Digital Disruption in the Food and Beverage Space

From delivery to new technologies to improving the customer experience, the most important topics in online grocery were discussed by thought leaders in the industry at Digital Food and Beverage 2018. Many were focused on just how mature an industry that has been growing for years could be, proving that digital food and drink sales, while vastly improved, still have a long way to go.

Jackson Jeyanayagam, CMO of Boxed, kicked off Monday morning with a keynote about the importance of customer service and the human element in a digital business. The continued merger of man and machine was on display throughout the day, with many presenters and roundtables discussing the best ways to use data to get to know the story behind facts. Getting to know your customer, your brand, and your retail partners is ever important in a digital world where competition is more widespread and attention is harder to sustain. Discussions of the best new technologies to invest in to achieve this goal and case studies of how old brands like Betty Crocker are learning new tricks filled out day one of the agenda.

On Tuesday, the future came into focus. Carmela Cugini, GM of grocery and wholesale at Walmart’s latest blockbuster acquisition, Jet.com, spoke about how to keep pace with the rapid rate of change in the digital grocery industry. She set the tone for the day, where others answered questions about what it means to be omnichannel, how to prepare for a world where we talk to robots, and how packaging is going to have to adapt to new digital ordering norms. The evolving meal kit industry and the threat of private label to name brands proved to be some of the best items to speculate about moving forward.

Ultimately, the conference proved that the more things change, the more things stay the same. While we are barrel toward a future filled with robots that move at incomprehensible speeds, we still thrive to serve simple human needs. Stories and service will continue to be important underlying needs in online grocery.

Euromonitor International is a partner of Digital Food and Beverage. For more information, visit foodandbeverage.wbresearch.com