TECHNOLOGY

Kroger in partnership with Chinese e-commerce giant

BY Marianne Wilson

Kroger Co. is continuing its push into online retail by teaming up with Chinese e-commerce site — and Amazon rival — Amazon rival Alibaba Group.

The nation’s largest supermarket chain announced a pilot program to sell its private-label products in an online store on Alibaba’s Tmall global platform. The initiative is Kroger’s first venture overseas.

The online test will start with Kroger’s in-house Simple Truth natural and organic brand. Launched in 2012, the brand reached more than $2 billion in annual sales, making it the largest natural and organic brand in America.

“E-commerce enables Kroger to quickly scale to reach new customers and markets where we don’t operate physical stores, starting with China,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer. “We anticipate Chinese consumers will love Our Brands – starting with Simple Truth products – just like our American customers do. Kroger is proud to continue to lead the way in making natural, organic and free-from products more mainstream and accessible.”

The deal with Alibaba is the latest in a series of initiatives Kroger has made to expand its digital operations. In May, Kroger announced an exclusive partnership with British online grocery retailer Ocado tin a deal that will leverage Ocado’s digital and robotics capabilities to automate and better manage warehouse operations, logistics and delivery route planning. Also in May, it acquired online meal-kit company Home Chef.

“We are creating the grocery retail model of the future by focusing on digital and technology,” said Cosset.

Launched in 2014, Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform is China’s largest business-to-consumer marketplace. The platform provides brands and retailers without operations in China to build virtual storefronts and ship products into China.

Kroger is the world’s third largest retailer by revenue, with $122.7 billion in sales in 2017.

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TECHNOLOGY

Sainbury’s in U.K. first with cashier-free convenience store

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Sainsbury’s is piloting a cashier-less, grab-and-go experience at one of its convenience stores in London.

The U.K.-based supermarket chain is testing new scan, pay and go technology that enables customers to skip the checkout completely. Using the latest version of the retailer’s SmartShop app, customers can use their smartphone to scan items as they shop, and then pay for it through the app from anywhere in the store using Apple Pay.

Customers can already use the SmartShop in 68 Sainsbury’s supermarkets. But the new pilot, which is ongoing at the retailer’s Clapham location, takes the technology to the next level.

“Our teams are constantly working hard to bring new convenient shopping experiences to customers and we’re delighted to be the first grocery retailer in the U.K. to offer customers the ability to shop checkout-free,” said Clodagh Moriarty, chief digital officer, Sainsbury’s. “The latest version of SmartShop, with its new payment feature, will make it super quick for customers to get in and out of the store for those that want to scan, pay and go.”

Customers simply scan a QR code by the store’s exit to confirm their purchases, then they are free to leave. The only time customers need to speak to an associate is to remove security tags from any protected items.

In addition to paying via the SmartShop app, the Clapham store will also have both self-serve checkouts and manned checkouts. Sainsbury’s said it plans to will use customer feedback from the store to develop and improve the experience before testing the technology in different store types and locations.

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Fragrance retailer uses AI to manage price and promotions internationally

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Douglas is creating a new pricing strategy that focuses on its customer segments, even those in other countries.

Fragrance retailer Douglas is expanding its breadth, both online and through brick-and-mortar locations. To manage its business across 19 European countries, Douglas is partnering with Revionics to create a more dynamic pricing across its international operations.

Leveraged by the company’s new pricing department, the AI-based Revionics Price Optimization and Promotion Optimization solution ensures Douglas can create the right pricing policy and promotions that will drive customer engagement. The company expects the technology to strengthen and expand its No. 1 market position, as well as help it compete in the increasingly competitive German marketplace.

“One of our key targets is to position Douglas as the consumer-centric beauty destination. Aiming at this goal, we are heavily investing in state-of-the-art technologies in order to strengthen our competitive power,” said Tina Müller, CEO of Douglas. “With Revionics’ analytics and optimization capabilities, we can craft pricing and promotional offers that are most relevant for shoppers, while also delivering consistent price strategies across all our markets as we continue both organic and acquisition-based business growth.”

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