The Consumer Goods Forum day two: embracing a 'multi-experience' future

Date : 26 June 2015

On day two of the Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Summit, sustainability, new technologies and ecommerce were among the topics in focus. We review some of the highlights.

Grocery retailer have scale to influence national sustainability initiatives

The day started with an inspiring presentation from Grupo Exito’s CEO, Carlos Giraldo. The Colombian retailer has launched a number of nationally-focused sustainability based initiatives. These include programs to reduce malnutrition, particularly among young children, partnerships with traditional mom and pop stores and local suppliers, and initiatives to safeguard the country’s rich biodiversity. These demonstrate the role which grocery retailers can play in driving major changes at the national level.

Local approach helps build trust

This national approach contrasts with the way in which Meijer, one of the leading regional grocery retailers in the US, adopts a localised approach to retailing and community programs. The retailer’s President, JK Symancyk, highlighted the importance of leveraging the advantage it has in knowing its communities. This is particularly important when things go wrong, noting that the way in which it responds to a crisis is what helps it build credibility and trust. Through technology it is able to respond to customer feedback in real-time, adopting a speedy and transparent approach.

Business leaders need to get to know their data scientists

One of the most interesting panels of the day focused on the impact of disruptive technologies on the CPG sector. It was noted that while many food companies find it challenging to justify the initial investments in digital, one of the biggest issues to overcome is the incumbent mind-set of business leaders who are failing to recognise the fundamental shifts which are happening in the industry. One of the key pieces of advice which was shared with the delegates was to spend time with the data scientists in their organisations.

‘Multi-experience’ is the future of retailing

Building on the theme of disruptive technologies, Macy’s Chairman and CEO, Terry Lundgren, described how it has undertaken a significant transformation to build a leadership position in multichannel retailing. Recent investments have been directed towards Apple Pay, image search, RFID, and establishing an innovation lab. Lundgren outlined the importance of physical stores to its multichannel approach, stating that they will be at the heart of the future of retailing, enabling the business to embrace a ‘multi-experience’ approach.

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