Chief digital officer position targets grocers' omnichannel efforts
- More and more retailers are creating a chief digital officer role at their companies, according to Supermarket News. Last month, both Ahold Delhaize and Dollar General announced hires for the newly implemented title.
- The new CDO at Ahold has not yet been named, but the individual will be responsible for “driving digital transformation and innovation, including loyalty data analytics and personalization,” according to SN. Dollar General announced Rob Scruggs, formerly with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, to fill the new position.
- “One of the things a CDO is being asked to do is convert traditional business channels and practices into digital ones,” Jose Tamez, managing partner at executive search firm Austin-Michael, tells SN. “In general, these positions combine elements of technology, operations and marketing.”
Research has shown that an omnichannel retailing experience that seamlessly ties together in-store efforts with digital programs is key for grocers' future growth.
The chief digital officer role really focuses on the "seamless" part of that equation. While the individuals who are hired for these jobs have sophisticated technology backgrounds and can develop important digital platforms, they're also charged with ensuring that these programs work in concert with the physical store experience and the company's broader marketing efforts.
The role in many ways reflects the digital transformation in consumer habits. Gone are the days when consumers would scan the Sunday paper for coupons to take to their local grocery store for their weekly shopping trip. Today, consumers scan apps to get better deals either while they’re in a market, or perhaps while ordering groceries online. They’re alerted to new products and promotions through social media and emails, not a local paper.
A new Deloitte study found that more than half of grocery sales — 51% — are now digitally influenced. All types of technology are now used by shoppers to gather information, and retailers need to make sure their brand’s voice is heard.
Jose Tamez, managing partner at executive search firm Austin-Michael, tells Supermarket News that the chief digital officer is responsible for areas that are continuously changing, such as mobile, e-commerce and social media. These are crucial areas for retailers, but Tamez says he isn't convinced the role is necessary for every major grocer.
“It's a fervor that’s being self-perpetuated in the industry, somewhat akin to major league baseball franchises adding analytics people to their front offices," he told SN
As digital technologies evolve, it may be difficult to create benchmarks to measure the success of a new digital officer.
In the case of Dollar General, which has a limited digital footprint, effective expansion of it’s online sales platform could be a measure of success for Rob Scruggs, the new CDO.
Benchmarks for the person who eventually steps into the role at Ahold, meanwhile, will likely center on the ability to transform the company's loyalty program from in-store to digital, and to connect to consumers with personalized information specific to them. Overall, the eventual hire will be tasked with continuing to digitally integrate the company’s newly combined brands.
Ahold and Dollar General are joining a pack of companies creating new chief digital officers. McDonalds created the position back in 2013, while Mars, Inc. announced both a CDO and chief digital demand officer earlier this year. Expect more retailers across the food space to make similar announcements soon.
- Supermarket News Omnichannel trend reflected in executive moves