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Grocers Try to Keep Up with Demand as Coronavirus Pandemic Spreads
U.S. grocers are adjusting their operations to keep up with customer needs as many face uncertainty over the new Coronavirus. Kroger and Trader Joe's said they were shortening store hours to give workers more time to clean and restock. Publix Super Markets, which operates more than 1,100 stores, said it would reduce store and pharmacy hours to close at 8 p.m. Walmart said its U.S. stores would close overnight to clean and disinfect surfaces. Wegmans Food Markets Inc. said it would shorten hours, trim options at its hot-food bars, and set purchase limits for foods including eggs, frozen vegetables, boxed cereal, and rice. Some retailers added security in their stores. Target said it has increased off-duty police presence in some stores, and Costco said it is adding additional security at a handful of locations.
Amazon Courts Walmart, Target to Join Cashierless Tech Group
Amazon is trying to interest other retailers in collaborating on the technology behind cashierless stores, but so far, at least Target and Walmart are not sold. Amazon is making some of the software that underpins its “Go” stores available through an organization called Dent, which has had talks with officials at Walmart and Target, according to people familiar with the matter. So far, neither retailer currently plans to participate, according to a person close to Target and a Walmart spokesman. The talks highlight Amazon’s ambition to have other retailers adopt its technology, and the interest of retailers like Walmart and Target in modernizing their stores with cheaper, faster networking technology and more automation and data-driven decision-making. The Go technology, in addition to cashierless purchasing, also provides automated inventory management.
SmileDirectClub Refines Customer Experience Model
Aimed at improving customer experience, SmileDirectClub announced several updates to its model last week to ensure greater transparency with members. Some of the changes are focused on the brand’s communications and team member training. Team members will receive additional training to ensure consistent and clear communication with customers, and the company will provide a dedicated email and phone number for any customer who wishes to speak with an affiliated dentist or orthodontist before starting treatment. The changes come after SmileDirectClub’s thorough review of its customer experience, keeping in mind it’s mission to uphold the company’s commitment to safe, affordable access to care.
Grubhub Suspends Fees for Independent Restaurants
Grubhub on Friday announced it is temporarily suspending collection of up to $100 million in commission payments from impacted independent restaurants nationwide. The suspension is in response to the impact of Coronavirus on restaurants, especially as traffic will slow significantly over the next several weeks. "Independent restaurants are the lifeblood of our cities and feed our communities," said Matt Maloney, Grubhub founder and CEO in a news release. "They have been amazing long-term partners for us, and we wanted to help them in their time of need. Our business is their business — so this was an easy decision for us to make."
Coronavirus Prompts Abercrombie, Nike, Others to Close Shops
U.S. clothing and mall retailers from Abercrombie & Fitch to Nike are closing thousands of stores across the country for two weeks, unprecedented moves to stem the spread of the new Coronavirus. On Sunday, the companies said they would temporarily shut their U.S. shops but continue paying their store workers and taking online orders. The list included sportswear makers like Lululemon and Under Armour as well as the owners of popular chains like Urban Outfitters, Hollister, and Lush Cosmetics.
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