Grocery retailers The Kroger Co. and Ocado Group Plc have selected Monroe, Ohio, for their first U.S.-based customer fulfillment center—the first of 20 planned customer fulfillment centers, or “sheds,” across the United States.
The shed will be an automated warehouse facility that incorporates digital and robotic technology to improve efficiency. Kroger plans to invest $55 million to build the first, 335,000-square-foot center in Monroe, which is expected to generate more than 410 new jobs.
“We are incredibly excited to partner with Ocado to transform the industry and deliver on our Restock Kroger vision to serve America through food inspiration and uplift,” says Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “This Kroger shed, powered by Ocado, will accelerate our ability to provide customers with anything, anytime and anywhere.”
Earlier this year, Kroger, No. 86 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000, agreed to buy a stake in Ocado and license technology from Ocado that helps other grocers run automated warehouses and deliver food to customers’ doors. The deal is Ocado’s biggest yet and its first in the U.S.
The grocer will become the exclusive user of Ocado’s technology in the U.S., according to a statement from Kroger. Kroger also agreed to buy more shares in the U.K. company, taking a stake of about 5%. Ocado is No. 22 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Europe 500.
In other e-commerce news:
- Earlier this month, James Brett, CEO of J.Crew Group Inc., stepped down from his role. His responsibilities are being taken over by the office of the CEO, which is comprised of four J. Crew executives: Michael Nicholson, president and chief operating officer; Adam Brotman, president and chief experience officer; Lynda Markoe, chief administrative officer; and Libby Wadle, president of Madewell brand. The J. Crew Group board is working on a plan to establish a more permanent management structure. J. Crew Group is No. 53 in the Top 1000.
- L Brands Inc.-owned Victoria’s Secret is on the hunt for a new chief executive. Jan Singer resigned from her role as CEO, having only been in the position since September 2016. Prior to Victoria’s Secret, she was CEO at shapewear retailer Spanx. Singer has been replaced at Spanx by John Mehas, former president of women’s apparel and accessories brand Tory Burch. “Our number one priority is improving performance at Victoria’s Secret Lingerie and PINK. In doing so, our new leaders are coming in with a fresh perspective and looking at everything… our marketing, brand positioning, internal talent, real estate portfolio and cost structure,” says L Brands CEO Les Wexner in the retailer’s third-quarter earnings release on Nov. 19. L Brands is No. 26.
Neiman Marcus, No. 43, has named Katie Mullen as its chief transformation officer, a newly created role for the company. Mullen will be in charge of corporate communications and growth initiatives, the company said, without revealing more. Prior to Neiman Marcus, Mullen worked as a partner and managing director for Boston Consulting Group for more than nine years. “[Mullen’s] track record of leadership and insight in our sector makes her the clear choice to oversee the strategic deployment of our company’s evolutionary initiatives,” says CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck. “I am confident that she will challenge us with a fresh, external perspective, but will also take care to protect what is special about Neiman Marcus Group as we drive change throughout the organization.”
- Online marketplace eBay Inc., No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Online Marketplaces, is working with home improvement service providers Handy, Porch and InstallerNet to allow shoppers to book installation services—from furniture assembly to TV mounting electronic product installation—when they are purchasing an item that requires installation or assembly. The service add-on will be available during the checkout process. “With these new partnerships, we’re able to combine our incredible selection of inventory with easy access to affordable and trusted service professionals, making eBay a one-stop shop for our customers,” says Alyssa Steele, vice president of merchandising at eBay.
- Cloud-based e-commerce services provider ChannelAdvisor, which helps retailers manage selling on marketplaces, announced a deal with Seoul-based e-commerce marketplace Interpark Holdings Corporation. The two companies will integrate their services and ChannelAdvisor will expand its presence to South Korea. “It combines ChannelAdvisor’s innovative platform with Interpark’s robust marketplace, enabling millions of new consumers to connect with sellers eager to accelerate their sales through a seamless shopping experience,” said Paul Colucci, vice president, global business development, ChannelAdvisor.
- Digital commerce company Evine Live Inc., No. 121 in the Top 1000, has promoted Jon Sanders to senior vice president and general manager of fulfillment and third-party logistics. He was formerly the vice president and general manager of fulfillment. Sanders has been with Evine in various for nearly 12 years. He will continue to lead the operations at Evine’s Bowling Green, Kentucky-based fulfillment center and relaunch the company’s direct-to-consumer third-party logistics division.
- Credit card company Capital One acquired online shopping comparison technology company Wikibuy on Nov. 17 for an undisclosed amount. Wikibuy has more than 2 million members and is a free digital tool that allows consumers to compare prices from various retailers’ websites and find active coupon codes at checkout. “With Wikibuy, we’ve acquired an innovative startup,” said Joe Poellnitz, senior vice president of U.S. Card at Capital One Financial. “Together, we can give our customers tools to help them save time [and] money and shop with confidence.”
- Mobile workforce management company Shyft Technologies has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding, led by Ignition Partners and Madrona Venture Group. Shyft’s app helps retail and service workers check their schedules, swap shifts, message coworkers and more. The new funding will help the company further develop its app and focus on product development. Gap Inc., No. 20, uses Shyft for its mobile workforce management platform for employees of its Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta brands.