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Grocery retailers and their suppliers need to more closely collaborate on solutions that drive sales by truly address the needs of shoppers who can easily take their dollars to other channels.
That was one of the key takeaways from the Grocery Manufacturing Association’s annual Leadership Forum this past weekend at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
Conference programs touched on topics including transparency, data analytics, online sales and driving store-level growth. PG was able to sit in on several of these sessions.
Keynoting the first afternoon’s general session was Greg Foran, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., who offered some insights on how the mega retailer aims to drive its topline growth and refocus its direction after some soft performance as traditional grocers have held their own in markets where their compete against the superstore chain.
“Now is not the time for Walmart to pull punches,” Foran said, noting that the company would close any underperforming store or format, such as its retreat from more than 100 Express stores.
Walmart remains “absolutely maniacal about costs” in its supply chain and aims to provide a seamless consumer experience as the retailer continues to explore online sales. “We need you to innovate,” Foran told CPG companies. “As we invest in change, so should you.”
The Impact of Digital on Center Store
This panel discussion included Mark Baum, SVP of industry relations and chief collaboration officer, Food Marketing Institute; Benno Dorer, CEO, The Clorox Co.; Tom Furphy, CEO, Replenium Inc.; and Josh Goldman, SVP, digital retail practice, Nielsen; and was moderated by Thom Blischok, chairman and CEO, The Dialogic Group.
With evolving technology changing the status quo of center store shopping, panelists explored how traditional retailers could preserve or recapture sales of products that consumers are increasingly buying through subscription services.
Goldman said retailing has transformed from creating a point to buy things, to curating an experience. “The fundamental change is rethinking the job we’re being hired to do for the consumer,” he said. “The store’s not going anywhere. The way we think of its role is changing”
Furphy said center store “has to become automated” in order to free up shoppers’ time “to spend in the perimeter, with the dietitian, with the pharmacist.”
Baum said “replenishment services will become the norm” for center store products. “Food is tactile, preferences change,” he said “When I walk into a store, I want an experience – make the place come alive for me.”
Baum urged retailers and suppliers to create “a new model of collaboration – retailers need to be more transparent with their data.”
“If they don’t collaborate on new platforms,” Dorer said, “we’re going to really be in trouble.”
Furphy advised retailers and CPGs: “Don’t think about yourselves as trading partners, think of yourselves as serving partners.”
LeaderShift 2020: Recruiting the Next Generation of Talent
This panel discussed how companies should be creating an organization structure and culture for Millennials entering the work force.
“The biggest challenge is up-skilling the entire team,” said Kenneth Keller, president of Wrigley Americas at Mars Inc. “We want to make sure we have a place where everybody is reaching and growing.”