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04/07/2021

UNFI E-Commerce Solution Connects With Emerging Brands

Online Community Marketplace allows suppliers to sell products and ship directly to retail customers
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
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UNFI E-Commerce Solution Connects With Emerging Brands
Community Marketplace allows suppliers of any size to sell products on UNFI’s Easy Options website and ship directly to UNFI customers.

To help its customers gain greater access to more relevant brands, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), has launched Community Marketplace by UNFI, a business-to-business digital e-commerce solution for emerging brands looking to expand distribution. Community Marketplace modernizes the way that brands interact with grocery wholesalers, by allowing thousands of emerging products not currently available at UNFI distribution centers to be ordered on UNFI’s Easy Options website and shipped directly to retail customers across the United States.

Through this virtual marketplace, suppliers gain immediate access to UNFI’s digital infrastructure to promote and sell their products to the wholesaler’s customer base. Approved suppliers keep complete control of their inventory, order management, pricing and shipping charges while attaining trial for possible traditional distribution expansion in the UNFI network. In turn, UNFI customers gain access to an even broader assortment of unique and local items with flexible order sizes and the convenience of ordering from multiple sources online in one place.

To become an approved Community Marketplace supplier, businesses can apply online.

“Access to the largest assortment of available items is an area of increasing importance to our customers, and Community Marketplace delivers on this need while giving brands an easy-to-use platform to gain the speed, scale and agility to win in today’s marketplace,” said Tom Kraus, VP of e-commerce at UNFI. “By fully integrating Community Marketplace with our Easy Options website, we now have an industry-leading tool for our customers to better connect with suppliers to provide their local communities with the widest variety of on-trend and emerging natural and conventional products.”

Featuring more local suppliers on store shelves has a been a growing trend among grocers.

For example, Hy-Vee Inc. plans to host its second Best of Local Brands summit May 11-13 to expand and enhance the product offerings at its stores. Solon, Ohio-based ECRM and RangeMe, an ECRM company based in San Francisco, are helping the retailer source, qualify and connect suppliers with the right buyers. ECRM is also helping Walgreens with its first virtual Localization Summit on May 13. Other retailers to work with ECRM on local supplier events include Meijer Inc. and Schnuck Markets Inc.

In addition, ECRM recently said that it was expanding its ECRM Connect solution into its own product discovery experience, 2021 Global Market: Food & Beverage, to be held June 28-July 2.

The UNFI Easy Options website is available to a variety of businesses, including independent grocery retailers, convenience stores, natural food and supplement stores, and restaurants. Through the website, customers of all sizes have access to more than 20,000 grocery and wellness items that are fulfilled from UNFI’s distribution network without minimum order sizes, order frequency requirements or membership fees. Currently, hundreds of Community Marketplace SKUs are available through the Easy Options site, with more growth imminent as more vendors participate.

Providence, Rhode Island-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 61 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens is No. 4, Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Meijer is No. 19, West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee is No. 33 and St. Louis-based Schnucks is No. 67 on PG's list.

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