Archive for  December 31st 2018

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Brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy found an advantage over Amazon this holiday: Store pickups on online orders.

Offering customers free pickups for digital orders has become a key part of these retailers’ strategy to compete against Amazon’s rapid and extensive home delivery network. Retailers have blanketed the country with store pickup options in recent years, and those investments paid off during the holidays.

Buy online, pickup-in-store spending increased 47% from November 1 to December 19 compared to a year ago, according to data from Adobe Analytics. Adobe said it was the biggest holiday on record for online pickups.

Customers have been quick to embrace online pickups from stores. Analysts say it appeals to shoppers who want to grab their stuff and go without waiting in checkout lines or interacting with sales workers on the floor.

At Walmart’s investor day in October, Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside said pickup was attractive to both “a time-pressed mom” heading home after picking her kids up at school and a “convenience-seeking baby boomer on the way home from the golf course.”

Picking up mobile or online orders from stores in hours can also be faster than waiting days for home delivery. It works for last-minute holiday shoppers who need to buy a gift in a hurry. Old Navy even partnered with Lyft to offer customers free rides to stores for online pickups last Saturday.

“The issue with delivery is that it can take several days,” said Georgianna Oliver, the founder of Package Concierge, a firm that creates in-store lockers for retailers. She said weekly orders have doubled for her company’s lockers since last last year.

For retailers, pickup is a better economic model because they can avoid paying expensive shipping fees. Retailers’ profit margins have dipped in recent years from fulfilling online orders.

“The realization of the growing costs of e-commerce fulfillment pushed many brands to step it up this past year,” said Steve Dennis, a retail consultant and former executive at Sears and Neiman Marcus.

Amazon (AMZN), which lags rivals in the space, just started offering grocery pickup from Whole Foods in August. It’s only available in 22 cities. It has also been building out new stores like Amazon Go, Amazon Books, and Amazon-4 Star.

Best Buy (BBY) started offering pickup more than a decade ago. Forty percent of Best Buy’s online orders today are picked up at one of its 1,000 US stores. “Stores are a wonderful asset,”CEO Hubert Joly told CNN Business in a recent interview. “People choose to go to the store because in less than an hour you can pick up your stuff.”

Customers often select pickup from Best Buy instead of home delivery because they’re buying gifts for family members, or they don’t want to risk someone stealing an expensive TV off their porch, Joly said.

Walmart (WMT) has raced to add grocery pickup to more than 2,000 stores in four years. It also has added pickup towers for general items to 700 stores over the past two years. By the end of the year, it will be able to reach 70% of the US population with pickup, it said.

Walmart will soon overtake Apple as the third largest online retailer in the country thanks to customers picking up groceries in stores, according to report by research firm eMarketer.

Target (TGT) was late to roll out pickup, but has scaled what it calls “drive-up” to around 1,000 stores. Employees bring customers’ orders out to their cars.

Target said that it was helping the company reduce costs. “Given the cost of last mile shipping, we like the economics of drive-up much better,” Target Chief Operating Officer John Mulligan told analysts in November.

Despite the growth opportunities, pickup is not easy to operate and presents several obstacles for retailers, including security, inventory control, and staffing. Retailers have to implement procedures that prevent fraud, Oliver said.

Retailers also need to make sure stores don’t run out of stock for online orders, and that workers are not overwhelmed with double duty handling pickups and running stores. Walmart, for example, has 25,000 trained personal shoppers to select produce and meat at stores for online orders.

MARICOPA COUNTY, Arizona — A case regarding the alleged abuse of migrant children in a Southwest Key shelter will be referred to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review and to determine whether criminal charges will be filed, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

The news comes after the Arizona Republic obtained surveillance videos through an open records request that show staffers pushing and dragging migrant children in a shelter operated by Southwest Key, the nation’s largest provider of migrant children shelters.

According to the newspaper, the incidents took place at the Hacienda Del Sol shelter in Youngtown, Arizona, in mid-September and involved three children and numerous staffers.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office initially told CNN it investigated the allegations but determined the actions did not rise to the level of criminal charges.

But the office changed its mind and said in an updated statement released Sunday: “Based upon the evidence gathered during this thorough investigation, MCSO executive command has made the decision to submit the case to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for its review and determination of criminal charges.”

The case will be submitted on Monday, the sheriff’s office said.


Videos show staff members shoving, dragging children
Southwest Key closed the Hacienda Del Sol facility in late October after negotiations with state health authorities who were considering revoking the licenses of 13 Southwest Key shelters in Arizona, according to the Arizona Republic.

CNN previously reported the Arizona Department of Health Services considered the move because Southwest Key had failed to provide the department with proof it conducts background checks on employees.

The videos were blurred and edited by the state’s Department of Health Services, which licenses the migrant shelters.

One clip published by the Arizona Republic shows a male staffer dragging a young child into the room and pushing him against the wall. There appears to be a confrontation between the two before the male staffer leaves the room.

Another video shows a female staff member pulling a child through the room and attempting to enter another room.

The child lies on the ground and the female staffer drags the child through the doorway as another staff member pulls a different child into the conference room and drags that child into the next room.

CNN has filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain the videos.


Two staffers fired, source says
Southwest Key declined to comment on the case now being referred to the Maricopa County Attorney, but referred CNN to a statement the company issued at the time of the incident.

“We wholeheartedly welcomed the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s decision to suspend operations at Hacienda Del Sol and are working to thoroughly retrain our staff,” Southwest Key spokesman Jeff Eller told the Arizona Republic in a statement on October 5.

“We are simultaneously engaging the Child Welfare Consulting Partnership to do an independent, top to bottom review of our processes, procedures, hiring and training in our Arizona shelters.”

According to a source with direct knowledge of how the incidents in the videos were handled, Southwest Key self-reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Refugee Resettlement and local police at the time the events occurred.

After an internal investigation, two staff members were fired and additional disciplinary measures were taken against other staffers, the source said.

The Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed in a statement to the Arizona Republic that it did receive a report about the incident in mid-September and that it prompted an investigation and an on-site inspection.

CNN has reached out to both the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.