Seamless integration of in-store and online likely
by Mary Margaret Stewart, staff writer
As part of January’s technology and e-commerce feature, The Shelby Report interviewed Shauna Bowen with the Jacksonville, Florida-based Acosta for insight into the ever-growing importance of e-commerce and technology in the grocery industry.
What is your title with Acosta? Briefly describe your history and responsibilities with the company.
I’m the EVP of Central Ops and Innovation for Acosta. I have 16 years of experience in the industry, including three years with Acosta. My current responsibilities include process improvement, productivity and transformation for all of North American sales, as well as back office solutions and omnichannel strategy and operations.
The central ops and innovation team was an intentional investment Acosta made 1.5 years ago, recognizing the need to have resources dedicated to transforming the business due to the rapid changes occurring in the industry.
Outline the types of services that Acosta provides. How have these shifted/changed during the pandemic, and what feedback have you received from your customers on these resources?
Acosta partners with CPG brands and retailers, offering powerful sales and marketing services that help them better plan, execute and grow. We enable our clients and customers to stay a step ahead, helping them anticipate and act on evolving shopper needs and channel dynamics, and in turn, fueling their accelerated performance.
Our e-commerce service offering delivers against our “CARTS” model, helping brands with Content, Availability, Ratings and Reviews, Traffic and Search enabled by data and advanced analytics.
We expanded our offering across more retailers this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, recognizing the representation brands need across the omnichannel, given the acceleration of shoppers into the click-and-collect space.
We have received tremendous feedback from our clients’ brands as they lean on us to lead out in front with this capability and partner with them to be nimble in a time that requires fast responses to a rapidly changing environment.
E-commerce has no doubt grown an exponential amount. Tell me about this growth as it relates to Acosta.
The shopping experience has been interrupted by the pandemic and redefined with lasting impact. Through our ongoing research, we have been able to recognize changing shopper attitudes and behaviors as they happen and, in turn, help our brand and retailer partners adapt quickly.
E-commerce has accelerated three to five years during the pandemic, and omnichannel retailers will succeed. Much of our work centers around enabling brands to grow at an accelerated rate by preparing their retail digital shelf and e-commerce strategies, whether it be in pure play or across omnichannel.
What has sales and marketing for the grocery industry looked like this year? What trends do you see going forward?
Health, safety and well-being became top priorities this year and will carry over into 2021, with an increased focus on personal health and self-care.
Technology will continue to advance quickly, including e-commerce. We expect to see a seamless integration of in-store and online.
Retailers will work to get shoppers back in stores with personalized offerings, meal solutions and in-store shopper services. Post-pandemic, there will be a focus on the 4 Ps — product, price, promotion and place.
What advice do you have for CPGs looking to improve their sales and marketing right now?
The shopping experience has significantly changed, and many consumers are limiting their trips to the grocery store and being as efficient as possible with their time inside one. To do this, they are looking more and more to mobile solutions.
We can help set up CPGs for success by working with them to implement a number of tactics to mobile-ize, including:
- Provide mapping by individual store that will guide shoppers efficiently.
- Allow shoppers to easily build their grocery list using the app, whether it’s an in-store shopping trip or an online/e-commerce order.
- Customize the in-store shopping experience by delivering real-time promotions for grocery list items or those that complement the list.
- Allow in-store mobile ordering of service items like meat/seafood, prepared foods, etc., eliminating a wait for custom orders.
- Integrate checkout services with the grocery app, whether it’s directing shoppers to the shortest checkout lane, allowing mobile scanning to skip the traditional checkout or allowing mobile payment.
What differentiates Acosta from its competitors?
A few things. First, scope, breadth and scale. Acosta is uniquely positioned to provide a fully-integrated suite of services, helping brands connect with the shopper along the entire path-to-purchase journey.
We focus where it matters most, responsively working across the client business to drive greater efficiency, effectiveness and visibility. That can range from getting the product into the right stores to getting it sold and into shoppers’ homes.
Next is our people. Our clients look to us as trusted strategic advisors, and we look out for their businesses as if they were our own.
Lastly, our use of technology to provide the best solutions to our clients. Our support is tailored to help them execute, measure and optimize around their most significant drivers of ROI and overall performance.
To learn more about Acosta, click here.