Albertsons (US) is partnering with tech startup Firework to develop short-form videos and livestream content designed to encourage visitors to use its digital platforms and purchase groceries, the companies announced Wednesday.
Shoppable videos, each about 30 seconds long and optimized for mobile devices, will start appearing on Albertsons’ websites by the middle of October and feature food-related content such as recipes and preparation tips. The grocer will move into livestreaming and sponsored video ads beginning next year.
Albertsons is joining forces with Firework as the grocery chain steps up its efforts to use technology to connect with shoppers and expand its business.
Albertsons wants to replicate the immersive experience it presents in its physical stores to people who shop online, company officials said. The goal is to present people with customized videos, including livestreams, that motivate them to make purchases by introducing them to products, highlighting recipes and showing them how to prepare and store items they buy, according to the grocer.
“While the pandemic allowed for rapid acceleration of both development and adoption of digital for groceries, we are seeing stickiness in customer behavior, especially when they are presented with the right experience and content on digital platforms,” Usman Humayun, Albertsons’ vice president of digital marketing and omnichannel growth, said in emailed comments.
Albertsons is experimenting with various ways to present the Firework videos, including an autoplay option that would will allow customers to view videos as they shop, Humayun said.
Jason Holland, Firework’s president of global business, said his company has been developing videos for Albertsons and is also providing tools to enable the grocer’s own staff to produce content. Firework is developing technology that will enable customers to share the videos, but has not yet released it, he said
Firework’s videos are conceptually similar to material that appears on social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, but clients like Albertsons host the content on their own websites rather than directing people to outside “walled gardens” to engage with it, said Holland.
“When you can … do it on your site, [you] own the first-party data associated with your site [and] own the connectivity to your customers from an experience perspective, all the way through to conversion,” he said.
The California-based company, which was founded in 2017, is initially focused on helping Albertsons integrate video content with other information they present, according to Holland. Later, Firework plans to help Albertsons present live videos that will enable store employees like produce managers and butchers to talk about items they are responsible for, much as they might with shoppers who come into the store in person, he said.
“Our goal is to create the first grocery retailer to become a fully entertainment enabled platform for cooking and food and the freshness of their items,” Holland said.
Down the road, Albertsons will be able to allow its suppliers to engage with customers through Firework videos, Holland added.
“There’s a huge CPG implication relative to retail media here that we’re … governing and working on with the agencies and their holding companies that represent the digital media buying budgets,” he said.
As online shopping grew during the pandemic, retailers introduced new interactive video content that builds on the popularity of platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Twitch. Walmart launched its first shoppable livestream on TikTok last December, and in the spring introduced an educational interactive experience for families that linked with the kids’ show “The Hidden World of Waffles + Mochi.” Coresight Research estimates the livestreaming market will reach $6 billion this year and $25 billion by 2023.
In addition to Albertsons, Firework is working with other U.S. grocers interested in its technology, Holland said. “There are probably five additional grocery retailers within the top 10 in the U.S. space that will likely deploy Firework technology over the course of the next quarter or two,” he said.
Written by Sam Silverstein for Retail Dive