What we have learned at the first RetailDetail Food Congress

A new ecosystem in food is on the rise, where retailers, producers and service suppliers try to work together in order to better serve the customer. Paramount in this collaboration: data. We have summarised this and some of the other lessons we have learned during the first RetailDetail Food Congress in a convenient list.


Room for expansion

There is still room for expansion for supermarket chains in Belgium, says big data specialist RetailSonar. Should Jumbo open a supermarket on - for example - the Bussestraat in Rumst, it could service 2500 local customers and reach a turnover of 21.8 million euro per year. RetailSonar further expanded the evolutions that its system can predict: not only the turnover in a specific location, but also how much money it lures away from which specific competitor. Artificial intelligence offers some incredible opportunities, and Jumbo's competitors were sure to make notes.


A huge gap in the market...

... and no-one seems to dive in. Ethnomarketeer Rachid Lamrabat (Tiqah) pointed out that despite their growing market share, brands and retailers still have difficulties serving people of other cultural backgrounds. They too, he says, have a growing demand for convenience: currently no retailer has a complete product range for a one stop shop, so people have to visit several stores to find what they want and then spend hours in the kitchen. Exceptions who do cater for this market are Tiense Suiker and Spadel, and their results point to a huge potential.


Home delivery is key

British Ocado says growth in grocery e-commerce is in home delivery, not pick-up points. The company has a turnover of 1.5 billion pound and is profitable, courtesy of its highly automated distribution centres. Belgian Delhaize agrees: for that chain home deliveries are already bigger than click&collect. Where some other retailers still ponder whether to take the step, Deliveroo's Mathieu de Lophem was clear: he wants to start home deliveries for third parties as well - who will be the first retailer to accept the offer? PostNL too is ready for the home delivery of fresh produce, making it a very tight market!


Prices are transparent, more than ever

A local shock wave in the newspapers: Jumbo is 11% cheaper than Colruyt, as data specialist Daltix calculated. Not fair, said market leader Colruyt, which complained about the scope (online) and method (non-weighed). Experts are still arguing about whether or not such comparisons should be weighed or not, but everyone can agree that people are becoming nervous and the attention for price comparisons will never go away again. Another interesting fact that Daltix presented: if Carrefour wants to succeed in offering Belgium's cheapest organic products, it still has a lot of work to do. A survey showed that only 18 % of the investigated Carrefour Bio's products are cheaper than Colruyt's, and for major brands this is even only 13 %. Despite the very short survey in a small market, no objections from Colruyt this time...


Personalisation is the future?

Despite (or, because of?) the rise of all kinds of contradicting self-declared food experts, there is a growing need for serious science to take back control, Duval Union Consulting's Nils van Dam says. Ignace de Nollin continued this line of thought while presenting his app Smart with Food, which currently mostly maps allergens but has the potential to cater for personalised food advice as well. Startle's Jean Van Damme also believes personalisation and scientific breakthroughs will lead us forward, provided they keep the consumers' perspective at the centre of things. 


Images from this first edition can be found on RetailDetail's English language Facebook page. For a summary of how these lessons pan out, and a lot of new insights, let us meet on the second edition of the RetailDetail Food Congress next year!