In this episode:

Our own Wendy Liebmann and Christine Cross, UK-based global retail consultant, discuss trends that are already disrupting retail around the world.

Wendy and Christine discuss:

  • The impact of channel agnosticism on how people shop, and where companies invest
  • The growth of DTC and how it enables brands to stay closer to shoppers
  • How shoppers (and investors) are increasingly concerned about societal health
  • How the last moment of the shopper’s experience is defining success – or failure
  • New food practices that are disrupting the future of big box retail
  • The intense pressure on non-food categories post-pandemic, and
  • That big brands are not infallible.

Wendy  00:08
Hello, my name is Wendy Liebmann. I’m the CEO and Chief shopper of w WSL. Strategic Retail. And this is Future Shop.

Wendy  00:25
This is where I have a fast and furious, occasionally controversial, which I hope to have today, chat with guests about the future of retail guests who can help us think about how do we envision the future? And what do we need to do to activate that future. My guest is Christine Cross and I am delighted to have her with me. She is the principal of her own advisory company based in the UK, where she has a very unique view of what the future of retail will and should look like. Because guess what she’s seen it all. near and far. Her experience and advisory work cover established and emerging companies from Tesco, the UK based grocery retailer where she was for many years, Coca Cola to zooplus and odd box. She’ll tell us about that later. She’s worked in the UK and Canada, the Ukraine, Norway, Australia from on the ground grocery retail to DTC innovation, and close to her heart mentoring, emerging talent. So who better to discuss the future of retail around the world then, Chris? Hello, Chris, welcome.

Chris  01:34
Hi!, a pleasure to be with you.

Wendy  01:35
It’s hard to begin a conversation about retail these days without considering how the pandemic has changed what we know or what we thought we knew, you know, what stands out for you in this last year or so?

Chris  01:49
I think there’s, for me, there’s five big trends, and some of them have little obvious bits embedded into them. But I don’t think they’re all quite that obvious. That the first one is that we’ve all become absolutely channel agnostic. And and that really dictates you know, how people shop? To who’s buying who, which businesses are looking at who and what does that actually matter? What does it mean to the end consumer that the second big trend for me is literally things have shifted from consumers caring about their own health to thinking about societal health. And you can wrap that up as ESG. You can wrap it up as lots of things. But But I think for me, it’s just everybody has got become socially conscious, they’ve become more purpose driven, their values matter. And it matters, whether you’re investing in a business to what price you can borrow cash out to where you actually put your own particular personal grocery orders or fashion orders. And so I think that’s, that’s huge and will continue to be huge. The third one for me is the importance of that last bit of customer interaction and customer experience, which is almost starting to self regulate itself. So getting that end customer interaction, right, whether you’re a shop, whether you’re a digital player, no matter who you are, will determine whether you’re in business or not going forward. And I think that that’s become very obvious. And then my last two are just, you know, gosh, how the future of food has changed. You know, it’s no longer about big hypermarkets and discounters. It’s about farm stores, convenience shops, provenance, shopping local. And that’s changed the whole way we source food and what we have to know about it as well as how we buy it. And then what, what I used to be called an attacker you used to laugh at when I was director of non food, and I explained to you that that was apparel and anything you can’t eat, and I think the pressures on that side of the market have become so intense, that, you know, it’s thinking about what that reinvention will look like, when stores eventually open albeit sporadically at the end of this year. So I think those are my kind of five big buckets, which shape the sorts of issues that that that I’m wrestling with in in advising clients and and trying to value businesses.

Wendy  04:31
Thank you, as always you are you organize our thinking in in really fundamental ways that focus the mind, which is really important. Let’s go through those. You know, when you talk about channel agnostic,

Chris  04:50
Well, I think I think for me, you know, there’s a realization of brands that they have to meet consumers wherever they are, that might be on a website. It might Beyond the smartphone, it might be on Instagram, it might be on Tik Tok, it might be in a store. But they’ve got to relate that experience to them. Because most young customers will actually even remember where they saw a brand where they first started to interact with it, how they bought it, or whatever, you know, you’ve got subscription boxes delivered to her more to work. And, and the interesting thing for me in that is that it means those interactions have got to be so much more personal. So you look at some of the big fmcg brands who you know, people like like Nestle and Unilever. And they’ve never really got close to their customers, there’s always been an intermediary between. And yet now, they’re buying up little DTC brands that have customer intelligence. So recently, we were involved with a company in the UK called mindful chef and they deliver grocery boxes, but it’s kind of grocery boxes with a difference. So you get a self assembly kitchen, you put your meal together and this gratification and actually doing that. And then we’re on the market. And you know, the next obvious step for them would be to go through a bigger p house. But there was a fight between Waitrose to buy them who is a grocery retailer in the UK, and Nestle. And Nestle won the fight with a check and a multiple that nobody would ever have dreamed about. And in talking to Nestle about it, they said, and I’m kind of paraphrasing, but they said, you know, we were just looking for a deal that would kickstart our strategic intent to get closer to the customer. And for us, the amount that we paid for this little business was almost negligible in the scheme of things. It was a rounding error to us. But the rich insights that it’s given us about our customers is something we could never ever have got to so some of these little venture businesses that have really grown through the pandemic, but even before that, realize the value of customer experience, and customer data are winning through and we’ve seen just this last week, we had Barilla, that’s a Italian pasta company, huge business, bought a little tiny business in the UK called pastor evangelist that again, sells pastor meals direct to home. So I think that for me is saying, no matter where you are in the long supply chain between product and the customer, the closer you can get your intelligence to that customer is is really what you’re aiming to do. That’s that’s the absolute Holy Grail. And then pieced together whatever supply chains and channels to market you need to get there.

Wendy  07:50
It’s so fascinating as you talk about that, because, you know that being so shopper focused on our end and we’ve always seen that gap that, you know, here’s a big national global brand, who’s either got their own consumer data, or they’ve got the retailer’s transaction data, or the retailer’s gonna call it loyalty data, which is often just transactional data, right? And that gap in knowledge, that’s been so dangerous in some ways for certainly for the manufacturers, who are now saying, I need to your point, I need to be very close. Because if I’m not, I’m going to just lose that, that business opportunity. It’s this is fascinating to me, because on the other side of this, this week, the Estee Lauder Company announced that they were shutting down some of the smaller brands that they had purchased, like Becker, which was a 300… I think they’ve paid $300 million for just shutting it down, not even selling it to somebody to repurpose, as I assume some of their money to support different kinds of endeavors. And so you do see this kind of shaking out of that of the of the channel flow, the channel connection.

Chris  09:10
 Some of those brands were kind of the head if you think of the work that Paul Polman at Unilever that that had a mixed reception in his day. But boy, was he right in trying to get to that broader agenda faster.

Wendy  09:24
And Procter and Gamble when they decided they were going to get out of businesses that they didn’t feel had a longer term opportunity through a sharper lens like their cosmetics business that yeah. So I think that shakeout is really interesting to me. You know, where do you see that then what does that I mean, we’ve always said people will buy anything anywhere, anytime and as the opportunities to shop in different places have emerged. We’ve seen that in all our How America Shops®, research for years. Now that we are here, what does that say for the traditional retailers as as we move forward?

Chris  10:05
I think it will mean a reshaping. And I think that that kind of leads onto that second point about socially conscious consumerism because consumers who can see a reason for going to a traditional retailer will still do it, as long as that retailer can resonate with their values. And if they can’t, you know, we’ve all seen the refashioning of department stores. Now, some of them, you kind of think, Well, I’m not sure I understand this refashioning, you’ve made them smaller, but you haven’t done anything to actually engage with a customer but but if they can, and if they can really turn that into, you know, a much better experience where you’ve got information at your fingertips, whether that’s product specifications, customer reviews, geolocation, QR codes, you know, all of that, the stuff that I can get, if I’m trying to order something on my computer, I want to be able to go to a store and have that same access, if they can have hyper personalized marketing offers. So you know, it’s AI driven algorithms that can get you just the right thing. I mean, I tried out, I tried out something amazing the other day, which was kind of a, a makeover online. And it was such good fun, far better than going to one of those Parana pits and sitting and getting somebody doing it to you. So absolutely brilliant, you know, I think they need to figure out ease of payment, whether that’s the thing that calf was playing about with with facial recognition payment, or, you know, Amazon’s walk away, or whatever they need to get, we’ve talked for years about experiential retail. But you know, so often, it wasn’t really, you know, give me give me a digital makeover for this room. Now, you know, while I’m sitting here and put it together for me, and then that whole next level of automation, I mean, we’ve done store audits and physical counts using robots over the last year, you know, so surely we can have inventory checking robots, we can have smart shopping cars, we can have drone delivery, again, we’ve been talking about for years, but we’ve been playing with it really. And I think I think we’ll see that really leapfrog forward.

Wendy  12:19
Yeah, it’s interesting. I’m amazed in some ways at the level of innovation that’s occurred in this last year, both in sort of traditional retail spaces, and in you know, the brand from the brand side, but I was thinking about two examples. When you talk about experience. And customer engagement. Of course, one of my favorite stores in the world is Selfridges, and talk about bells and whistles. But the thing that struck me was about in, I think between lockdown two and three, or maybe it was three and four, where they created one of their eight week events. And it was all around how to change the way we shop. And it was all around sustainability. And everything throughout the store, from clothes to food to everything, recycled, refill everything. And it was it was really a stunning experience. They executed it across so many touchpoints you know, from their digital touch point, their e commerce, their app, all their communication, and that embrace of the customer experience, which said that the reason I want to well, in my case, get on a plane and go to Oxford Street. But in other cases, why would I want to go to the center of the city any day, unless there was something that was either so relevant and also exciting and inspirational to my life today.

Chris  13:45
That’s the word I would use Wendy that that inspirational. You know, it’s more than just experiential. So that whole helping customers to connect with that ESG agenda, whether that’s looking at carbon reduction, water, reuse, recycle vegan, leather, naked products, you name it, that’s something that will resonate with customers. And I think, also what’s starting to resonate with them because everybody realizes that through this pandemic, care of the workforce has become very, very important, then I think the whole issue set of issues around fair labor, equal pay and opportunities, inclusion, helping everybody work from anywhere, treating people fairly. Just doing the right thing has become so important and echoing that through your physical product is his right as well.

Wendy  14:39
We’ve seen in our How America Shops® work before COVID and continuing all the way through and these values that people express as holding at the same levels values people say they will pay a little more for whether it is sustainable, clean, local, companies that support inclusiveness, four out of 10, before COVID through COVID. And, of course, younger two thirds, saying this is where we’ll put our money in companies that help us do that, that this has not been caused by the pandemic, it’s held strong as a result of the pandemic. And we we anticipate it’ll it’ll, as you do, it’ll come through the pandemic and onwards.

Chris  15:26
I’m sure it will. I mean, it was interesting. One of the big, big supermarket groups over here, were saying to me that they have seen a downturn in the sale of imported vegetables. So people are picking up the, the asparagus and saying, I’m not going to buy asparagus from Mexico, I’ll just buy savoy cabbage, because that’s in season. And I think you’re seeing that I think what you’re also seeing is you seeing again, some of the big consumer companies who are trying to buy into a different legacy. So I thought it was fascinating. The PepsiCo beyond meat deal that says, okay, you know, we know, we sell carbonated drinks and salty snacks, let’s try and align ourselves with another business, because people aren’t going to stop drinking carbonated drinks, and salty snacks. But, you know, let’s try and align ourselves with something different. And then, in small businesses, I’m seeing that the rise of the of the B Corp, you know, the credentials that an organization can get through falling all of those ESG traits. And it’s quite interesting, because, you know, it not only makes good business sense, if you want to borrow a load of money for your business, you can get a better interest rate from a green investor, if you’re a B Corp. So all of a sudden, whereas it was just the people who had values, but couldn’t necessarily turn that into a monetary benefit. We’re actually seeing, you know, it helps businesses grow better, because it connects better with the consumer. But it also connects better with the commercial elements of the business as well.

Wendy  16:58
That’s really fascinating. I think that in the beginning, you know, the sort of challenge to companies, this is sort of a COVID situation, we’ll come back to our ways. No, no, there is a fundamental shift here.

Chris  17:11
We were trying to measure, you know, people talk about, again, on businesses, well, well, what’s the COVID effect? And have you had a bump because of the COVID effect? And and what’s the duration of time that you think you’ve you’ve concertina through this catalyst or COVID. And I reckon it’s about seven years. You know, I really do for some businesses, it’s it’s thrown them forward some, only a couple, but some have literally got to where they would have gone in 2027. And that’s just just fascinating. Absolutely.

Wendy  17:43
Can you talk about some of those I mean, name names are not name names, but

Chris  17:46
I’ll talk about I talk about my my, one of my little favorites, that you alluded to earlier, odd box. So this is a little sustainable with business with a with a mission. So it was only set up four years ago. And they, the founders believed that there was too much produce fruit and vegetables going to waste in the world. And that meant wastewater waste carbon. And so they set up a company which was designed to say, vegetables, and fruit. And what that means is anything that isn’t class one, so wouldn’t go to your standard supermarket, because it’s a it’s a funny shape, or it’s got a patch of skin, or if they just order too much of it. And they will save and get to the end consumer. It’s a company called odd box. And what we say is, you know, do good, be good, but stay on. And, and I took over the the chairing of it just after the start of the of the pandemic in in May, last year. And it had a, it had a run rate of 3.2 million pounds. So a little business, distributing his boxes within London only had 26 people working for it, everything was outsource tiny little business. And we have wrapped up like crazy because I think the values resonated with people clearly the convenience of having a box delivered to your door overnight, and the electric vehicle resonated as well. And we’re now doing a run rate, which is more than 10 times that. And we’re kind of clinging on for dear life as we grow the business. We’re opening a co sourced operation in the Midlands, and we’re rolling out nationally by the end of the year. So it just phenomenal what can be achieved and unexpanded at the same time. So at the same time, we’ve started tracking for customers exactly how much water and carbon they’ve said by using those. And we’re trying to roll that out. So you almost have a lifestyle tracker that you can subscribe to, which helps you manage your impact more broadly than just the vegetable box. So just inspirational what to what these young folks have achieved.

Wendy  19:59
So that leads me to a question about the mighty Amazon, right. So we’ve all, at least in this country, and I’m assuming I know, certainly in other countries around the world, in some ways a lifesaver, could get stuff to our door quickly, all of those sorts of things. For a variety of reasons, I look at the number of boxes that show up, and how much I recycle. And I think this just cannot go on is the tension between wanting to do good and the efficiency of Thank you, I order it now. And it’s at my door before I even turned around. What happens there?

Chris  20:39
You’re absolutely right. And I mean, it’s almost like my third bucket that that last mile digital supply chain, because I think it’ll self regulate. It’s quite interesting here. We put out our recycling once a week, and I put out my my cardboard when it’s got dark because I feel slightly ashamed that I’ve watched so much that I need to, I need to recycle. But I think what you’re seeing is quite a lot of the last mile, Amazon news was, you know, independent delivers who are taking it to the door, often they turn up in a in a white van that I’m sure hasn’t assets, emissions tests, or it looks like that, to me, what you’re seeing is quite a lot of those delivery companies are being bought out either by private equity companies, you’re getting consolidation of those people. So I think we will get a much more sensible last mile solution. So that you don’t in a period of 12 hours, perhaps get seven different drivers with seven different parcels from seven different densities. Now, it can’t be beyond the wit of man to develop hub and spoke systems a bit like a big spider’s web, such that you can get those good density on these things and do it a lot more efficiently. So I think self regulation will play in here, because I think consumers will start to realize that while they think they’re helping solve the problem, they’re part of the problem.

Wendy  22:03
There’s a service in Brooklyn and New York that has developed to support the local retailers to compete against Amazon. So that it began, I think, just before the holidays, where you could buy from a number of the local retailers online, and they would cut, you know, coordinate and consolidate the delivery. And then they would ship it all to you in one actually recycle box, which I thought was really interesting. And to your point before about small businesses growing and seeing these opportunities, matching the sort of mindset and new passion of the shopper, which makes me think also because I know this is an area that you’ve done a lot of work in operational efficiency. And yet, it seems to me now in so many industries now, as well as maybe digital becomes such huge areas of necessity and requirement of expertise is that you’re feeling?

Chris  23:02
In fact, you know supply chain professionals who’ve worked in the in the digital world. And there they are they the hottest property they recruiters Tell me at the moment, and I think it is just because it’s changed so much, you know, ah technology driven with with robots, and you know, huge automated plants are being replaced by geek robots and, and flexible technology. And then it’s about the data that that generates. And then the it’s about the Eco side of it that we’ve that we’ve already discussed. But it’s it’s hugely important. And, and I think, again, the one of the businesses that I work with an E fulfillment player, and the fact that within their sites now is quite interesting. We used to have sites which were divided up for different customers. And we went to some of those big I mean big customers and said to them, Look, there isn’t really a competitive advantage in dividing up this huge 300,000 foot square foot warehouse like this, we could run it far better if we ran it as hub and spoke. And we ran it as a campus site so that you all made use of the technology that we think we should invest in for you. And we’ve actually got it working like that, that they’re working with each other. It kind of you know, slightly reluctantly, a few Chinese walls in place. But recognizing that actually, there’s no competitive advantage here. The competitive advantage is in what you sell, not how you get it to the customer. That that’s the magic. So trying to get the most efficient way of getting it to the customer in a way that the customer recognizes is eco friendly, sensible and fits in with their lifestyle and the convenience that they want is absolutely you know, absolutely spot on. It’s quite interested in seeing, you know, huge companies working with little ones in order to do that?

Wendy  25:05
You know, that’s fascinating what you just said it puts the onus and emphasis back on to the what you sell part of it, right. And I think about it from, you know, a lot of the people who listen to this program, you know, where they are the, you know, the brand, and the customer sales teams. You know, in this concern they have about, you know, it’s all now about efficiency, and it’s all now about delivery direct to consumer. And I think sometimes, you know, the power and the company to forget about this level of relevant, exciting innovation. That’s what differentiates, right?

Chris  25:47
Absolutely. I mean, you know, one of the sayings that we’ve got is you can have the most efficient supply chain you like, if the customer doesn’t like it, you’ll test that supply chain because it will come back to you. You mentioned Selfridges as being your your favorite store. And you know what their motto is? We want to amaze, amuse and delight. And I think unless you feel that the product that you’re putting in front of the customer is going to do that. Try harder. Do it again.

Wendy  26:13
Yeah. And you know, the the thing I often find when I use Selfridges as an example, is somebody says, Oh, yeah, but that’s, you know, this exclusive luxury department store, they’re only whatever, there are two or three of them in the world, all of this stuff. And then I think about other examples, and I think about somebody like Trader Joe’s in the US, that does exactly that, you know, in this sort of small format, you know, good value grocery store, right? But does exactly that. So I think that argument that, oh, no only luxury, you know, retailers can do that. Which is not true.

Wendy  26:52
So hold that thought, I just want to remind you that we have lots more on the future of retail, what shoppers want, and where they’re headed as we move out of this pandemic, is our latest how America shops, research, innovation from around the world, and much more. It’s all on our website, Now, back to our chat.

Wendy  27:23
You talked about the future of food, which we’ve sort of talked about a bit and then the pressure on non food. So can we talk about those of it?

Chris  27:34
Yeah, for sure. Well, I mean, food, you know, as I said, we’ve seen the kind of the, almost the demise of the huge superstore and the discounter and the rise of farm shops and and literally delivered direct to customer but we’ve also seen very personalized food experiences and and I find this, this fascinating this, the the need for people to almost have that restaurant experience delivered to home but not as a takeaway. So again, some fascinating little businesses doing that there’s one that we’ve got involved with over here called bankwest. And they work with Michelin star chefs. And they don’t just they don’t deliver you a Michelin star meal, they deliver you the components and then they teach you how to be a chef. And, and again that for me is really experiential. Because you can say at the end, you know, I learned how to make absolutely fantastic sushi and I would never ever have been able to do that before. So I think that whole giving you the end product but giving you the experience as well is going to be part of that food experience and I think we’ll end up you know, I don’t think I’ll ever left sort of kitchen rolls and bottles of water or whatever into the car ever again. You know I’m hooked on having those delivered to home. But I sure will go into stores and and for that really special experience food experience. I think that’s going to have to reinvent itself but I think also we’re going to have to go down the route of getting more naked food less packaging because again, I don’t think customers will stand for having a bag in a box in a bag in another box and you end up wrapping something unwrapping something that’s rather like a Russian gold.

Wendy  29:25
So, so to that point, though, I mean, you worked with Tesco for years. I look at the the rest of Tesco and Sainsbury’s and Astor I look at Walmart and Target and you know Kroger and Woolworths in Australia that you’ve worked with so busy in Canada that you worked with, what does that look like? Is there a role for these companies to play?
Chris  29:46

Yeah, again, I think this will be a slow boil but I don’t think it’ll be as slow as it was going to be so a site you want example, Waitrose in this country. Last year, open several stores that had unbagged experience. It’s now they weren’t, they weren’t a howling success. But it but it was a start. And you’ve seen some of that in Trader Joe’s, it we’ve seen some of it in whole foods as well. And they are refining that. But what they’ve also done interestingly, they’ve just announced this week that they are going to have an alliance where all of the waste or excess food from all of their suppliers doesn’t go through, then it goes directly to food banks and underprivileged consumers. So that they’re getting that loop, that continuous loop that says, wherever you are, in society, whether it’s the, you know, the middle class elite that can afford to endorse themselves in really eco friendly stuff, or whether it’s the people who can’t, but can benefit from that closed loop food system that will get help direct to them. And I think the retailers have a really important part to play in that from some of it is through good values and good intent. Some of it is through a bit of name and shame. But I think that sort of social pressure will play through in the food market in particular. And I think the rise of farmers markets and localized selling and direct to consumer will never go away. So and I think, you know, putting some of those who what would what would have been called softer, measurable things into people’s incentive plans. And certainly I put it into the Coca Cola ones, that in their remuneration, long term benefits plan, there is an ESG measure. So it’s not just your revenue or your you know, there is a measure that says if you don’t hit that target of reducing water, reducing carbon, it won’t matter.

Wendy  31:43
Yeah, we’ve heard some of that in the US beginning to bubble up, often about as it relates to diversity and inclusion. And that a responsibility of an executive within the company and the role they have to improve those situations in terms of their hiring practices. So it is interesting that we’ve we’ve certainly even here, you know, taken a beginning to take a new approach to what it means to be a good company, and a good partner in business. What about the people?

Chris  32:14
Well, I think I’ve changed my views on this one, because I think, you know, I’ve worked in sort of hierarchical organizations where you work your way up to the top. And I think sometimes in some of these changes that we’re looking for, hiring talent is not necessarily going to get you into the future. And for me, working with some of these young, bright entrepreneurs and venture businesses, you know, I started looking for totally different things, the kind of the smarts that I look for now. Well, you know, they’ve got they’ve got me really bright, stunningly bright, that sort of goes without saying, they’ve got to be brave, as well. So not brave to take reckless risks, but brave to go out on a limb and brave to say and do what they think is the right thing for their business and their employees. They’ve got to have a flexible mindset so that they listen more than talk. And and so she who doesn’t, you know, can think differently can evaluate problems in quite a scientific and forensic way. And then they’ve got to be a team player. They’re genuinely I think the the age of the CEO who sat at the top of the company with his because it usually was a he underpants over his trousers like Mr. Superman is gone. And I think the idea of quite a few of the little companies that I work with, they don’t have warm SEO, they have a they have a operating triumvirate. So there might be a financial one that might be creative person, there might be a digital person. And they’re equal, they’re equal, they fuse the business between them. So I think just having that team mindset that you can’t do everything. But your skill as a leader is to be able to recruit people who can because they’ll push you up higher.
Wendy  34:02

We talked about your last bucket, the pressure of non food on non food and I and I do think about a categories and the channels that have really been hit during the pandemic but prior to the pandemic, we’re already struggling. So what do you see there? Who’s gonna win Lou?

Chris  34:23
Yeah, I think the hardest sector is is going to be apparel, particularly mid market apparel, and particularly mid market young apparel. And by that I mean the kind of you know, 20 to 30 year olds because I think that’s the generation that’s starting to say I don’t need it my you know, I don’t need any more and perhaps outside of, you know, core consumables and kids where why would I want to buy that I think the the brands will continue the high end brands will continue to, to soldier on but that mid market I think is going to shrink and I mean, it has shrunk already hasn’t yet we’ve seen several of those companies going into into administration and under, they won’t emerge out except perhaps as a very shrunken online versions of their former selves. And I think most of the other sectors of the market, you know, I think will change. But I think they’ll continue. So beauty, certainly Color Cosmetics has taken a bit of a hammering, but skincare, you know, phenomenal. So I think I think they can reinvent themselves to be something slightly different. And continue to grow and and home, you know, is in the ascendancy as people start to value the things around them. But I think they’re again, you know, looking at not just what you sell, but how you sell it, how you treat your suppliers, because Gosh, some of those in the non food sector have really suffered through this, this pandemic, I think about a little company that the friend setup at the start of this call loss stock, where she raised funding to buy stock that was abandoned at the docks in Delhi and Dhaka and, you know, Shanghai and whatever, because suppliers in the West have refused to pay for it. And she bought this stock, we repackaged it into boxes, that that fit particular size groups or whatever, and people paid something for it. And we give it back to the suppliers. There’s a lot of pressure on non food to get a social conscience that perhaps they’ve been avoiding for quite a lot of years.

Wendy  36:31
Your five, you know, themes here, I mean, almost at every one, you use that social conscience that value system, we’ve seen it in our most recent research, all of the things the values of is this a good company? Am I being smart about how I spend my money, regardless of income level? So it wasn’t just again, a privileged view of things, but that rethinking of what retail needs to look like in the future? And how do we think about where we choose to spend our money on goods and services as consumers shoppers?

Chris  37:07
And I think from a consumer point of view, you know, it’s not if you if you’re a provider to those consumers, it’s not just purely sort of altruism, you know, that there is a real commercial intent, one of the phrases that you’ll remember from way back at Tesco was follow the customer follow the money. And and this is what matters to customers. So you know, if you embrace that as well, then your business won’t go far wrong. Yeah,

Wendy  37:30
yeah. And I think that’s always been the truism, right? It’s one of those things that has said, we always say follow the shopper to see the future. That’s the premise of much of what we do or all of what we do. And I think that holds true today. So I can’t thank you enough for this. I have one last little series of questions. Before, it’s what we call snap. It’s like when we do a workshop, we make people think very quickly at snap one. Best, who’s that? What’s the best example of a consumer shopper experience that you’ve seen? Now, recently? You pick a time frame,

Chris  38:08
and I have old books? Can I have my

Wendy  38:10
I can? Of course you can. You’re allowed to do anything when you’re talking to me?You know that? Yeah.

Chris  38:17

Wendy  38:18
Okay. On the worst side, what’s the biggest mistake you’ve seen companies make throughout this last year?

Chris  38:27
I think it’s brands, which think they’re kind of infallible, and will come out of this the same as they went into it, just by perhaps putting a bit more marketing behind it. And my example of that would, would probably be Google. Actually, you know, I’ve seen so many firms turn off Google search, and to save money, but because they found if they were really good firms, people would find them anyway, and then not have to switch it on again. But I don’t think Google quite accepted that. So I think I think for me, it’s, it’s brands that think they’re impervious to change.

Wendy  39:03
One of the things that we heard a lot from from big national brand companies in this country during the pandemic was this focus on you know, our brand ratings, the emotional ratings through the fan and the Net Promoter scores through you know, through all their research had increased and they were feeling very strongly that you know, national big national brands was because there was safe there on the shelf that you know, all of those things. I challenge that both in the work we see where Yes, of course national brands, you know, recognized trusted at very high level, probably more than private label still and or indie brands, but there’s been an erosion and it’s been a substantial even in research term, significant erosion from 2018. And so I push back on that a lot, that conversation or because the credibility the trust of the local brand of the indie brand of the private brand, is really risen through these times and even before So I, you know, appreciate your your comment about whether it’s Google or its package on the shelf. don’t presume or assume anything in that in that thing. Yeah. I have 1000 other questions to ask you. I want to know why there are certain retailers who just really messed it up. I want to talk to you about global, I want to talk to you about what else are you seeing around the world? So maybe if I can tempt you, I’ll have you back. And we’ll talk some more about this too. And now I’ll do a formal Goodbye. Thank you, Christine. I appreciate all this

Chris  40:30
Pleasure. Thank you, my love.

Wendy  40:32
So here’s the thing. my conversation with Christine Cross clearly revealed where retailers headed. You know, we talked a lot about how shoppers have become channel agnostic, not only how people shop, though, but actually how companies invest in companies where people shop, we talked about Nestle buying direct to consumer companies, to help them circumvent their traditional distribution. Imagine that right? In order to get closer to the shopper by selling directly to that shopper. What does that say about the future of retail? We also talked about this notion of shoppers caring, not just only about their own health, but thinking about societal health, and the values, the purpose driven ways they think about spending their money. And again, from the manufacturer, and retailer side, where are those companies actually investing in businesses, investing in companies that are much more purpose driven, not just about acquisition, and profit, profit profit. We talked about how important the last customer interaction and customer experience is not just the last mile of delivery. But the last moment that we touch the hands, the minds, the hearts of shoppers, and how that’s become incredibly important and how you succeed moving forward. And we also talked a lot about categories. We talked about the future of food, and how it’s no longer going to be only the domain of the big hypermarkets supermarkets and discounters that actually farm stores and convenience stores and shopping local and understanding the provenance of the food we eat. And we really talked about non food and the challenges that apparel and beauty and non foods categories are really going to face as we move out of this pandemic and how we reinvent around that. And last, we talked about brands that think they’re infallible big brands, who are coming out of this thinking, well, I’ll toss more marketing money at this, and everything will be fine, and it will not. So that’s the thing. As Christine reminded me, when at Tesco they talked about follow the customer follow the money, we would translate that a Ws sellers say if you follow the shopping, you will see the future of retail. It’s a rock and rolling journey. So join me next time. See you in the future.

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