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Kroger announced yesterday that it is expanding its Kroger Ship program to include "an extended ship-to-home assortment through a marketplace offering of third-party sellers powered by Mirakl, the leading software platform enabling B2C and B2B digital marketplaces."

It is the first time that Kroger has opened its online platform to third part sellers, and it brings it into direct competition with Amazon and Walmart's marketplace offerings.  Amazon in particular has been aggressive about its marketplace, with about 60 percent of all its online sales taking place on the third-party platform.

"Our customers are increasingly turning to our e-commerce solutions provided at Kroger.com for their grocery and household essential needs. To better serve our customers, we're continuing to invest in technology that enables us to expand our digital services to deliver anything, anytime, anywhere," said Jody Kalmbach, Kroger's group vice president of product experience. "Leveraging Mirakl's best-in-class marketplace solution, we are broadening Kroger's ship-to-home capabilities by offering more relevant products for our customers through exciting new partnerships with reputable third-party sellers."

In its coverage, Bloomberg writes that "Kroger is looking to capitalize on growth in its digital platforms and heightened demand for essential goods as quarantined customers stock up during the pandemic. Amazon’s marketplace remains the undisputed leader in terms of selection, with hundreds of millions of products listed -- but with demand surging amid the global pandemic, many merchants are seeking new online partners."

The Mirakl website lists other retail clients that include Office Depot and Urban Outfitters in the US, Best Buy in Canada, Walmart in Mexico, and Carrefour in Brazil.

KC's View:

Kroger has built-in consumer traffic, and if it can offer online shoppers a broader portfolio of products and make a little money on each sale, then it makes sense for them.  And there likely are plenty of vendors out there that are looking for an alternative to Amazon and Walmart.

Here's what interests me.  How will Kroger's marketplace be differentiated from Amazon's and Walmart's?  How can Kroger and Mirakl give it a different look, feel and even focus?  How can this new marketplace better position Kroger as an agent for the consumer?

Addition doesn't always mean addition … sometimes it is achieved through greater focus.