News Briefs


The Home Depot Looks to Improve Workforce Efficiency With New Sidekick App

Home Depot mobile app

The Home Depot is looking to help its associates better prioritize tasks with a new machine learning-powered app called Sidekick. Part of the company’s suite of mobile devices dedicated toward improved associate and customer experiences (hdPhones), the new app communicates the highest demand product, shelves that need restocking, and where excess product can be found on overhead shelves. 

The app has already rolled out in more than 600 stores, with plans to expand to all U.S. stores by the end of 2022. Capabilities include:

  • A cloud-enabled machine-learning algorithm that identifies actionable tasks and sets deadlines
  • Machine vision technology that can detect and automatically fill out-of-stock products, as well as locate products across the store
  • Notifications for associates about tasks that needed to be completed in order of priority, run via a tasking engine
  • A dashboard displaying where and how to complete a task with both associate and manager views
  • Data and task integration across the Home Depot’s other platforms

Also: Walmart and Home Depot Find Strength In Mobile App and Tech Investments Amid Volatile Environment

“The first step to customer service is being in stock with the right product that’s easy to locate,” said Muzammil Akram, vice president for store technology of The Home Depot, in a statement. “Equipping our associates with innovative technology is one key factor in delivering on that initiative. Sidekick is the perfect addition to hdPhones because it utilizes a data-driven approach to help our associates prioritize which tasks will benefit our customers the most.” 


Del Taco Levels Up Drive-Thru With AI-Powered Voice Tech

Del Taco restaurant

Drive-thru ordering is getting an upgrade. Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. will be implementing automated voice ordering at several of its locations across the country. The artificial intelligence-powered (AI) tech, already tested at select Del Taco locations, will have a more widespread implementation following a successful pilot run. 

The company first started testing the Presto Voice technology, provided by Presto, last year. An AI voice assistant greets guests, accepts their orders, and also includes conversational upselling features. Orders placed through the AI system are automatically sent to the POS system and kitchen display system. 

According to the company, the tech has improved labor productivity, increased suggestive selling, and elevated the guest and staff experience. It reports that 95% of its drive-thru orders placed with Presto Voice have been completed without staff intervention. Additionally, Presto states the upgrade minimizes human error, reduces wait times, and frees up staff so they can focus on the customer experience.

“With Del Taco’s desire to build a drive-thru that improves operational efficiency while delivering an elevated guest experience, the Presto AI-based voice assistant solution is a natural choice,” said Kevin Pope, vice president of operations innovation at Del Taco, in a statement. “The Presto platform and team have exceeded our expectations and we are excited as we prepare to deploy the solution at additional restaurants across the nation.”


Small-Format Bloomingdale’s Makes Its Way to Seattle

Bloomingdale's Bloomie's small-format store rendering

Macy’s-owned Bloomingdales introduced its smaller concept store, Bloomie’s in the summer of 2021. The brand has been quickly expanding, and is now making its way to Seattle. 

Making its west coast entrance in 2023 within University Village in the Ravenna neighborhood of downtown Seattle, the more casual contemporary, curated experience will feature top brands across both men’s and women’s categories, including apparel, accessories, beauty, gifts, and more. 

According to earlier announcements, the store highlights merchandise that is rotated out multiple times per week, offering returns dropboxes, and buy-online-pickup-in-store as well as curbside pickup. 

Within the store, stylists provide personalized shopping experiences with the help of digital selling devices. These include customization and alteration services, and fitting room assistance through the simple push of a button. 

"We are thrilled to enter the Seattle market with the opening of our third Bloomie's location," said Charles Anderson, director of stores, Bloomingdale's. "The new flexible store experience has been well-received in other cities as it remains authentic to the Bloomingdale's brand yet brings a new and exciting energy to our shoppers. We can't wait to be a part of the community and for the people of Seattle to be a part of the Bloomie's story."

Bloomie’s stores are currently located in Fairfax, Virginia and in the greater Chicagoland area. This concept is part of its three-year Polaris strategy that includes testing smaller-format stores


Chipotle Launches Augmented Reality Experience on Snapchat


Chipotle Mexican Grill is launching an augmented reality experience to promote its new lineup of Lifestyle Bowls that cater to wellness habits.

The new AR Lens on Snapchat will launch on Friday, January 13, also known as Quitter's Day, the day people are most likely to forfeit new year's resolutions. In partnership with Snapchat, the company created an augmented reality lens that encourages fans to move their body and calm their mind with Chipotle-inspired exercises and meditation prompts. One hundred thousand fans in the U.S. who complete the Snapchat challenges will earn a promo code for a free small side or topping of guacamole (10,000 codes awarded per day from January 13 through January 23, 2023. Offer valid for free small side or entrée topping of guacamole with a regular-priced entrée purchase).

Lifestyle Bowls are digital exclusive menu items available in the U.S. and Canada. According to Chipotle, the AR activation marks the first time a restaurant brand will promote physical activity and wellness through an AR Lens on Snapchat.

Chipotle said according to a recent trend report, 76% of 13 to 39-year-olds agree wellness can be anything that makes you feel good, and 90% of young people believe wellness looks different for everyone.

"We created seven new Lifestyle Bowls that embrace Gen Z and Millennials' modern interpretation of wellbeing," said Chris Brandt, CMO, Chipotle. "We're making new year's resolutions fun by gamifying the experience and offering balanced meals made with real ingredients that you feel good eating."

The 2023 Lifestyle Bowl Lineup:

  • Balanced Macros Bowl: Light White Rice, Black Beans, Chicken, Fajita Veggies, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Guac, Extra Romaine Lettuce (61g carbs, 45g protein, 33g fat)
  • Veggie Full Bowl: White Rice, Black Beans, Fajita Veggies, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa, Guac
  • Wholesome Bowl: Supergreens Lettuce Blend, Chicken, Fajita Veggies, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Guac
  • Grain Freedom Bowl: Supergreens Lettuce Blend, Chicken, Tomatillo-Red Chili Salsa, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Sour Cream, Cheese
  • High Protein Bowl: White Rice, Black Beans, Double Chicken, Tomatillo-Red Chili Salsa, Cheese, Romaine Lettuce
  • Plant-Powered Bowl: Supergreens Lettuce Blend, White Rice, Sofritas, Fajita Veggies, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa, Guac
  • Go Half Veggie Bowl: 1/2 Chicken, 1/2 Sofritas, Supergreens Lettuce Blend, White Rice, Fajita Veggies, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa, Sour Cream

Best Buy and TalkShopLive Bring In-Store Pickup to Livestream Shopping

best buy

Best Buy has teamed up with live commerce platform TalkShopLive to offer customers the option for in-store pickup for the first time through the platform.

The platform's newest innovation comes in time for holiday shopping, eliminating shipping expenses while getting products to customers faster. The partnership launched December 12 via a live show hosted by TikTok star Noah Schnacky who highlighted some of his favorite products.

This is the first time in-store pickup is offered on a live shopping platform that is embeddable anywhere on the web, according to the company. TalkShopLive chose to launch its in-store pickup feature with Best Buy due to its longstanding relationship with the retailer, it said. Best Buy was the first major retailer to onboard to TalkShopLive. 

TalkShopLive's in-store pickup offering takes a step toward creating a seamless shopping experience for live commerce consumers and connecting the retail landscape. 

"We constantly strive to innovate solutions for retailers and brands to connect their live shopping experiences with physical shopping experiences," said TalkShopLive CEO and Founder Bryan Moore. "For our large retailer partners, we have proven that products featured in TalkShopLive shows often garner an omnichannel sales lift upwards of 1500%. As holiday shopping often leads to shipping delays, in-store pickup allows customers to have a personal and interactive live shopping experience without any worries on delivery times."


Kroger Expands Delivery Capability in Sushi and Floral Categories

kroger teaser

Getting flowers or sushi delivered from The Kroger Co. just got a little easier. 

The company has partnered with DoorDash to expand its delivery capabilities, now providing more options in the floral and sushi categories. Following a successful pilot earlier this fall, Kroger is now offering delivery from more than 900 sushi locations and 1,600 floral locations across the U.S. 

The offering allows customers to order freshly-prepared sushi or custom flower arrangements and have them delivered directly to their doorstep — or they can gift these items to others using the DoorDash gifting feature.

The company is running special promotions on these items through December 24, and the selections will also be available through DoorDash’s membership program, DashPash, which allows for unlimited $0 delivery. 

[Read more: Could the Kroger and Albertsons Merger Create a Powerhouse, Inflation-Proof Brand?]

"By offering customer-favorite sushi options and premium floral bouquets through third-party marketplaces we are continuing to evolve and meet customers where and how they are shopping," said Stuart Aitken, senior vice president and chief merchant and marketing officer, Kroger.

"Whether you are craving fresh, affordable sushi for lunch or want to surprise someone special with a gorgeous fresh floral bouquet, you can now have the items delivered in under an hour,” added Aitken. “Providing fresh, affordable products to customers using familiar channels is another step in our commitment to provide anything, anytime, anywhere for every customer, every time."

Shanna Prevé, vice president, strategic partnerships and business development at DoorDash said that the trend toward convenience goes in just a single direction as customers' expectations rise, “and we're thrilled to continue to expand into the prepared foods and floral categories with Kroger to satiate a lunch craving or delight someone's day."