Grocery Store or Platform?

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\"\"By Robin Lewis

There’s that word “store” again. And it’s been used for centuries to describe physical buildings that store and sell groceries, including packaged goods. The store, as burned into our minds over all those years, was static. Consumers had to go to the store to find and buy groceries. Today, there is nothing static about the flow of goods and services from creation to consumption, in any consumer-facing industry. Creation can take place anywhere in the world. Distribution can flow directly to consumers, or through several platforms, both digitally and physically. Furthermore, any number of those platforms could be the point of sale. So, the POS is not in a building called a store. In fact, the POS is wherever the consumer wants it to be, whenever, how often, and how they want it presented to them.

So, Mr. Executive in the grocery and CPG industries, your first priority should be to remove the word “store” from your mindset and lexicon. It is a mental barrier to understanding the new consumer’s demands for personalized shopping journeys. Therefore, it’s also a barrier to understanding and implementing the necessary strategies and tactics to satisfy those demands.

Many of the grocery and CPG giants are shifting their mindsets and do understand the new liquid, fluid value chain, its multi-platform model, and its capabilities to provide personalized satisfaction, whether it be convenience, speed and value, or entertaining experiences, delivered to precisely where and when the consumer desires.

Shoptalk’s new Grocerytalk track covers some of the more significant initiatives and major shifts taking place, and offers great learning opportunities. Kroger, Walmart, Unilever, Sprouts Farmers Market, Albertson’s, Mondelez International, Kellogg, ZX Ventures, and BrightFarms — among others — will be examined.


By Zia Daniell Wigder

In 2018 we’re introducing Grocerytalk, an entire track at Shoptalk dedicated to the changing grocery and CPG industries—two massive industries that are at the very early stages of digital transformation. Below are a few of the sessions and speakers who will highlight how their companies are embracing new technologies and adapting to changing consumers in this new era in grocery.

Grocery Leaders on the Future of the Industry

Grocery retailing is undergoing rapid evolution due to shifting consumer behavior and advances in both technologies and business models. In this session, senior executives from two leading grocery retailers will share their vision of the future of the industry: one will address new grocery store formats and offerings while the other will discuss technology innovation in stores as well as in last-mile deliveries:

  • Sprouts Farmers Market specializes in fresh, natural and organic products. Headquartered in Arizona, Sprouts has more than 27,000 team members and operates more than 285 stores in 15 states. The company reported annual sales of over $4 billion in 2016. Sprouts is known for its small-format, bright and welcoming stores with natural light and a farmers\’ market-like setting that highlights fresh produce at the center of the store. In this session, the CEO will discuss the company’s experience as a leader in smaller and experience-driven stores and share learnings from Sprouts’ unique development strategy and recent investments in infrastructure.
  • Kroger is the largest traditional grocery retailer in the U.S., with nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states and annual sales of more than $115 billion. Kroger is investing heavily in digital innovation to redefine the customer shopping experience. Among its investments is the rollout of grocery delivery and its curbside pickup service called ClickList, which has reached 1,000 stores, and the planned rollout of its \”Scan, Bag, Go\” technology to 400 stores in 2018. In this session, the Chief Digital Officer and Group Vice President will discuss the future of these initiatives. He will also share how the company is using customer data to drive personalized experiences and ecommerce decisions.

Executive Perspectives on Catering to the New Consumer

Consumers today expect the products they consume to be good for their bodies and not harmful to the planet. They also expect a lot more convenience and choice from their shopping experience. These shifts in consumer expectations have compelled grocery retailers and CPG brands to completely reevaluate their business strategies and product portfolios. In this session, senior executives from a leading grocery retailer and a global CPG brand will share how they optimized the customer experience, their product mixes and operations to stay competitive. They will also discuss how they address operational challenges and how they prioritize initiatives and measure success:

  • Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of home care, personal care and food & refreshment products with over 400 brands including Dove, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton and Ben & Jerry’s. The company reaches 2.5 billion consumers in more than 190 countries. In this session, the President of Customer Development at Unilever North America will discuss how the company is responding to changes in the market by 1) building brands that align with new consumer preferences, and 2) providing greater access to information on current product composition and sustainability. She will also share how the company is transforming the manufacturing and sourcing of their products to reduce their environmental footprint and enhance the livelihoods of people across the value chain.
  • With revenues of $59 billion, Albertsons is one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States. The company operates stores across 35 states under 19 brands including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, and Shaw\’s. In the last few years, the company has made significant investments in the customer experience including in ecommerce, digital and social media channels. In this session, the SVP of Digital and Ecommerce will share how the company is addressing  1) the growing importance of digital channels in customers’ purchase journey and 2) customer expectations of convenient delivery and pickup options.  He will also discuss the role that grocers can play in the digital food ecosystem.

Optimizing the Brand Experience for Ecommerce

Center aisle brands are making the shift to ecommerce. To succeed online, these CPG companies are creating packaging that is easier to ship, branding that stands out on the web and mobile devices and search-optimized product content. They are also developing strategies to advertise on leading retail sites. In this session, ecommerce and marketing executives from CPG brands will discuss new strategies for selling on virtual shelves in addition to physical ones:

  • Mondelez International is one of the world’s largest snack companies, with 2016 revenues of $26 billion. The company’s portfolio of brands includes Oreo, belVita, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Trident gum. Mondelez has made ecommerce one of its top priorities and is investing in capabilities and infrastructure as well as enhancing its online product assortment. Net revenues in ecommerce grew more than 40% in 2017. In this session, the company’s VP and Global Head of Ecommerce will discuss how his team is exploring different strategies with their online retail partners such as subscriptions and personalization while also building a direct relationship with customers online.
  • Founded over a century ago, Kellogg is a leading US-based CPG company with annual revenues of over $13 billion. Kellogg produces cereal and convenience foods–its brands include Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, Special K, Pringles, Pop-Tarts, and Kashi. Join us to hear from the VP of eCommerce Acceleration as he discusses the various strategies his team is using to grow Kellogg’s ecommerce business, including forming innovative and unorthodox partnerships to reach customers and exploring new ways for online customers to discover the brand.
  • ZX Ventures is a global growth and innovation group within AB InBev, one of the world’s largest global brewers. Launched in 2015, ZX Ventures develops new products and businesses that address emerging consumer needs. The team also oversees the development of AB InBev\’s digital footprint in over 20 countries and across several platforms including its own ecommerce sites, partnerships with pureplay and omnichannel retailers, and investments in digital startups. In this session, the Global VP of eCommerce will share learnings from the company’s international digital initiatives such as WeChat stores for brands like Budweiser and Corona and the relaunch of the Bud Light brand in the UK using digital platforms.

Innovations in Stores and Supply Chain: Blockchain, IoT and Beyond

Advances in technology are allowing retailers to create more transparent and sustainable supply chains. New technologies are also enabling greater operational efficiencies both in the supply chain and in stores, resulting in lower stock-outs and misplaced items. In this session, executives from leading retailers and startups will discuss how they are using emerging technologies to respond to customer expectations for transparency and reduction in waste and environmental impact. They will also discuss how they ensure the supply chain supports a great in-store customer experience:

  • Walmart sells an estimated $200 billion worth of groceries in the U.S. each year, making it the largest food retailer in the country. Given the scale of the company, it is critical for Walmart to have the systems in place to quickly trace products from farm to stores in order to maintain high food safety standards and reduce the cost of recalls. The company’s customers are also increasingly demanding more information on the origin of products they consume. In this session, VP of Food Safety and Health will share how the company is testing technologies such as blockchain in order to accurately and efficiently track the journey of food from farm to store.
  • BrightFarms operates greenhouses outside of city centers in order to meet the growing demand for local produce. The farms utilize natural light and hydroponic systems that use less energy, land, and water than conventional agriculture. The company has raised $55 million in equity and is now working with supermarket chains like Kroger, Ahold Delhaize and Walmart. In this session, the CEO will discuss how technology innovations have allowed the company to operate greenhouses that provide grocery stores with a more sustainable, consistent and cost-effective produce supply chain.



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