- The Save Mart Companies has inaugurated a retail media network in conjunction with retail technology supplier Swiftly, the California-based regional supermarket chain announced Tuesday.
- The retailer is also considering adding smart carts and more video screens to its stores as it looks for additional ways to deliver information to shoppers, Save Mart Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer Tamara Pattison said in an interview.
- Save Mart has stepped up its efforts to deploy technology since being acquired in early 2022 by private equity firm Kingswood Capital Management.
Save Mart’s decision to enhance the digital capabilities it offers advertisers and shoppers reflects the company’s sense that it needs to devote resources to technology to keep pace with larger grocery chains, Pattison said.
“We wanted to make sure that we were giving our shoppers a digital execution that was on par with the other grocers that they were shopping, and candidly, that’s the Albertsons-Kroger model,” said Pattison, a former Albertsons senior executive who arrived at Save Mart last fall.
As a regional grocer with limited resources, Save Mart concluded that the best way to accomplish that would be to work with an outside specialist like Swiftly to drive its technological agenda forward, Pattison said. The retailer upgraded its websites to accommodate the digital advertising platform as part of the project, an expansion of an arrangement with Swiftly under which the startup has supported the grocer’s mobile applications since last year, she added.
“We could have launched a more aggressive play into retail media and digital activation earlier, but we recognized that we had some ground to make up,” Pattison said. “And so we spent the last year really laying that ground floor, making sure that we did have a great mobile execution, that we were participating in the components that the shopper absolutely demanded.”
Save Mart runs about 200 supermarkets in California and Nevada under the Save Mart, Lucky and FoodMaxx banners.
The new retail media platform, which Pattison said began running in mid-May, offers a variety of tools to advertisers, including the ability to personalize their outreach as they look to deepen their omnichannel relationships with consumers. Pattison noted that Save Mart has been offering some retail media capabilities for the past year, such as the ability for product suppliers to reach mobile shoppers by email, but didn’t offer them consistently across its digital properties until now.
Pattison added that she believes grocers need to catch up on the digital front with other types of retailers that have been more aggressive in rolling out technology to meet rising consumer expectations.
“I think we all appreciate in the area of grocery that we’re a little bit late to the party,” said Pattison. “The consumer doesn't really think about retail as I’m doing grocery retail versus doing mass retail. They just think about retail, and when they’re able to engage digitally with other sections of retail, it raises the bar for all aspects of retail.”
Save Mart’s addition of a retail media network follows the company’s announcement in February that it had launched an automated dark store. The facility, in Mountain View, California, provides same-day grocery delivery and pickup service using a fleet of robots supplied by Fulfil Solutions. Last October, Save Mart struck a deal with Amazon to provide two-hour grocery delivery in California’s Central Valley.
Pattison said Save Mart plans to continue to press ahead with technology and said the company’s interest in smart carts is one way it is looking to expand its ability to connect with shoppers.
“I think there's definitely opportunity in the market and we’re watching how shoppers are engaging with this,” she said. “But we also want to make sure that we are paying off on the experience. There has to be enough … to warrant us actually putting them into the stores and asking our shoppers to engage. And when we think that inflection point hits, we will absolutely be in the game.”