ICA’s hypermarket concept Maxi recently ended the partnership with Matvaran providing an e-commerce solution for 26 stores.
But now an infected fight has started regarding the customer register where local Maxi stores say the new owner of Matvaran, Mathem, tricks the customers to win them over.
”We understand that our competitors seek to exploit our good name and reputation to attract customers to themselves,” states a local hypermarket adressing its customers.
Mathem-CEO Tomas Kull tells ScandinavianRetail.com he hopes to solve the matter with ICA.
Last week the largest online grocery store in Sweden, Mathem, announced it has acquired Norrköping-based Matvaran.se – a company that had only ICA Maxi as a client and has been a third-party provider of e-commerce at 26 Swedish hypermarket locations. The stores had their e-commerce on Matvaran’s website.
But as Ica is now rolling out its own e-commerce, the cooperation with Matvaran ended. Mathem bought the company 14 September.
“We bought Matvaran for its domain’s sake, for its staff – and their software is really good,” says Mathems CEO Tomas Kull.
But with Matvaran also came a lot of customer data – which now has a central role. The two competitors online can not agree on how the customer database may be used.
“According to the contract it belongs to each store,” announces Karin Hasselborg at ICA’s press service after some internal research.
She notes, however, that so far the customer register seems to remain at Matvaran.
Meanwhile, Maxi stores’ customers has been contacted by telephone and by mail with the message that Matvaran has merged with Mathem and offers them free deliveries if they register again – now as customers of Mathem.
The customers visiting the local Maxi store’s old e-commerce site for food are automatically transferred to Mathem.
This has made Ica Maxi respond – for example, ICA Maxi Erikslund in Västerås repeatedly posted on his Facebook page, addressing their online customers, “We do not like when someone tries to trick our customers! After receiving several calls and messages from you – we understand that our competitors seek to exploit our good name and reputation to attract customers to themselves.
With this we state that we at ICA Maxi Erikslund has nothing to do with either Mathem or Matvaran.”
By the comments, it seems like customers have difficulty separating Matvaran from their local Maxi-store and several customers say they got the impression that Mathem has taken over the Maxi hypermarket. Ica Maxi Erikslund are also interested in how the communication with the customers looked.
The local merchant Daniel Kvist does not wish to comment, saying it is a headquarter question regarding all 26 Maxi stores that had Matvaran as a partner.
Tomas Kull says he’s had a dialogue with ICA since the acquisition of Matvaran, and that it focuses on the customer database. He has a different interpretation than Ica regarding the rights to the register – but also describes a certain balance walk in Mathem/matvaran’s marketing going on after the acquisition.
“You should really talk to our lawyers. But we have been careful to respect the PUL (Swedish Privacy Act) and I hope to solve this with Ica tomorrow already. ”
He also says that they have not used the customer database in question. The customer data used has instead been collected in other ways, eg in connection with contact forms for marketing activities and by customers simply registering on Mathem’s site.