Highlights from Day 3 of The Global Summit

Groceries delivered by drone to high-rise windows. Pilotless freight planes. Shelf-stocking robots that can detect spills. These are just a few of the rapid-fire retail visions that flashed before delegates this morning, the third and final day of the CGF Global Summit in Chicago.

Also, noted speaker John S. Phillips, SVP of Customer Supply Chain & Go-To-Market at PepsiCo, said that most of these technologies already serve shoppers worldwide. From social commerce to 2D barcodes, digital innovations are ‘fundamentally changing how you expose products and drive conversion in a much more frictionless, seamless way’, he said.

The final day of the programme highlighted the retail sector, a hotbed of innovation with learnings to offer the rest of the industry. As the Summit drew to a close this afternoon, delegates were left with an optimistic forecast for the future of consumer goods.

Contrasting Retail Landscapes

Over the course of the morning, delegates took a virtual journey from West to East, stopping at leading retailers around the world. The tour began with an overview from CEO Tobias Wasmuht of SPAR International, the Dutch company with a presence in 48 countries, from automated convenience stores in northern Norway to locally attuned supermarkets in Eurasia. The spotlight then moved due north to Finland — where consumers are especially vocal in their demands for sustainability — represented by Rolf Ladau, President and CEO of Paulig, and Hannu Krook, Chairman of the Board and CEO of SOK Corporation.

‘Do not believe that emerging markets are in any way less interested in the use of technology, TikTok, Instagram and any other form of digital engagement.’ 

Tobias Wasmuht, CEO, SPAR International

‘Sustainability doesn’t live in middle management. You need to make sure that the CEO, the board, the owners and the management team are all supportive and then that trickles down.’

Rolf Ladau, President and CEO, Paulig

‘On biodiversity, if we don’t do something very impactful and fast, it will mean that we will have coronaviruses not only every 10 years but every second year or every year. So we really want to focus on biodiversity for the future.’

Hannu Krook, Chairman of the Board and CEO, SOK Corporation

After a networking break, delegates returned to the host country with a conversation with JJ Fleeman, CEO of Ahold Delhaize USA. With nearly 35 years in retail, he has seen US retail shift from a relatively simple focus on P&L and operations to a complex patchwork involving omnichannel, personalisation and sustainability. The Chinese market has developed in similar ways, said subsequent speaker Dr. Wenzhong Zhang, founder of Wumart/Dmall — and at an even faster pace.

‘The new normal is that we are now and forever going to focus on how we take our base business and constantly integrate new business models into it. Think about retail media, think about AI; we’re going to have these trends continue to accelerate.’

JJ Fleeman, CEO, Ahold Delhaize USA

‘We have to embrace digitalisation completely. This is not only for a better future, but also for survival.’

Dr. Wenzhong Zhang, Founder, Wumart/Dmall

Looking to the Future

In the final moments of the Summit, CGF Board Co-Chairs Frans Muller, President and CEO of Ahold Delhaize, and Dirk Van de Put, Chairman & CEO of Mondelēz, retook the stage to draw conclusions from the conference week and look forward to the year ahead.

‘The fact that this is the biggest Summit that we’ve ever had shows that we are dealing with a group of people that are interested in the subject and want to move the needle on ESG, and I feel very encouraged by that.’

said Dirk Van de Put.

‘We get energy from the industry, we get energy from retail and from manufacturing, but most of all from you being with us and showing that we can collaborate more and that we can do more together.’

added Frans Muller.

Their conclusions highlighted the common threads that united the Global Summit week. Delegates dared to engage with the ‘elephants in the room’: the pre-competitive challenges that the industry can solve if it works together. They also discovered emerging tools, such as generative AI and advanced data analytics, that can help tame those elephants while continuing to drive growth.

After the virtual tour this morning, over 1,300 industry leaders began their real journeys from Chicago, ready to apply their learnings at companies around the world. We look forward to greeting you all again next year in Amsterdam — and seeing the results of this week’s connections and commitments.