Amazon Invests in Online Grocery as Supermarkets Boost In-Store Tech

This week in grocery, Amazon backs an online grocery startup, Giant leverages video and self-checkout evolves.

In Amazon’s ongoing efforts to grow its share of perishables, the company has invested in a direct-to-consumer (D2C) company in India, FreshToHome, which sells meat and fish online to delivery to consumers’ homes in India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as TechCrunch reported Tuesday (Feb. 21).

The eCommerce giant’s Indian startup investment arm, the Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund, led the D2C company’s $104 million Series D round.

“Our vision with the $250 million Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund is to empower the next generation of innovative, technology enabled companies led by visionary founders,” an Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund spokesperson said, according to the outlet. “We are impressed with the FreshToHome management team led by Shan Kadavil and they have done some quality work in creating a robust technology enabled supply chain and scalable backward integrated capabilities to serve both customers as well as farmers and fishers.”

The move comes amid Amazon’s ongoing effort to grow its share of fresh food, having made major strides in center-aisle grocery categories, with consumers trusting eCommerce for shelf-stable packaged goods more than perishables.

On a call with analysts earlier this month discussing the company’s fourth quarter 2022 financial results, Amazon expressed the belief that fresh food must be largely the purview of brick-and-mortar retailers — a sentiment that this latest investment marks a departure from.

“[We don’t] have a big market segment share in perishables, and if you really want to have significant market segment share in perishables, you typically need physical stores,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said on the call.

The GIANT Co. Leverages Video Commerce for Alcoholic Beverages

Ahold Delhaize-owned, Carlisle, Pennsylvania-based supermarket chain The Giant Company is leveraging in-store technology to add video marketing to its arsenal.

Technology provider A3 Media recently announced, in a press release emailed to PYMNTS, that it has partnered with the grocer to roll out its Social Shelf technology at stores that sell alcoholic beverages, playing media content, including videos when shoppers scan QR codes under the products.

“Shoppers now have the opportunity to choose the brands they want to learn more about while making their purchasing decisions,” A3 CEO Frank Gussoni said in a statement. “I don’t believe there is a more opportune time to speak to shoppers. They are requesting brand information, while shopping.” 

The rollout follows The Giant Company’s test of the technology last year.

The grocer is not the only one leveraging video to drive sales. Last week, The Fresh Market, a supermarket chain based in North Carolina with 159 stores across 22 states, announced the expansion of its partnership with video commerce solution provider Firework.

“Overall, the combined viewership of our first four Firework-powered livestreams exceeded 2 million views and we saw conversion rates of the special occasion meals featured in the shoppable videos to be over 300% greater than our traditional digital advertising results,” Kevin Miller, the grocer’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

 Traditional Self-Checkout Gets Personal

Inspired by retailers’ efforts to personalize the own-device digital experience for shoppers, grocery technology providers are leveraging data to improve the self-checkout kiosk experience.

Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions announced Tuesday that it is showcasing at the National Grocers Association’s annual NGA Show solutions that tailor the experience to individual customers.

“It is critical for retailers to have the freedom to accelerate and meet the demands of consumers to drive retention and loyalty in an authentic way,” Rance Poehler, president and CEO of Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, said in a statement. “We provide a full ecosystem of resources for retailers that includes hardware, self-service and software solutions.”

Certainly, there is significant demand for self-checkout solutions. According to data cited in the February edition of PYMNTS’ Retail Tracker® series, Innovating the Retail Checkout Experience, created in collaboration with LS Retail, 85% of retail customers say self-checkout is faster than waiting for a cashier, and 60% prefer self-checkout to interacting with a cashier.