Category Management on Amazon: Barilla’s eCommerce Success

Presenter:
Erin Miller
North America eCommerce Sales and Strategy Lead
Barilla

Description:
With Amazon continuing its dominance, it is imperative that brands are maximizing their relationship with the retailer to drive sales and reap the financial rewards of the online channel. The steps to category management success with Amazon are different than traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

In this webinar, Erin Miller, North America eCommerce Sales and Strategy lead for Barilla shares how the company has approached this challenge. Learn how Barilla drives success at Amazon by:

• Increasing conversion with the right product assortment
• Ensuring products are listed and found on the Amazon shelf
• Redefining packs and delivery models to respond to Amazon’s logistics model
• Setting the right KPIs and measurement processes to track and proactively manage their Amazon retailer relationship

About the Presenter:
Erin Miller FullErin Miller is a trade marketing, category management and e-commerce expert in the consumer packaged goods sector. She has more than 10 years of experience with some of the industry’s leading food brands, and has also worked with retail data analytics leaders such as IRI and Catalina Marketing. In her current role in Barilla Group, she leads the e-commerce channel team with responsibility for strategy, customer development and sales in North America.

 

 

Webinar Transcript

Paul: I’m pleased to introduce today’s presenter Erin Miller. Erin is a trade marketing, category management, and ecommerce expert in a consumer packaged goods sector. She has 10 years of experience with some of the industry’s leading food brands, and has also worked with retail data analytics leaders such as IRI and Catalina Marketing. In her current role at Barilla Group, she leads the ecommerce channel team with responsibility for strategy, customer development, and sales in North America, and also is the person who took the first selfie during the Clavis Insight webinar programming. So history has been made here, everybody. Erin, over to you.

Erin: Thanks, Paul. Yes, today I’m going to just kick off, and we’ll start talking about how we’ve approached trying to win with Amazon. And yes, I took a selfie because these headphones that we get to wear are quite stylish, so thanks, Paul. So we’re going to start talking about the kind of the journey to success at Amazon, and the first part is getting the basics right. And then once you get the basics right, you can start driving the business.

So we’ll start with my analogy of pasta, obviously, and I’m going to start with just your traditional spaghetti and pasta sauce, and we’ll work our way up to the spaghetti bolognese. So coming into this role, I looked at where we were at Barilla, we had several issues that were in our way to grow. The first were the current cases that we were selling online were just too big for current shopper needs. So we shipped pasta in a case of 20, and we were selling a case of 20 to the shopper on Amazon.  

I don’t know about, you but 20 boxes of spaghetti is quite a bit for the normal household. So we knew we had to come up with a solution there. The second was glass breaks, not earth shattering, but we knew that if we wanted to ship our pasta sauce we had to figure out a way to ship it so that the jars would not break. The third was my supply chain. So as a company, we were really, really good at shipping full trucks of pasta. But when you come to Amazon who had 35 fulfillment centers across the United States and was still up and coming, we had to figure out a way that we could get them product in their time frame and their means quickly, but that would not be in the typical full-truck fashion.  

And finally, we knew that there was out of stock. We didn’t have physical stores that we could audit and really see if we had were in stock or out of stock, and we had to figure out a way to actually check what our items were available. So the first stop at start we’ll talk about is getting the right assortment. So we were doing everything right when you talk about leading shoppers to Amazon. We were doing campaigns with the Amazon Media Group. We had Amazon marketing services search campaigns going on. We were doing Google search campaigns. We were participating in the Amazon’s merchandising program. And with one click, you could go buy 20 pounds of spaghetti for $23.  

So we’re driving all these people to something that probably wasn’t the right size of what they were looking for. So what we really needed to do was to increase conversion. That we had to price our portfolios. We needed to get the price right and the pack right for the shopper. So we went through and chose about our top 25 skews and got them to the right pack, so when we drove people to the shelf, it was something they wanted. And then we had that whole glass jar issue. So we developed a package that allows us to ship four jars of glass to any consumer here in the states. You can drop it 16 times, throw it against the wall, and it will not break. So this was a big collaboration between our supply chain team, our packaging team, and sales, and to identify the need and come up with different solutions for this.  

And then we have the logistics model. So we have the right assortment, but we have to get us there into Amazon’s needs. Like I mentioned earlier, Barilla was used to shipping full trucks, full pallets, very few warehouses across the US, and we could get your product there in five days and everyone is happy. Amazon came in, and the orders were smaller, so we had to ship less that full trucks. They couldn’t take full pallets, everything had to be case-picked from fulfillment centers across the United States, and they wanted the product less than seven days.  

So basically it was black and white, they weren’t matching up. So what we had to do was really start with collaborating. So we started working very closely with our supply chain department and said, “Okay, here’s what Amazon’s asking for. What can we do?” We also took a look at the different intricacies of the Amazon network and when we…the sortable, unsortable. That was another big topic that we had to address. So there were several different category management issues that we knew we had to get it solved in order to get the products more efficiently and faster.

One way we do is we looked at building our order size. So we went into a consolidation program, which a lot of the ship took 2 fulfillment centers instead of 35. And then what we also did is we looked at our portfolio and realized that we had all these products going into the unsortable network, which were hurting profitability and not allowing us to build order size to these consolidated fulfillment centers.  

So there was some easy fixes that we were able to make some packages slightly smaller, we were able to put turn off an item that we had two sizes and just have the one that could be sorted, and that allowed us to ship all of the volume into these consolidated warehouse and getting us to less than full trucks, which allowed us to get the lead times under five days.  

So based on this, the other thing we’re always trying to do is improve our fill rate. So we’ve developed an internal forecasting process as well that allows us each week to look at all these custom items that we’ve made using Amazon forecasts that they give us, and to ensure that we can ship the products and by having it prepared and ready to ship in time.  

So now, we’ve got the right size, we have glass that we can ship that doesn’t break, we’re getting the product there faster, but what about the last mile? And that’s making sure the product on shelf. With Amazon, you will find that product might just mysteriously go off, they could be out of stock because, for some reason, all this and everyone decided they wanted to buy gluten-free pasta. Various changes, and there’s a lot… It’s no way you can go into the actual store and physically check it, and you probably don’t want to search your entire product portfolio on Amazon to make sure it’s in stock.  

So we use the Clavis tool with the product availability that allows us to look and to see each day if the product’s in stock, if it’s completely avoided, if it’s being sold by a marketplace seller, and then we go into vendor central, we check if there are products on order, if it’s been turned off, and we’re able to react. Every time that there’s an issue, it’s a different reaction that we have, but it allows us to take advantage of being able to react pretty quickly and not having to wait for months on end.  

So I think we’ve got those first four steps for how we really try to get our category management basics right by getting the right size, getting the product there faster, and ensuring the product’s on-shelf. But this year, our theme is going from good to great, and really how do we drive the business forward and get to that fancier bolognese-style pasta.

So what we really wanted to see was we’re spending all this money in the merchandising packages and the marketing, but what are we getting any left? The next was reviews and content. We know content’s king, we know reviews are important, but really, how are they affecting the business? And then the out-of-stocks. That was one thing with supply chains, as I was continuing to pressure them to ensure our forecast and our product was built in time, and that we were getting the lead time down to show them how important the supply chain aspect is for the business and how it could affect search and sales.  

So really, we wanted to go from reactive to proactive. So there was an opportunity with the data we received from Amazon. Amazon gave us top-line sales numbers, but there really wasn’t a way that we would look at it, which is typically by a PAC Group [SP]. And all the review data was very raw, you didn’t get notifications if you had negative reviews come in, no way to really track that. And we really had a hard time trying to understand our sales between our pantry and our core business, which were two different business models, two different models that we really manage differently. So with that, we also really wanted to start tracking our sales versus our goals, and like I said earlier, to track our PAC Group and the sales group of corn pantry.  

So working with my friends at Clavis, we decided to, “Let’s make it user-friendly.” So let’s put it in a format with tracking, integrating the POS [point of sale] data into the platform, and then let’s link that data that we made usable into actionable insight. So let’s link reviews to sales. Let’s link changes in content to sales, and then see if we’re doing the right things, and how we should change and modify the plan going forward.  

So the first step was we need to track towards goals. Everybody in this ecommerce business is given aggressive goals, and rightfully so, because there’s so much opportunity here, but we wanted to track on a weekly basis if we were on track to hit those. So the first step of our dashboard was every day, every week I’d go in, and I’d see how far we were…completed, and how far away we are to hitting our goal.  

The next step was if I ran a promotion on gluten-free on AMG, I want an easy way that I can just go in and see spikes on the sales. So what we started to do is tracking the sales by week and by segment for corn pantry. So on the top you can see total sales, and then if you look at the bottom right-hand, I can start looking at how the sales were in corn pantry and see the different levers that we’re pulling, and how they’re growing the business.

We also use this lot of forecasting for the custom type of items, and we can quickly check in if there’s something shrinking or something’s growing rapidly, I could tell in my planning books we need to increase the forecast. So then we said, “Okay. Let’s start putting it all together.” And this is where it really gets fun, in my opinion. So let’s look at reviews. So we said, “Okay, we added reviews, and you can see our review count went from 50 to 200 between March and August.”

Sales were ok, but our search ranking was what really thought…it went from 57 to 9. So this has really allowed us to say, “Okay, Vine’s a tactic that we want to continue to use, and we’ve seen such dramatic impact by increasing our search ranking.” The next part was by getting my supply chain friends on board and helping them understand what an important role they play in success at Amazon. So during and out-of-stock time, we went to the marketplace, so we lost 8% for sales. So you’re saying, “Okay, that’s not bad,” but when you look at what happened to the search ranking, it’s detrimental. Our item in late July was ranked at 10. Pretty good, top page, top 15. You’re in the game. We go out of stock, and now we go down to 15, we fall to 30. So you can see between the July 30 and August, for almost two weeks we were off that first page, out of the game. You can see it took a while to rebuild, almost a month to rebuild to where we were.

One thing I’ve been talking with the supply chain is there’s lots of requests, and there’s tons of things that are very tactical, but when you look at the bigger picture of things, all of those little things truly affect the overall picture. The last one is A+ content, and we’re all trying to scramble and figure out a process how we’re doing…”Can I enter the content? Who’s going to own it?” And make sure it’s optimized. But what we have seen is that when you…we added A+ content, we definitely saw sales increase through the search optimization part of Amazon.  

So as far as what we’re trying to do here, Barilla continues to optimize all of our content for search and then come up with a better strategy for mobile content. That’s kind of what we’ve been up to and how we’ve been trying to win with Amazon, but we can open it up for question.

Paul: As I mentioned earlier, all attendees are on mute for this call. If you have any questions, you can enter them in our Q&A box. But just before we get into the Q&A, my colleague Catherine Wilson is going to give a little bit more insight into the Clavis Insight platform. Catherine?

Catherine: Great. Thanks, Paul, and thanks, Erin. So just to give you an idea of how we at Clavis get all of this great data, what we do is we use our technology to simulate online shoppers. So automated harvesting tools look at virtually any online retailer globally on a daily basis, and they bring back everything that a digital shopper would see and experience. A lot of those metrics that Erin was just talking about, really, the drive is to purchase. Things like image, content, your search performance, your availability, pricing, ratings and review.

We take what’s really oceans of data and we organize that into our fully automated PAC platform, which is accessible from any device that’s cloud-based so there’s no software download needed, and it’s configurable to client organization hierarchies. So again, as Erin said, they deal with PAC size, that’s how we’re going to organize it on the Barilla platform. So the insights are really actionable for you and for your team.

Some additional capabilities to know, since we are talking Amazon, really, across the Amazon spectrum, we do talk about Amazon as an 800-pound gorilla. There are other retailers that are important, but Amazon does have all of these different platforms that are really different, and we want to make sure we’re capturing all the great data that we review across all of the Amazon spectrum. So we can look at Amazon-specific dimensions with Clavis’ advanced Amazon analytics. So one thing we can look at a is product pages.

Amazon product pages offer, really, broad and blank canvas to showcase their products and your brand beyond what other retailers support. So brands that take advantage of this can…opportunity can monitor multiple images, their video, feature bullets, and all of that great A+ content with Clavis. Amazon has also developed alternative, and very popular with consumers, purchase model that Clavis can also track. So you can track which of your items are classified as prime, or as add-on, to take action to work with Amazon to classify those that aren’t part of either. A lot of consumers base their purchase decisions on which items are prime. So it’s free shipping if you’re a prime member, or add-on, which as long as you meet a certain threshold of your basket size, that will also be free shipping.

So it’s really critical to make sure you’re being added to basket. You can also track which portion of your portfolio is included in Amazon Subscribe & Save initiative. This is a really great program for brands to be a part of. It offers consumers a convenient way to order frequently-purchased items, kind of a set-it-and-forget-it, “I want my vitamins once a month, I want my pasta every two weeks,” which allows your band to capture repeat sales in a really predictable purchase cycle.  

Finally, you can monitor your brand linkage within Amazon, ensuring that brand pages are properly linked to your product pages. Next slide. So we’re expanding the geographic footprint of stores we monitor all the time. We cover retailers from Amazon and really everything in-between. What you see on this slide is a sample of the retailers and the markets we cover, but there’s really no limitation to what we can cover.  

Paul: Thank you, Catherine. Appreciate that. And Erin, you have a very popular presentation where you have a number of questions that have come in today. There are a lot concerning the webinar slides. The deck will be available as well as recording within the next two business days. So certainly be on the lookout for that. Here’s a good one just came in. So Erin, how are you able to convince supply chain to build the custom packs for such a small volume?

Erin: So this was definitely the biggest challenge that we face, and besides writing them. What I’ve been able to do is looked at what other right-sized packs we had inside the company. So some packs that we were using our club business, or they were using in dollar channel, worked. And then what we were able to do was our club items, we sell as pallets only. Amazon obviously can’t take a pallet of eight-pack spaghetti, but I can put a label on that eight-pack case that’s already developed over it and then ship it to Amazon.

So now, I’m only taking up the warehouse spot, I’m not making them create a whole new product. I think overall, having upper management say that ecommerce is important, that you guys have to figure it out, is the first key to success in any of this because it is a lot of labor for a small-percentage business, but selling them on the potential where this is going to three to five years has really helped them get projects done as well.  

Paul: Great. How does your packaging affect your probability at Amazon?  

Erin: So it’s a challenge. We use some different strategies to help offset it by changing the amount of maybe the promotions a little bit on certain packages. But as a company, we’ve said that we’re going to invest in this channel and we’re willing going to take a little bit of a hit right now for the short-term, for the long-term, and obviously as volumes increase, they’re the type of items that we can look to bring them online and not be as possible. But we are actually looking at how we can even make some of our soft packaging more efficient at everything today.

Paul: You mentioned reviews during your presentation. How are you using those reviews internally at Barilla?  

Erin: So reviews are something that we are really, really passionate about. We’ve seen a lot of success with. So Clavis notifies us when reviews fall below…if any review happens on Amazon and we track every review by product if it’s one to three of five stars. If it’s under three stars, consumer relations team will go into Amazon and answer the review. So we’ve had various reviews from, “My spaghetti is broken,” to, “I don’t like the taste of your fiber in your pasta.” The customer relation team will go, they’ll answer, they’ll say, “Please give us a call. We’re happy to send you some unbroken spaghetti or coupons for unbroken spaghetti.” And we’ve been using reviews for our R&D team as well to understand insight through a new product launch. They might go in and understand what people are like, how they’re using it, if there is questions on how to cook it. So I think it’s a great free aspect of Amazon, if you will, that’s just a great knowledge for people to learn from.

Paul: Obviously as the lead of the ecommerce channel team, you probably have a lot of different functions that you are reporting into. What does your team look like? What’s it comprised of?  

Erin: So we are a team of three. So the way we’re structured is I view a lot of the corporate stuff in Amazon, and them and we have one team member who runs all of the non-Amazon customers, if you will. And then we have a category manager who really…she’s in charge of the online shelf, the post-commercial analysis, the learnings, and really, her goal is to set us up for the next two to three years based on everything we’re doing now and trying to understand what works, what doesn’t work, and how is the shopper shopping this.  

Paul: And so what are some of the key things we’re going to be focusing on in 2016 for Barilla at Amazon?

Erin: 2016, I love themes, and quotes, and mantras. All of the above is from good to great. You always have to keep pushing. And so really we’re focusing on improving our content, improving our profitability both at Barilla and at Amazon, and improving our operational capabilities. So improving lead time, improving fill rate, and continuing to just try to win with Amazon.

Paul: Along those lines, if you were to start over again from scratch, or if you’re just starting the process, would you do anything different, or would you give and advice on how manufacturers could start to improve the relationships with Amazon and to win, like you guys are doing? Any chance on that?

Erin: My first thing I tell people in the building when they ask me about ecommerce is be okay with failure. Not everything you’re gonna do is going to work. And so I think having that attitude probably maybe going into it is where I would start. And I think the other biggest part is getting supply chain on earlier. I think we did a lot of the right things that supply chain wasn’t on board and we were working so hard, and until your operational metrics are right with Amazon, you could spend a ton of money and you could have a great content and all those things, but if you can’t get on the product there when they need it and fill their orders, you’re not going to be successful.  

Paul: And you mentioned success and you’re dealing with failure, and convincing other function to get on board. So how did you, or maybe your predecessor, convince senior management to get on board with the ecommerce channel and with Amazon?

Erin: So we’re lucky that we’re a global company, and so in Europe, which is where we’re based, ecommerce is pretty developed over there. And so we actually have a global director in Italy that goes and has done a great job of promoting where this is going. And we use a lot of the industry, the chart that we all see that, “How much of your offline sales are affected online.” If you can’t deny it’s going on, I mean, one thing that I’ve seen that’s been really successful, we took our leadership team, and we said, “Okay, track every time you look at a computer or mobile phone for one day.” And it was fascinating because what’s the first thing that we all do when we get up? We look on our phones, and we look at Facebook, or we look at email, and there’s marketing in your email.  

And then as you go to work and you schedule something on your calendar, you might look at an app, and you might like to look at Amazon when you’re at the store to see if you can get a better price on Amazon. And it really came to life for them of how mobile’s huge, and how digitally… You might be on Yahoo looking at something, but you’ve probably seeing an advertisement for Amazon there. And I think that really helped them see how important this channel…how it affects everybody’s life.  

Paul: You mentioned the move to the consolidate and center model. So did you have to make any price concessions to Amazon in order to facilitate that change?  

Erin: Yeah. There’s an agreement that you will have to put in place with Amazon to obviously offset some of the costs that they incur from consolidating from 35 to 2 fulfillment center.  

Paul: Great. Another one here. So how are you defining A+ content?

Erin: So A+ content, Amazon has these A+ templates, if you will, that you can take your content and populate, and I can kind of explain how we’ve approached content, and to answer the other question of, “Wish I would have known,” this is definitely one of them, too. You say, “Who owns the content,” and you see a bunch of people point fingers between sales, marketing, shopper marketing, and digital marketing. So what we really finally have gotten to the place is a road map of, “Okay, marketing. It’s your brand, you develop the copy and tell us the rest of the content that you want up.”

And then we actually use a portal…we’re in the process of finalizing this, but it’s something which houses all of that content, which we can then pull off and populate on the Amazon. But for us, A+ content includes recipes, it includes beauty shops of the product, the pasta on the plate, it includes a shot of an actual pasta cut, so you can see what’s inside that box. I described it as making it come to life. So everything that you can’t touch and feel on a shelf, I try to make that experience come to life on the page.  

Paul: A lot of great questions coming in here. So what are you doing to identify and mitigate the rest of your business with third-party sellers to see if they’re having lower reviews or very low pricing?

Erin: So part of the tracking that we have on those out-of-stocks is where a client will tell us, “Are we out of stock, or are we being fooled by a third party?” And that’s where you can go, and I’m not sure how people…if you’re familiar with it, it’s called twisting, but basically ensuring that our stock is twisted with the third party so that we win the buyback. But it’s a great way to see if for some reason the third party’s seeing you off because you’re out of stock, and then you make sure that you get the items ordered to go back in stock.  

Paul: You mentioned AMG as a medium to drive sales in Amazon. So can you share with us how you specifically measure that versus other merchandising activities that you did?

Erin: Yeah. And this is probably the biggest struggle with Amazon, is how to measure all these different things, because you’re always layering on. You do merch, you do AMG, so it is tough to get a read. AMG provides some data to you which will show the units that you sold from the campaign, but what we…just kind of look at a bump chart of what’s it look like with AMG, and what’s it look like without AMG.  

Paul: Sure. Great. So here’s one concerning your use of the tool. So what part of the Clavis’ tool and metrics do you utilize the most?  

Erin: That’s a great question. So I think the part that’s going to affect your business right away, probably the most, is the out-of-stocks. So I try to go in there once a week. I don’t check my usage, but we can go in and just make sure that… I was in there today and I found three items that Amazon had 900 units of inventory in the warehouse. It was not obsolete, but it was showing up as not in stock. So there’s always things that you can go and do, and it’s an easy way to ensure that you’re not losing sales just by having your product turned on and being on stock.  

Paul: And then how are you using these metrics to make changes, or with Amazon, or with the retailer, or to be proactive in managing a relationship?  

Erin: Yeah. So one example is pricing. So sometimes you’ll get a nice little email from Amazon saying, “Why are you priced so well at a certain e-tailor?” To being proactive on the pricing.  “Do you realize that you’re selling way below map pricing? Is there any way that we can work to take it up?” I just had somebody say, “Oh, you had a huge bug in our system, so thank you.” So sometimes they appreciate it.  But I think that’s one way that out-of-stock is probably the other big way we’ve been using it.  

Paul: So has Barilla ever received any backlash from the brick & mortar, or existing grocery customers, or club customers, for selling different pack sizes on Amazon?

Erin: Yeah. We don’t sell our…specifically the unclaimed packs of variety packs, and that’s where you…as of today, we don’t sell variety pack, really, we sell just straight packs. There was a club example where we just put some labels on those, but most of the items that you’re seeing that we’re selling are sold to…it’s just a brown…that’s sold to a retail customer. The price seems the same, right? There’s no value based on … we’re just are giving them a case that they actually can ship.  

Paul: You mentioned that there are two ways that influence search rank, reviews, and product availability. Is there anything else you discovered, tips and tricks, in addition to those two items might help with search?  

Erin: Yeah. The sales is the number one way to affect search ranking. So there’s definitely things that you can do when you launch a new product.

Paul: So what was the term to describe linking with third party? That was, “Twisting,” correct?

Erin: Yeah, yeah.

Paul: And did you face any challenges in getting smaller or lower price items on the pantry, and if so, how did you overcome that?

Erin: So with Amazon, you think that you’ve fixed one problem and I guarantee before that one’s fixed, something else will…and it’s not the problem, it’s an opportunity that will come up. So we are pasta, and we are a slightly lower-priced item in the grocery store. And so with pantry, they want you to be around a $4 special to make it a profitable model for Amazon. So we are developing a four-pack solution for Amazon that would fit the bundle that gets us to that price point that we want to be at as well.  

Paul: Great. So you mentioned some content optimization. Can you give, without giving away too many trade secrets, but an example that you might have used?  

Erin: Yeah. We used another vendor. I don’t think Clavis offers this, but we worked with One Click Retail who offers a search optimization analysis, and it was really cool. And so one insight I got from it is you work for a company, you become a pasta expert or whatever field you’re in, and when you’re developing content, you stop thinking about the way people search for products. So the example I’ll give you is wagon wheel pasta.

Never once did we mention Wagon Wheel. But we realized that everybody was searching for Wagon Wheel pasta, but we didn’t have any of that in our content, so we weren’t relevant. And so what they were able to tell us is how people were searching for items and what we were missing. So basically we realized we were missing Wagon Wheel pasta on that page, and we went back and added it. There’s so many different variations, gluten-free, gluten-free foods, both of those should be in your pages. So we use a third-party to help us look at how people are searching Amazon. And it’s a very different than how they search Google and use that right now, improving the content there.  

Paul: Great. And you mentioned using a buying program obviously to drive ratings and reviews. Are there any other tactics that you’ve used to drive reviews?  

Erin: Yeah. We worked our marketing department. We worked very close together, and so we always try to think of with any type of digital campaign we’re doing, how can we ensure there’s a buy-now and there’s a link back to ecommerce. So we work with BzzAgent who’s a blogging company, and we asked those bloggers to write reviews and buy the product on Amazon.  

Paul: Based on best practices or just your insights in general, do you notice any differences on the way that people might search Amazon differently compared to Google?

Erin: Yeah. I mean, if you think of where you might start at Google, it might be, “Gluten-free recipe.” You’re not necessarily looking for gluten-free food, so when we do is…when our marketing team is doing something on… It’s a different experience. You’re not usually looking for that product. When in Amazon you’re looking directly for that gluten-free pasta, you might say, “Gluten-free recipes.” On Google, you’re not going to find that recipe type of search. For us, at least, that was one of the big differences we saw.  

Paul: Another one just came in, going back to brick & mortar. Have your brick & mortar sales team experienced any heat or pressure related to your engagement on Amazon or with Amazon?  

Erin: So far, we haven’t had any pressure. The way that we try to position this, but amongst the companies… We’re helping promote the brand, and whether they buy it on Amazon or they buy at Brick & Mortar, it’s still a place where pasta…we can help educate people about pasta. For us, we like to use it as a way to help you find a place to understand the nutritional benefits of pasta, and how pasta is good for you, and it’s good for the planet. And how there are ways that you can have a recipe, and just be a resource for the shopper. And so it’s another tool for us to build the brand.  

Paul: And was that, “Pasta is good for the planet”?

Erin: Yeah. They have the low carbon footprint to make pasta.

Paul: Oh, interesting. So you learn a few things today. So certainly, this is an Amazon-based webinar, but you didn’t mention you have a member on your teams who are managing the Peapod relationship. Do you see any differences between the two retailers, or any similarities that could be used to improve performance on either?

Erin: Yeah. That’s a great question because that’s something that…we’ve been trying to understand the shopper as best as we can. The first time we did a shopper study, we did online shoppers. And what we really realized is when you start thinking about it, it’s a very different experience. So I’m going to Amazon and I’m spear-fishing. I’m typing in, “Pasta,” and I’m buying eight-pack of spaghetti that will be delivered to my house in 24 to 48 hours. I go to Peapod, I build a basket. And it’s a grocery shopping experience. Now, pantry, you can argue, kind of falls in the middle, but there’s no fresh part of it. So we’re still trying to understand how we need to market differently, but we do believe, and can tell from our early research, that’s a very different experience.  

Paul: Great. And are you doing things differently, as much as you can share, on Peapod versus Amazon at all, or are the basic concepts the same?

Erin: Well, the marketing programs are different. It’s pretty different. But I do think Peapod has opportunity, and I think they are working on developing ways to have some of the things that work really well for Amazon, like content.

Paul: And when you’re rolling out new initiatives, new products in Amazon, what’s the lead time that you traditionally give your team, or give yourself, to get those programs up and running?  

Erin: I like everything as fast as possible, and I start presentations internally with a few slides. And one is the definition of agility, and it’s to react and move very quickly and be able to be number one change. And the other is I show the example of all the innovation that Amazon’s done in the past year. So in one year, they’ve launched Echo, they’ve launched Dash, they have… In Germany, you can have your groceries delivered to your trunk of your Audi. You have drones, you have the USPS delivery to Amazon Fresh now. So I try to get them in that mindset of, “These guys can do all this stuff in one year, how fast can you make a four-pack of sauce?” And generate the urgency, if you will, but it’s still a struggle, and it’s not…nothing’s perfect, and it takes three to six months, but it’s something that, as an organization, we’ve realized we’ve got to figure out ways to work faster.  

Paul: So looks like you might have answered as many questions as we have here. So we’re on the parting thoughts time in the program. So as we we’re finishing up here, and as you can expand your wisdom to these individuals or to your colleagues, any parting thoughts or insights you might have for 2016 that help your fellow colleagues here succeed?

Erin: No. I think just have a great attitude towards it. Every day is going to bring a new challenge, every day is going to bring a new opportunity. It’s okay to fail fast and learn quickly, and react, and come up with the next idea if the first one doesn’t work.  

 

 

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