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As the second day of the 2015 Dairy-Deli-Bake got under way in Atlanta on Monday, there was reason to celebrate.
Michael Eardley, the new president and CEO of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, announced to trade press that attendance was trending to be the highest in the long history of the seminar and expo.
That bodes well for Eardley, the former H-E-B deli chief, as he gears up to lead his membership in “growing the future together,” as he outlined in his keynote address Monday morning.
Eardley explained that of the six influencers of the IDDBA – community, people, food safety, competition, technology and consolidation, together the “foundation of everything IDDBA delivers to the industry” – the group would be paying considerable attention to the first three.
Addressing community, Eardley said the group would be focusing on team building and education, and its events team would work on making future shows more about community building for retailers, not just customer acquisition.
In regards to people, Eardley noted that the “talent market is tightening,” and there’s a “need to bring the next generation to our industry,” particularly “hospitality-focused foodies.”
The organization plans to provide substantial scholarship dollars to help members invest in their teams. “We need to attract and train people who love the product with passion,” he said, adding the industry needs to set about “creating a compelling future vision that motivates people to get involved.”
Following up on Monday’s food safety sessions, Eardley further stressed the group’s “goal to include food safety in everything we do.” IDDBA will continue and expand its training and education programs, with a particular emphasis on fighting listeria, as studies have indicated its persistence in retail delis, Eardley noted.
Meanwhile, he continued, retailers need to embrace omnichannel marketing to address how customers have changed the way they shop. Eardley described omnichannel as “all the ways the customer decides to connect with you, and your ability to deliver a satisfying experience across all of those connections.”
Omnichannel, he stressed, is “the topic for the immediate future … it’s about delivering value to our customers.”
To that end, IDDBA plans related research projects, including one with the Retail Net Group due out in July and other with Brick Meets Click, expected in August.
“You need to be able to sell to your customers in all the ways they want to engage with you,” Eardley declared, noting that marketing is less about the product and more about how you sell it to customers.
Omnichannel opportunities for deli and bakery operators include moving shoppers toward a purchase decision before they come into the store; promoting additional purchases with digital devices that make ordering faster and easier; making it easier to get products by aligning with click and collect, a local deliver service or self-service dispenser; and encouraging shopper feedback and conversation to increase engagement and boost return trips.
“Someone will come along to take your business unless you have an omnichannel plan to protect it,” Eardley warned.