As the food retail industry navigates the “e-commerce revolution” and customers shift toward purchasing opportunities beyond in-store shopping, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has invited Tim Steiner, co-founder and CEO of Ocado: the online supermarket, to be a keynote speaker at the 2018 Midwinter Executive Conference. FMI hopes Steiner will be able to help its members better understand the dynamic operational trends at play in the digital environment.
While the average grocery store carries an estimated 39,000 products, Ocado offers more than 50,000, and this British online-only grocery chain is tackling complicated issues of logistics in its pure-play e-commerce model. Steiner co-founded the company in 2000 when online and grocery delivery were still nascent concepts. The modern-day company is profitable, with more than $1.4 billion in sales in 2016, and, according to FMI, it often is described as a model for online retail thanks to automated warehouses, early adoption of a mobile strategy and its recent developments in voice capabilities using Alexa.
“There’s a real appetite for change among food retailers, and the excitement is building to produce rewarding food experiences for a digitally engaged consumer,” says FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin. “Ocado is using machine learning to create new experiences and opportunities for customers, even supplying its scalable technologies to other retailers. None of us is insulated from disruption in this current business environment, but we have the ability to learn from each other and transition our once-perceived barriers into growth solutions. Midwinter 2018 will attempt to satiate this hunger for longer-term business planning, knowing fully well that tomorrow the technology will change.”
“The channel shift to online grocery shopping continues to accelerate internationally, bringing increasing pressure on retailers to adapt and evolve to meet these changing dynamics,” says Steiner. “I am delighted to have the opportunity to share insights of some of the challenges and successes we have experienced in building our business into a sustainably profitable company, and our experience of working with other retailers to help enable their online businesses.”
FMI advocates on behalf of the food retail industry, which employs nearly 5 million workers and represents a combined annual sales volume of almost $800 billion. FMI member companies operate nearly 33,000 retail food stores and 12,000 pharmacies. Through programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education, health and wellness and industry relations, FMI offers resources and benefits to almost 1,000 food retail and wholesale member companies and serves 85 international retail member companies. In addition, FMI has almost 500 associate member companies that provide products and services to the food retail industry.