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Albertsons is going to launch a digital marketplace for small or young brands, the owner of the Safeway and Von's grocery chains announced on Tuesday.
The effort comes as retailers more and more are looking to data to help guide their buying decisions. It also comes as grocers increasingly focus on the local or upstart brands that shoppers now often prefer. With so many new brands popping up, though, it can be difficult early on to identify which products will be successful.
"If you're a small player with a very good product or a big consumer packaged goods company with a small unit, you will struggle to get the attention of some of our larger banners," said Narayan Iyengar, senior vice president of digital marketing and e-commerce at Albertsons.
Armed with data from the marketplace, brands can make their case for shelf space in Albertsons' stores. On the flip side, the data Albertsons has access to through its efforts will help it better understand its customers.
The marketplace will be open to any vendors who have the capability to pick and ship on their own. Over time, Albertsons might work with partners to help handle the vendor shipment.
The marketplace further bulks up Albertson's e-commerce offerings at a time when it has been aggressively focused on its digital platform. Earlier this year, it launched Albertsons Performance Media, a platform to help brands better target their ads. Last summer, it acquired meal kit company Plated, which it has been introducing to Albertsons stores. It has also been expanding its partnership with delivery service Instacart.
The backdrop of those efforts, of course, is Amazon's push into grocery, propelled by its acquisition of Whole Foods. The deal gave Amazon direct access to the data about upstart brands that Whole Foods has made its name on.
Still, Whole Foods' ties with several of these brands have been strained in recent months, as it has moved to centralize its buying and merchandising. It is holding a summit this week to discuss tensions arising from those efforts and the fees they entail.