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Albertsons unveils digital marketplace

BY Michael Johnsen

Albertsons on Tuesday announced the pre-launch of its digital marketplace. The general registration is now open for vendors who wish to grow their business by direct-shipping to Albertsons customers.

“At Albertsons Companies, we have always prided ourselves on our wide assortment. This offering takes our assortment size to the next level by making the aisle practically infinite,” Narayan Iyengar, senior vice president digital marketing and e-commerce, Albertsons, said. “This is another example of the rapid strides we are making on building digital capabilities that serve our customers, and shows our determination to play a prominent role in the digital food and wellness eco system.”

As of 2017, 27% of consumers purchased food, beverages or both, online, Nielsen reported in its recent “Total Consumer Report” published in March. “Heading into 2018, we are past the ‘tipping point’ and in as few as five-seven years, research from Nielsen and Food Marketing Institute projects that 70% of consumers will be purchasing food and beverage goods online,” the research firm reported. “Center of store edibles like packaged grocery, frozen foods and dairy are examples that have only just begun to penetrate the online space, but are poised to hasten pace, posting annual dollar growth of 41%, 49% and 67%, respectively. Beauty care leads other departments in terms of e-commerce share of sales. With nearly one in three dollars (31%) spent on beauty care categories occurring via e-commerce channels.”

The digital marketplace will help Albertsons customers find and buy hard-to-find products and to quickly discover new items and trends that suit their tastes and lifestyles. It will benefit vendors of these products by giving visibility to the products on the grocer’s digital platform, and by handling the common e-commerce front-end functions including search, product description and ordering.

Most importantly, this offering will generate proprietary data on food and wellness product trends in different markets. This can help Albertsons merchants evaluate what innovative products to stock in the stores, as well as provide vendors insight into where they should invest in building distribution.

 

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Weis Markets expands click and collect to 81 stores

BY Michael Johnsen

Weis Markets on Thursday announced it is introducing Weis 2 Go online ordering with curb-side pick-up in 25 additional stores over the next six weeks. Once the click and collect rollout is complete, online ordering with curbside pick-up will be available in 81 Weis Markets stores.

“We have expanded and upgraded our Weis 2 Go online ordering service, which now offers a more seamless shopping experience through mobile ordering on the Weis app and online at weismarkets.com,” Kurt Schertle, COO Weis Markets, said. “We’ve also enhanced our online ordering system, which includes a four-hour turnaround on orders and the same savings and rewards as the in-store shopping experience. We’re proud that our Weis 2 Go online ordering system now offers more choices and improved convenience.”

Already, 23% of U.S. shoppers bought groceries online in 2016, an increase of 20% versus just two years prior — and adoption has only accelerated since then, Nielsen reported. At this rate of growth, Nielsen and the Food Marketing Institute estimate that Americans’ total online grocery spending will reach $100 billion between 2021 and 2023.

And while much of that online spend is for home delivery — 69% of households say that is their preferred option — click and collect is gaining appeal. One-third of shoppers surveyed by Nielsen and FMI identified click and collect services as thier preferred way to shop for groceries, and millennials over-index in this choice.

Today, four out of 10 online shoppers in the United States are using click and collect, according to Nielsen Homescan data. On average, they make a pickup trip every six months (this low frequency makes sense, given that it’s a newer option) and spend $58 per trip. Click and collect attracts a broader shopper base than online shopping in general, and it skews highest among middle-income families and consumers aged 18-44.

Weis 2 Go Online Shopping allows customers to order online and pay through a secure PayPal system or at the store with curbside checkout. Each order is handpicked by trained personal shoppers and then carefully stored until pick up. Customers can use their Weis Preferred Shopper cards to save on their orders and earn rewards on gas and private brand products. They can also browse the weekly online circular and add sale items to their carts. Paper and digital coupons are also accepted.

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Walmart expands FedEx partnership

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A discount giant is expanding its partnership with FedEx — a move that could help the company improve the “last mile” of its deliveries.

Walmart is adding FedEx Office shops into 500 locations over the next 24 months. The stores will feature for printing, packing and shipping services.

The program stems from a pilot program the partners launched in 47 Walmart stores across six states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, Texas and Colorado. The service enables customers to access to packing, shipping and printing solutions, as well as hold delivered packages at any Walmart-based FedEx Office location for up to five business days — a factor that the company expects to improve the last mile of delivery for its shoppers. (Walmart already partners with FedEx for traditional shipping services.)

The stores will also act as a drop-off point for customer returns, and can process refunds “on the spot.” It will also enable FedEx to ship products back to distributors in bulk, according to CNBC.

The shops will range from 450 sq. ft. and 750 sq. ft., and will be staffed by roughly a total of 2,000 FedEx employees, CNBC reported.

“Our busy customers view our stores as a one-stop-shop for all the products and services they are looking for,” said Daniel Eckert, senior VP, Walmart services and digital acceleration. “We know shipping and printing is one such service they want to access in our stores, so we’re thrilled to expand our relationship with FedEx so that even more of our busy customers can take advantage of their pick up, drop off and printing services.”

Enabling customers to hold their packages at the FedEx shop not only improves the last mile of delivery for Walmart, it will also help quell their concerns around becoming a victim of “porch piracy,” or having their online deliveries stolen from their porch.

The option rivals other efforts from competitors to make it easier for customers to receive their online orders. For example, Amazon recently added its pickup lockers inside of stores across its newly acquired Whole Foods Market stores. Meanwhile, Target recently acquired on-demand delivery company Shipt, to bolster its online delivery options.

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