Albertsons Cos. has expanded its relationship with software giant Adobe to bring a greater degree of personalization to its omnichannel shopping experience.
San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe said Albertsons is making use of more tools and services within the Adobe Experience Cloud to better harness data, enable hyper-personalization, and tailor new services unique to its retail and grocery brands.
“These days, it is no longer enough to simply keep pace with a changing customer base. We need to be a step ahead, looking around the corner to what people will expect in their grocery shopping experience,” Chris Rupp, executive vice president and chief customer and digital officer at Albertsons Cos., said in a statement.
To that end, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons is leveraging Adobe Analytics to marshal disparate sets of data and gauge shopper intent as people move among brick-and-mortar, online, mobile and social channels. Insights are available to any team and can inform new offerings and services, Adobe noted. The retailer also has implemented Adobe Target to enhance personalization and Adobe Campaign to refine communications across customer channels, such as email.
In addition, the use of Adobe Experience Manager stands to help Albertsons’ 20 retail banners provide a seamless experience across platforms, from the website and app to digital signage, according to Adobe.
Providing a consistent experience and personalized offerings isn’t a simple task for such a large, diverse retailer. The nation’s second-biggest supermarket operator, Albertsons Cos. has a retail network of 2,277 stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under such banners as Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market. The company also operates 1,727 pharmacies and 400 fuel stations.
What’s more, Albertsons has seen booming online grocery sales. For the fourth quarter ended Feb. 27, digital sales jumped 282%, lifting the gain for the 2020 fiscal year to 258%. That includes Drive Up & Go curbside pickup sales growth of over 1,000% in the fourth quarter and 865% for the full year. In turn, Albertsons added 343 Drive Up & Go sites in the quarter, and the service is now available at 1,420 stores. The company plans to have Drive Up & Go at about 2,000 stores by the end of fiscal 2021, covering 98% of its market area.
“After growing our e-commerce business 258% year over year, equipping over a thousand stores with curbside pickup, and refreshing our mobile app, we are investing now in differentiated services such as temperature-controlled pickup kiosks, two-hour fulfillment and even remote-controlled delivery robots,” Rupp explained. “As we boost our omnichannel offerings, we are relying on Adobe Experience Cloud apps to help us get more value from data and leverage cross-channel insights to improve the overall shopping experience.”
For example, Albertsons — armed with actionable insights from its data — could send customers reminders so they don’t forget to buy something from their shopping list, Adobe said. Similarly, the grocer could better target promotions by providing more relevant and personalized offers to individual shoppers or customer groups, such as meal kits for busy families. And on the experience side of the equation, Albertsons can ensure its services remain seamless as shoppers shift from one channel (such as its mobile app) to another (such as a supermarket).
Adobe said it has worked with Albertsons for years, starting off with analytics. But since the retailer began its digital transformation in 2018 and started accelerating its e-commerce strategy last year — in large part due to pandemic-related changes in shopper behavior and preferences — the two companies have broadened their relationship. Adobe reported that, in February 2021, the online grocery shopping market grew 230% versus the pre-pandemic period.
“Partners like Adobe will help Albertsons Cos. reimagine the future of grocery shopping,” Rupp commented.
Albertsons already has seen the power of personalization in its Just for U loyalty program. In reporting fiscal 2020 results on Monday, President and CEO Vivek Sankaran said Just for U members spend 2.6 times more than non-enrolled customers, while actively engaged customers spend nearly five times more.
“We closed 2020 with almost 11 million more identified households shopping our stores than in 2019, allowing us to understand which categories they’re purchasing with us, how often they're coming back to repurchase, how they’re progressing up the loyalty ladder and their incremental spend levels as they migrate from in-store to omnichannel engagement,” Sankaran said in a conference call. “We ended fiscal 2020 with three times the number of omnichannel households compared to fiscal 2019. These households spend more with us and are more profitable. We also saw that as customers moved into omnichannel, they increased their spend in our stores, with a net growth of 20% of [these] households and the total spend rate two times that of an exclusively in-store shopper.
“We also saw that our most loyal households will last year purchased two times the number of categories in our stores than the prior year — for example, in paper goods,” he added. “And we’re able to quickly reward these new category buyers with personalized deals to retain that category spend in our stores.”
Last week, Albertsons announced the hiring of Danielle Crop as chief data officer, a newly created position. Most recently chief data officer at American Express, Crop will oversee the development of a “world-class central data strategy,” focused on creating an engaging shopping experience across store, online, mobile and social channels, Albertsons said, adding that her work will leverage machine learning and advanced data science.
In announcing Crop’s hiring, Albertsons noted that the creation of the chief data officer role marks a “step change and acceleration” in its efforts to leverage its troves of data for the enterprise. The company also has furthered its IT and data strategy via major partnerships with Microsoft and more recently Google, as well as other key hires such as Rupp, a former Microsoft and Amazon executive.