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By: Natalie Arana

Groceryshop 2022: Top Retail Influencers’ Key Takeaways

The RETHINK team visited Las Vegas from September 19-22 for Groceryshop 2022. While there, we had the opportunity to speak with many of our Top Retail Influencers and learn about their event experience. #TRI2022 members- Ricardo Belmar, Michael LeBlanc, Jeff Roster, Melissa Minkow, Bryan Gildenberg, Andrea Leigh, and Stewart Samuel- all shared their thoughts on the leading event for grocery and CPG. Check out the insights from these visionaries of the industry discussing innovation and trends in grocery such as retail media networks, the acceleration of e-commerce, and how retailers are moving in the direction of B2B. 

Ricardo Belmar:Director Partner Marketing for Retail & CPG at Microsoft

Here at Groceryshop, I think that if there’s anything that has really surprised me, but in some ways, not as much, but I’m actually glad to see there has been so much emphasis placed on retail media networks. I almost would have to say that you can’t even walk down the hallways without being bombarded visually with branding positions and advertisements about different retailers trying to promote their retail media network to other brands and organizations. I think a really strong emerging trend that I’ve seen at this Groceryshop is this notion that retailers are wanting to become more B2B like, and sell their own services to other businesses, whether there was our consumer goods brands or other retailers based on different tech quantities and services that they’re already good at. And then likewise, sort of the flip side to that, I see more consumer goods brands wanting to be more retailer like by engaging customers directly in that direct-to-consumer scenario. So you have one group kind of moving in that B2B direction, the other group moving towards the b2c, and it’s gonna be really interesting to see how they meet in the middle and whether that causes tension between brands or whether it actually improves the relationship and delivers a better customer experience. 

Michael LeBlanc:Founder & President of M.E. LeBlanc & Company Inc

Michael LeBlanc here at Groceryshop. Steve Dennis and I for the Remarkable Retail Podcast have done a bunch of great interviews. I wanna start out, first of all, by thanking the men and women in the grocery industry and their vendors for getting us through covid, for keeping us fed. So, it’s a little bit easy to look back and forget how difficult those days were, but again, shout out to anyone listening who is part of that industry, particularly on the frontline, so to speak, the associates across the world, North America, Canada, the US, for keeping us fed.

Lots of super interesting things going on here. Grocery is such a dynamic business. It is the powerhouse of the economy in some ways because of its frequency in its visits. It is a microcosm of what’s happening. At the same time, Grocery’s not always been the most forward leaning business. There’s a bunch of dynamics that happen in grocery, for example. It’s a low margin business. It’s a high volume. They measure sales at tonnage. But now we’re seeing, you know, partially from what came out of Covid, which is a bit of an acceleration around e-commerce, which was kind of sleepy. Now you got curbside, you got pickup, you got Ghost Kitchens, you know, retailers, I was talking to a retailer here. They’re starting a ghost kitchen in their retail store, leveraging their already food service business. So fantastic things are happening. And coming here, I saw lots of exciting innovations. 

Obviously innovations or promotions around speed to the home. You know, how do we figure that out? And in this industry with already historically low margins, how do you figure out that and make money? So we sell lots of solutions. Of course, retail media networks are first and foremost. You know, as you’re walking into a grocery shop, you see it everywhere and it is a great margin opportunity. The interesting thing about you see how over the years, months and years that integrates into the business is one thing to run and start to shift your business to that fairly high margin opportunity. That’s another thing to operationalize it and make it part of the operations who does what in the organization. So, interesting days ahead. This is a great launching point. So it’s fantastic to be here at Groceryshop is fantastic. See all the RETHINK Retail people. Again, wonderful hosts. As always. I look forward to the next time. 

Jeff Roster: Producer and Cohost, This Week in Innovation & Third Eye Podcast Network

Well, hello everybody. This is Jeff Roster from Third Eye Advisory and co-host of This Week in Innovation checking in from Groceryshop. Fantastic show. A lot of energy. It’s great to be back out on the trade show circuit, a lot of energy. I was particularly excited to see how this show is looking at the startup community. The sign over the startup area was a startup city. And it, as a startup guy, makes me really excited to see how we’ve now ingrained startups into the innovation ecosystem that has been historically run by big tech. Very exciting to see the energy. A lot of people out, a lot of people shaking hands, a lot of people even hugging. Yeah. We’ll let, we’ll figure out if it’s the right thing or not, but, the energy’s here and boy, make sure you get out to the shows in 2023. I think it’s gonna be an amazing year in retail. 

Melissa Minkow:Director, Retail Strategy at CI&T

Hi, my name’s Melissa Minkow. I am the director of retail strategy for a digital consultancy called CI&T. This is my second year at Groceryshop and I’m really enjoying just hearing everybody talk about innovation and emphasizing the fact that despite the supply chain crisis and inflationary pressures, the time is now to really launch and pilot different initiatives versus holding back that consumers are excited about innovation, they’re excited to try new things, and that it’s time for grocery to really innovate and get serious about testing. 

Bryan Gildenberg: SVP, Commerce at Omnicom Commerce Group

Hey there, just wrapping up a successful few days at Groceryshop and I think the biggest single takeaway I’ve got is the way that the conversation about omnichannel in commerce, retail media. I think so often that conversation’s been confused about what are we trying to do and how are we gonna and what are the questions. And I think the great thing about this, this meeting this time has been that there’s less confusion and a little bit more focus on how we’re all gonna get it done and some really good specific conversations about people that are really trying to solve the problems and capture the opportunities that are being created by this, this new truly omnichannel world. So it’s been a, it’s been a great conference and I’m really glad I was here. Thanks. 

Andrea Leigh:Founder & CEO of Allume Group

Had a wonderful and highly productive week at Groceryshop 2022 reuniting with friends and colleagues and learning about many new innovations in grocery! Highlights for me included checking out Instacart’s new features, such as Carrot Tags and the Connected Cart, learning about DoorDash’s white label fulfillment product, and hearing from L’Oreal about their foray into the metaverse with NYX – AND their achievement of pay equality regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

Stewart Samuel: Program Director at IGD Canada

So I’m here at Groceryshop. One of my favorite sessions was with the Whole Foods CEO. They just made a change in leadership. The first one since the business started. It’s a big transition time for the business, and I was keen to hear what direction the new CEO’s going to take. And it’s great to hear him talk about the theater and bringing back the theater to the stores. So I think that’s an advantage that the business has and having just been in some of the stores in New York and they look fantastic and there’s things that they can push a little bit further in that space. And then they’re really gonna sort of double down on the standards and really pushing that on the quality front. And then finally it’s sort of, no surprise, maybe with the Amazon ownership actually, where can it bring technology into the stores in a way that’s meaningful for the whole market shopper.