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How Albertsons Is Creating a Best-in-Class Omni Experience

The architect of retailer's redesigned shopping app joins GroceryTech to share insights into the digital experience transformation
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Jatin Pahuja
Albertsons’ Jatin Pahuja underscored the investment and progress he and his team have made to the retailer’s digital and omnichannel capabilities, during GroceryTech 2024.

Did you know that consumers think about food 226 times a day? GroceryTech 2024 attendees learned this fun fact during the “How Albertsons Is Transforming the Omni Journey” session led by Jatin Pahuja, group VP of shopping  experience at Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos. Consumers think about what, where and when to eat; planning for their week; and items that they need to buy and where to buy them – all while managing their health needs, preferences and trying to stay in budget. It's no wonder that it seems managing food and well-being is a mental burden.   

Over the past year, Albertsons has created a digitally enabled, connected shopping experience to make its customers’ lives easier and alleviate this mental burden. Pahuja gave GroceryTech attendees an inside look at the progress that he and his digital team have made in updating and redesigning the retailer’s mobile app. 

As he pointed out, online grocery sales are predicted to grow faster than in-store sales over the next five years, with the majority of consumers wanting a seamless omnichannel experience. 

As Pahuja explained, bridging between digital an physical requires a customer-backed approach. This starts with understanding customer needs and problems. Albertsons actively monitors and engages with customers, including social listening and exploring market research. “Success begins and ends with customers' insights,” asserted Pahuja.

Albertsons discovered that the key elements of any food shopping journey are Discover, Plan, Shop and Save. Also, more consumers are turning to digital tools for help in this shopping journey. For instance, they use technology to actively discover new products, use online recipes to plan, create digital grocery lists to shop and search e-coupons to save.

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“There's just a lot that goes on when it comes to food and wellness,” said Pahuja. “People need to think about what should I eat, where should I eat? There's a lot that goes on. They need to plan; they need to ensure they find the right products for their families. They want to make sure they plan for those ingredients to get meals on the table for their families. Then they of course have to do the shopping. They have to do all of this while saving time and money.”

To improve this end-to-end experience, Pahuja and his digital team have redesigned Albertsons' shopping app. “Our purpose at Albertsons is to bring people together around the choice of food and to inspire well-being. With this purpose in mind, we created a new digital-enabled connectivity experience to make customer lives easier,” remarked Pahuja. 

[RELATED: Progressive Grocer's 1st Innovation Awards Presented at GroceryTech]

Albertsons’ connected experience includes making shopping faster and easier, providing inspiration with recipes, offering the ability to easily add the ingredients to carts, allowing customers to find the best deals, helping set wellness goals and giving its loyal customers rewards. 

When building the app, Pahuja mentioned that he and his team explored four factors to attain the best omni experience:

  • Seamless
  • Personal 
  • Timely
  • Precise


One of the app features that Pahuja is most proud of is the Shoppable Meal Plans and Recipes Tool. Designed to provide customers with culinary inspiration throughout the week while saving time and money, the meal plan feature includes a budget tracker, an expanded library of more than 9,000 exclusive recipes, shoppable ingredient lists, and a hands-free cooking mode with a step-by-step timer. The tool also boasts an AI-powered “Scan Your Own Recipe” feature that allows customers to snap a photo with their phone of handwritten recipes, and transforms it into a digital version saved in the app. Recipes are instantly turned into shoppable ingredients and added to a cart for quick, convenient checkout.

Pahuja talked about the importance of the app to truly know the customer and what's right for them. Albertsons actively monitors and engages with customers based on how they're shopping. “We really need to identify those customers coming to our app online or in the store," he advised. "Then we need to understand the intent for that shopping trip.”

Noting that there’s a lot of industry data indicating that more than half of customers' baskets are always going to be same, week to week, Pahuja stressed the importance of making it easy for customers to replenish such items, while also pointing out some of the challenges, like how consumers may purchase different quantities of these products week to week. 

“Maybe I always buy half a gallon of milk every week, but last week I got a full gallon of milk. [The app] should be knowing you've got a full gallon in store online, [and the app] should be able to present you the right information," explained Pahuja. "That's some of the things we are doing in the shopping experience. … bringing the right basket for customers.”

Meanwhile, Pahuja and his team’s omnichannel efforts are getting noticed. Albertsons Cos. was recently voted the “People’s Voice” winner for best shopping and retail app in the 28th annual Webby Awards. Albertsons' mobile app has more than 10 million active visitors each month. 

The grocer isn’t resting on its laurels, however: Pahuja mentioned that he and his team are still testing omni experiences. “We of course are improving every day,” he said. “While we have a long way to go, I'm again very glad where we are today in terms of building that experience. It is seamless and personal, and I’m very glad that it's getting noticed by the industry as well.”

Progressive Grocer’s GroceryTech took place in Dallas June 5-7. The annual event provides an intimate and experiential experience that brings together key retail decision-makers in the grocery industry – and their supplier and vendor partners – who are on a journey to modernize their technological ecosystems and are looking for one-on-one opportunities to explore new solutions for accelerating value.

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