Hints: Agility, Partnerships, Centricity, Development, North Star

By Doug Baker, Vice President, Industry Relations - Private Brands, Technology, Food Marketing Institute
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In a session at the recent Groceryshop conference, “Evaluating the People, Processes and Technologies of the Digital Shopper,” which you can view in its entirety, Suketu Gandhi, a partner with the consulting firm A.T. Kearney, spoke of what happens when a business - any business - reaches the point at which 15 percent of its revenue comes via its digital channels.

A.T. Kearney’s work with clients has shown this 15 percent threshold is when that company’s digital business really begins to accelerate even more quickly, and it doesn’t always do so in a comfortable linear fashion.

However, Gandhi described a second threshold that’s even more significant than that first one: Across all industries, once that 15 percent milepost has been reached, a business can count on a lifetime increase in revenue of 30 percent—all because of the digital channels it has created.

The question that he and other speakers in this session had for participants was: Are your people, processes and technologies ready for the velocity the new digital shoppers will bring with them?

One way to evaluate this is to look to the businesses that have prepared for the digital shopper as an example. According to Randy Burt, another partner at A.T. Kearney, businesses ready to engage the digital shopper are doing five things right.


First and most importantly, these businesses have incorporated the spirit of “sense and respond” into everything they do. They are agile and willing to experiment when the market presents them with new opportunities and challenges. That means innovating, testing and learning, and doing it as quickly as market conditions change.

“We have to force ourselves to be much more willing to take small bites and try things,” said Graham Watkins, senior vice president and general manager for e-commerce at Giant Eagle, “recognizing we’re not going to get them all right.”


The second important hallmark of businesses that successfully reach the digital shopper is the understanding that no partnership lasts forever. As conditions change and you realize you cannot do everything yourself, you’ll have to create partnerships with third parties, and they may not last that long before you find the next challenge that calls for the end of that business relationship and perhaps the beginning of another.


The third element is customer centricity, putting the customer - be it in the digital or physical mode - as the highest priority.


Next is the development and/or acquisition of talent that is prepared to engage the digital shopper.  

North Star

Finally, there is the need for every business to have “North Star” leadership with an umbrella vision that can connect everything to a single goal, accompanied by a metric to chart progress.

We have further discussion on the people, processes and technology needed to follow a profitable path to your digital engaged shopper at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference.

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