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11/19/2021

CSA Exclusive: Regional grocer consolidates e-commerce activities

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
Mike Karasik
Mike Karasik, CIO, NetCost

NetCost Market utilizes a fully integrated e-commerce platform to keep up with growing customer demand.

Based in New York City, NetCost Market is a specialty ethnic grocer operating 12 stores across New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Starting in 1997 as a wholesale food service for Eastern European and Russian immigrants, the company is now an independent retail chain specializing in providing internationally imported goods for local immigrant populations. Recently, NetCost Market decided it needed to improve the efficiency of its e-commerce offering, while also strengthening its omnichannel capabilities.

“We needed a fully integrated e-commerce platform to serve our customers,” Mike Karasik, CIO of NetCost, said in an exclusive interview with Chain Store Age. By fully integrated, I mean a place to offer products available for purchase, by a category or a group we decide to combine the products into. We also wanted to offer promotions and cross-sales, designating sale items as compared to regular-priced items; and provide options for deliveries at any convenient future time for a customer to receive products.”

According to Karasik, NetCost’s criteria for its e-commerce platform also included providing the ability to augment customer orders which have not yet been fulfilled, charge the proper amount – including changes made to orders, relay closed orders to logistics services, manage deliveries (such as dispatching services and communicating order progress to customers), process any credits due on orders, and provide coupons.

NetCost decided to deploy the end-to-end digital commerce platform for grocery retailers from Stor.ai, a Tel Aviv- and New York-based e-commerce technology provider. Karasik explained why the grocer made this vendor selection.

“Stor.ai offered the broadest range of the above capabilities, and where it didn’t provide its own solution, it had partners, already integrated into its platform, that completed our list of desired functionality, such as deliveries,” said Karasi. “Stor.ai’s platform is a hosted third-party platform, and we have integrated with it using APIs to send inventory data and coupons, and to receive sales data. The solution helps us fulfill orders more rapidly and efficiency than before, harnessing the availability of goods in both regular stores and micro-fulfillment centers, while also opening avenues for additional revenue streams.”

Looking ahead, Karasik said NetCost is looking to expand its relationship with Stor.ai, especially as the vendor continues to add more components, services and products to its offering.

“We want to offer Stor.ai’s capabilities to our customers to improve their experience of our digital commerce platform,” said Karasik. “The extent of services and products are only limited by our imagination, because the ability of Stor.ai’s platform to use artificial intelligence and personalization tools to meet vital industry needs is endless.”

Another regional grocery retailer, California-based The Save Mart Companies, also recently launched an effort to more tightly connect its e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences. Save Mart is deploying the Swiftly platform across its banners, connecting digital and in-store shopping experiences, and providing a seamless customer experience throughout the buying journey. The company will leverage Swiftly to offer a personalized omnichannel customer experience including in-store, click & collect, delivery, and “endless aisle” shopping that connects in-store shoppers with broader inventory from other stores and warehouses.