Loblaw Cos. has expanded its PC Express e-grocery service with an online marketplace selling products well beyond typical supermarket items.
Loblaw said the PC Express online marketplace, launched Thursday, adds brands and products its stores haven’t historically stocked, such as more items in the baby, toy, home, kitchen and pet categories.
Retail banners currently participating in the new marketplace include Loblaws, Real Canadian Superstore and Atlantic Superstore, according to Mississauga, Ontario-based Loblaw, Canada’s largest food and drug retailer.
"Millions of Canadians visit our stores and online shops weekly, looking for inspiration and convenient access to food, home and health products. Through this expanded PC Express offering, we will provide them with a curated, edited assortment of products that complement their current shop, from some exciting new vendors," Loblaw Cos. Chief Customer Officer Garry Senecal said in a statement. "This is another example of how we can offer even more to customers, simplifying their searching and shopping experience for many of their everyday needs."
The PC Express marketplace’s national online assortment will be the largest range of products available to Loblaw customers to date, the company noted. New categories include nursery furniture and décor, housewares, home furniture and living room décor, with such brands as Umbra and Lennox Furniture Inc.
At launch, new third-party companies will be introduced in five expanded categories, and new products will continue to be rolled out, Loblaw said. A banner at the top of the marketplace’s home page reads, “Online exclusives at your fingertips. Shop your favorite brands beyond the store with our growing assortment of online essentials.”
Products bought through the PC Express marketplace are available for home delivery or in-store pickup. Customers making purchases also will earn PC Optimum rewards points. Items can be returned at brick-and-mortar stores.
"A curated marketplace is based on the idea that, as they shop with us, Canadians will welcome the chance to buy complementary products from complementary brands,” according to Hesham Fahmy, vice president of Loblaw Digital. “For example, as new parents prepare for a baby with diapers and formula, they would probably find it very convenient to be able to order blankets, washcloths or even a crib through us. The intent of this service is to better support the needs of Canadian families, with easy ordering through the PC Express service and returns through many of our stores."
The online marketplace integrates seamlessly with the PC Express platform via technology from PFTech, a Las Vegas-based marketplace software developer that Loblaw acquired earlier this year.
Loblaw said the PFTech solution will ensure a “positive customer experience” across its digital retail footprint. Overall, the company operates 548 supermarkets under multiple banners and 1,341 Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix associate-owned drugstores. Its retail network also includes 539 franchised grocery stores.
The e-commerce business has continued to grow at Loblaw. Besides offering same-day grocery delivery via Instacart, the retailer now operates 700 PC Express pickup sites, including in grocery and drug stores as well as at transit stations.
To help fill PC Express orders, the company last week announced plans to pilot an automated picking facility inside a Real Canadian Superstore in Toronto through a partnership with Waltham, Mass.-based Takeoff Technologies. In June, Loblaw unveiled a sweeping partnership with Microsoft to use the IT giant’s cloud computing, data analytics and artificial intelligence technology for its digital transformation, with a focus on developing a more personalized experience for customers. A new service, announced in April, also leverages the PC Optimum loyalty program to personalize advertising for customers and reward them for seeing those ads when browsing online.