FoodX Technologies, the Canadian company providing a grocery e-commerce software solution for large and small international retailers, including Walmart Canada and Carrefour, is headed to the U.S., its executives told WGB.
FoodX is a software-as-a-service offering built around a “dark store” or warehouse model it calls an e-grocery management solution (EGMS). Similar to software now being marketed by the San Francisco-based e-grocer Farmstead—or the British online giant Ocado, only without its a proprietary robotic fulfillment and exclusive agreements—FoodX grew from a proprietary e-grocery solution and is intended to be an alternative to outsourcing e-commerce to third parties such as Instacart, its executives say. That can address concern that retailers could compromise trading relationships, customer data and loyalty by outsourcing to third parties, executives say.
In connection with ambitions to take on U.S. clients, FoodX has appointed industry veteran PJ Stafford to the newly established role of VP of business development. Stafford is a former VP of e-commerce for United Natural Foods Inc. and most recently was VP of sales and marketing for Alert Innovation, the grocery microfulfillment technology now being evaluated in some Walmart stores in the U.S.
FoodX, headed by Jones Soda founder Peter van Stolk, grew from the software powering the 20-year-old Canadian online grocer SPUD.ca (Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery), described by Stafford as “the FreshDirect of Vancouver” and part of an ecosystem including online retail, community stores, commissary and food preparation services and distribution in Canada. FoodX earlier this year announced a partnership with Walmart Canada to use its delivery platform to Walmart shoppers in metro Vancouver. More recently, FoodX announced a partnership with Carrefour whereby the France-based food giant would deploy its software by mid-2021 beginning in Belgium, and a separate deal to provide software for the Vancouver-based mid-sized grocery chain Meridian Farm Market.
Walter Robb, the former co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, joined FoodX’s advisory board in July.
“With the U.S. grocery market projected to surpass $700 billion across 38,000 stores by the end of 2020, and online grocery reaching over 20% of total grocery sales by 2025, the U.S. represents a significant market opportunity for FoodX and is our next logical step on our growth journey,” van Stolk, CEO of FoodX Technologies, said. “I am thrilled that PJ will join the FoodX family. He is a business leader with the experience and entrepreneurial drive to build the FoodX business and establish partnerships in the U.S. market. We are confident in PJ’s abilities to lead our U.S. business development program and look forward to continuing to expand our international footprint and grow our customer base.”
In an interview, Stafford described FoodX as a solution providing a “full tech stack” for grocers with versatile deployment options allowing the solution to be run from a dark store, warehouse or microfulfillment facilities as needed with a sustainable “green” background meant to reduce waste, and a relatively low capital expense.
“Coming out of COVID, everyone is looking at how they can increase capacity. A very straightforward way to do that it is to convert one of your underperforming locations to a dark store. But you need more than a website and an app,” Stafford said. “You need everything related to that—replenishment and order management, and live inventory status and how to connect delivery people, whether that’s your own vans or the gig delivery people. All that software needs to be running.”
“We see tremendous potential in the U.S. market to bring our sustainable solution to grocery retailers of all sizes in the U.S., and to provide them with the profitability, transparency and convenience that they need to compete in the on-demand world and increase profit margins,” van Stolk added.
Stafford’s appointment at FoodX is effective Dec. 1. He joined Alert nearly two years ago as its Alphabot microfulfillment system expanded in select Walmart stores. Stafford spent more than six years at UNFI, including three years as its e-commerce president, after a specialty distributor he founded called Honest Green was acquired by the natural foods wholesaler. Stafford earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Georgetown University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.