Kroger Co. is continuing its push into online retail by teaming up with Chinese e-commerce site — and Amazon rival — Amazon rival Alibaba Group.
The nation’s largest supermarket chain announced a pilot program to sell its private-label products in an online store on Alibaba’s Tmall global platform. The initiative is Kroger’s first venture overseas.
The online test will start with Kroger’s in-house Simple Truth natural and organic brand. Launched in 2012, the brand reached more than $2 billion in annual sales, making it the largest natural and organic brand in America.
"E-commerce enables Kroger to quickly scale to reach new customers and markets where we don't operate physical stores, starting with China," said Yael Cosset, Kroger's chief digital officer. "We anticipate Chinese consumers will love Our Brands – starting with Simple Truth products – just like our American customers do. Kroger is proud to continue to lead the way in making natural, organic and free-from products more mainstream and accessible."
The deal with Alibaba is the latest in a series of initiatives Kroger has made to expand its digital operations. In May, Kroger announced
an exclusive partnership with British online grocery retailer Ocado tin a deal that will leverage Ocado’s digital and robotics capabilities to automate and better manage warehouse operations, logistics and delivery route planning. Also in May, it acquired online meal-kit company Home Chef.
“We are creating the grocery retail model of the future by focusing on digital and technology," said Cosset.
Launched in 2014, Alibaba's Tmall Global platform is China's largest business-to-consumer marketplace. The platform provides brands and retailers without operations in China to build virtual storefronts and ship products into China.
Kroger is the world's third largest retailer by revenue, with $122.7 billion in sales in 2017.