By Russell Redman, Supermarket News
E-store serves up thousands of specialty products from third-party sellers
Albertsons Cos. has launched an online marketplace that provides a venue for third-party vendors to sell directly to its customers.
Announced in March, the Albertsons Digital Marketplace offers more than 40,000 specialty food and nonfood products. The virtual store focuses on natural, organic, ethnic and alternative products, including hard-to-find items such as spices and condiments, specific flavors of coffee, and unique health and beauty aids.
Plans call for the new e-store, accessed at Albertsons.com/Marketplace, to carry more than 100,000 products by the end of 2018, the Boise, Idaho-based supermarket retailer said.
“Albertsons Digital Marketplace helps customers discover exciting new products from innovative manufacturers that are then shipped directly to them, creating an infinite aisle. This marketplace is just another example of how we are using digital technologies to reinforce and extend our core capabilities of offering exciting new products and a wide assortment,” according to Narayan Iyengar, senior vice president of digital and e-commerce at Albertsons Cos. “Our infinite aisle also helps a large number of specialty sellers like small businesses and budding entrepreneurs get exposure to our vast customer base.”
Powered by technology from Boston-based e-commerce firm Mirakl, the digital marketplace also is expected to help Albertsons keep atop product trends and hot new items. Data gleaned from the marketplace can be used to help identify changing consumer interests, shopping needs by region and emerging food and wellness trends, the companies said. That capability, in turn, can help Albertsons respond to customer needs more rapidly by adding assortment from its network of sellers.
“Our digital team is focused on removing the limits on how people shop for food. Today, people are trying to squeeze the best out of each day in their busy lives. While some customers want an extended selection or unique specialty products, there are other customers who simply prefer to have bulky items like pet food shipped straight to their front doors,” explained Jon Fahrner, head of marketplace for Albertsons.
Fahrner and Karl Varsanyi, group vice president of digital product management, are key architects of the marketplace, Albertsons said. Before coming to the company, Varsanyi helped turn Macys.com into a leading retail e-commerce site in the United States. Fahrner, meanwhile, was part of the founding team at Zappos.com.
“This is just the beginning. We are excited to continue to innovate new models to better fit people’s lives,” Fahrner added.
Through the marketplace, small businesses and sellers of niche products can showcase their wares on a much broader scale. Albertsons said one artisan vendor that’s receiving more visibility via the platform is Spicemode, which sells all-natural, handmade simmer sauces and spice blends. The Chicago-based company’s products have been available online and in select retail stores, but now its offerings get a national scale on the marketplace.
“We started this company on the premise that global flavors should be available to everyone,” commented Amar Singh, chief flavor officer at Spicemode. “Albertsons Digital Marketplace lets even more customers begin their flavor journey with small-batch cooking sauces and spices.”
For vendors, the Albertsons Digital Marketplace offers an easy way to create an online presence and get access to Albertsons’ large customer base, noted Mirakl. The site, which uses the Mirakl Marketplace Platform, also gives vendors insight into regions where they might want to invest in building distribution.
“By choosing the online marketplace model, Albertsons Cos. is truly distinguishing itself from the competition, and Mirakl is honored to be working alongside Albertsons on this journey,” according to Adrien Nussenbaum, co-founder and U.S. CEO of Mirakl.
Added Iyengar, “The Mirakl team, and McFadyen Digital’s team, have been instrumental in achieving our launch goals.”