The Anatomy of the Award-Winning Albertsons Marketplace
It’s all about the customer experience…
The best companies are obsessed with making their customers happy, which is the primary reason Albertsons Companies created The Albertsons Marketplace, and innovative grocery-focused online marketplace that provides their customers with a broad selection of products not always offered in its physical stores. In the case of the Albertsons Marketplace, the experience is good to the point where they recently won the prestigious Magento Imagine Excellence Award for Most Innovative Customer Experience.
When evaluating what could be done to offer their customers something that improves the shopping experience in a meaningful way, it became clear that the ability to offer a broader selection of items would be of the greatest value. It’s difficult to carry a full-spread of specialty items that cater to specific lifestyle choices such as Keto or Paleo diets, diets restricted by allergies and sensitivities, or ever-nuanced personal preferences. Thanks to online marketplaces such as Amazon and Walmart, customers – especially the Gen X and Millennial generations – have come to expect an expanded product selection and will seek out that experience.
Providing the endless aisle…
The Albertsons team saw this need to offer an “endless aisle” and decided to start their own marketplace that would connect high-quality smaller/new brands who shared the company’s values, with the sizeable base of customers across the Albertsons Companies portfolio of brands. The term “endless aisle” refers to the expansion of products and categories related to a site operator’s 1st-party owned inventory, essentially providing the customer with a seemingly endless amount of options.
When executed properly with the ability to scale, the endless aisle capability provides the ecommerce site operator with a virtuous cycle of growth. Onboarding additional vendors brings additional products, the products bring additional customers, which brings additional sales, which brings more data to learn from, which spurs more investment in vendor expansion and product expansion as the self-sustaining cycle continues.
Selecting the right partners and technologies…
When it came time to selecting the right technology platforms to power this innovative marketplace-to-be, Albertsons selected best-of-breed platforms for Ecommerce (Magento Commerce Cloud), Marketplace (Mirakl), Payments/Escrow (Stripe), and Taxing/Rating (Avalara), in-addition-to integrations with existing back-end business systems.
With Magento handling the core Ecommerce duties such as Navigation, Catalog, Cart, Checkout, and Order Management, the pre-built Mirakl Marketplace connector was leveraged to seamlessly connect the Mirakl platform to Magento. Mirakl handles all of the marketplace management, catalog aggregation, seller management, and other marketplace functions, making for an Enterprise-grade scalable property. Stripe was the selection for payments due to their ability to handle the escrow withholdings and disbursements necessary when dealing with many 3rd party sellers. Avalara is handing the taxing and rating duties as they have a lot of experience with the complexities introduced when both buyers and sellers can be located in varying locations, each with their own unique considerations.
McFadyen Digital was selected as the marketplace implementation and strategy partner to implement and integrate the technologies and processes that form the Albertsons Marketplace. The project was delivered on-time and on-budget.
Going live with a whole new business…
The Albertsons Marketplace launched in October of 2018 with 170 sellers and over 42,500 SKUs, numbers any new commerce property operator should envy. As more and more customers continue to discover and return to the Albertsons Marketplace, the company continues to learn from the product and buying habit data gleaned, using that information to further refine the customer experience.
The best companies are obsessed with making their customers happy, which is why we get innovation such as the Albertsons Marketplace. Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think.
CMO & Marketing Practice Lead