Albertsons is set to take another step in reassembling itself. Next week, the 650-store grocery chain, which in 2006 was split into two separate chains with the same logo but different owners and then was merged back together in March, will finally have a single website again.
On Tuesday (June 18), the AlbertsonsMarket.com will be merged into Albertsons.com, and the chain will replace its mobile app. On Wednesday (June 19), the weekly e-mail ad mailings for the two previous websites will be merged. And on Thursday (June 20), the two Twitter feeds will be merged into @Albertsons, while the two Facebook pages will be merged into facebook.com/Albertsons.
That may sound like some trivial social-media tweaks, but the merger of the websites is a highly visible reminder of how complicated the merger of the two halves of Albertsons will be. When the chain was split between Supervalu (NYSE:SVU) and private-equity firm Cerberus, both sides kept similar branding—that's why the logo is virtually the same, though stores in adjoining states might have different owners.
But over the past six-plus years, policies and store-operation philosophies diverged. A $3.3 billion deal later, the stores are now all back under one owner, Cerberus. But the stores that until March were owned by Supervalu all had self-checkout—that's two-thirds of the total. The other stores removed self-checkout in 2011. The Supervalu Albertsons chain had a loyalty program and a mobile app, while the Cerberus chain had neither but did have a YouTube channel. And each chain had its own Facebook page and Twitter feed. Even the Terms and Conditions pages for the two websites are different.
And because neither side is giving up its branding in this merger, there are bound to be some customers who get confused by the lack of standardization, both in the stores and on the Internet. Merging websites and Facebook pages should at least cut out one source of confusion. Well, except for broken links, dead Twitter channels and complaints that the old website, mobile app or tweets were much better—and those complaints will probably come from customers on both sides of the merger.
- See the Albertsons announcement
Supervalu's 1,100-Employee Layoff Is Big, But Not A Big Surprise
Reassembling Albertsons: It Won't Be Easy, But It Has To Be Fast
A Tale Of Two Albertsons