By Maree Ferguson

Edited by Laura Byrne


For the first time, I attended the Australian Food and Grocery Council conference on 1 June, in Brisbane.  The conference did not disappoint in its calibre of presenters: the opening keynote speaker was Brad Banducci, Managing Director and CEO of Woolworths.  The company has more than 965 supermarkets and 32 metro stores in Australia.

He shared insights into the company’s goals and industry-wide trends he’s seeing.

Groceries, Mr Banducci said, are – as you would expect – a significant household expenditure: Australian shoppers spend $210/week on groceries, with an average income of $1000/week.

Interestingly, the majority of Australians visit multiple retailers to do their food shopping. Only 18% are loyal Woolworths customers and 15% are loyal Coles customers, Mr Banducci noted. 2% are ALDI’s loyal customers, making them the third player in the market.

As a result, Woolies puts “the need to get our customers to put us first” as its number one priority.  To achieve this, Mr Banducci’s leadership focuses on the customer experience, with the idea that sustainable sales growth follows a customer-centric focus.

Woolworths measures its success by the “brand net promoter score” (which correlates with sales).  This score is impacted by team engagement at the store level and supplier engagement.  Woolworths measure 50,000 customer interactions each month – and recently 80% consumers rated Woolworths 6 out of 7 for customer experience.

His strategy of putting the customer first focuses on fixing the basics, such as creating a stable workforce, and ensuring service on the weekends is the same as weekdays.  There also needs to be the right balance between good prices every day, versus promotions, to create trust with consumers, Mr Banducci shared.

Woolworths is also focused on refreshing their stores, and encouraging team culture – both of which will also impact on the customer experience.

Mr Banducci predicted four customer mega-trends in the industry that Woolworths needs to focus on to keep competitive:

       Keeping up with customers’ quest for convenience (customers are visiting stores 2-3 times per week; many are unplanned visits)

       Providing prices customers can trust

       Celebrating customer and team diversity

       Meeting customer demand for “good-for-you”

The “good-for-you” trend transcends categories, Mr Banducci said, and during the past 12 months, customers have focused more on 1) how fresh products are when buying, 2) their own health and wellbeing when buying and 3) buying locally grown and sourced products.

It’s going to be exciting to see who wins in the retail stakes!

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