- Albertsons announced on Tuesday that it’s rolling out an auto-replenishment tool for online shoppers nationwide next year.
- “Schedule & Save” lets shoppers that belong to the grocer's loyalty program set automatic refills on certain frequently purchased products at a discount for pickup or delivery. The tool, developed by Replenium, launched in mid-September at 120 Safeway stores in northern California, a spokesperson for the technology company said.
- Albertsons also announced a new shoppable recipe and meal planning feature as it rolls out digital tools aimed at boosting shopper loyalty.
The auto-replenishment program developed by Replenium that Albertsons is using works similar to Amazon’s Subscribe & Save tool, which allows shoppers to set up automatic orders for a wide range of items.
In fact, the tool was directly inspired by Subscribe & Save, said Tom Furphy, who helped launch Amazon Fresh’s online service more than a decade ago and is now CEO of Replenium.
“Part of our thesis behind starting Replenium was seeing the success of Subscribe & Save and how well that was driving the CPG category,” he said in a recent interview. “Subscribe & Save on its own would be a top-10 grocer.”
The white-label program lets shoppers pick which products they want to set to auto-replenishment using a button positioned below the “Add to Cart” button. The system provides a recommended interval for replenishment, with shoppers able to customize that timing, including delivery or pickup windows, as they see fit.
Machine learning is able to recommend new products for automatic ordering and calibrate recommended replenishment timing, Furphy said. Shoppers get a notification whenever they have an order coming up for pickup or delivery and are able to go in and adjust their settings at that time.
Providing shoppers with a set-it-and-forget-it tool that offers lower prices on products while still giving them the ability to control their orders can help grocers lock in products across center store aisles that are tedious for many shoppers to regularly buy, like cereal, toothpaste and peanut butter, said Furphy. Retailers can also build larger baskets and more accurately forecast product ordering and online resources, he noted.
Furphy said early testing of the tool also showed that shoppers liked to set automatic refills for fresh products like yogurt and deli turkey.
Auto-replenishment could quickly gain traction in online grocery, given the frequency of purchases and retailers’ drive to boost shopper loyalty. Online grocer Farmstead also offers auto-replenishment with a 5% discount for auto-refilled purchases.
“The idea is to take the traditional utility of subscription and then add to that the power of machine learning and suggestion, and together you can put a lot of the household on autopilot,” Furphy said.
Albertsons' Meal Plans tool is also aimed at boosting convenience through shoppable recipes available directly on the company’s platform. Shoppers have access to "thousands" of recipes that they can browse and directly load ingredients to their carts. They can set dietary preferences and also develop meal plans through the tool. Albertsons noted consumers can do a week's worth of shopping in 10 minutes.
Retailers have integrated shopping cart functionality with popular recipe sites over the past few years, and now they’re building libraries of shoppable recipes on their own sites. Amazon Fresh recently launched a shoppable recipes section on its app and website that draws recipes from SideChef. Albertsons also features shoppable recipes across numerous categories, including dishes developed by its Plated meal kit brand.
Albertsons has launched numerous digital tools to make online shopping easier and more compelling. In August, it rolled out personalized rewards under its “Albertsons for U” loyalty program along with a subscription program, FreshPass, that waives delivery fees on orders over $30 for $99 annually.