It’s hard to believe that Halloween is just five weeks away. And as consumers are beginning to think about their Halloween plans, retailers and manufacturers are looking much farther ahead to the holiday season. One key part of this is to determine holiday hiring (see below). Another is getting a product strategy in place. And it looks like consumers could benefit from inflationary devices this holiday season. A number of companies are looking to woo consumers with low-end devices priced for challenging times. On Monday, Roku announced its 2022 fall product lineup: a revamped version of its entry-level streaming adapter, selling for just $30, and a new, smaller subwoofer priced $50 below its existing model. On Tuesday, Sonos followed up with its own Sub Mini, which is $320 cheaper than the company’s existing subwoofer model. And next month, Google is widely expected to introduce the Chromecast HD, a new streaming adapter that won’t support 4K playback, which may allow the company to shave as much as $20 off the device’s price tag. Let the holiday season begin. And now on to this week’s logistics news.
- Walmart in the news:
- Tesla ramps up production as rivals launch new EVs
- Port labor talks stall as worker disruptions grow
- EU proposes supply chain emergency powers, spooking business
- Albertsons brings essential services directly to seniors
- Lower fees, no wait times, are top reasons for grocery pick-up
- Ikea halves production food waste saving over 20 million meals
- Amazon, Pfizer among companies pledging to hire refugees
After a successful pilot program at 70 stores, Walmart Canada is expanding its partnership with software company Focal Systems to bring a computer vision artificial intelligence solution to stores throughout the country. The technology will help the retailer detect low-stock or out-of-stock products in real time. Focal Systems’ solution is integrated with Walmart Canada’s existing inventory systems to automatically detect availability concerns and direct store teams to replenish products. The retailer is one of the first in Canada to deploy this type of technology for on-shelf availability. According to a Walmart Canada spokesperson, “this leading-edge technology provides real-time, automated alerts for replenishment in key priority areas within our stores. It also empowers our associates with cool tech that makes a big difference in the way they are able to work and provide the best possible customer experience.”
As mentioned in the introduction today, it is time for full-scale holiday season planning. Earlier this week Walmart outlined its holiday hiring plan. I’ll get more into this topic when I release my 2022 holiday planning guide, but the company announced that it will be hiring 40,000 seasonal and full-time associates as the holiday season approaches. Walmart says it is hiring for a variety of positions, including seasonal store associates, customer service associates and 1,500 full-time truck drivers. Walmart has been building its private trucking fleet this year, increasing potential first-year pay up to $110,000 in April. For the in-store positions, current associates will be able to pick up extra holiday hours, after which Walmart will add to its temporary staff as needed. These associate positions saw three wage hikes last year that brought the average hourly wage to $16.40. This year, Walmart increased pharmacy workers’ average wage to $20 per hour and boosted its U.S. average hourly wage above $17. The seasonal hiring total is smaller than last year when Walmart added 150,000 mostly permanent and full-time associates, as well as 20,000 supply chain workers to help alleviate logistic bottlenecks.
Tesla is ramping up production at its factories in Texas and Shanghai to head off an upcoming ambush of new EVs from legacy automakers. Last week, the world’s largest EV maker completed a long-delayed project to expand capacity at Gigafactory Shanghai, where it builds Model Y SUVs and Model 3 sedans for customers in Asia and Europe. And earlier this week, the automaker announced in a tweet that its Gigafactory in Texas built its ten-thousandth Model Y since opening in April, an important milestone as it hikes up production of the compact electric crossover there. In Shanghai, the company will test the new production lines through November. The $170 million investment is intended to help Tesla ramp up to produce around 2,200 units of Model 3 and Model Y cars per week. Operations there have been stymied by several government-mandated lockdowns during a COVID resurgence in the spring. Production at its Gigafactory in Austin, Texas, has been constrained by the availability of the more-efficient 4680 cells that comprise its new battery architecture. Panasonic plans to resolve the bottleneck in early 2024 when it starts producing the advanced cells at the $4 billion battery factory it’s building in Kansas.
West Coast port labor talks are stalled as dockworker disputes hit the region’s big trade gateways, according to shipping industry officials who fear the negotiations could take months to resolve. Some maritime executives had hoped the talks, which began in mid-May, would conclude in the early fall. Now they worry the negotiations could continue through the end of 2022 or into 2023, extending uncertainty that has triggered shifts in trade flows and complicated planning in supply chains. The talks cover more than 22,000 workers at 29 ports from California to Washington state that include major hubs for trade with Asia. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been working without a contract since the last agreement expired in July, leaving companies working without grievance machinery that allows for resolution of disputes between workers and their bosses. The work incidents generally haven’t delayed cargo movement, but officials say they worry that confrontations over work disputes could escalate.
Europe-based companies could be made to prioritize production of key products and stockpile goods under draft EU rules that would give Brussels emergency powers to tackle supply chain crises. The Single Market Emergency Instrument put forward by the European Union executive on Monday is a response to bottlenecks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s Ukraine invasion. The proposal, which echoes similar measures adopted by the United States and Japan, is expected to face strong pushback from businesses and some European Union countries, concerned that this amounts to over-reach by the European Commission. The draft rules empower the Commission to order EU states to reorganize supply chains and increase supplies of crisis-relevant goods as quickly as possible, including expanding or repurposing existing production capacities or setting up new ones and placing crisis-relevant goods on the market.
Albertsons Cos. has partnered with WinnCompanies, a national housing manager, to deliver groceries and prescriptions right to the doorsteps of seniors and families living in residential and affordable housing communities. The collaboration with WinnCompanies has the potential to bring key services to more than 133,000 residents across 520 properties nationwide, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons said Thursday. In addition to prescription drop-off and mail and food delivery, the project will also make available to seniors and their families on-site immunizations administered by Albertsons Cos. pharmacy staff. Albertsons noted that WinnCompanies is national leader in multi-family housing, with 103,000 residential and military apartment homes under management. The retailer said the long-term partnership marks a first in providing residents with a means for fulfilling essential needs through a single provider.
Grocery delivery exploded during the pandemic, as did curbside pick-up. The market continues to be hot, but consumers are re-evaluating their priorities for online grocery shopping. According to new research from Mercatus and conducted by Brick Meets Click, lower service fees is the top reason shoppers choose grocery pickup over delivery. According to the survey, half of grocery customers surveyed said they would choose next day delivery or longer if they could pay even lower pickup fees. The research also measures consumers’ level of satisfaction around order wait time. The longer customers wait for their orders, scores drop consistently and significantly, the research indicates. Satisfaction levels range from 81 percent for under a 2-minute wait, to -38 percent for more than 10 minutes. On average, customers said that their wait time lasts between 5-6 minutes. Use of mobile apps during check-in received a score of 67 percent satisfaction, in comparison to other methods that were not as quick or easy to use.
Ingka Group, the holding company that controls the vast majority of Ikea stores, has revealed that it has reduced food waste by 54 percent in its Ikea locations. That translates into more than 20 million saved meals and 36,000 tons of carbon dioxide that have been avoided. The group, which prepares and serves food to more than 560 million people annually said that over 20,000 food workers at the Swedish furniture giant used AI technology in their daily routines to gain a deeper understanding of what was being discarded and why, helping them to prevent and reduce food waste in the kitchen. Ingka Group first reached the 50 percent reduction goal in combined production food waste milestone at the end of the year 2021 and because around a third of all food produced and harvested around the world goes to waste, generating between 8-10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, Ikea said it knew it had to address this challenge as a major global food retailer. The goal, set in 2017 as part of Ikea’s ambition to become circular and climate positive by 2030, was first reached by Ingka Group at the end of 2021 – 9 years ahead of the target date set by the United Nations.
Major U.S. companies pledged to hire more than 20,000 refugees over the next three years, a number that refugee advocates say will help integrate the wave of Afghans and Ukrainians who arrived over the last year. The hiring commitments were announced Monday at an event in New York organized by the Tent Partnership for Refugees, which is pressing corporations to hire refugees. The group said that the pledges reflect a growing awareness by U.S. companies that hiring refugees benefits their business. It said research shows that consumers value ethical behavior and refugees make more loyal employees. More than 100 major U.S. companies have signed up to join the Tent Partnership network. Major companies such as Amazon.com, Walmart, and Uber have emerged as key destinations for Afghans and other refugees looking for their first job in America.
That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Green Day’s Holiday.