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Albertsons Sees Digital Opportunity in ‘Inspiration, Activation, Transaction’

Retailer debuts digital marketplace for food and wellness products

Technology is enabling Albertsons to inspire customers about food, and in partnership with suppliers, prompting them to buy, SVP of Digital Narayan Iyengar said during a presentation at Shoptalk on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

That effort includes a newly announced digital marketplace whereby the retailer will facilitate its vendors to sell directly to Albertsons’ customers. The marketplace, set to launch this summer, will help create an “endless aisle” for what Iyengar  called “long tail” products that can be hard to find and tailored to trends and consumer lifestyles.

The Boise-based retailer said the marketplace would benefit vendors by giving their products visibility on Albertsons' digital platforms, and by handling the common e-commerce front-end functions, including search, product description and ordering. The effort will also help merchants evaluate which innovative products to stock in the stores, as well as provide vendors with insights about where they should invest in building distribution.

The announcement follows its establishment earlier this year of the Albertsons Performance Media platform, which provides brands with the opportunity to use proprietary shopper data to drive sales across the retail network.

In remarks at Shoptalk, Iyengarwho joined Albertsons a little more than a year ago from Disney, where he led e-commerce—said Albertsons would play a role in the digital food economy through "inspiration, activation and transaction." For example, inspiring shoppers with a recipe, "activating" them through digital coupons or other offers in partnership with its suppliers, and driving the sale through its network of stores and its digital platforms, including the developing marketplace.

“What you’re going to see in the grocery industry over the next five years is more change, more transformation than you’ve seen in the last 10 or 20 years—and that change is happening across the whole spectrum,” said Iyengar. “It’s happening in how customers think about food, how you take recipes and tie them to purchases and to coupons, how you personalize deals for customers on different products that they like,” as well as how CPG companies are building trial, how shopper preferences are for online delivery or pickup, “and how we can use marketplaces to find long tail food items.

“All of that is happening here, in what is a $700 billion or $1 trillion industry,” said Iyengar. “And if this doesn’t excite you, you’re probably dead. It’s an exciting place. I can’t think of many others where there is so much action going on.”

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