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Consumer-facing companies are increasingly joining tech forces

The Alibaba Global Shopping Festival

Retailers and consumer-facing brands are discovering the advantages of sharing technological capabilities.

For retailers and other consumer-facing companies (such as shopping centers and airlines), technology is typically a competitive differentiator. If a solution works, the last thing they want to do is share its functionality with a potential rival.  

But recently, technology partnerships have been popping up in the space, as companies discover that sometimes joining tech forces can produce a “win/win” result. Here are three notable examples.

Save Mart and Amazon

Save Mart is expanding the reach of its online delivery program in a new partnership with Amazon, while Amazon is widening the variety of retailers that members of its Prime paid membership program can shop from.

Save Mart, a subsidiary of The Save Mart Companies, which operates 81 stores across California and Northern Nevada, is offering two-hour grocery delivery from two California locations via Amazon Prime, with more stores to be added soon. This collaboration offers access to Save Mart's product assortment at the discount grocer's price points. 

Customers can order their Save Mart grocery delivery through the Amazon app or a dedicated page of the Amazon e-commerce site, starting at $4.99 per order for Amazon Prime members.

Beyond this new partnership with Save Mart, Amazon has been attempting to enable members of its Prime paid membership program to shop from a wider variety of retailers. In April 2022, Amazon launched a new program called “Buy with Prime” that enables U.S.-based Prime members to directly shop online stores on its third-party marketplace.

Simon, Alibaba

Premium mall owner Simon and the Shop Premium Outlets (SPO) e-commerce platform it runs jointly with Rue Gilt Groupe recently participated in Chinese retail giant Alibaba Group’s “Singles Day” global shopping festival. A series of livestream events allowed shoppers in China to virtually shop SPO’s online inventory. They were also able to purchase directly from participating stores located within Simon’s Woodbury Common Premium Outlets.

The two companies teamed up with Tmall Global, the cross-border e-commerce platform of Alibaba, for the livestream shopping events. SPO provided the back-end technology for Tmall Global to gain access to its inventory and product information in real time. Chinese consumers could shop SPO’s offerings of premium products via Tmall Global's self-operated global discovery storefronts.

In addition, to provide cross-border logistics support, Alibaba’s Cainiao logistics subsidiary streamlined warehousing, customs clearance, line haul and distribution for Singles Day.

To further celebrate the Singles Day event, Simon set up a pop-up studio in its Woodbury Common Premium Outlets property to host another series of livestream events. Shoppers in China could access the livestreams through Taobao Live, Alibaba Group’s livestream commerce channel. During each event, they were able to virtually browse and purchase SPO's inventory from participating brands and have the items shipped directly to them.

Brands that have store locations at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets also had the opportunity to participate in the joint program.

Starbucks, Delta

Starbucks Coffee Company and Delta Air Lines are linking their loyalty programs to increase rewards opportunities for members. U.S. customers who are enrolled in both the Delta SkyMiles and Starbucks Rewards loyalty programs can link their accounts.

Once the accounts are linked, members will earn one mile per $1 spent on eligible purchases at Starbucks, and on days when enrolled members have a scheduled flight with Delta, they will earn double Starbucks loyalty points on eligible purchases at participating Starbucks stores.

This joint benefit is open to currently enrolled and new members of the companies’ loyalty programs. Customers who link their accounts through Dec. 31, 2022 will earn 500 miles, and, once they make or have made a qualifying purchase, 150 Starbucks Stars loyalty points.

Delta SkyMiles is also adding Starbucks Stars as a new Choice Benefit for its Diamond and Platinum SkyMiles members, who will be able to select 4,000 Stars as one of their annual Choice Benefits in 2024. Delta passengers on flights departing Seattle on Oct. 12 will receive a “Star Card” valid for 150 Stars that can be redeemed at their next Starbucks visit.

Earlier this year, Starbucks announced Reward Together, a program that allows Starbucks Rewards members to link their accounts with other brands’ loyalty programs. Delta is Starbucks’ first U.S. partner in this program.

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