Mettler Toledo’s 2013 Customer Council To Be Held In August
Mettler Toledo will host its 3rd Annual Customer Council in St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 21-22. This event is an opportunity for collaboration among leading grocery retailers, industry expert speakers and innovative solution providers to share ideas and best practices through discussion and hands-on learning.
Suppliers are facing numerous challenges in today’s marketplace, according to Mettler Toledo. For example, it can be difficult to provide a personalized customer experience in an increasingly digital and fragmented world. Self-service technology is often perceived as a key strategic direction, and many grocery retailers are implementing these systems successfully. Management of labor turnover and fresh item shrink, and food safety and traceability are other areas of consideration affecting store operations in the future. These issues will be explored in an open setting during the Customer Council event, Mettler Toledo says.
Additional topics for the 2013 Customer Council include trends in self-service technology, connecting to the shopper in the new millennium, technology-enabled operational excellence as well as food safety and traceability.
Klug Touts Unified’s Marketing Efforts That Move Product For CPGs, Retailers
Driving sales and moving product off the shelves is what Sue Klug helps retailers do. This, the Unified Grocers SVP and CMO reveals, allows retailers to win in the competitive marketplace. And, when Unified’s retailers win, so does the co-op, she says.
Klug spoke with The Shelby Report’s Bob Reeves during Unified’s Expo 2013 this week and said her department—the Retail Marketing Services team—are “fully deployed to help retailers drive their volume.”
“We very much will assist them, and we have a variety of off-the-shelf services that we can partner with them on. We have a variety of projects…helping them figure out how to compete against a dollar store, how to compete against Walmart. We’ll help them with those strategies.”
Creating consumer demand and ultimately getting product into shoppers’ baskets is done through a number of ways.
“Social marketing, digital, websites,” Klug noted. “Many of our retailers don’t have the infrastructure to really dive into that world and that new technology so Unified gets very involved through my team and helping retailers speak to their customers in different ways to either drive traffic into the store or put more into their basket.”
Scan data is another tool Unified is making available to its retailers.
“Many of the small retailers that we serve don’t utilize scan data in the same ways that the chains do,” Klug said. “The chains, in the last 20 years, have become increasingly sophisticated in the area of using scan data to drive top-line sales.
“Our retailers, most of them can’t afford the infrastructure to figure out how to create those databases and deal with that big data in meaningful ways so Unified has invested in an approach that allows us to take scan data on behalf of our retailers and help them understand how they can move their own sales, drive their own sales, by virtue of better understanding of what is selling, what’s not selling, what could be selling, where they have void issues, where they have out of stocks.
“The thing that I love about that is it’s not like we’re on the cutting edge of anything,” she added. “We’re taking chain strategies—tried, proven, they work, no worries—and we can provide this infrastructure.”
Klug explains that independent retailers are innovative. She says marrying that innovation with Unified’s available services—like scan data and infrastructure—creates a sort of magic.
Connecting CGPs and the Hispanic marketplace
Unified serves hundreds of Hispanic markets—meaning the role it plays as the connection between CPG companies and those retailers is important.
“CPG companies want access to that Hispanic shopper base,” Klug said. “No one and no where in the country can provide the Hispanic access that Unified can provide to that broad base of Hispanic customers and that broad base of Hispanic stores. So, if a CPG company is saying ‘how do I really get more involved in the Hispanic market,’ Unified is the perfect solution.”
Unified works with CPGs to figure out how to create what Klug calls “smart advertising and smart promotions.”
“There’s so many emerging categories and emerging brands and they know that the Hispanic consumer is a part of their strategy. They just don’t often know how to get to them effectively,” she said.
Unified serves as what could be referred to as the “go-between.”
“A CPG company is never going to get to the retailer, but a CPG is going to get to Unified and Unified’s going to say ‘I have 400-plus Hispanic stores that reach X number of Hispanic shoppers every week.’ And if you’re trying to get your product onto those shelves and begin to connect with that consumer, Unified can offer that opportunity, Klug said.
The soy milk category is a segment Klug examples. She says Unified has been working with a company that is “big in the soy milk category.”
“They know the Hispanic shopper would be a real target for their product, but they don’t know how to begin to approach the market,” she said. “Do they sample? Do they coupon? Do they Facebook? What do they do? We really help large CPGs connect. And we’re going to put increased focus on that because nobody gives them the access to the Hispanic shoppers and these Hispanic stores like we do.”
Unified’s Neal Details Co-Op’s Loan Services For Members
Christine Neal has an important job at Unified Grocers. As SVP of finance and treasurer for the company, part of her job is managing loans for the co-op’s members so as to allow them to grow and remodel stores.
“We’re trying to broaden how we look at that and actually help them find financial solutions,” she told The Shelby Report during Unified’s Expo 2013 this week. “Sometimes if a retailer wants to sell, they’ve never done that before. They’ve owned their business, they’ve run their business for 30 or 40 years and now there’s no succession plans in place, so what do they do? We try to help facilitate that. One, find a buyer, and also help them go through the process—how they might consider valuing the business, how the buyer might find financing. If we can play a role in that we will…”
Grocers Capital Co., a Unified subsidiary, handles this side of the business. Neal said that, while she knows of some other wholesalers who offer this type of service, she’d be hard pressed to find one that does so to the extent Unified does.
“Our subsidiary Grocers Capital Co. has a loan portfolio of over $25 million, and that’s low (for us),” she says. “It’s actually been higher than that in the past.”
The financial and loan services offered by Unified facilitates a great partnership between the wholesaler and its members, according to Neal.
“I was talking to one of the retailers here at the show that we had helped with a buy/sell arrangement, and he said to me, let me know if you guys have any stores that I might be interested in, and I said, ‘You’re always on our radar.’ And he said, ‘That’s the partnership. We can run the stores, you can help us find them and help us finance them…’”
Neal understands the importance of such partnerships. She’s considered a food industry veteran.
She worked for Gelson’s as a controller for seven years and spent several years as the CFO for the California Restaurant Association. She later began working with Certified Grocers and she stayed on board when it merged with United in 1999; the merged company later became Unified Grocers. Neal has a passion for the independent grocer, and so does Unified.
“This is a big global economy and to the extent that we can help keep these local and family-owned businesses alive in America and help them compete, that’s what we do,” she said. “And we need to keep doing that and not let this ‘localness’ die out.”
Enthusiasm, Upgrades Seen At Unified Grocers Expo 2013
Excitement and confidence were the feelings that dominated the Unified Grocers Expo 2013 in Long Beach, Calif., this week.
Bob Ling, president and CEO of the Commerce-based wholesaler, said those sentiments were shared by both Unified employees and vendors.
“Nobody is going to declare victory over the recession just yet,” Ling told The Shelby Report on Thursday, “but there are certainly some pockets of success and some people are experiencing some growth, and maybe everybody is just tired of all the bad news that has occurred over the years. But there is an uptick in enthusiasm amongst the members.”
The show itself saw some big improvements from the year prior.
“We have a technology upgrade this year, both in terms of the way we approach the show, but internally we are tracking in real time the sales by customer, by region, by commodity, and comparing it to last year,” Ling said. “It’s allowed us to track the activity on the floor, to direct some people to vendors who are perhaps a little more aggressive than others and create a little further competition amongst the members…”
Ling said Thursday that activity appeared to be up vs. the 2012 show and noted that the information currently is only being shared internally. He revealed his company will soon share customer-specific information by customer.
Additionally, Ling—who took over as president and CEO role at Unified in May—discussed what changes the industry can expect to see from the co-op.
“I think there is a sense of both urgency and a sense of enthusiasm and a sense of mission by all of our employees to become more creative, more demanding when necessary, to be more entrepreneurial and to work closely not only with the vendors but our members to drive sales through the channel,” he said. “The pace has been quickened; that’s certainly one of our initiatives.
“We’ve done a lot of reorganization amongst our team members in all aspects and tasked them to be more flexible and creative in terms of the way they go to market,” Ling added. “One major initiative that is in its early stages but is going to be very useful going forward is an issue we call our Scan Data Initiative, where we are investing in both technology and getting great early response. There’s member participation, where they’re giving us their scan data in real time and we’re feeding back to them already some analytics in terms of are they selling the right products, are they missing products that they should have on the shelf. And that information is flowing now where we’ll be able to communicate that to the trade to make sure our forecasting is better and that we can deliver in terms of promotional activities.”
Under Ling’s leadership, Unified also is empowering its regional divisions to act more locally.
“With respect to the Pacific Northwest, we have melded together a lot of the activities between Seattle and Portland to make that more of a regional presence and much more efficient and I think we’re more effective communicating with the vendor community in the Pacific Northwest,” he said. “We have consolidated up there.”
He pointed out, too, that Unified is “aggressively” looking for business both in its current market as well as outside it.
Journalist Woodward To Kick Off 2014 NGA Show
Bob Woodward, famed Washington Post journalist, author and Watergate scandal reporter, will serve as the speaker of the opening general session at the 2014 NGA Show. Sponsored by Kraft Foods, the opening session is the kick off to the show, which will be held Feb. 9-12 in Las Vegas.
Woodward is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Watergate scandal in 1973 and his reports on the September 11 terrorist attacks, both for the Washington Post where he currently serves as associate editor. In addition, he has authored or co-authored 17 national best-selling non-fiction books including “All the President’s Men,” “Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA” and “Obama’s Wars.” Other famed journalists such as The New York Times’ Gene Roberts and CBS News’ Bob Schieffer have called Woodward’s work possibly the best reporting of all time.
“NGA is honored to have such a legendary journalist on our stage to kick off the 2014 show,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of the National Grocers Association. “He has never been afraid to be on the cutting edge of investigative reporting, and his expertise in current affairs, economics and the political arena underscore his relevance to our industry.”
Woodward’s presentation will one of more 40 educational sessions and special events that will be featured at the 2014 NGA Show, the place “where independents gather.” The 2013 show saw record numbers as independent grocers, wholesalers and suppliers joined together to address industry issues and make connections. Registration for the 2014 show will open in mid-July.
Walmart CEO: Company A ‘Path Forward And A Ladder Up’ For Associates
In remarks at the company’s annual shareholders meeting Friday, Walmart Stores Inc. President and CEO Mike Duke credited associates for the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer’s financial strength and personally welcomed on stage several dozen associates who represent the significant range and number of job and career opportunities offered by the world’s largest private employer.
“No company provides more opportunity to more people to go from where they are to where they want to be than Walmart,” said Duke. “Associates join Walmart for so many different reasons. When it comes to our careers, what we all have in common is that we started somewhere. What matters most is that we get the chance to go as far as hard work and talent will take us.”
Reporting to shareholders on Walmart’s performance, Duke highlighted the company’s strong financial results, net sales growth at its operating segments, and management’s confidence in its long-term business strategies. He also said that he expects the company to generate $10 billion in global e-commerce sales by the end of the fiscal year.
“None of this success would be possible without the heart and hard work of our associates,” he added.
Over the past two years, Walmart has delivered to shareholders its best overall return in stock performance and dividends in more than a decade, according to a company news release.
Duke pointed out that he has high expectations not just for Walmart associates, but also for how the company treats its associates.
“We know that juggling life and work—the economics, the scheduling, the expectations—is often tough,” said Duke. “Can we find ways to offer associates more hours when we have them, more flexibility if they need it and more training to help their careers wherever life takes them? Can we do more to build an entryway to a job and career for those who really look to us for opportunity—like young people or people restarting their careers? Can we be a laboratory for learning and create credentials of accomplishment that associates can lean on to advance their careers?”
While discussing what he called the “real Walmart” and “the real opportunity” that the company provides, Duke welcomed on stage dozens of associates from around the world, including five of his own direct reports, who represent:
• the 75 percent of U.S. store management teams who started at Walmart as hourly associates;
• the 180,000 associates at Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club who were promoted last year;
• Walmart’s commitment to increasing training and career advancement opportunities, including for 1 million women around the world;
• Walmart’s commitment and plan to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years; and
• the 300,000 associates who have worked at Walmart for more than a decade.
Throughout his 18 years at the company, Duke said that he has learned a lot about Walmart associates and believes that who they are and how they do their jobs is exactly what customers want and expect.
“Integrity, service to customers, family and community, the opportunity to build better lives for ourselves and our customers—these are the ways that our people make the difference,” Duke said. “They’re why you’re so special. And they’re why I’m so excited about Walmart’s future.”
Hillary Clinton To Headline NACS Show’s Closing Session
Former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will speak at the NACS Show’s closing session.
Clinton, also a former Secretary of State and U.S. senator from New York, will speak Oct. 15. The 2013 NACS Show is being held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on Oct. 12-15.
“Secretary Clinton is one of the most recognized and significant leaders in the world today. She has played an integral role in shaping our collective future, both within the United States and on the world stage,” said NACS Vice Chairman of Convention Pat Lewis, partner of Oasis Stop ’N Go LLC, headquartered in Twin Falls, Idaho. “Her presentation continues our long-standing tradition of having the world’s top leaders share their insights and insider’s perspective at the NACS Show.”
Clinton has spent nearly four decades in public service as an advocate, attorney, first lady and senator. She served as the 67th Secretary of State of the U.S. from Jan. 21, 2009-Feb. 1, 2013.
As First Lady, Clinton advocated for healthcare reform and led successful bipartisan efforts to improve the adoption and foster care systems, reduce teen pregnancy and provide healthcare to millions of children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. She also traveled to more than 80 countries as a representative of the U.S., winning respect as a champion of human rights, democracy, civil society and opportunities for women and girls around the world. In 2000, Clinton was elected to the U.S. Senate. She is the first and only first lady to serve in the U.S. Senate, holding office from 2001-2009. Clinton worked across party lines to expand economic opportunity and access to quality, affordable healthcare, including for wounded service members, veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserves. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, she was a strong advocate for funding the rebuilding of New York and the health needs of the first responders who risked their lives working at Ground Zero.
In 2007 and 2008, Clinton again made history with her historic campaign for president, winning 18 million votes and more primaries and delegates than any woman had before.
In her four years as Secretary of State, Clinton was America’s chief diplomat and the president’s principal foreign policy advisor. Her “smart power” approach to foreign policy elevated American diplomacy and development and repositioned them for the 21st century — with new tools, technologies and partners, including the private sector and civil society around the world. Clinton spearheaded progress on many national security challenges, from reasserting the U.S. as a Pacific power to imposing crippling sanctions on Iran and North Korea to responding to the challenges and opportunities of the Arab Awakening to negotiating a ceasefire in the Middle East. She also pushed the frontiers of human rights and demonstrated that giving women the opportunity to participate fully is vital to security, stability and prosperity.
The NACS Show will feature three days of general sessions and 53 educational sessions. Reflecting the growing international scope of the NACS Show, the general sessions again will be translated into Portuguese, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, and select educational sessions will be translated into Portuguese and Spanish.
Registration and housing information is available here.
NEW Denver Launches As Network’s 20th Region
The Network of Executive Women (NEW) welcomed Denver as its 20th region at a networking reception hosted by MillerCoors in Golden, Colo., on May 9. More than 100 NEW members and supporters attended the event.
NEW Denver’s inaugural leadership team includes Co-Chair Programs Luci Sheehan, principal at Strategic Sales & Marketing Initiatives; Co-Chair Logistics Kristina Cole, VP of national accounts for WhiteWave Foods; Secretary Debbie Wildrick, president and founder of Growing Innovative Brands, who also serves as NEW chair, membership; and Treasurer Erica Stone, group director of sales and exhibitions, New Hope Natural Media, a division of Penton Media.
“The fast-growing Denver-area support of the network’s mission to advance women and help create better workplaces and more competitive organizations in the consumer products and retail industry has been outstanding,” said Stephanie McFee, VP of member and regional services. “The hard work of the region’s first slate of officers and so many other volunteers to advance the careers of talented women underscores the great power—and still-untapped potential—of female leaders industry wide.”
Among the companies represented at the NEW Denver launch were Acosta Sales & Marketing, Atkins Nutritionals Inc., MillerCoors, Safeway Inc., WhiteWave Foods and XL Edge.
“As a national sponsor of NEW, MillerCoors is pleased to play a role in establishing the Denver region,” said Jami McDermid, VP of commercial lead and business transformation. “The response has been overwhelming, further underscoring the desire to connect, network and learn from others in the consumer goods/retail space. The opportunity to be part of the expansion of NEW and enable the women at MillerCoors to continue to grow through and with this talented group is exciting.”
“The NEW Denver officers believe the group will attract new members to the network, including women in natural foods and products, and many talented female entrepreneurs who will benefit from NEW,” Sheehan said. “We are so pleased with the initial response to establishing NEW Denver. Expect great things from the Mile High region.”
In the featured photo at top: Celebrating the launch of NEW Denver on May 9 in Golden, Colo., are, from left: Erica Stone of New Hope Natural Media, Kristina Cole of WhiteWave Foods, Jami McDermid of MillerCoors, Luci Sheehan of Strategic Sales & Marketing Initiatives and NEW Membership Chair Debbie Wildrick of Growing Innovative Brands.