Walmart opens cashierless store in Florida

Walmart opened a cashierless Neighborhood Market store last week in Coral Way, Florida, featuring online grocery pickup, same-day delivery and its Check Out With Me program, according to a company blog post.

Walmart has faced some challenges with its Neighborhood Market format, shuttering a number of locations during the past few years, including eight closures in 2019. At the time Walmart cited the stores’ financial performance as one of the reasons for its closures. By reducing dependence on cashiers in its latest opening in Florida, the retail giant could cut down on labor costs and potentially boost margins.

This isn’t the first time Walmart has experimented with its smart checkout offerings. In October 2018, Check Out With Me — designed to handle smaller transactions — debuted to soften holiday shopping congestion at the checkout counters, according to Business Insider. Months earlier in May 2018, Walmart ended its Scan & Go offering that enabled customers to pay for items while they browsed the store and skip the checkout line altogether. During the four-month period it was available, however, few customers used the service. Providing an employee to assist with quick checkout via Check Out With Me could alleviate challenges with bagging items like loose produce or large, bulky items.

Walmart is just one of many retailers trying to balance consumer demand for faster checkout with shopper reluctance on different tech options aimed to boost the experience. Many of those solutions still come with headaches, from unrecognized items in the bagging area and glitches with payment to lines that pile up at self-checkout kiosks — all of which can lead to poor customer experiences. Walmart’s decision to have no cashiers could free up employees to address issues with processing transactions as they arise. Offering two methods of checking out including one system for smaller baskets could also keep traffic moving.

Harris Teeter also started testing a cashierless concept in Charlotte last year. The store typically processes smaller transactions than traditional store locations with foot traffic primarily coming from urban residents and professionals, according to Retail Wire.

In lieu of committing to a self-checkout-only store, other retailers are working on technology-backed solutions to facilitate smoother checkout transactions. Ahold Delhaize recently unveiled its “frictionless” smart checkout service that lets shoppers scan items with a store app, select products and then leave, while Tesco invested in smart checkout startup Trigo. Other startups are also popping up offering turnkey smart checkout solutions to grocery retailers like Accel Robotics, Standard Cognition, Zippin and Grabango.


Whole Foods is updating its 365 private label branding

Whole Foods Market is rolling out a new look and name for its 365 private label brand, according to findings from research firm IGD. A retail analyst for the firm identified the change at Whole Foods’ busy Columbus Circle store in New York City, and signage indicates the update will roll out to more stores and across multiple categories.

Among the changes to the 365 brand is a more modern visual appearance that replaces the multicolor label with a black background. It also drops the “Everyday Value” tagline and replaces it with “Whole Foods Market.”

Whole Foods hasn’t explicitly said it will revamp the entire 365 Everyday Value brand, and IGD analyst Stewart Samuel said he only saw the logo update on 365 brand milk at the Columbus Circle location. But a sign photographed by IGD shows the new logo on additional products including olive oil, boxed macaroni-and-cheese and peanut butter, indicating a wider rollout.

“The quality you love has a fresh new look!” the shelf tag reads.

Grocery Dive checked a local Whole Foods store in West Seattle and several locations in the Washington, D.C. area, but did not see the updated logo.

IGD notes this would be the first update for Whole Foods’ 365 brand in several years. First launched in 1997, 365 Everyday Value has been a highly successful private label for the retailer and one of the first widely available natural store lines. Whole Foods went so far as to launch a separate banner under the 365 name, though the format shuttered last year after opening just 12 locations.

Whole Foods’ private label brands also include Whole Foods Market, Whole Trade and Engine 2 plant-based products.

The 365 brand is also available on Amazon and has generated tens of millions in annual sales for the e-commerce giant since it became available. Together, Amazon and Whole Foods have expanded grocery services broadly, with Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods pickup and delivery. Amazon Prime has boosted grocery sales across both companies. Amazon is also rolling out grocery private label products and will open the first location in its own grocery chain next month, according to reports.

Whole Foods has made small changes to its store brands, such as adding Amazon meal kits to select its stores and introducing new products, but a larger brand update could signify major growth to come, IGD noted.

With the ongoing popularity of private label products among shoppers, several retailers have taken to updating and revamping their store brands. Kroger just launched its own line of plant-based meat, while Albertsons added hundreds of private label products across its own brands last year. Regional chain The Fresh Market expanded its private label last fall with new flavors, seasonal and limited-time offerings.