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Walmart ramps up self-checkout, scales down ‘scan and go’ shopping





In the race to woo customers with a seamless shopping experience, Walmart Canada is adding more self-checkout kiosks and revamping its “scan and go” system where shoppers scan their items while they shop.

It appears “scan and go,” in its current form, wasn’t a “go” for many customers.

Physical retailers are scrambling to make shopping more convenient while also trying to keep costs down in an era where most anything can be bought online. But it’s game of trial and error where customers won’t always buy in.

“It’s a really challenging time for retailers,” said Brynn Winegard, a Toronto-based marketing and retail expert. “They’re pressed to figure out what it is consumers want as well as to drive home profitability,”

‘Scan and go’ overhaul

Walmart Canada made headlines last year when it announced it was rolling out “scan and go” in 20 locations. 

The system requires customers to pick up a portable scanner in the store and use it to scan the barcode on their items before putting them in the shopping cart. The scanner tallies the bill and customers pay at the cashier or use self-checkout.

One year later, Walmart has quietly scaled back the system to only three stores. In the U.S., the retailer abandoned it completely.

With scan and go, customers scan their own items while shopping and pay for them with the aid of a mobile device provided in the store. (Walmart Canada)

Walmart Canada wouldn’t detail why the concept didn’t catch on except to say that it’s currently testing improvements to the technology, including a new scanner interface and added features.

“We are frequently testing and trying out new things in our business,” said Walmart Canada spokesperson Anika Malik in an email. “The way our customers shop is changing and we are constantly innovating to meet their needs.”

Malik said the same rule applies to self-checkout kiosks. She wouldn’t provide numbers, but said Walmart continues to add them to stores to offer customers more choice and convenience. 

However, several shoppers complained to CBC News that their local Walmart sometimes offers no cashier option, only self-checkout, either early in the morning or late at night.

“I can just order it on Amazon if that’s what they want,” said Cody Nolan. He went to Walmart in Brockville, Ont. last week at 10PM and said, much to his disappointment, no cashier lanes were open. 

“I’m kind of old-school. I actually like to converse with a cashier as I do my payments.”

Walmart Canada says some cashiers have been re-deployed to other positions such as customer support for self-checkout. (CBC)

Last week, Ashlyn Skocdopole said she also got stuck using self-checkout for a cart full of groceries because no cashiers were open at the Sylvan Lake, Alta., Walmart at 8:30 a.m.

“It was frustrating. The machine kept going off and telling me I needed assistance.” Meanwhile, she tried to keep an eye on her two-year-old child.

“It’s not convenient,” said Skocdopole.

Walmart spokesperson Malik said the company’s goal is to have a cashier option available at all times and that if none are open, customers can request one.

She also said many shoppers appreciate self-checkout and that the technology has resulted in no job losses. Instead, she said some employees have been re-deployed to other positions such as customer support for self-checkout.

What’s next?

There’s no doubt retail is headed toward a more automated format which will change the types of jobs involved and, ultimately, the way we shop.

But there will be hiccups along the way. Retail expert Steve Tissenbaum considers self-checkout kiosks, which many retailers now offer, as one of those hiccups.

“That is probably more of a stop-gap between more intellectual or more capable technology,” said Tissenbaum, a professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management.

Already, retailers are testing other formats to see what sticks.

For those who still crave the human touch, Walmart and Target in the U.S. each recently launched a “scan and go” system where employees do the work.

Workers equipped with mobile devices both scan and checkout customers’ items in busy parts of the store. Customers can use debit or credit to pay on the spot.

Walmart U.S. is expanding its on-the-spot checkout system where employees still do the work. (Walmart)

Meanwhile, Amazon is expanding its cashier-less concept — Amazon Go. In this store, customers don’t even need to scan their items.

Instead, they just take what they want and walk out, thanks to technology that detects when products are removed from store shelves.

Customers are billed via their Amazon accounts.

Since the beginning of the year, the online retail giant has opened six Amazon Go stores in the U.S. and is reportedly considering opening up to 3,000 more in the next few years. 

Walmart will soon open a new cashierless Sam’s Club store in Texas where shoppers scan and pay for their purchases via their smartphone. (Walmart U.S.)

Walmart also plans to launch a cashierless store this month at one of its Sam’s Club locations in Texas. The big-box, membership-only store will use “scan and go” technology, but members will download an app to both scan and pay for items via their smartphone.

Walmart said it will also have employees called “member hosts” who will offer in-store assistance.

“As shopping preferences evolve, we’ll give members and customers options to shop in new ways,” said Walmart U.S. spokesperson, Carrie McKnight in an email.

As for shoppers, they can rest assured that if they don’t buy into one new shopping concept, another, different format will likely quickly follow. 


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Real Estate

Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom





MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Real Estate

Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices





NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Real Estate

Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments





TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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