Profile: Alister Greenwood, Head of Global E-Commerce Insights, Mondelez International
Alister Greenwood’s previous roles have prepared him for his current e-commerce job by their unique experiences yet comparative focus on the consumers’ needs. Before coming to Mondelez, Greenwood worked for a major personal care retailer, several CPG food and beverage manufacturers, and also a global research agency that gave him a more holistic perspective.
Describe your current role and the function of your team.
Greenwood: I lead the global e-commerce insights agenda at Mondelez, which comprises research, insights and analytics. I work with a talented team across our key regions and markets to develop our capabilities and competitive advantage by understanding shopper behavior on the digital path to purchase, building a performance management framework (harnessing our data and analytics) and developing learning agendas that prioritize local needs.
Can you describe your view of e-commerce developments in the overall industry?
Greenwood: There has been an incredible amount of change in e-commerce in a short space of time and very differing journeys of evolution across the biggest markets. We first started looking at the impact of e-commerce upon the UK market more than 10 years ago, a home-delivery model dominated by the big grocery retailers. France, also dominated by grocery retailers, saw the high cost of home-delivery fulfillment in the UK and prioritized a click-and-collect model with a greater assortment of private label brands to boost margins.
The U.S. model is on a different trajectory, dominated by Amazon and heavily influenced by Amazon Prime free two-day delivery. Given the variability of population density and the regionality of retail in the U.S., building an extensive home delivery e-commerce network is a hugely expensive undertaking. The game has changed now with Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, and the rapid response of Walmart, Target and Kroger with a focus on click-and-collect to make use of the differentiated assets – stores. There is also the development of “concierge-fulfilled” e-commerce pure players like Instacart and Shipt, which provide further choice and additional competition. Convenience, assortment and speed remain the focus within U.S. e-commerce.
What else is out there?
Greenwood: The Chinese e-commerce market is more integrated into the broader digital ecosystem and there is a greater focus on user experience and exploration. As a “mobile-first” market, users spend more time clicking, interacting and exploring products. Retailers have responded to this by including personalization via user experience and entertainment to create a more engaging online shopping experience.
How can brands, in general, take better advantage of the opportunities in e-commerce?
Greenwood: For CPG brands there is the perpetual challenge of “mental and physical availability” in e-commerce – standing out within a digital shelf that may not conform to traditional merchandising and where most shoppers do not venture past the first page. Understanding and investing in search is crucial for brands. For instance, consumers use Google search differently than Amazon search. The returns we see are healthy, and combined with high loyalty and conversion e-commerce provides as much a brand-building platform as a way to advertise and be found.
How do you keep an ear to the ground in such an ever-changing digital landscape?
Greenwood: I read as much as I can and I rely on about 10 different trusted publications. I also follow key influencers, connect with peers across the globe and attend relevant conferences to try to keep up to speed.
What are the current and upcoming challenges or disruptors to e-commerce?
Greenwood: Supply chain costs and inefficiencies as well as complexity of getting to the right pack types at the right price points. The ever-increasing competition for traffic and precariousness of retailer margins are significant challenges for e-commerce.
Where do you see e-commerce headed in the next few years?
Greenwood: A world where a more seamless connected user experience exists. From checking emails or connecting socially to browsing a more curated personalized experience, to searching and purchasing in a connected and seamless digital journey. I think it’ll look a lot more like the Chinese e-commerce market.