Albertsons launches an online marketplace for food, wellness and household products

By James Melton, Internet Retailer

The marketplace is launching with 40,000 food and wellness products, with an emphasis on natural, organic, ethnic and “alternative” products. The selection will grow to 100,000 SKUs by the end of 2018, Albertsons says.

Grocery retailer Albertsons Cos. LLC today launched an online marketplace selling about 40,000 food, wellness and household products. By the end of 2018, the site, Albertsons.com/Marketplace, will offer more than 100,000 products, the company says.

Albertsons—the third-largest grocer in the United States in terms of market share and No. 178 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000–announced plans to launch the marketplace earlier this year. The new marketplace will allow vendors to list products for purchase on the platform, with the marketplace handling several front-end e-commerce functions, including search, product descriptions and ordering, in exchange for a commission on each sale.

The marketplace website is built on theMirakl Marketplace Platform.

Albertsons says the goal of the new marketplace is to create an “infinite aisle” where customers can buy directly from manufacturers, with an emphasis on natural, organic, ethnic and “alternative” products. The marketplace also will provide the retailer with data about customers nationwide that could help it identify shifting consumer interests, regionally specific shopping needs and new food trends, Albertsons says.

A spokeswoman for Albertsons says most of the items sold on the marketplace will be items currently not available in Albertsons’ stores, though that could change. “Eventually, sales data will be used by merchandisers to stock items in store based on regional preferences,” she says.

Some of the marketplace sellers, she says, are completely new to Albertsons, while others are current vendors. The website includes a section called Seller Stories, which provides background information about manufacturers selling on the marketplace.

For brands that sell on the website, Albertsons says, the marketplace offers the chance to reach consumers nationally. For example, Albertsons points to marketplace seller Spicemode, which makes sauces and spice blends. Prior to joining the marketplace, Spicemode was available online and in a limited number of stores, including Whole Foods Market locations in 10 states.

Albertsons operates grocery stores in 35 states under 20 banners, including Safeway, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s and Vons. Albertsons is owned by a consortium of investors led by Cerberus Capital Management. For a limited time, the spokeswoman says, members of the Albertsons just for U loyalty program will earn points every time they shop on the marketplace.

The new marketplace represents just one of the ways Albertsons has sought to create and acquire a bigger online presence. For example, in August, Albertsons teamed up with venture capital firm Greycroft to create a $50 million fund that will invest in emerging companies and technologies in the grocery sector.

Greycroft focuses on investments in web- and mobile-based firms, including e-retailers. Its current portfolio includes stakes in grocery e-retailers, including Thrive Market (No. 208), Boxed Wholesale (No. 345) and luxury apparel and accessories consignment reseller The RealReal Inc. (No. 184).

In January, Albertsons launched a platform called Albertsons Performance Media, “powered by” Quotient Technology Inc. The platform works with consumer brands on their digital advertising and in-store targeting efforts.

Last September, Albertsons acquired the meal-kit delivery service Plated for an undisclosed amount. In the second quarter of fiscal 2018, which ended Sept. 8, Albertsons reported that e-commerce sales, including sales of Plated meal kits, grew 113% compared with the same period a year earlier.

Albertsons and drug store chain Rite Aid Corp. announced a planned merger in early 2018. But those plans were abandoned in August after the deal failed to win enough support from shareholders.

First published in Internet Retailer on October 16, 2018