Grocery giant Ahold Delhaize USA, the parent company of supermarkets including Stop & Shop, Giant, Food Lion and Hannaford, is launching a division focused on innovation within e-Commerce. Peapod Digital Labs is designed to accelerate growth in digital and personalization capabilities for the six Ahold Delhaize USA brands.
Ahold Delhaize USA will build up Peapod Digital Labs in the coming months and expects to have the new organization fully operational by year end, according to a company statement. Kevin Holt, CEO of Ahold Delhaize USA, referred to the new venture as “the engine that powers our U.S. e-Commerce and digital strategies.”
The lab also will oversee online grocery delivery service Peapod, which serves 24 U.S. markets across the East Coast and Midwest. Peapod, founded in 1989, is one of the earliest examples of grocery delivery in the U.S. The company launched its first web site in 1996, before the Internet gained serious traction in the U.S. After being purchased by Royal Ahold in 2001, Peapod became the grocery delivery service for Stop & Shop and Giant supermarkets.
Yet despite Peapod’s status as a pioneer, growing well before the rise of competitors FreshDirect and Instacart, Ahold Delhaize has had only limited success with online grocery in the U.S.. While the retailer reported a 23.2% increase in online sales globally in Q1, U.S. e-Commerce sales grew just 9%. With various studies projecting annual growth rates of 20% to 25% for U.S. online grocery sales, the Netherlands-based grocer likely realized it needed a centralized lab where experts could discuss and share ideas to improve digital strategies.
JJ Fleeman has been named as President of Peapod Digital Labs and Chief e-Commerce Officer of Ahold Delhaize USA. Fleeman most recently served as EVP, Commercial Services & Strategy for Ahold Delhaize USA’s newly established support services company, Retail Business Services. Prior to that, Fleeman was Chief Strategy and Development Officer for Delhaize America, and played a key role as the Global Integration and Program Leader for Delhaize Group during the merger that created Ahold Delhaize.