocery giant H-E-B purchased a home-delivery service company on Thursday.

H-E-B acquired Austin-based Favor Delivery, which distributes restaurant meals and groceries via a mobile app.

H-E-B did not release the details of the transaction, but said the effort is designed to “accelerates (the company’s) path to become a digital retail industry leader in Texas,” as well as give customers choice in shopping and paying and receiving goods, particularly online.  Continue reading “H-E-B the new Amazon? Grocery giant acquires food-delivery company Favor with eye on digital sales”

CommonSense Robotics raises $20M for robotics tech for online grocery fulfillment

CommonSense Robotics, an Israel-based startup developing AI and robotics tech to help online grocery retailers speed up fulfilment and delivery, has raised $20 million in Series A funding.

The round was led by Playground Global, with participation from previous investors Aleph VC and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors. It brings the company’s total funding to $26 million.

‘The funds will be used to scale up CommonSense Robotics’ facility deployment rate, develop their next generation of robotics and AI, and expand global operations and sales,” says the startup. Continue reading “CommonSense Robotics raises $20M for robotics tech for online grocery fulfillment”

Why your grocery store wants to be like a startup

Grocery shopping has not changed much over the past 100 years.

Since Piggly Wiggly introduced the concept of picking out your own groceries in the 1930s, few technological advancements have stood out. The first shopping cart came along in 1937, and self-checkout was introduced more than 50 years later, in 1992.

But Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market was an abrupt wake-up call, setting off a scramble for supermarkets to adopt new technology to compete for customers who’ve become accustomed to getting exactly what they want, delivered quickly to their doorsteps. Continue reading “Why your grocery store wants to be like a startup”

Grocery startup Instacart has raised nearly a billion in funding

On demand grocery-delivery startup Instacart has raised a new $200 million round of funding. In total, the company has raised $900 million. The money will no doubt be used to fuel its rivalry against Amazon, which is expanding its online grocery delivery service Fresh and building out new programs through its retailer Whole Foods.

Continue reading “Grocery startup Instacart has raised nearly a billion in funding”

Walmart is cutting management roles at some stores

Walmart is restructuring store management positions at some of its 4,700 stores.

The retailer is cutting two department manager positions at some of its lower volume stores, the Wall Street Journal reports. The hourly positions oversee cell phone departments and online grocery pickup areas, the company said.

Another position, known as frontend zone supervisors, has also been eliminated across Walmart stores, the company told Business Insider. That position was already cut at some Walmart stores during a restructuring several years ago. This most recent move eliminated frontend zone supervisors who remained because the job had redundancies with other positions in the store. Continue reading “Walmart is cutting management roles at some stores”

Amazon Just Got Serious About Groceries

Since Amazon.com took over Whole Foods Market last August, competitors and customers have been anticipating the e-commerce giant’s disruption of the grocery industry. Amazon tinkered with lower prices and added its pick-up lockers to the supermarkets, but it wasn’t until last week that the company launched the kind of disruptive gambit that it’s known for.

Amazon said it would offer free two-hour delivery from Whole Foods stores for orders of $35 or more to Prime members through its Prime Now program. The program started last week in neighborhoods in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Virginia Beach, and Amazon plans to expand it across the country over the rest of the year. Prime customers will also be able to get orders in less than an hour for a $7.99 fee. Continue reading “Amazon Just Got Serious About Groceries”

‘Bargaining with a gun to your head’: Union says Sobey’s planning to close some Manitoba Safeways

United Food and Commercial Workers (IUFCW) Local 832, the company that represents more than 2,000 Manitoba Safeway employees, says chain owner Sobey’s refuses to negotiate and has told them it plans to shut down stores in Manitoba, though how many depends on the contract that workers agree to.

“We had the first day at the [bargaining] table on Jan. 15 and the company tabled pretty massive concessions that would have drastic impact on all of our members working at Safeway,” said UFCW Local 832 president Jeff Traeger. “They then broke off bargaining for three weeks totally and came back to the table this week and told us they weren’t willing to change their position or really even have discussions. They stated that there would be stores closing in Manitoba and that how many of those stores depended on what kind of contract they could get with us so we kind of feel as though it’s like bargaining with a gun to your head.” Continue reading “‘Bargaining with a gun to your head’: Union says Sobey’s planning to close some Manitoba Safeways”

A swing shift in stores

With new options and conveniences, there’s never been a better time for shoppers. As for workers — well, not always.

The retail industry is being radically reshaped by technology, and nobody feels that disruption more starkly than 16 million American shelf stockers, salespeople, cashiers and other workers. The shifts are driven, like much in retail, by the Amazon effect — the explosion of online shopping and the related changes in consumer behavior and preferences.

As mundane tasks such as checkout and inventory are automated, employees are trying to deliver the kind of customer service the internet can’t match. Continue reading “A swing shift in stores”