5 Key Takeaways from the Digital F&B Conference

March 17, 2022

Last week our team attended the Digital Food and Beverage Conference in London where we met with brand leaders from all around Europe to discuss the latest innovations in eCommerce.

After two days of intensive sessions and discussions we learned what the heads of eCommerce of the top Food and Beverage companies in the world are concerned about:

1. Trendy basics on the Digital Shelf

The relevance of tracking and optimizing the fundamentals of the Digital Shelf was one of the main topics discussed along the conference sessions. 

There was a mantra that was repeated of going “back to basics”: this means monitor and optimize your Digital Shelf and not getting carried away by trendy trends was mentioned in some of the most important talks. 

Things like the relevance of Hero Images to increase conversion on Retailers or the correct use of keywords in the description and titles of the products to better position on search (both as a good practice for Retail SEO or to push ranking of the manufacturer and the retailer on Google) were amply discussed.   

We absolutely agree with the importance of the basics on the Digital Shelf (so much we just launched a very short ebook about it) but at the same time we believe it is crucial to act fast and keep an eye on the new challenges within eCommerce.

The basic understanding of the Digital Shelf requires also a correct monitoring of eRetail Media (paid search and ads) and also keeping track of new up and coming players like Quick Commerce where the dynamics of how the actual Digital Shelf works has its own set of rules. 

You need to keep an eye on what’s coming next because in eCommercewhat’s a trend today, will be a basic tomorrow.

2. Quick Commerce is making everything move (even) faster

As if the pandemic hadn’t already accelerated eCommerce adoption worldwide fast enough, then came the new players in the eRetail spectrum that are making the wheel move ever more quickly. 

We’re talking about what worries all eCommerce managers from F&B across Europe right now: the rise of Quick Commerce Apps like Gorillas or Getir. As we mentioned in one of our most recent posts, Quick Commerce players have the ability to deliver an order in the shortest possible time. In less than an hour or even in a few minutes. 

It’s not only that the consumer adoption pace of this type of retail is moving quite fast but that also it's setting its own rules for the Digital Shelf and brands need to understand the dynamics to be able to win. 

Manufacturers are clueless because these companies do not provide any information so eCommerce Managers need the right data in place to monitor these players, along with the right KPIs.

Some of the concerns related to Quick Commerce: 

  • There are only a few “dark-stores” or fulfillment centers in the cities where they currently operate. 
  • A low number of SKUs available per category on the shelf means not every brand will have a spot. 
  • The small inventory makes it easier to be “out of stock”: which needs to be monitored more often (even more than once per day). 
  • It’s still not an efficient nor an integrated channel yet: Quick Commerce apps are mainly stocking up from cash & carry POS and not directly from manufacturers. 

As the wheel keeps moving this model will keep evolving which only means eCommerce managers will need to look for ways to keep up.  

3. Social Commerce is blurring the lines

Interesting companies are bridging the gap between Social Media Ads and Retailers. 

We actually talked about this in our blog post about the top eCommerce trends to watch out for in 2022: with Social Commerce consumers can click a product Ad in Social Media and a deep link gets them into the relevant product page within a retailer. 

This makes the process of shopping online frictionless (for the buyer) who can go from browsing through an App feed to “adding to cart” seamlessly. However we predict this will have implications and maybe even bring a bit of friction for eCommerce teams. 

Media campaigns run by Marketing will connect with Trade Media within the brands blurring the lines between job roles, teams and budgets. 

4. One size does not fit all (especially in eCommerce)

The Digital F&B Conference is an event for brands that operate in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods segment, in a specific category. 

However, even inside the Food & Beverage Category, there are subcategories: different types of products incite different responses from consumers and present different levels of adoption of eCommerce.

The challenges that a Chocolate Brand might face are quite different from what beverage companies could experience when selling online. For example, the rise of Quick Commerce Apps has been spectacular across Spirits and Beverage brands for consumers, even more than for other types of products. 

Even among brands in the same subcategory there are important differences because each company might be in a different level of maturity in regard to the expertise of their eCommerce team and the current share of sales acquired online. 

Although there are of course some “macro-trends” that affect the entire CPG scope it’s important that eCommerce managers approach these challenges with the help of flexible tools and data customized to their needs.

5. We’re back! In person

Although at Shalion we’re a young and highly digital company (like our customers) we’ve been missing face to face interactions.

All of the customers with whom we were already in contact (online) before the event and who we met there said a variation of the same thing: "It's so good to finally meet you in person and meet the 3D version of you". 

It was very refreshing for us to be able to be onsite at this very first event of the year and probably one of the firsts of our industry since lockdowns began. 

To be able to meet in person so many talented professionals from the eCommerce sphere left us truly energized to keep providing our clients with the most innovative data solutions and help them grow the share of eCommerce within their organizations. 

And as simple as it sounds: that was our main takeaway!

Part of Shalion's leadership team onsite after the end of the Conference. From left to right: Germán Loewe (CEO & Co-Founder), Sam Boyle (Commercial Head of UK), Daniel Schwedhelm (Head of Global Sales), Albert Turbina (CPO) & Valeria Bellani (CCO & Co-Founder)

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