Other speakers included Erik Keptner, Ahold USA’s executive VP-marketing, who detailed his company’s customer loyalty performance, which he claimed was among the best at understanding its customers. He noted that the retailer’s insights have resulted in making Ahold’s stores a better place to shop. Those insights, in Keptner’s opinion, have given Ahold an edge through improved fundamentals and customer personalization. He added that Ahold will continue to drive best practices by sharing ideas with its European operations which will improve synergies and accelerate impact across the Ahold system.
Bhavdeep Singh, AUSA’s executive VP-operations, demonstrated five key points to the analysts: 1) division leadership teams are focused on local operations and execution; 2) Ahold maintains “best-in-class” methodologies and standardized processes to optimize store execution; 3) associates make the difference in service; 4) division play an important role in local communities; and 5) keeping costs down and increasing store efficiency is a continuing priority.
James McCann, who will be relocating to the U.S. shortly, and Andrew Parkinson, president of Peapod, wrapped up the individual speaker performances and addressed Ahold’s global online strategy.
McCann detailed the changing needs and trends of consumer and how his company’s diversified approach to online marketing has begun to pay dividends and should offer even greater reward in the future. To wit: online sales last year were $585 million; by 2016 they are projected to be $1.95 billion.
With its home delivery portal (Peapod in the U.S., Albert in Europe), McCann said that a 2-3 percent EBIT return is viable (when mature) and that Ahold is investing aggressively in infrastructure. Part of that investment is a new dedicated Peapod distribution center in Jersey City, NJ (which will open in 2014) and new “Pick Up Points (PUPs)” which are standalone structures located in convenient areas where Internet driven orders are ready to be picked up. Two such PUPs have opened in the last six weeks – one in Palatine, ILa nd another in The Netherlands. McCann is also excited about the potential of bol.com, which was not only an established Internet business before Ahold acquired it earlier this year, it has the chance to blossom under the retailer’s expertise. Bol.com was already selling non food and drug products. In closing, McCann noted, “We are on track to offering more convenience to our customers.”