Albertsons Rolls Out Grocery Investment Fund to Drive Mobile Payments, Other Technologies
It’s hard to believe, but there’s been a lot of development in the grocery store market of late. Since the basic concept is “food on shelves”, the hard-to-believe part comes from the idea that you even can innovate here at all. But innovation is possible almost anywhere—just ask anyone working on the wheel—and Albertsons recently teamed up with Greycroft to produce an innovation fund specifically for the grocery market.
The fund in question is worth a substantial sum—reports peg its as potentially upward of $50 million—and it’s being used to fund development of new innovations in grocery store technology. That’s helpful, especially as more online and ecommerce firms look to build on a brick-and-mortar strategy as they develop.
If you think grocery startups aren’t much of a business, reconsider; the field of grocery startups drew $1.4 billion in venture funding back in 2016, and nearly one in four Americans are buying groceries online. Big step, yes, but that number is set to spike: in less than 10 years, that proportion is poised to become three out of four.
Shane Sampson, Albertsons’ chief marketing and merchandising officer, noted “Albertsons Companies is committed to meeting customers wherever and however they like to shop, and part of that is being at the forefront of the tremendous innovation our industry has seen over the last five years. As we saw with our recent acquisition of Plated, Albertsons Companies has the capital, scale, and expertise to power future growth of the most promising emerging businesses and technologies across the food and grocery space.”\
There really is room for innovation here; remember, we’re only starting to see stores accept technology where the end user can scan his or her own goods from a smartphone instead of having to go through a checkstand. The idea that every customer can be a cashier is a heady one, and one that promises much shorter lines at the store. Throw in online shopping, home delivery, and various other points and you’ve got scads of room for innovation.
Innovation, however, doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It needs funding, and Albertsons’ move here is likely to put plenty of funding behind those innovations and make the future look a whole lot different.