Tag Archives: retail news

A Whole (Foods) New World For Amazon

Whole Foods: it’s fresh, it’s organic and it comes with a hefty charge. So where on earth does Amazon fit in? Procurious investigates…

Last week, to the public’s surprise and the retail world’s horror, Amazon announced that it was buying organic supermarket chain, Whole Foods. For the meagre (in Amazon terms) sum of U.S.$13.7bn the retailer will take ownership of the United States’ first certified organic grocer.

It’s a bold and unexpected move given that Amazon is well known for its cheap price points, which have traditionally  undermined brick and mortar stores. Whole Foods, by contrast, is a reasonably exclusive and fairly expensive, organic retailer.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO said “Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

The annoncement has sparked much discussion and speculation ; What are Amazon’s intentions? How will other supermarkets be impacted? Will Amazon reinvent Whole Food’s supply chain?

John Mackey, Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO believes “This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers.”

What does this deal mean for other retailers?

Whole Foods is most prevalent in the U.S. with 431 supermarkets. Unsurpsingly, rival retailers were dealt a hefty blow following the announcement.. Walmart’s shares fell 4.7 per cent, Target’s fell 5.1 per cent Costco’s fell 7.2 per cent and Kroger’s  by 9.2 per cent.

The impact was even felt in the UK, despite there being only nine stores as Tesco and Sainsbury’s by some 4-5% on Friday.

Raanan Cohenn, CEO of last-mile delivery software provider Bringg asserts that “Amazon has become a leading player in the grocery industry overnight. It’s crunch time for the industry.”

“In one word, it means pressure” he continues. “Profit margins are traditionally razor-thin for grocery chains and Amazon will have a greater ability to squeeze margins throughout the supply chain even further.

Latest news implies that Walmart could enter into a bidding war; it’s certainly true that the biggest competitors will do their utmost to make this deal as tricky as possible for Amazon. Given that Whole Foods stock is trading significanlty more per share than Amazon’s $42 offer, a counter bid is entirely conceivable.

The Supply Chain challenge for Amazon

“The challenge for online grocers is that freshness and variety are hard to combine — if they sell one type of tomato, their stock will turn over fast and be very fresh. If they offer 20 types, the choice is wider but the tomatoes will sit in warehouses longer. The supply chain for groceries is trickier and costlier than for non-perishables”says , writing for the Financial Times.

It might be the cost-effective reigning champ of online efficiency but fresh, organic produce is a whole new ball game, and not one that Amazon has been good at winning in the past.

Jason Busch and Pierre Mitchell, Spend Matters, speculated that “Acquiring Whole Foods is perhaps proof that Amazon is willing to buy its way into managing adjacent supply chains in which it has struggled or not focused on yet. It also could provide a fascinating localized test-bed for Amazon Go bridging the consumer and B2B divide.”

If, bidding war allowing, the offer is accepted, Amazon is in a favourable postion to redfine the retail market. They’ll be able to sell fresh groceries online and give customers the option to collect  their deliveries from Whole Foods stores, which would  become instant fulfillment centres. Perhaps Amazon’s ultimate aim will be making same day delivery for groceries the norm.

And, as ZDNet pointed out, “Whole Foods’ roughly 30 million (typically affluent) customers are also likely to be Amazon Prime customers already, which further strengthens the connective tissue between the two brands.”

What do you think about Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods? How will retail supply chains be affected? Let us know in the comments below. 

IBM Announces Blockchain Truck-Tracking

  • A partnership has been announced between IBM and AOS, a Colombian provider of logistics solutions, which finds the two firms developing a new blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) solution for the logistics business
  • IBM Blockchain and IBM Watson will be able to track the provenance and status of trucks and their goods using RFID tags that contain the vehicles’ data
  • The solution integrates with IBM’s Watson IoT system to check in on factors like weather and temperature, which can impact the journey and the estimated delivery time

Read more on Coin Desk 

AI to spot Slavery Site From Satellite Images

  • Online volunteers are helping to track slavery from space. A new crowdsourcing project aims to identify South Asian brick kilns – frequently the site of forced labour – in satellite images
  • Nearly 70 per cent of the estimated 5 million brick kiln workers in South Asia are thought to be working there under force, often to pay off debts
  • So far, over 9000 potential slavery sites have been identified by volunteers taking part in the project. The volunteers are presented with a series of satellite images taken from Google Earth and they have to click on the parts of images that contain brick kilns

Read more on New Scientist

Norway Bans Palm Oil Procurement

  • The Norwegian Parliament has voted to introduce a ban on the procurement of palm oil and palm oil products for use as biofuels
  • Rainforest Coalition Norway, which had been lobbying for the ban, welcomed the move. It said: “Palm oil-based biofuel is a bad choice for the climate and drives rainforest destruction”
  • The organisation believes this is the first time a country has banned all use of palm oil biofuel by public bodies

Read more on Supply Management

The Double Edged Sword for Fast Fashion Brands

The impact of fast fashion can be seen on the high street and in the newspapers. But the trend may be about to take down one of the world’s most recognisable brands.

Gap Brands

There are few people in the world who wouldn’t recognise Gap’s brands on the high street, in shopping malls, or on the Internet. However, the fashion and retail giant is facing up to major issues thanks to the ever-growing fast fashion trends.

With consumers moving their shopping habits away from in-store purchasing, Gap may seek bankruptcy in order to help it transform its business model and organisational set up.

Sinking Sales

All three of Gap’s major brands – Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic – have seen sales decrease again in the first quarter of 2016. In April 2016, Gap sales dropped by 4 per cent, Old Navy by 10 per cent, and Banana Republic by 7 per cent.

The company is now on a run of 24 straight quarters without a growth in comparable sales, and 13 straight months of declining sales. In the face of this, Gap’s shares are down by 9 per cent since the start of the year, leading many analysts to suggest that these brands still aren’t learning lessons from fast fashion retailers such as H&M, Uniqlo and Zara.

Gap is yet to successfully match the design-to-shelf timelines of fast fashion, with many of its products still taking up to nine months to hit the shops. This is roughly double the length of time that it takes fast fashion trends to reach consumers on average.

Wider Impact

It’s not just Gap who are suffering from the fast fashion spread. Other US-based brands, including J. Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch, have experienced a sales downturn, while traditional retail icons, such as Sears and Macy’s, have both closed a number of stores this year.

In Australia, Wesfarmers Ltd, the country’s biggest company by sales value, announced its worst yearly profit in two years, and looks set for its first net loss in almost 20 years. The organisation puts its decreasing sales down to the impact of fast fashion brands on its in-country discount stores.

Double-Edged Sword

However, not all is rosy in the garden for the fast fashion retailers. Uniqlo appear to be struggling to gain a foothold in the US market, opening fewer stores than anticipated, and with slower than anticipated sales.

Chief Executive, Tadashi Yanai, has gone to the USA to assess the company’s strategy and to work out how to raise the brand’s profile outside of major cities. The company has consistently lost money in its US operations since expanding there five years ago, but still maintains a plan to open over 100 stores in the country in the coming years.

Could this be a turning point for retail brands? Or is it just the natural progression of a business’ rise and fall, just sped up in line with the increasing pace of change in trends and demands? Whichever it is, it will be interesting to see how the fashion industry changes in the coming years.

We’ve been keeping track of the major stories making the procurement and supply chain news this week…

Procurement “Underpaid and Unrecognised”

  • A new salary survey report from Next Level Purchasing Association (NLPA) has suggested that procurement professionals are being underpaid.
  • The Purchasing & Supply Management Salaries 2016 report has shown that average global salaries for the profession have decreased by 7.5 per cent.
  • This leaves the average global salary around $53,000 USD, although the average covers professionals at all organisational levels, and across six continents.
  • The NLPA has suggested the best way for professionals to combat this is to get themselves recognised for value contributions to their organisation.

Read more at Supply Chain Quarterly

ISM Announces Annual Awards

  • ISM has announced its Persons of the Year, Affiliate of the Year and Affiliates of Excellence Awards at ISM2016
  • The Persons of the Year Awards sit across five categories: Education; Innovation; Leadership; Marketing & Communications; and Volunteer of the Year.
  • The Affiliate of the Year Award, won by ISM Cleveland this year, recognises excellence in core competencies, membership growth, and professional development opportunities.
  • ISM Cleveland was also one of the eight affiliates recognised with Affiliate Excellence Awards, for demonstrating an awareness and distinction in their professional operations.

Read more at ISM

Oil Settles Under $50 as Supply Worries Resurface

  • Oil prices touched  the $50-per-barrel mark on Thursday 26 May as production outages brought a faster-than-expected recovery to an oversupplied market.
  • Global benchmark Brent crude oil was down 35 cents at $49.40, having earlier risen as high as $50.51 in intraday trading.
  • Adding to outage concerns, a source at Chevron said the producer’s activities in Nigeria had been “grounded” by a militant attack, worsening a situation that had already restricted hundreds of thousands of barrels from reaching the market.
  • Investors will be watching next month’s OPEC meeting for signs of an output hike now that oil had reached $50.

Read more at CNBC

Adidas Unveils New Robotic Factory in Germany

  • Adidas, the German maker of sportswear and equipment, has announced it will start marketing its first series of shoes manufactured by robots in Germany from 2017.
  • The company is facing rising production costs in Asia where it employs around one million workers.
  • It plans to open similar factories in the UK or France following a test period in the third quarter of this year.
  • Arch-rival Nike is also reportedly developing a robot-operated factory.

Read more at The Guardian

Hyperloop Reveals New Material for Capsules

  • Hyperloop, the revolutionary transportation system and brainchild of Elon Musk, has announced more details on the manufacture of their travel pods.
  • Vibranium, more commonly known as the material used for Captain America’s shield, is the name for a new alloy created specifically for Hyperloop.
  • The material is made of woven carbon fiber, and the company claims it is ten times stronger and five times lighter than steel, and eight times stronger and 1.5 times lighter than aluminum.
  • Vibranium has also been designed to be a ‘smart’ material, able to relay real-time data on temperature, damage, structural integrity.

Read more at Futurism