Published on: March 27, 2023
• Kroger said last week that it has opened its Aurora, Colorado, Customer Fulfillment Center (CFC), a 300,000 square foot, Ocado-powered facility that will "will deliver groceries and home essentials to customers up to 90 minutes away."
The announcement notes that "The expansion to the Denver area represents an extension of a collaboration between Kroger and Ocado Group, a world leader in technology for grocery e-commerce … The delivery network relies on highly automated fulfillment centers. At the hub sites, more than 1,000 bots move around giant 3D grids, orchestrated by proprietary control systems. The grid, known as The Hive, contains totes filled with products and ready-to-deliver customer orders. Kroger Delivery offers the highest in-stock levels, best on-time delivery, and one-of-a-kind, white-glove experience with industry-leading customer loyalty and satisfaction scores - driving value, convenience and more choices directly to customers, saving them time and money."
Kroger currently operates customer fulfillment centers in Monroe, OH, Groveland, FL, Forest Park, GA (Atlanta), Pleasant Prairie, WI, Dallas, TX, Romulus, MI (Detroit) and Aurora, CO and Frederick, MD, with additional customer fulfillment centers slated for California, Phoenix, AZ, Cleveland, OH, Charlotte, NC, as well as South Florida and the Northeast.
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"Uber Eats is taking thousands of online-only brands off its app this week out of concern that the platform is getting clogged by restaurants listing multiple delivery options with different names but the same menu.
"So-called virtual brands - delivery businesses without physical storefronts - mushroomed on delivery apps during the pandemic, becoming a lifeline for eateries who used their empty kitchens and idle staff to test new ideas and make up for lost sales … The explosion of online storefronts combined with the lack of rules around them led to too many eateries competing for real estate on apps, creating a 'Wild West, anything goes kind of situation,' said John Mullenholz, who oversees the business at Uber Eats.
"Diners are 'effectively seeing 12 versions of the same menu' on the app, he said. 'It’s fair to say that kind of erodes consumer confidence.'
"Uber Eats plans to remove 5,000 online storefronts, covering about 13% of virtual brands in North America. Among those scheduled to be removed: 12 virtual brands selling identical breakfast burritos from a Colorado sports bar; 14 brands serving the same sandwiches from a New York City deli; and online-only options from a San Francisco-based Pakistani restaurant that, at one point, replicated its menu 20 times. Uber Eats declined to share names."
• Business Insider reports that "Amazon's top HR executive, Beth Galetti, sent employees a message officially rejecting an internal petition they had drafted against the company's new return-to-office policy.
"The petition, which was shared with CEO Andy Jassy's leadership team last week according to Galetti's note, was signed by roughly 30,000 employees. The petition followed the RTO mandate that Jassy outlined last month, which asks employees to come into the office three times a week beginning in May."
In her response, Galetti wrote, in part, "Over the last three years, we have been continually assessing the strengths and shortcomings of different working models, listening to public health guidance on safety standards to bring employees back, and considering what's most compatible for our unique culture.
"As mentioned in Andy's update, the guiding principle used in our decision making was to prioritize what would enable us to make our customers' lives better and easier every day, and relentlessly invent to do so. Given the large size of our workforce and our wide range of businesses and customers, we recognize this transition may take time, but we are confident it will result in long-term benefits to increasing our ability to deliver for our customers, bolstering our culture, and growing and developing employees."
• Fox News reports that recent "updates to the Blockbuster Video website have fueled speculation among the movie-rental chain’s fans about a potential comeback."
The story says that "according to the Internet Archive, the website was initially updated in late July 2022 to feature the Blockbuster logo and a message that said, 'We are working on rewinding your movie.' It also included a pop-up GIF of actor Wayne Knight. An update to the page in August featured a GIF of John Travolta from 'Pulp Fiction' superimposed over an aisle of movie rentals at a Blockbuster. The latest update to the Blockbuster website features the brand’s logo and a message stating, 'Please be kind while we rewind'."
Blockbuster's IP was acquired by Dish Network in 2011. At the moment, there is only one Blockbuster operating in the US, in Bend, Oregon. At its height, in 2004, the retailer had more than 9.000 locations in the US.
Dish Network has not commented on the website's updates.