Tag Archives: retail

Walmart Launches Walmart+ Membership

Walmart has announced a new service called Walmart+, an annual membership service which will give shoppers free delivery of groceries and other products. Walmart+ will cost $98/year and offers free delivery of food and other items from nearby stores “as fast as same-day.” However, shipping is free only is orders are at least $35.

Walmart stores carry about 160,000 items which qualify for free shipping. And, when the online store is added, Walmart offers roughly 35 million products. Other Walmart+ perks are expected to expand to a gas discount at Walmart gas stations and the ability to skip checkout lines in stores by paying by mobile phones.

Will this be a significant rival to Amazon Prime? Amazon Prime has been around since 2005 and already has an estimated 150 million subscribers around the world. Prime is definitely an attraction for shoppers and Amazon offers not only free shipping, but free videos, original entertainment content, music, books, and more. It has certainly been a reason why Amazon has grown to a dominant ecommerce market position. Amazon carries more than 12 million products, and when that is expanded to its Amazon Marketplace sellers, reaches 350 million products.

Where will you shop?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who has Amazon Prime? Who shops online from Walmart?
  2. Show video: Video: https://youtu.be/U1p1RDxhvps
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team compare the attributes of Amazon Prime and Walmart+. (Can include: price, services, products, shipping, and more.)
  4. Next, have each team build a chart comparing the strengths and weaknesses of each company.
  5. Optional: Include Target in the analysis, even though it does not (yet) have a membership service.
  6. Should Target also offer a membership service similar to Prime and Walmart+?

Source:  Associated Press; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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Smart Shopping Cart – Amazon’s Dash Cart

Raise your hand if you get irritated by long lines at the supermarket checkout. Go ahead – don’t be shy! It would be very rare indeed if all shopping experiences were trouble-free. A major annoyance of shoppers is the checkout process. It should be simple and fast.

In a move intended to shake up the grocery industry, Amazon’s new Dash Carts calculate and pay the bill – meaning no need to stand in any kind of check-out line. The Dash Carts have embedded cameras, sensors, a built-in scale, and a smart display that will automatically tally the items. The smart carts will be available later this year at a planned Amazon grocery store in Los Angeles. The technology is similar to that used at Amazon Go stores with their “Just Walk Out” cashier-less technology.

The carts are easy to use and require little change in shopper behavior. Shoppers use their Amazon account information and smart phone. After entering the store, the shopper scans a QR code in the Amazon app that signs them into the cart and even loads up stored shopping lists from Alexa. The technology speeds up shopping, eliminates checkout and aims to improve the overall shopping experience.

Shop. Exit. Simple.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. This product vividly reminds us of the famous IDEO shopping cart redesign. That video can be found at: https://youtu.be/izjhx17NuSE
  2. The original design was from 1999. Why do students think it never caught on?
  3. Show video of Amazon’s new Dash Cart: https://youtu.be/rQO9u6-KOJk
  4. What are the features similar to the IDEO redesign? Why is this design possible for today’s consumers?
  5. Discuss the purchasing process and the problems with having consumers use new innovation.
  6. Poll students: Is the Dash cart continuous innovation, dynamic innovation, or discontinuous innovation. Why?

Source:  CNET: CNN; Forbes; IMPO; TechCrunch; other news sources

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Flippy Gets a New Gig at White Castle

The fast food industry has long had a labor problem. It can hard to find restaurant workers, particularly for fast-food chains where the jobs can be long, hot, and greasy. Add in food safety preparation issues for handling the COVID-19 pandemic and the problem grows. One of the more thankless jobs is probably working the fryer. It’s boring, repetitive, and carries a high risk of burns from hot oils.

White Castle, with 365 restaurants in the U.S., is piloting a new solution at a store in Chicago. Coming to the rescue is Flippy, the robot-on-a-rail (ROAR), that will soon be working the fry station. Flippy has a long, articulated arm that glides along an overhead rail to work the fry station, including filling the basket, timing the oil, and removing the fries without burning anyone. Safer food prep can help employees focus more on the customer, and less on production.

Flippy is a product of Miso Robotics in Pasadena, Calif., and is billed as the world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings. It can work a grill or fryer, cooks perfectly and consistently every time, collaborates with kitchen staff, and is OSHA safety-compliant. The robotic arm isn’t cheap though. Flippy costs between $60,000 – $100,000.

Hungry for fries?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who was worked at a fast-food restaurant? What was the experience like for them?
  2. Show video of Flippy at White Castle: https://youtu.be/5vjf13h2f6o
  3. View videos and more information at Miso Robotics: https://youtu.be/5vjf13h2f6o
  4. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  5. For Flippy the robot food-preparation product, have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
    1. Problem recognition?
    2. Information search?
    3. Evaluative criteria?
    4. Purchase decision?
    5. Post-purchase behavior?
  6. What are key considerations in each step?
  7. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  AdWeek; Forbes; Tech Crunch; other news sources

 

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