During a dynamic keynote presentation at NRF 2019, Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen shared his insights into the future of retail and the national economy. He outlined five main predictions for the retail industry. They are as follows:

  • Retail Won’t Go Away:  The industry experiences disruption and transformation every few years, but it’s happening at a more rapid speed than ever before. Leaders in the industry must be willing to not only accept and react to change, but also transform their growth models.  
  • Retail Will be Digital and Physical: Technology and digital are already mainstays of today’s retail. However, in the future of retail, customers will not spend meaningful time thinking about physical versus digital. Customers will always choose the shopping modality that will deliver anything, anytime, and anywhere.     
  • Retail will Offer New Solutions to Customers: Retailers will create solutions on customers’ terms. That is why Kroger is building an ecosystem that offers a variety of modalities, including brick and mortar, delivery, pick up, and ship.
  • Retail will be Purpose-Driven: Retail will solve problems not only for customers, but also for communities and the planet. Stakeholders are increasingly deciding which businesses to support based on shared values and clarity of purpose. Because of Kroger’s “Zero Hunger, Zero Waste” commitments, which it hopes to reach by 2025, the company has decided to phase out use-once, throw-it-away plastic bags and transition to reusable bags in its stores on the same timeline.
  • Retail will Disrupt the Ad Industry: Advertisers spend $100 billion annually, and retailers are uniquely positioned to know how customers behave and react to those marketing messages. That is why Kroger introduced Kroger Precision Marketing, powered by 84.51°. Kroger Precision Marketing provides consumer packaged goods (CPG) advertisers the ability to reach Kroger’s more than 60 million customers through its ecosystem more precisely with measurable results.
McMullen also touched on the impact Kroger’s Our Brands offerings have had on costs for customers and their ability to provide the company with a steady stream of revenue. Six years ago, Simple Truth didn’t exist, and it’s now the largest natural and organic brand in the country, topping more than $2 billion in sales annually. 
He also discussed his views for the current uncertain economic client and advised investors to think twice about panicking. “We don’t see anything that would cause us to say there is a recession right around the corner,” he said. “And I think it is one of those things where it is easy to paint a picture where things can be fabulous, [or where] things are in a recession.”
McMullen summarized his position carefully. “People will always ask if I think retail will go away, and I say absolutely not. Now, it will not look like the way it looks today. There will be stores where you can go online, use a screen to buy something. You can scan your loyalty card and it will tell you what’s for dinner tonight, will make you dinner for tonight. It’s going to continually change, which to me makes it super fun.”

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