Walmart is waiving its $35 minimum order requirement for Walmart+ program members to get free shipping, though the new feature will not apply to grocery orders delivered from brick-and-mortar stores. Walmart rolled out the $98-per-year membership program in September, offering discounts and other perks that include using an app to scan and pay, and the new free shipping benefit will apply to clothing, electronics and other non-perishable items shipped through Walmart's fulfillment centers.
Starbucks will offer free coffees to front-line workers including doctors, nurses, paramedics and firefighters during December. The coffee chain, which said it has given out 300,000 care packages and more than 2 million cups of coffee during the pandemic, will also contribute $100,000 to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Retail Ecommerce Ventures will buy the intellectual property of Stein Mart for $6.02 million and relaunch the discount home goods and fashion banner as an online-only retailer in 2021. REC has made a practice of giving bankrupt companies new life online, including Pier 1 Imports and Linens 'n Things, and last month bought the rights to the RadioShack brand.
Beauty retailer The Body Shop has launched same-day delivery in five US cities as well as Toronto to customers within 90 minutes of one of the company's stores. The service works in partnership with Uber Eats and is expected to roll out to more markets in the future.
Hy-Vee has introduced Hy-Vee Plus, a new annual membership program that features in-store and online deals each month, along with discounts on delivery, free express pickup and a personal concierge service. Shoppers will pay $99 per year for the additional perks and those already part of the grocer's Hy-Vee Aisles Online program will be moved into Hy-Vee Plus at no charge.
Google has updated the Nest Wifi with a feature that enables the device to prioritize user-specified types of traffic, such as videoconferencing or gaming. The update also includes a Google Home Feed feature that alerts users to connectivity problems.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted more companies to use technology to streamline returns and other areas of reverse logistics, writes Pratik Kirve of Allied Market Research. He also recommends using data to reduce waste and making sure warehouse workers are protected from the virus.
Consumers developed new alcoholic beverage preferences and drinking habits during the pandemic, some of which are likely to continue growing in 2021, Datassential's Mike Kostyo writes. Hard seltzer topped the list of fastest-growing restaurant menu items, demand for unique experiences is rising and almost 70% of consumers surveyed said they plan to continue using delivery services to buy their beverages.
Events in 2020 have brought racial equity and social justice issues to the forefront, driving more consumers to consider a company's values as they do their holiday shopping, according to an Accenture survey. About 40% of respondents said they plan to shop at retailers that support Black Lives Matter, and major retailers including Macy's and West Elm have taken a pledge to devote at least 15% of shelf space to Black-owned brands.
Balenciaga will debut its autumn/winter 2021 collection via a video game called "Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow," scheduled to be released Dec. 6. The game will show off the new fashions in a virtual adventure that takes place in the next decade.
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