As online shopping becomes increasingly embedded in consumers’ routines, more commerce categories are being brought into the digital space. While online options have become highly prevalent in grocery, most customers who enjoy farmers markets continue to buy on-site.
Kroger, the United States’ largest pure-play grocer, is looking to compete with these in-person markets. Online farmers market company Market Wagon announced Thursday (June 2) the launch of a delivery-only local food marketplace in partnership with the grocer, Kroger Farmers Market, in Atlanta.
“Kroger’s new digital farmers market pilot is part of the evolution of our rapidly growing and innovative eCommerce business,” Felix Turner, corporate affairs manager for Kroger’s Atlanta Division, said in a statement. “This partnership reinforces the importance of buying local to customers, powered by modern, cost-effective, and efficient last-mile solutions. We’re excited to launch this service in partnership with Market Wagon across Atlanta.”
The offering spans a 60-mile radius, encompassing 28 counties and offering more than 1,150 products from local vendors. Much like an in-person farmers market, it is only available on select days of the week, delivering Tuesdays and Fridays.
“Our mission is to enable food producers to thrive in their local market, and I am excited to partner with Kroger to carry it out together,” Market Wagon Co-Founder and CEO Nick Carter said in a statement. “This partnership is a tremendous opportunity for the farmers and food producers we serve in the Atlanta area.”
The focus on local makers could help build a sense of connection and trust with consumers, typically a major hurdle for new online grocery marketplaces. According to data from PYMNTS’ May study “Satisfaction in the Age of eCommerce: How Trust Helps Online Merchants Build Customer Loyalty,” created in collaboration with Riskified, two-thirds of customers who have been purchasing grocery items online from a given merchant for less than a year are “slightly or not at all trusting” of their eGrocer. In contrast, only 36% of customers who have been shopping from a given non-grocery eTailer for less than a year report being slightly or not at all trusting of said merchant.
Additionally, as grocers virtual and brick-and-mortar alike struggle with supply chain challenges, those that focus on local producers and vendors have the advantage of working with a shorter, more direct chain, as Vineet Mehra, chief growth, product and customer experience officer at Good Eggs, a California-based online grocer and meal kit provider with a focus on local goods, told PYMNTS in a March interview.
“Because we’re locally sourced, we don’t have these big supply chain problems,” Mehra said. “I think a lot of companies are trying to adapt to the supply chain challenges but are almost too big to adapt because their supply chains have been entrenched for so long.”
In addition to partnering with Market Wagon on this farmers market initiative, Kroger has also been building out its own eCommerce fulfillment capabilities, opening new automated customer fulfillment centers (CFCs) for digital orders throughout the U.S. in partnership with United Kingdom-based grocery technology company Ocado, most recently announcing in late May the opening of a 61,000-square-foot facility in Central Ohio.