- Giant Eagle is planning to open a tech hub in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, reports Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- The 23,000-square-foot building will tentatively open in 2020 and will house roughly 150 employees, including new hires. In a statement, Giant Eagle President and CEO Laura Shapira Karet said Pittsburgh offers a "deep and growing tech talent pool."
- The tech center will support Giant Eagle’s digital capabilities. The grocer also has a satellite tech hub in San Francisco that opened last year with about 35 employees.
Giant Eagle’s decision to house its tech center in Lawrenceville is a strategic decision to help it attract top talent and identify promising technologies in an up-and-coming tech city. Pittsburgh, once the steel capital of the world before it earned the title of the Rust-Belt, is revamping its image as a hot spot for innovation and entrepreneurship.
The company's tech force is currently split between its Fox Chapel headquarters and San Francisco. Although being adjacent to Silicon Valley has its perks, breaking ground on a tech center closer to home will help the retailer get a better sense of which technologies will resonate with its primary demographic. Giant Eagle operates stores throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana.
Operating since 1931, Giant Eagle has recently been pushing into digital experiences including curbside express pickup and a "no wait" checkout option in partnership with grabango. It partnered with BeerVan.com earlier this year to make beer deliveries in two hours or less, and trialed shelf-scanning robots in three of its markets.
The grocer faces competition from Walmart, which clinched 28% of Pittsburgh's grocery market share, and Aldi, Costco and Shop 'n Save, which each claimed about 5% of the grocery market in Pittsburgh as of 2018. Giant Eagle boasts 32% of the market share, which it’s likely aiming to expand through stronger e-commerce and in-store technology.
Tech hubs are the accessory-du-jour for grocery chains. In June, Ahold Delhaize’s Retail Business Services cut the ribbon on a 30,000-square-foot facility in Quincy, Massachusetts that houses 200 IT employees and an innovation lab. Walmart maintains a tech center in Austin, Texas that allows it to work shoulder-to-shoulder with H-E-B, which has opened an 81,000-square-foot tech facility in East Austin.
Kroger has an innovation lab at the University of Cincinnati, while Uber recently announced that Toronto will serve as the home of the engineering hub that will power its developing grocery delivery business.