Grocery Roundup: Kroger Boosts Digital Ad Business; Funds Pour in for eGrocery Marketplaces

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As food costs continue to rise at an alarming rate, grocers are forced to choose between absorbing the cost, seeing their already narrow margins become even thinner, and passing the cost onto consumers, disincentivizing purchases and potentially losing customers. As such, it is becoming even more important for grocers to find ways to offset costs and bring in additional revenue.

Against this backdrop, grocery giant the Kroger Co., parent company of not just Kroger but also Ralphs, Food 4 Less and Fred Meyer, among others, is turning its focus to its marketing offerings. The company announced Monday (March 28) that it is expanding access for advertisers through its retail media business, Kroger Precision Marketing, enabling greater eCommerce ad placement capabilities.

“Our data science creates an easier shopping experience — while also empowering shoppers to discover new products. This new capability makes it easier for brands to influence the millions of daily product searches happening on Kroger sites,” Michael Schuh, vice president of product strategy and innovation at Kroger Precision Marketing, said in a statement. “With shopping routines under disruption, it is more important than ever for us to help brands be seen in the digital aisle.”

Eighteen percent of consumers buy groceries through digital channels more often than in physical stores, according to data from PYMNTS’ study Decoding Customer Affinity: The Customer Loyalty to Merchants Survey 2022, created in collaboration with Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions.

Get the full report: Decoding Consumer Affinity: The Customer Loyalty To Merchants Survey 2022

The study, which drew from the results of a survey of a census-balanced panel of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers conducted in the late fall, also found that 23% of shoppers say that online purchasing capability would boost their loyalty to grocery merchants.

The Fresh Market Boosts Loyalty Capabilities

Meanwhile, given the threat inflation poses to shopper loyalty, grocers are also looking at what they can do to drive sales and keep shoppers coming through their doors.

On Thursday (March 31), The Fresh Market, a supermarket chain with 159 stores across 22 U.S. states, announced a partnership with Inmar Intelligence to utilize the data platform company’s technology to boost engagement and improve targeting.

“We are thrilled to be launching our Ultimate Loyalty Experience with the help of a technology partner such as Inmar Intelligence,” said Kevin Miller, chief marketing officer at The Fresh Market. “Shoppers have more choices than ever before in today’s marketplace and with Inmar’s technology, we will be able to provide a more individualized, impactful experience for our guests.”

Research from the Decoding Consumer Affinity study finds that 42% of grocery shoppers report that loyalty programs with rewards they like would improve their loyalty to their grocery merchants. However, only 5% cite loyalty programs as the single most influential factor when selecting a merchant from which to purchase.

Moreover, data from PYMNTS’ study What Consumers Expect From Their Grocery Shopping Experience, created in collaboration with ACI Worldwide, reveal that 53% of consumers are members of a grocery loyalty program, and 61% of members say they spend more at grocery stores that have loyalty programs.

You may also like: Digital Features Can Help Grocers Win Over 43 Percent Of Shoppers

Yami Raises $50M in Series B Round

Online food marketplaces that focus on specific cultures and ethnicities are experiencing rapid growth, and venture capitalists are pouring in funds by the millions.

On Wednesday (March 30), Yami, a Los Angeles-based direct-to-consumer marketplace for Asian food and other items, announced that it raised $50 million in its Series B funding round. The news comes about a month after online grocer Weee, which specializes in delivery of groceries from a range of ethnicities, announced that it has raised $425 million in its Series E funding round in late February.

Read more: Weee Raises $425M in Series E Round as Investors Look for eGrocery Differentiation

“During my time as a foreign student living in the Midwest, I experienced the difficulties of finding and purchasing my favorite Asian products,” Alex Zhou, founder and CEO of Yami, said in a statement. “Now, with the number of people who identify as Asian in the United States nearly tripling in the past three decades, we aim to be the #1 resource for these customers along with all Americans.”

Everli Announces $24M Addition to Series C Round

Everli, a Milan-based grocery aggregator in the style of Instacart, which operates in 135 cities across Europe, announced Thursday a 22 million euro ($24.3 million) addition to its Series C funding round from Italian venture capital firm United Ventures. A year ago, in March 2021, the company announced its initial $100M Series C funding round.

Related news: The Instacart Of Europe Expands ‘Everything, Everywhere’ Service To Global Markets

“Everli has successfully expanded internationally in recent months, making great progress securing international retailer partnerships which are going to help us grow even faster,” Everli CEO Fedrico Sargenti said in a statement. “We are very excited to have United Ventures on board to further accelerate these opportunities.”