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NRF 2018: Bringing fun to the shelf edge

Hershey Company and PepsiCo described how their relationship with retailers has changed dramatically in recent years. Brands and retailers now have to work much more closely to leverage technology to sell their products.

Speaking on a panel at the NRF 2018 conference in NYC this week, Brian Kavanagh, senior director of insights driven performance and retail evolution at Hershey Company, explained how he used to work with merchandisers and category managers to get his Hershey products on retailers’ shelves, but now he works with in-store designers, operations, technology and marketing.

“You’re going to have to open up that section of the store to technology and things that didn’t exist before,” he said. “It’s now a cross-functional collaboration.”

But having specific technology to help merchandise a brand’s product can be difficult if the retailer does not have all the basic infrastructure, such as Wi-Fi connectivity and electricity outlets.

Mike Luzzi, director of global IT innovation at PepsiCo, said retailers are beginning to cooperate because they can see the benefit of having technology at the shelf edge which attracts customers.

He said this type of technology can include digital signage and beacons to better engage with customers.

“We can send them a coupon to their phone to attract them to a display,” he said. “But also flashy lights work as well. We test in stores and as soon as you see the flashy lights, it definitely attracts you to our products.”

But Kavanagh said the technology has to be able to scale. “If it costs a million dollars in one store, we can build the best flagship ever, but if we can’t take it to all 4,000 convenience stores, it’s just not worth it.”

Meanwhile, Jason Breazeale, senior manager innovation at international food retailer, Ahold Delhaize, said retailers need to ensure they measure the success of shelf-edge technology solutions.

“Just getting on the Wi-Fi and past the firewall is not the answer,” he said. “We have to have a process to industrialise the solution.”

He added: “We can only stumble into greatness so many times, so we need to be able to define it. Our goals might be conflicted, but we have to think about user experience first.”