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5 things
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5 things: Instacart — Delivery company turned advertiser?

Here’s 5 things you may have missed in grocery

How Instacart has evolved: As Instacart prepares to go public next week, it is a markedly different company, writes the New York Times. Originally launched in 2012 as a grocery delivery service, the company has increasingly focused on advertising and software products as its delivery business has slowed. Nearly a third of Instacart’s $2.5 billion in revenue last year came from its “highly profitable” ads and software division…and in the first half of this year, Instacart’s $406 million in revenue from ads and software helped propel it to $242 million in profit. And even still, the Times writes, all that profit may not be enough to attract investors to Instacart’s I.P.O. Once worth $39 billion in the private markets, the company has slashed its valuation several times, most recently to $10 billion. —Chloe Riley

Trader Joe’s tasters: Trader Joe’s plan for adding new products? The grocer initially leans on a tasting panel. In a recent podcast co-hosted by TJ’s Marketing Vice Presidents Tara Miller and Matt Sloan, they revealed that a product only makes the cut if at least 70% of the panelists vote in favor of adding the item to Trader Joe’s assortment. What do they look for? First, taste is a top priority. Second, the product must have strong customer appeal. Third, looks also count. For example, bananas must be blemish-free and look tasty. Lastly, the price-value equation must make sense — i.e., an item is priced relative to what you get for it, said Sloan. Miller said that Trader Joe’s ultimately wants to provide products that make the store a destination in a very competitive food retailing marketplace. —Alarice Rajagopal

True self-checkout: If you want something done, do it yourself. In a TikTok video, several shoppers can be seen scanning the store helplessly for someone wearing Dollar Tree gear to step up and do their job. Seeing nobody with an official Dollar Tree badge, one person whipped out their hero cape and came to the rescue. Able to decipher the cash register code in a matter of seconds, “the chosen one” started ringing up product. “There are absolutely no workers here. None,” said the video poster. “And then you have a customer that has figured out how to get into the register. And the customer is actually ringing customers up. You can’t make this up.” A Dollar Tree worker did finally step up to release the temp worker. I think Dollar Tree owes someone a paycheck. —Bill Wilson

When food isn’t the food you think it is: Food labeling can be a tricky business. This piece from The New Yorker focuses on an attorney who specializes in consumer-protection class-action suits, specifically around packaged foods and the authenticity of their ingredients and flavors. Sheehan has sued the makers of frosted strawberry Pop-Tarts (no real strawberries), Hint of Lime Tostitos (no lime), Snapple “all natural” fruit drinks (no natural juice), and many more, generally seeking millions in damages from each. In recent months, judges and defendants have begun to challenge Sheehan’s suits more broadly. But Sheehan says his work is about protecting the consumer, who most likely would not have bought these products (or at least would have expected to pay less) if they knew the true ingredients. —CR

Do the right thing: What would you do if you stumbled upon $4,000 in cash? Well, one Costco worker managed to gather his thoughts and do the right thing. John Sotelo, employed at a Costco in Clovis, Calif., was casually stocking cases of water when he saw an envelope on a pallet. He grabbed the paper case and discovered a whopping $3,940 in cash. Sotelo informed store management, who was then able to match surveillance camera footage with a Costco identification number (they can do all of that?) to find the rightful owner. The money was supposedly for child education purposes, and the owner of the $4,000 did get an education — on how not to carry around thousands of dollars in cash. In the easiest selection for employee of the month ever, Sotelo was given the honor. He said he wants to do more good deeds, but it’s doubtful any will top this one. —BW

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