- Albertsons announced the hiring of two digital managers that bring a total of 30 years of experience to the company, according to a press release.
- Karl Varsanyi, a former vice president with Macy’s who worked on the company’s omnichannel operations, will serve as Albertsons’ GVP of Digital Product Management. Ramiya Iyer, formerly head of e-commerce at Levi’s, will operate at the retailer’s GVP of IT Digital and Marketing/Merchandising.
- "After being relatively unaffected by digital for many years, the grocery industry is starting to see several parts of the customer journey being transformed by digital,” Narayan Iyengar, Albertsons SVP of Digital Marketing and eCommerce, said in the release. “In this context, we need to continue to enhance our digital capabilities.”
Albertsons new hires are a sign of just how seriously retailers take e-commerce and digital offerings these days, and how crucial key hires will be as they scale these services.
While information technology and digital investments have been a low priority in the past, now many retailers are spending significant capital and looking for top talent to drive initiatives such as digital couponing and online shopping. Albertsons made a statement last year with its hiring of digital marketing and e-commerce head Narayan Iyengar, who formerly worked on 20 different websites and apps for the Walt Disney Company. Hy-Vee also broadcast its intention to focus more on digital when it announced a corporate restructuring last month.
In an interview with Supermarket News, Iyengar said Albertsons has ambitious goals for its e-commerce platform. This includes expanding home delivery to eight out of the top ten national markets throughout this year. At the same time, the company recognizes most people are omnichannel shoppers, and that the digital experience should ideally tie in with the store experience.
As a result, Albertsons is integrating its e-commerce platform with its store-focused digital programs. The company’s “Just for U” loyalty platform offers digital coupons, weekly ads, and a shopping list builder that customers can import to their online shopping account. It’s an innovative umbrella program that could see significant expansion under the company’s new hires.
What’s also notable about Albertsons new digital leads is where they came from: struggling retailers. As department stores like Macy’s continue to see poor sales and others, like Payless ShoeSource and Gymboree, head for bankruptcy, top digital employees will likely become available. Supermarkets should be ready to snap them up.