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Ahold USA creates intentional digital experience across store portfolio

BY Michael Johnsen

CARLISLE, Pa.— With the digital age bringing more opportunity for the grocery industry to connect with shoppers both in-store and online, Ahold USA and its banners Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant/Martin's and Peapod are rolling out innovative ways to personalize and digitize the shopping experience.

"Through the introduction of new technology, Ahold USA brands are able to offer more savings, faster shopping and a more transparent connection with their customers," stated Matt Simon, VP loyalty and digital marketing at Ahold USA.  "Since the implementation of their digital growth strategies, Ahold USA brands have seen record-setting engagement, activation and redemption."

The digital growth strategies include significant investments in new digital tools including relevant digital coupons, new websites, mobile app improvements and a new recipe center. The following key milestones have been achieved across all four Ahold USA brands:

  • 1 million new digital users and counting over last year;
  • New "Load to Card" Digital Coupon activations up 179%;
  • New, responsive brand websites, leading to 20% growth in year to date web traffic over the comparable period last year;
  • 76% increase in monthly app users and tripling of mobile app downloads; and
  • More than 1 million social media followers across platforms.

Eliminating paper cuts forever, Ahold USA brands have made it easier for their shoppers to find and utilize coupons to maximize savings. With the simple push of a button, the "Load to Card" programs directly load digital coupons to loyalty cards. The Load to Card program, including bonus week events, has exceeded expectations with a total of more than 174 million digital coupon activations in 2017 to date at Ahold USA brands, which is a 179% increase vs, year ago.

Exclusive digital savings are also delivered via email with a total of over 29 million personalized "Load to Card" coupons already loaded this year. In addition to the personalized offers, new digital bonus week events stack an additional $100 dollars in digital coupons to each user's account.

For those who love to browse their store circular, a new partnership with Flipp has improved the digital circular experience, letting customers quickly clip relevant items, browse bonus buys, add items to their shopping lists and even load coupons directly onto their loyalty cards.

"We have reached a tipping point where American shoppers are engaging in their pre-shop ritual digitally," said Wehuns Tan, CEO of Flipp Corporation. "Ahold USA brands are leaders in showcasing their brand stories through compelling visual merchandising with a digital-first approach. We are excited to partner with Ahold USA to support its brands in driving innovation that gives shoppers the seamless, mobile experience they expect today."

"Putting the customer first is our brands' top priority, and part of that means providing easy to use digital solutions to help her save time and money," added Simon.

More than 3,700 recipes featured in Savory Magazine, the monthly magazine published exclusively for Ahold USA brands, are now available at the click of a button with the Savory Shopping Tool. All Savory recipes displayed online on the brands' webpages include the option to transfer ingredients directly into the customer's Peapod digital shopping cart, creating a seamless path for the customers to have exactly what they need delivered directly to their door.

"Today, the consumer does not just shop one way. She's finding meal inspiration online and either filling her grocery cart in the store or virtually," said Carrie Bienkowski, CMO of Peapod, a brand of Ahold USA which is seeing year over year double digit growth as demand for online grocery intensifies.   

"Our brands are able to meet her busy lifestyle and support any way she wants to shop by offering shoppers the option to shop in brick and mortar stores, select grocery pick up at more than 200 locations or opt for at-home delivery via Peapod," continued Simon.

Knowing that connecting digitally can create a stronger relationship with customers, this year Ahold USA Brands also launched a new YouTube video campaign, "Fresh Stories." The series, created in an effort to provide meaningful, transparent information to customers about the food they purchase, contains a library of more than 30 engaging and emotional videos about fresh product suppliers that have been viewed over 15 million times this year alone.  As an example, "True North Salmon: A Partnership for Sustainable Seafood" (above) has been viewed over 200,000 times.

With a total of more than 1 million followers for AUSA brands across social media, each brand has also expanded its social media presence by recently launching on Instagram. The highly visual platform will enable Ahold USA brands to develop unique strategies to engage with consumers in fun and unique ways.

 

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Albertsons to match donations helping communities impacted by wildfires

BY Michael Johnsen

PLEASANTON, Calif. — The Albertsons Companies Foundation announced Wednesday an in-store fundraiser to help people and communities affected by the California wildfires. Safeway, Vons, Pavilions and Albertsons stores in California and Northern Nevada are raising money to help disaster relief organizations including the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these fires.

The Albertsons Companies Foundation will match customer donations up to $500,000.  

"We have a longstanding history serving California. We're committed to helping our neighbors during this crisis," stated Christy Duncan Anderson, executive director of the Albertsons Companies Foundation. "We know the needs are great and we want to make a meaningful impact to help people recover."

Along with financial assistance, Safeway's Northern California Division is working with the Red Cross to donate tractor trailers to bring and store food to help evacuation shelters. They are also working with multiple local organizations throughout Napa and Sonoma counties to provide food and other necessities to multiple shelters.

 

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The Jean Coutu Group posts 6.1% in Q2 revenue gains

BY Michael Johnsen

VARENNES, Quebec — The Jean Coutu Group on Thursday reported revenue gains of 6.1% to $596.8 million. Jean Coutu attributed the growth to strong overall market growth that overcame the deflationary impact associated with increased generic dispensing.

"During the second quarter, network retail sales and front-end sales of our distribution centers showed a noticeable increase despite a still very competitive environment," stated Francois Coutu, president and CEO The Jean Coutu Group. "We will continue to make the necessary efforts to promote retail sales growth and maintain our [market] leadership."

For the quarter ended Sept. 2, on a same-store basis the PJC network's retail sales increased by 4%, with pharmacy same-store sales up 4.6% and front-end comparable sales up 3.4%. Same-store sales of OTC medicines, which represented 8.5% of total retail sales, increased by 5.5%.

Generic drugs reached 72% of prescriptions during the quarter, compared with 71.3% of prescriptions for the comparable period of the previous fiscal year.

Earlier this month, Metro announced a deal to acquire the Jean Coutu Group for $3.6 billion, creating for a combined food and pharmacy retailer with annual sales of $12.8 billion. As part of the deal, Metro will acquire more than 400 Canadian drug stores and a distribution center.

Metro's existing pharmacy distribution and franchising activities will be combined with those of the Jean Coutu Group, which will operate as a stand-alone division of Metro with its own management team led by Francois Coutu.

The combined business will have an overall network of more than 1,300 stores in Canada, with 677 drug stores.

 

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