Groceryshop 2023: Day 1 Takeaways

Stock up on Fresh Grocery Insights 

September 20, 2023

Groceryshop 2023 is here, and it’s the biggest yet! We grabbed a front-row seat to witness it all. 

The grocery retail sector has undergone a rapid transformation in the past year, with disruption and innovation happening in every corner. Between generative AI, huge industry shakeups, mergers, and acquisitions, and the commitment to unlocking “unified commerce,” the stages were buzzing with top-of-mind topics.

Innovative startups and legacy giants alike are seizing the opportunity to meet the changing expectations of today’s grocery shoppers. They’re not just adapting; they’re investing heavily in cutting-edge technology, reimagining store layouts, and expanding delivery capabilities to cater to the evolving needs of modern grocery shoppers. 

These content tracks at Groceryshop 2023 reflect the industry’s determination to stay ahead of the curve and create a shopping experience that is seamless, customer-centric, and ready for the future.

Here’s a recap of the major themes and memorable moments from the first day!

Unified Commerce: Bridging the Online-Offline Gap

The day began with a resounding focus on “unified commerce.” Groceryshop experts emphasized the need to create a shopping experience that seamlessly merges online and offline channels. As Krystina Gustafson, SVP Content, Groceryshop put it, “Omnichannel may be passé, but unlocking ‘unified commerce’ is the future.”

Manish Sharma, VP & GM Omni-commerce, The Kellogg Company asked the room, “How many of you buy groceries online?” A little over half the attendees raised their hands. “How many of you buy groceries in store?” Several hands went up.  He raised his hands high, “how many of you buy groceries online and in store?” Everyone’s hands in the room shot up. “Our north star must always be meeting customers where they are. We may not have a GPS, but we have a compass.”

“It’s about the coordinated effort of online and in-store, together,” said Tammy Ackerman, VP, Retail eCommerce, Treasury Wine Estates. “We’ve talked about the consumers’ path to purchase… and the in store and online capabilities to optimize execution and results. Ultimately, it’s about the coordinated effort of online and in-store…Winning in-store requires winning online.”

Rodney McMullen, Chairman & CEO of Kroger, took the stage and highlighted the brand’s commitment to leveraging data, technology, and strategic investments to stay competitive and provide exceptional value to customers. In the wake of the merger with Albertsons, McMullen is fully focused on what is “good for the community, good for associates, good for employees” as the brand evolves rapidly. “We’re doing everything we know how to do to make it seamless for the customers to bounce back and forth between channels.”

Kroger’s aspiration is that shoppers everywhere “fall in love with our experience, fall in love with our associates, have an amazing experience.” The team knows that the best customer experiences start with employees’ experiences- and they are investing in that vision with technology, education, and increased wages for associates!

Investing in technology 🤝 investing in store teams

One of the standout themes is the crucial role of technology in transforming the grocery retail sector. 

“First and foremost, our jobs when we’re investing in technology is to make [employees’] jobs easier and give them back more time with customers in stores and more time for personal development,” said JJ Fleeman, CEO, Ahold Delhaize USA. This means providing them with the tools and resources they need to streamline their tasks and improve efficiency. 

By doing so, store teams can dedicate more of their valuable time to engaging with customers in the physical stores. This investment not only benefits employees but also contributes to creating a more seamless and customer-focused shopping experience.

“There are a lot of buzzwords in the space right now….it’s easy to get sidetracked by things that don’t add value,” says Ajay Sharma, VP, eCommerce & OmniChannel, North America, Bayer Consumer Health. “Once we get clear about the priorities that actually matter, it gets a lot easier to make the right decisions.”

These tech changes are happening quickly, and it’s important to pivot on a dime. “We have processes that have to adapt to new systems. That’s the hardest thing to change,” says Damian Scott, EVP, Retail Media & Front-End Digital Development at Giant Eagle. “Failures and mistakes will happen. It could be something as simple as an improperly scaled image, and people can’t read an email. That’s why we have to adapt quickly.”

“The combination of great people, great technology, and a core passion for food and customers… I call that magic.”

🫶Employees, employees, employees

At the heart of the grocery industry’s evolution are the dedicated employees who serve customers day in and day out. It’s evident that their experiences and well-being are central to the industry’s transformation. When it comes to building a unified commerce structure, the humans make it happen. “Your best and worst experiences end and start with the team members,”  says Damian Scott. “Everything we talked about today happens because of our team members.”

Rodney McMullen emphasized the importance of investing in employees, including technology, education, and increased wages. In fact, the brand has raised hourly wages by over 30% in the last 5 years. Kroger’s vision is clear: the best customer experiences start with happy and well-equipped associates. By prioritizing employees, the grocery sector aims to create an environment where both customers and staff can have exceptional experiences and thrive together.

“Our people make the difference. Our people are the key to our success,” said Fleeman. That’s why Ahold Delhaiz is dedicated to “making sure that we have the tools and the technology for our teams to be successful and create the right environments.”

All this change, channel shifting, and challenge means that frontline employees have more than ever on their plates. Leadership doesn’t think they need to do “more with less,” anymore- it’s a matter of more effective tools and less clutter. 

Equipping employees with a consolidated tech stack that helps store teams to “plan, collaborate, execute, and measure,” is the focus. Here at Zipline, this is music to our ears! 

Speaking of music, we’ve still got another full two days of Groceryshop ahead, featuring a concert with Ashanti, diverse content tracks, and conversations about groundbreaking technology. Stay tuned and follow along on LinkedIn for our favorite moments and highlights! 

With over 175+ speakers and 250+ exhibiting companies, it’s the perfect place for grocery leaders to learn about the latest grocery technologies and how to create remarkable in-store shopping experiences… and we’re so excited to be part of the conversation surrounding empowering store associates to create engaging store experiences with grocery leaders.

Zipline is how retailers bring brand strategies to life in stores – combining frontline communications, task management, resources, insights, and more to #KeepTodayOnTrack.

Book a meeting with us! 

👋 See you at Booth A1136 and stay tuned for more fresh supermarket content!

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