Something very unusual has happened during the current pandemic. Retailers are more actively looking for experts to help them develop strategic collaborations with other retail companies to develop offerings in which the company has little experience.
Kroger, America’s largest grocery retailer, has just entered into a strategic partnership with Bettbad & Beyond Inc. to offer Kroger customers an extensive selection of the most sought-after items for the home and baby carriers from Bed Bath & Beyond. The range will be offered from 2022 both via Kroger.com and in a small shop pilot project in selected Kroger branches.
“Koger is a leader in fresh food and innovation,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger Chairman and CEO. “Every day we look for new and differentiated ways and experiences to meet the changing needs of our customers. As an example, Bed Bath & Beyond offers a compelling product portfolio that complements the items that our customers are already happy to buy. This strategic online collaboration and the in-store pilot project will give Kroger buyers easy access to important household and baby products in addition to their inexpensive basic groceries – and thus continue to fulfill our obligation to offer our customers everything everywhere. “
The multi-category omnichannel collaboration spans popular items from bedding and storage to baby furniture and equipment – both from the Bed bath in addition and buy buy baby Range – and also include Kroger’s own brand as well as national brands.
Mark Tritton, President and CEO of Bed Bath & Beyond, said: “Our collaboration with an exceptional retailer like Kroger underscores Bed Bath & Beyond’s expertise in the household and baby categories. Today’s announcement marks a major milestone in enabling Bed Bath & Beyond and buybuy Baby to reach more customers than ever before. Our product range, in combination with Kroger’s customer base, will offer extensive opportunities for existing and future customers. “
This is an exciting moment in retail. There are other retail partnerships (see below) that have helped stores reach new customers to improve their business. Such collaborations are relatively new (and still rare) as traders have to overlook a traditional distrust of other traders in order to gain knowledge of their expertise. It all started a long time ago when Sam Walton invited Charles Lazarus, CEO of Toys “R” Us, to join Walmart’s board of directors
Kroger’s strong customer acceptance as a leading food company will undoubtedly boost baby product sales and certainly support baby food sales as well. It is likely that Bed Bath & Beyond will not be opening any new stores near the Kroger business family.
One wonders if Kroger will pursue other retail categories and sell them on the internet and in stores. The experiences of the Auchan and Carrefour hypermarkets in the US 20 years ago were very disappointing. They knew what was successful in France and several South American countries, but that did not promise acceptance by the USA and was not in sight. Kroger’s efforts to promote general merchandise that are food-grade are a right step in the right direction but need to be controlled.
Below I list some of the partnerships that have been announced in recent years. These new relationships prove that some traders respect the knowledge of others and want to use their expertise for mutual benefit.
Please note current partnerships:
1. Home depot
2. Kohl / Amazon
3. Valentino / Alibaba: A pop-up shop concept was developed in Beijing
4. Walmart / Buzz Feed: Yummy receipts
5. J.Crew / WeWorks: Experts share insights into what it means to be successful
6. HD / Pinterest: Tips for laminate flooring
7. Levi / Pinterest: Levi designed clothes
NACHSCRIPT: The pandemic of the past two years has created new friendships and working relationships. One hopes it will work in the long term. However, previous suspicions that working arrangements reveal customer information that businesses consider proprietary remain. However, the Kroger and Bed Bath & Beyond arrangement sounds great and should benefit both companies.