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‘Albertsons Prime?’ What grocer’s CEO says about a possible membership program

Could Albertsons Companies join retail behemoth Walmart with an Amazon Prime-type offering?

BoiseDev asked Vivek Sankaran, CEO of the Boise-base retailer about it earlier this month in his first interview with a Boise media outlet.

“We talk a lot about the notion of a relationship with the customer,” Sankaran said. “We don’t necessarily mean you need to pay to get that relationship.”

[Albertsons CEO Sankaran on the record: On Boise, the pandemic, Amazon — and working in the stores]

Walmart Plus, Amazon Prime

This fall, Walmart rolled out Walmart Plus – a $98 per year offering, with free delivery on certain orders, cashierles checkout and other perks.

“We’re not launching Walmart Plus with the intent to compete with anything else,”Walmart chief customer officer Janey Whiteside said when asked about competition from Amazon Prime.

Walmart’s offering is cheaper than Amazon’s – but offers far fewer benefits. The customer membership model first came to popularity not from Amazon – but Costco, which charges a yearly membership fee to even step foot in the warehouse stores.

Albertsons’ play

Sankaran touted the company’s Just For U program, a more traditional customer loyalty initiative that it uses across its various banners, including Safeway. In exchange for a phone number, customers get a bundle of perks.

“We have fuel rewards, we’ve had it forever,” he said. “These programs – the more you shop with us, the more points you accumulate and you can redeem them for groceries and fuel.”

[Albertsons rolls out “one touch” gas app. Here’s how it works]

He said that Just For U customers on average spend more than others, and said the company hopes to “amplify that.”

But that doesn’t mean they’ve ruled out a broader membership program.

“That said, we also are looking at other types of memberships where people might get delivery if they have a membership. We’re going to look at those options too.”

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at don@boisedev.com.

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