Author Archives: rkochers

Technology Impacts Supply Chain

How is Technology Enhancing Supply Chain Management?

Enhancing Supply Chain Management

From RFID and Drones to Autonomous Vessels, new technologies are already transforming and enhancing supply chain. But how will these technologies revolutionize supply chain management in the coming years? Take a look at the interactive graphic below to find out.



Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) enables the automatic tracking of inventory and assets and therefore simplifies the supply chain whilst reducing operating costs.

Using RFID tracking allows business owners to improve inventory management and increase the control they have over the location of their products.

Not only does RFID technology eliminate the need for hand-scanning, which reduces the time the process takes, it also helps reduce the amount of errors workers make.



Over the next 15 years, drones will continue to evolve as a radical technology that industries are increasingly adopting. Drones are currently operating in the warehouses of two consumer-goods giants, Amazon and Walmart.

Prime Air is Amazon’s delivery system which uses drones to safely deliver packages to customers in less than 30 minutes. These rapid parcel delivery technologies will improve safety and overall efficiency.

Walmart’s warehouse strategy uses integrated drone technology to carry out a full warehouse inventory check in a single day. Previously, this process could take up to a full month when conducted by humans.



Big Data has spawned the rise of the digital supply network. Supply chain managers can implement Big Data across a number of factors within their business strategies to increase efficiency, reduce risks and improve customer service.

Multi-tier visibility – managers will have the ability to see problems at different stages in the chain, including supplier, manufacturing and distribution, and address them immediately.

Asset Intelligence – connected machines will have the ability to ‘phone home’ to their manager, alerting them of any need for repair or replenishment.

Worker safety and productivity – augmented reality technology will support workers by assisting the process of picking and packing orders and notifying them of any possible hazards in the warehouse.



By 2022, 1 trillion sensors will be connected to the internet according to research by the World Economic Forum.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will enable supply chain managers to achieve greater accuracy and visibility in all processes, as well as draw attention to possible faults throughout every supply chain operation.

The shipping element of the supply chain is already being enhanced by sensors as they can be used to track temperature, battery levels and potential errors that could affect goods and vehicles.



The future of worldwide shipping will not only include autonomous trucks on the road, but also autonomous vessels travelling across our oceans.

British luxury car company Rolls Royce have set a target to have remotely controlled autonomous vessels in international waters by 2025.

By 2035, ocean-going ships will have the ability to travel unmanned, with the ultimate goal of these intelligent vessels being a common sight on our oceans.



GPS tracking and chipping is revolutionising fleet management.

Telematics gives supply chain managers access to data, such as timings of routes and exactly how vehicles are driven, to allow them to make intelligent decisions about fleet training, fuel consumption, component failure rates and reasons for breakdown.

All these decisions can lead to savings of both time and money.


We are Wawa

‘We are Wawa!’: A convenience chain with a cult following opened a super-sized location in Washington, DC — and people are freaking out

WawaWawa on opening day in Washington, DCWawa

  • Wawa opened its first location in Washington, DC on Thursday. 
  • The much-anticipated location is also the largest Wawa in the world. 
  • People swarmed to the new Wawa, camping out for hours before opening and rejoicing at the arrival of the cult favorite. 

Wawa just opened its largest location yet in Washington, DC — and local fans of the convenience chain are swarming to the shop.

The gas station and convenience chain opened its first ever location in Washington, DC on Thursday morning. The location has the additional distinction of being the largest Wawa in the world.

The reaction was overwhelming. People flooded to the location, lining up hours before opening. One person even says he camped out the night before to make sure he was the first person in line.

Here’s what the chaotic and ecstatic scene was like on Wawa’s first day of business in Washington, DC.

People showed up an hour-and-a-half early for Wawa’s 8 a.m. opening.


The long line stretched down the block — but for dedicated Wawa fans, it was worth the wait.

“Thank you for making my home of the last 8 years that much homier. #wawa I have never loved you more, which is saying a lot,” one person wrote on Instagram.

“After 8 years of b—-ing that it wasn’t here, writing letters, renting zip cars to celebrate the end of finals, mapping out every Wawa within a 20 mile radius of DC and telling anyone who would listen that #wawa is not just a convenient store, but a way of life, the day has finally come that we finally have our own,” the caption reads. 

Eager shoppers, having waited in line for hours, crowded into the store.

At 9,200 square feet, the Washington, DC store is the biggest Wawa in the world.


The location was also serving up special doughnuts for the eager shoppers.


A nearby Dunkin’ Donuts was forced on the defensive, handing our free coffee and munchkins.

Source: Twitter

The convenience chain has built a cult following, thanks to its high-quality yet inexpensive food.

There’s one thing that the DC Wawa doesn’t have — gas pumps, long a key part of the chain’s appeal.

However, for Wawa lovers, the super-sized location is perfect the way it is.

Freshco to Western Canada


Sobeys to convert underperforming Safeways to FreshCo

Company eyes up to 25% of Western Canada stores for transition to discount banner

Mark Hamstra 1 | Dec 13, 2017

In a conference call with analysts discussing second-quarter results, Sobeys executives said the conversion would begin with a handful of stores next year, would take about four years to roll out and would cost about $4 million Canadian per store (about $3.1 million U.S.).

“This is a very attractive strategic and financial opportunity for us,” said Michael Medline, president and CEO of Sobeys and its parent, Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based Empire Co. “It will grow our market share in a profitable way.”

He explained that low-priced operators are the fastest growing segment of food retailing in Canada, and currently capture about 44% of the market. Empire, he said, is “significantly under-indexed in discount.”

Western Canada is particularly ripe for expansion of a discount format, Medline explained, because the “level of intensity” of discount activity is lower than it is in Central Canada.

“We have a number of unprofitable Safeway and Sobeys stores located in markets that are far better suited to a discount store,” he said. “Over time, some of these stores would close if they are not converted to discount.”

Sobeys during the last seven years has converted most of its Price Chopper discount stores in Ontario to the small-format FreshCo banner, which it said helped boost the performance at that division. FreshCo currently includes 91 locations in Ontario, where the company said it is still tweaking the format.

Rob Adams, general manager of FreshCo, will oversee the rollout, with the help of Loblaw veteran Mike Venton, whose hire was announced internally this week.

“We have learned a lot operating the FreshCo banner over the last few years,” said Medline. “On launch, the western FreshCos will have evolved branding, product offering, look, feel and marketing to reflect the learnings we have had in Ontario.”

In addition, some of the stores will include an ethnic orientation, which the company has rolled out at a handful of locations in Ontario.

The financial returns on FreshCo conversions have been “extremely strong,” Medline said. The company said it expects the conversions to be “slightly dilutive” to earnings for the first two years, but accretive after that.

Medline said the company was currently in talks with labor unions about the conversions, an indication that the company will seek concessions from the unions in order to operate the discount stores profitably. A “limited” number of stores could be closed, he said.

Analysts have been pushing the company to expand FreshCo in Western Canada.

“Although Sobeys enjoys a solid position in the traditional food retail segment in Western Canada, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, the company’s underrepresentation in the growing discount sector presents a significant challenge,” said Irene Nattel, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, in a recent report.

Performance improves despite Q2 loss

Meanwhile Empire reported a second-quarter loss of 23.6 million Canadian ($18.4 million U.S.), following charges related to its Project Sunrise initiative and other expenses. Sobeys last month said it would cut 800 office positions as part of Project Sunrise, through which the company is consolidating its five operating regions into a single operating unit.

The loss masked ongoing operating improvements, however, as adjusted second-quarter net income more than doubled, to $73.9 million Canadian ($57.6 million U.S.), and sales rose about 1.6%, to $6.03 billion ($4.7 billion U.S.).

Same-store sales, excluding fuel, were up 0.4% in the 13-week quarter, which ended Nov. 4. The company said same-store sales rose “in most areas of the country,” driven by increases in traffic, basket size and “more disciplined pricing strategies” as compared with deflationary pricing in the year-ago quarter. Food inflation was positive in the quarter, which contributed to the gain.

Gross profit margins as a percent of sales were up 90 basis points in the quarter, to 24.5%, and normalized savings, general and administrative expenses as a percent of sales improved by 30 basis points.

Through 26 weeks, net income fell about 69%, to $30.4 million ($23.7 million U.S.), while adjusted net income was up about 52%, to $161.4 million ($125.9 million U.S.). Sales were up 1.5%, to $12.3 billion Canadian ($9.6 billion U.S.), and same-store sales, excluding fuel, rose 0.5%.

Medline cautioned that the company, which has struggled in recent years in the wake of the Safeway acquisition, will continue to face challenges in the quarters ahead, particularly as it rolls out Project Sunrise and faces minimum-wage increases in Ontario. He cited a headline from a recent analyst report that noted that Empire was “moving from darkness to early dawn.”

“I found it amusing but also accurate,” he said. “We still have a long way to go until we reach high noon here.”

Hispanic Shoppers

Report: Hispanic Shoppers Are More Profitable Than Total U.S. Shoppers

The Why? Behind The Buy U.S. Hispanic Shopper Study 6th edition

Research from Acosta and Univision illustrates “why Hispanics are prime grocery shoppers.”

Hispanic shoppers are more profitable than total U.S. shoppers. Although their spending per trip is comparable, Hispanics actually shop more frequently across all grocery trip types. Additionally, Hispanic shoppers with kids spend more than $150 more each year vs. total U.S. shoppers, according to the 6th Edition of “The Why? Behind The Buy U.S. Hispanic Shopper Study,” an annual report released by Acosta, a full-service sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, and Univision Communications Inc. (UCI), a media company serving Hispanic America.

In this latest insights report exploring the buying patterns and behaviors of Hispanic shoppers in the U.S., Acosta and UCI found 72 percent of this demographic enjoys grocery shopping, compared to 61 percent of total U.S. shoppers—a difference that has widened by two percentage points compared to the year prior. 

“The Why? Behind The Buy U.S. Hispanic Shopper Studies have continued to show that Hispanic shoppers bring family members to the grocery store, and often, their companions are their children,” said Marianne Quinlan-Sacksteder, director of insights, Acosta. “In fact, Hispanic children are more likely to influence grocery purchase decisions across many categories compared to children in total U.S. shopper households, creating opportunities for brands and retailers to speak to both parents and their kids.”

“Hispanic consumers are key drivers in the CPG and grocery retail categories. When marketing to them, it is essential for brands to understand the role family plays in the grocery shopping experience,” said Liz Sanderson, SVP, strategy and insights, UCI. “Bringing a family member along, particularly children, is more than likely to influence Hispanic consumers’ purchasing decision, helping to introduce new products, which translates to an exploration of new items.”

The Why? Behind The Buy highlights the variety of reasons these consumers are some of the most valuable grocery shoppers in the aisles.

Story continues below

More Acosta news:

Shopping with families in tow

Total U.S. grocery shoppers are more likely to shop alone, contrasted with Hispanic shoppers who often bring spouses, children, extended family or even friends with them to shop at the supermarket.

  • Seventy-nine percent of Hispanic shoppers shop with someone else, including a spouse (47 percent) or children (35 percent).
  • Hispanic shoppers with kids spend significantly more on monthly groceries (+$100) than Hispanic shoppers without kids.
  • Hispanic children are more likely to influence grocery purchase decisions in many categories, including cereal (30 percent), salty snacks (28 percent) and chocolate candy (24 percent), compared to kids in U.S. shopper households (18 percent, 15 percent and 18 percent, respectively).

Grocery shopping more often

Across grocery trip types, Hispanic shoppers make more monthly trips than total U.S. shoppers, including significantly more stock-up, fill-in and last-minute trip types.

  • In a typical month, Hispanic shoppers reported making an average of 3.1 stock-up trips at the grocery store, while total U.S. shoppers indicated averaging 2.7 stock-up trips.
  • Although most shoppers indicate that they are making about the same amount of routine grocery trips as last year, 16 percent of Hispanic shoppers and 20 percent of Hispanic shoppers with kids indicate they are making more routine grocery trips as compared to last year (versus only 12 percent of total U.S. shoppers making more routine trips).
  • Significantly more Hispanic shoppers than total U.S. shoppers agreed they enjoy the experience of shopping for ingredients to prepare the meals they have planned (61 percent versus 52 percent).

Exploring new products

Hispanic shoppers indicated that planning meals, grocery shopping and preparing meals are all enjoyable. They also are willing to change up their routines and try new foods and dishes.

  • Sixty-five percent of Hispanic shoppers enjoy preparing new dishes (versus 62 percent of total U.S. shoppers), and 61 percent enjoy the experience of planning meals for themselves or their households (versus 54 percent of total U.S. shoppers).
  • Fifty-five percent of Hispanic shoppers agreed they often try new flavors and products (versus 51 percent of total U.S. shoppers).
  • Forty-seven percent of Hispanic shoppers agreed, “I buy grocery brands that are authentic to my ethnic heritage” (versus 25 percent of total U.S. shoppers).

Engaging with digital grocery tools

Just as Hispanic shoppers show an interest in exploring new foods to eat, they also are using digital and online tools to facilitate their shopping experiences before, during and after their trips to the grocery store.

  • Forty-five percent of Hispanic shoppers agreed, “I am comfortable using digital/online tools to assist with grocery shopping.”
  • Thirty-nine percent read their retailer’s digital flyer/circular.
  • While only 54 percent of Hispanic shoppers reported having access to online grocery shopping solutions—compared to 61 percent of total U.S. shoppers—65 percent of those who did have access indicated they have ordered grocery items online in the past year.


Target-Shipt-execs.jpgTarget Corp.
Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell, left, and Shipt founder and CEO Bill Smith.

Target to buy delivery platform Shipt for $550M

Same-day grocery delivery to roll out beginning early 2018

Mark Hamstra 1 | Dec 13, 2017

Target on Wednesday said it has agreed to acquire Birmingham, Ala.-based Shipt for $550 million in cash and expects to roll out same-day delivery services to about half of its stores by early 2018.

Like Instacart, Shipt leverages a proprietary technology platform and a network of independent shoppers who pick from stores and deliver products to customers. Shipt currently has 20,000 shoppers serving 72 markets around the country, picking from supermarket chains that include H-E-B, Harris Teeter, Meijer and others.

Shipt customers pay an annual membership fee of $99 for unlimited deliveries, vs. $149 at Instacart, which also offers a pay-per-delivery option. Amazon Prime also costs $99 and offers same-day delivery on certain items.

Walmart, meanwhile, recently acquired Parcel, which offers same-day-delivery in New York City.

Target said Shipt would continue to run its business independently and pursue additional retailers to partner with for delivery. Shipt CEO Bill Smith will remain in his current role, and will report to John Mulligan, Target’s chief operating officer.

“With Shipt’s network of local shoppers and their current market penetration, we will … dramatically accelerate our ability to bring affordable same-day delivery to guests across the country,” said Mulligan in a statement. “By the 2018 holiday season, we will be servicing every major market across the country with same-day delivery.”

The transaction is expected to close by the end of this year.

Aldi Value

Aldi tops supermarkets for value, checkout

Aldi ranks as best for value and checkout experience.

New Produce Focus

Nutrition expert predicts ‘Swiss Army’ produce will thrive in 2018