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Grocery Dive: 5 Takeaways from FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference



Excerpt from article:

Every winter, food retailing executives jet off to a sunny resort city to meet and discuss the most pressing issues facing their industry. Rain and colder-than-average temperatures, unfortunately, greeted conference goers for much of this year’s Food Marketing Institute’s Midwinter Executive Conference in Miami — a development that seemed appropriate, in one way, given the dark clouds hanging over the industry.

But the gloomy weather didn’t put a damper on the lively exchange of ideas. Indeed, whereas last year’s conference seemed to focus on the doom and gloom surrounding Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods and the daunting prospect of digital transformation, this year’s conference centered on solutions to the many challenges retailers face.

Here are a few takeaways from Grocery Dive’s three days in Miami.

Retailers need to experiment more…

Fresh food is at a tipping point…

Automation has become “fundamental” to business…

But retailers can’t overlook technology’s impact on employees and customers…

“It’s easy to think about the customer, but harder to think like the customer”

The quote comes from Jim Smits, who has held executive-level positions with Albertsons, H-E-B, Winn-Dixie and Supervalu and now works as vice president of U.S. retailer development for technology firm Retail Solutions Inc. And it reflects not a failing of empathy on the part of retailers, he said, but rather fundamental flaws in how they process data and measure success.

Retailers, Smits and others throughout the conference noted, look for sales to improve from one year to the next. But they’re too focused on looking backward than on looking ahead to what shoppers want next, meaning they’re always scrambling to react. Predictive data, he said, is a technology most retailers aren’t using effectively.

“Historically, we’ve looked at data in the rearview mirror,” Smits said.

Chieh Huang, CEO of Boxed, said it’s also important to do the basics well, like polling shoppers and staffing category managers who are obsessive about the latest product trends. Online-only Boxed has resonated with millennial consumers, Huang said, in large part because it doesn’t overthink the influential demographic.

“We’ve all gone a bit overboard thinking millennials are a different species, but really they just care about slightly different things” like label transparency, Huang said in an interview with Grocery Dive.

To read the entire article, visit the link below.

source: Jeff Wells, https://www.grocerydive.com/news/5-takeaways-from-fmis-midwinter-executive-conference/547222/

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