By: Mark Baum, Chief Collaboration Officer, Senior Vice President, Industry Relations, Food Marketing Institute

Recently, I spoke with Robin Lewis, the well-known founder and CEO of The Robin Report, about the ‘Personalization Century,’ what that means to food retailing, and why it’s important we take a deeper look into the subject at Grocerytalk, a new element of Shoptalk, scheduled March 18-21 in Las Vegas.

Robin pointed out to me that, in this new era of personalization and customization, there is in essence a market of “one,” but there is the potential to capture “8 billion markets of one.” The mass market platform, the traditional model of the CPG/Food Retailing Industry where consumers were limited to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores and occasionally from catalogues – is contracting and in some cases being replaced or supplemented by one in which the individual consumer is the one and only point of sale.

A new model of the value chain, circular in nature, where the consumer is both the beginning and the end is rapidly taking shape with the help of technology innovations that incorporate everything from artificial intelligence to social media.

But, there are challenges to realizing this supply chain of the future.

FMI and Nielsen’s report on the Digitally Engaged Food Shopper highlights seven key challenges to fully driving food retailing into the Personalization Century. They range from data inaccuracy and poor forecasting to disjointed shopper insights and suboptimal marketing strategies.

Yet, there is a way to resolve those challenges. In 2016, entrepreneur Anil Aggarwal launched Shoptalk, what he ambitiously described as “the definitive community of commerce innovators” and the “home of next-gen commerce.” It was to be a venue where new world e-commerce upstarts and old-world legacy businesses could share their stories and find solutions that work their way through the supply chain, from the first spark of an entrepreneur’s idea to the final resolution of a consumer’s need or want.

Shoptalk’s third iteration in March is expected to draw 7,500 attendees, and a number of them will be focused on Grocerytalk, a first-ever event in which the food retailing community can engage with each other on topics as timely as “Disruptive Technologies and Pioneering Brands” and “New Direct-to-Consumer Startups Disrupting CPG and Grocery.”

I hope every food brand and food retailer will gather their e-commerce, marketing and technology teams to Grocerytalk and plan to participate in the Hosted Buyer Program. By doing so, you may qualify for complimentary event tickets as well as up to $750 in travel reimbursement. Apply today to secure your team.

What will you do to sustain your company’s relevance and competitive position in this rapidly emerging ‘Personalization Age’?  Shoptalk and Grocerytalk will be the place where the new and old retailing worlds will meet next spring.

We look forward to having you join us in Las Vegas in March to explore the many opportunities that await you.