The specialty food space is continuing to diversify and expand, and Associated Wholesale (AWG) is aiming to help navigate these changing waters. AWG recently launched its new wholesale marketplace, the VMC Virtual Warehouse, a best-in-class digital buying tool to enable its more than 3,100 retail member stores to purchase an incremental range of unique specialty and local products for direct delivery to their stores.
“We are delighted to offer this expanded service to our members and genuinely appreciate Specialty Foods Partners for the incredible platform and support,” said David Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, AWG. “Nobody does ‘local’ better than our member retailers, and it’s our job to provide what they need to build upon that strength. It’s another step toward fulfilling our mission: to provide our member retailers all of the tools, products, and services they need to compete favorably in all markets served, all at the lowest possible cost.”
According to the release, the VMC Virtual Warehouse is an augmentation to the extensive specialty assortments provided by Valu Merchandisers Company (VMC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of AWG, enabling VMC to deliver an even more comprehensive range of unique specialty and local products.
The VMC Virtual Warehouse also includes direct access to products from the Specialty Food Association’s Infinite Aisle, sofi™ Award winners, as well as hot new items and trending categories before traditional supply chain introduction.
Additionally, the VMC Virtual Warehouse will significantly increase access to increasingly critical hyperlocal products while eliminating administrative issues associated with setting up, ordering, and providing payments to numerous small, local vendors.
“We are delighted to partner with AWG, who is a leader in the food distribution industry,” said Tony Lee, Founder and CEO, Specialty Food Partners. “They recognized early on that an online direct ship program can be utilized to massively increase the number of specialty and local items available to their members.”
Built in partnership with Specialty Food Partners of Stamford, Connecticut, the VMC Virtual Warehouse has developed an online marketplace platform designed explicitly for retailers that want to purchase specialty and local food. AWG member retailers can use the VMC Virtual Warehouse to request samples from suppliers before they decide to make a purchase. The VMC Virtual Warehouse makes it simple for suppliers to place their products in the marketplace for sale and equally simple for member retailers to order multiple items from multiple vendors with a single click. AWG’s latest Virtual Warehouse manages all aspects of the order, including shipping, invoicing, and ensuring that the process is seamless between the vendor and VMC’s retail customer.
As noted in the release, the VMC Virtual Warehouse platform is free to use by suppliers and all AWG members. It provides users with sophisticated search features and contains thousands of items members can use to customize their selections to suit their customers.
How will the industry continue to innovate as specialty food products continue to expand? Stay tuned as Deli Market News keeps a pulse on the wire.