Posts tagged with "Whole Foods Market"

The great giveback: Retailers team up with FedEx, UPS, Whole Foods to make returns easier

December 29, 2020

Retailers and logistics companies have struggled to get shoppers’ holiday gifts delivered on time. Now, they’re gearing up for what’s expected to be a brutal season for unwanted, returnable goods headed back in their direction, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Following a coronavirus pandemic-fueled surge in online sales, up to $70.5 billion worth of online holiday purchases are expected to be returned—up from $42 billion last year—according to a forecast from commercial real estate brokerage CBRE.

Many retailers that encouraged people to start their holiday shopping early also have extended their return deadlines this holiday season—and have tried to make it easier, once you get in the vicinity of the store, to get your money back. Still, the Tribune reports, returns aren’t as seamless as clicking “buy” online—and most merchants don’t offer contact-free options that enable consumers to stay in the car during the return transaction.

It’s not just because people are buying more gifts online. It’s because there are more people shopping online, including some who typically prefer to shop in person and aren’t accustomed to buying online,  Steve Osburn, managing director of Retail Strategy at Accenture, told the Chicago-based news outlet.

.Shoppers also admit that they’re now more likely to buy the same item in multiple sizes; then, keep the one that fits. About 62% of U.S. shoppers said they “bracketed” purchases, up from 48% last year, often because they gained or lost weight or were shopping at a new store and weren’t sure what size to pick, according to a September survey by Narvar, a company that helps retailers manage returns.

Retailers prefer shoppers return items in stores rather than ship them back because they can get items back on shelves more quickly, Osburn said.

But this year, the desire to avoid unnecessary trips to stores could push more people to seek mail-in options. About 30% of consumers surveyed by Narvar said it was easier to ship items back, up from 25% last year.

Walmart this week announced that FedEx will pick up returns at customers’ homes. Customers still need to pack items for shipment, which can be tougher when people are working from home without access to a printer to print the shipping label, but the service is free for items shipped and sold by Walmart.

Earlier this month, Amazon announced customers can return items at 500 Whole Foods Market stores without a box or shipping label. Amazon already had a returns partnership with Kohl’s. Amazon shoppers also can return items at UPS locations, in some cases without packing them up.

Returns service Happy Returns partnered with FedEx this fall to let shoppers return items from brands like Everlane, Rothy’s and Steve Madden at 2,000 FedEx locations with no box or shipping label.

Happy Returns previously had about 600 locations, which were mostly at malls and retailers like Paper Source and CostPlus World Market. The new FedEx locations adds convenience while making the service “COVID-proof” since FedEx is an essential business that will stay open, CEO David Sobie told the Tribune.

And, as return drop-off options have expanded, use has grown. Nearly 30% of shoppers surveyed by Narvar in September said they had taken their most recent return to a designated drop-off location like a pharmacy or another retailer’s store, up from 16% last year. About 35% of shoppers took their return to a carrier to mail back and 12% returned their item to the retailer’s store.

Some retailers are also trying to streamline traditional store returns.

Dick’s Sporting Goods will let customers return items through curbside pickup, as long as the purchase was made with a credit or debit card. Others say shoppers must come inside to make a return, though Narvar CEO Amit Sharma said he expects more retailers to announce curbside returns in January.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

Get Undressed! Startup brings fresh meaning to the words ‘salad bar’

September 24, 2020

These aren’t exactly our “salad days”—carefree times of enthusiasm and idealism—but, thanks to Anne Klassman, a self-described foodie and fitness enthusiast, we can now eat salad fixings, no matter what mood, or neck of the woods, we happen to find ourselves in.

One night, as she made dinner with her husband, Klassman recently told Food Business, “We were just swapping ideas, and one of them was, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could make this salad into a snack somehow?’” she recalled. “Many iterations later, we came up with this idea to take the various ingredients you would find in a salad and turn it into a shelf-stable snack.”

It seemed like a simple idea, but Klassman encountered multiple challenges in developing and launching the brand. Undressed debuted in April at the initial peak of the pandemic when many shoppers weren’t seeking or discovering new products. The initial items are snack bars, a segment of the packaged food market that hasn’t seen the same surge in demand as numerous other products as on-the-go consumption has declined due to stay-at-home guidelines.

Introducing a savory product in a predominately sweet category is another obstacle. Are consumers ready for a range of bars featuring spinach and kale?

“We know it can be a bit of a shock to the consumer because we’re all so accustomed to the sugar-laden bar market that is also largely brown or brownish tone,” Klassman explained to Food Business.. “Our bars are green. That is completely unexpected.”

Formulating a snack that met her scrupulous ingredient and nutrition standards also proved tricky. Klassman, who had no prior food industry experience, partnered with a team of advisers and product developers who “affectionately call me the CE-No,” she said.

“I felt so strongly about using whole ingredients and real food,” Klassman said. “It kept the bars so very clean but made it super difficult to keep them shelf-stable. It would have probably been easier for us to go in the refrigerated space rather than the shelf stable space, but I really felt strongly about creating something you could throw in your bag or leave in your car and not have to worry about it.”

Each Undressed bar contains 5 to 7 grams of protein and a full serving of vegetables. Varieties include chipotle cranberry, cilantro lime, honey mustard and sesame ginger. The products contain no gluten, soy, dairy, added sugar or genetically modified ingredients. 

“We like to think of ourselves as the first greens-based savory bar in North America, or the first salad bar as we’ve decided to call ourselves,” Klassman said. “Everything we do is inspired by our love for greens, and especially salads. We get excited about the possibility of people eating greens every single day. The current flavor profiles, which we launched with four, were initially chosen by our team of advisers. We taste tested a bunch of fresh salads and then did some research on flavors, and our goal was to make the most delicious bar.”

Undressed bars are sold online at Amazon.com and eatundressed.com and at select Whole Foods Market stores in Southern California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. Klassman hopes to expand distribution next year to retailers on the East Coast, as well as to gyms and athletic events.

In addition to adding more flavors, Klassman plans to expand the brand’s portfolio beyond bars into other convenient, greens-based products.

“Our hope is this is just the beginning of an array of potential solutions to help people eat more plant-based foods, especially greens, in the future,” she said. “So we certainly have plans for some line extensions under name Undressed. There’s really nothing quite like what we have, certainly in North America, outside of kale chips and variations on those.”

Research contact: @linkedin.com/in/anne-klassman-137b1299