12 Top Grocery Retail Transformation Takeaways From Day 2 of Shoptalk '19

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12 Top Grocery Retail Transformation Takeaways From Day 2 of Shoptalk '19

By Randy Hofbauer - 03/04/2019
12 Top Grocery Retail Transformation Takeaways from Day 2 of Shoptalk '19
Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller speaks during a March 3 general session at Shoptalk 2019

Day two of Shoptalk 2019, held at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, has ended, and once again, it was packed with presentations, interviews and conversations that dropped lots of serious knowledge on all aspects of retail transformation – grocery included.

Grocery-focused speakers ranged from mainstream to niche online-focused to omnichannel, domestic to international. We heard from Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller; Albertsons CEO Jim Donald; Kroger Branding, Marketing and Our Brands VP Gil Phipps (whose presentation was covered in greater depth here by sister brand Store Brands); Sprouts Farmers Market Co-CEO, President and COO Jim Nielsen; and Instacart Chief Business Officer Nilam Ganenthiran (special thanks to sister brand RIS News for sharing Ganenthiran's insights with Progressive Grocer).

While there were enough insights to write thousands of words, here are a dozen I found particularly interesting, inspiring or just plain honest and true:

  1. A great ecommerce business sits on a great brick-and-mortar business. You can't have one without the other. – Donald
  2. It's a misnomer to think there's an online customer and an offline customer. In reality, there is just a customer. – Ganenthiran
  3. In developing private brands, seriously, seriously, seriously move where shoppers aren't having their needs/desires met. With Simple Truth, Kroger sought to give shoppers a solution to a frustrating problem: the growing desire to eat natural and organic foods, but the inability or unwillingness to pay the premium so many brands demand. – Phipps
  4. When you talk about technology, you talk about talent. We invest in those who are fresh-minded – who understand the future of retail and the future of the shopper journey. – Muller
  5. When seeking to transform authentically, you must start with people. Look for people who have will before they have a skill. They have to be a natural believer in the space where the grocer operates, as well as a brand advocate. – Nielsen
  6. If you treat your private brands as true brands and talk about them that way, your shoppers will see them as true brands. – Phipps
  7. The world of grocery retail is growing too fast, too big to transform on one's own. Embrace partnerships. – Muller
  8. Different is good. That's the only way Sprouts stands out. Being different creates a culture of creativity and innovation. – Nielsen
  9. Amazon opening stores isn't all bad for grocery retailers, or something that should instill only fear. In the end, it keeps retailers sharp and encourages innovation. – Donald
  10. Grocery retail isn't about selling, but about serving. There's a level of gratitude gained when a grocer serves the customer. – Nielsen
  11. In its race to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty, it's important to make ecommerce less expensive for Instacart's customers. That's why it recently dropped its own annual subscription fee. – Ganenthiran
  12. Health is critical not only for a grocer's business, but also for customer retention. Grocers can help shoppers prevent disease and illness through better food and teaching better eating habits. Remember: Food is less expensive than health care. – Muller

Shoptalk continues through March 6, and if you missed day one, check out my recap here. Also, if you're jonesing for more great live content on grocery retail transformation, check out our sister brand's own Path to Purchase Expo 2019, taking place in Chicago this November.

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