Grocery Roundup: Ultrafast Grocers Hit Hard by Russia Sanctions

Ultrafast Grocery Delivery Moves to Midwest

With Russia’s heavy involvement in the ultrafast grocery space around the world, United States 15-minute eGrocers are being heavily impacted by the sanctions placed on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

According to a series of New York Post reports, Russian-backed ultrafast grocer Buyk furloughed 98% of its employees Friday (March 4) and then added CEO James Walker to the furlough list Tuesday (March 8). The company has suspended its operations.

Regarding his own furlough, Walker said: “No timing was given, only that they’re working on a transition plan and managing the impact of the war in Ukraine.”

The New York Post also reported Thursday (March 10) that ultrafast grocer Fridge No More is in a similar position, given that much of its financial backing also comes from Russian investors. The company has reportedly halted operations and sent employees home.

“Sorry we’re temporarily closed until further notice,” reads the app.

RocketCart Launches Korean Grocery Delivery Service in Southern California

As funds pour in for differentiated online grocery options, Southern California is getting a new culturally specific online grocer.

Los Angeles, California-based eGrocer RocketCart, which focuses on Korean foods and essentials, announced Monday (March 7) that its service is now live in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and Ventura County. This official launch follows a soft launch back in December.

“In the short time since [then], we’ve been laser-focused on listening to our early customers and adjusting our service to give them exactly what they want,” RocketCart Founder and CEO Paul Kim said in a statement. “We’ve been growing quickly through word-of-mouth, and the legions of loyal, repeat-purchasing customers give us confidence that we are building a valuable service that is now ready to scale.”

According to the announcement, the company is supported by funding from “top venture capital firms,” as well as from “several well-known eCommerce giants,” such as Coupang and Mercari.

Investors have certainly shown their interest in recent months in eGrocers that offer specific ethnicities’ foods. The launch follows news in late February that online grocer Weee, which specializes in delivery of groceries from a range of ethnicities, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Indian and Latin American cultures, raised $425 million in its Series E funding round.

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

The Fresh Market Uses Contextual Commerce With Shoppable Videos

Greensboro, North Carolina-based supermarket chain The Fresh Market, which has 159 stores in 22 states, announced Wednesday (March 9) that it is working on shoppable video content in partnership with “shoppertainment” platform Firework.

“We’ve always focused on making the in-store experience special, something you look forward to returning to,” The Fresh Market Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Miller said in a statement. “With Firework, we’re able to closely replicate that same personalized, one-of-a-kind shopping experience of joy and anticipation in the digital space where next-generation consumers shop.”

In the fall, Firework announced a similar partnership with Albertsons Companies to create shoppable videos and livestreams for the grocer.

See more: Albertsons Takes Page from Walmart’s Book with Shoppable Video Content

With initiatives such as these, grocers can embed commerce into consumers web routines outside the usual shopping experience. A leader in the shoppable entertainment space in grocery has been Walmart, whose content partners include media giants Meredith Corporation and Buzzfeed.

Read also: Walmart Partners With Meredith for AI-Informed Contextual Grocery Commerce

Walmart Grows Its Shoppable Content Empire With Buzzfeed Partnership Expansion

Walmart Extends EBT SNAP Payment Acceptance to Scan & Go Checkout

As online grocers increasingly look to rectify the gap between electronic benefits transfer (EBT) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) acceptance at traditional in-store checkout and through other channels, Walmart is extending its capabilities to additional payment methods.

The retailer’s Sam’s Club warehouse club subsidiary announced Tuesday that it is integrating EBT SNAP acceptance into its Scan & Go self-checkout channel at participating locations.

See more: Sam’s Club Accepts SNAP Purchases for Scan & Go

“I have worked through many different features on the Scan & Go team and am excited by how fast members are embracing EBT SNAP and thrilled with the positive feedback we’re receiving,” Lars Rehder, principal product manager of the Scan and Go platform, said in a statement. “We’re laser focused on providing the best experience for our members and this is just another way we’re making the shopping experience at Sam’s Club even more convenient and accessible.”

According to data from PYMNTS’ study “Today’s Self-Service Shopping Journey: The New Retail Expectation,” created in collaboration with Toshiba, which surveyed a census-balanced panel of over 2,000 U.S. consumers about their shopping behaviors, the most common reason consumers use traditional, staffed checkout is that it is the only option available. Additionally, the study found that about a third of shoppers had used self-service checkout methods for their most recent in-store grocery purchase.

Read more: Consumers Want Self-Service Checkout Options but Rarely Get to Use Them