retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

"Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said Thursday the company's heavy investment in digital shopping initiatives have poised it for future growth and helped it meet unprecedented customer demand during the coronavirus pandemic this spring.  'We are more convinced than ever that we made the right decision to transform our business model when we did,' McMullen said, speaking to the grocer's shareholders during its annual meeting (which was telecast-only this year due to the pandemic)."

More context from the story:

"Kroger's stock price has been hammered in recent years after Amazon suddenly became a direct competitor with its 2017 takeover of Whole Foods and the Cincinnati-based grocer's big push into digital shopping that sucked up cash and squeezed profit margins.

"Since then Kroger has enabled more than 2,000 Pickup locations and 2,400 delivery locations that can service 97% of its customers.

"Last week, Kroger reported its digital sales nearly doubled during the first quarter of 2020 as shoppers clicked online to buy groceries amid nationwide business shutdowns and stay-at-home orders in the first months of the pandemic outbreak."

•  Pure play e-grocer Fresh Direct said that it will begin offering two-hour delivery in Manhattan, Brooklyn and parts of Queens, allowing consumers to order from a curated selection.

•  The Financial Times writes that "Amazon has acquired self-driving start-up Zoox for more than $1.2 billion, marking the ecommerce group's biggest investment into the autonomous vehicle sector."

The expectation is that Amazon could "work with Zoox to create a ride-hailing fleet, pitting the ecommerce group against Waymo, the self-driving industry leader backed by Alphabet. However, some analysts expect Amazon to focus on integrating autonomous technology into its delivery network. The Zoox acquisition follows purchases of stakes in electric truckmaker Rivian and self-driving start-up Aurora."