Speaking at the Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference on 5 September, the executive vice president of Coca-Cola North America, Sandy Douglas, spoke about the ways technology acutely effects how they serve consumers.
He discussed the benefits ecommerce has, with the opportunity to use devices to reach people in their homes; this online ordering growing the business across multiple channels including food service and at-home consumption. He mentioned that data shows if product is well mechanised on a digital app, beverage attachment and sales are 50% higher than over telephone. With this opportunity for growth, he pushed for not thinking of ecommerce as a “channel” but rather as “a way for consumers to research, to buy, to experience brands and then, ultimately, to have them fulfilled”.
This longer engagement process makes sense to Coca-Cola, whose product at the least functions as a thirst quenching beverage, a fulfilment that will always being a delayed gratification for the consumer from an ecommerce standpoint. Therefore the big merchandising opportunity comes from fitting the product it into part of a shopper’s already enabled “commerce routine”, with ecommerce supporting the “occasion of the collect” e.g., with the order or click-and-collect. Douglas discussed how a priority for Coca-Cola now is to work with retailers to figure out how to sell the occasion of the collect in a relevant way, especially as this also plays a hand in driving the “brick-and-mortar”, in-store retail purchases. He pushed for ecommerce to not be seen as a separate channel, but rather working in tandem with the in-store experience.
In comparison to other industries such as fashion, the food and beverage industry has been slower to make use of selling products online. The retail landscape is drastically changing, and elsewhere other companies such as Amazon are seeing both success and more potential with selling food and drink online. With the ecommerce giant recent purchasing Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, they immediately put 2,000 grocery items from the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value range online, finding that staples such as tinned beans sold out immediately. Web sales of Whole Foods branded products totalled about $500,000 in the first week (according to an estimate by One Click Retail), showing the value of, and desire for ecommerce to be explored alongside in-store experience, in this case, Whole Foods stores.