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Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru

phil lempert the supermarket guru
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Mercatus Radio presents the Digital Grocer - Episode #7

This week’s episode, Sylvain is joined by special guest Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru® , to discuss top trends in the grocery retail sphere.

Phil offers insight into the importance of retailers owning their brand relationship with shoppers and maintaining control over the shopping experience. By investing in this critical factor, he notes that grocers can protect their customer base from the threat of other potentially attractive short-term third-party fulfillment options available in the market.

Sylvain and Phil go on to discuss some fascinating topics current and up-and-coming in the industry, such as consumers’ connectivity to food, environmental factors on growing food and how technology is being leveraged to change the entire industry, from farm to table.

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Sylvain Perrier:              Ladies and gentleman welcome to episode seven of the Digital Grocer. I’m your host, Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Mercatus Technologies, and as always joining me in the studio is Mr. Mark Fairhurst, our senior director of marketing.

Mark Fairhurst:             Welcome, everyone.

Sylvain Perrier:              It’s great to see you Mark, and at the board is … I like to call him Scotty but there is no warp speed on this podcast. Kevin Glen.

Kevin Glen:                   How’s it going?

Sylvain Perrier:              Gentlemen I’m so happy we’re back from episode six. Episode six was really kinda cool.

Mark Fairhurst:             Yup.

Sylvain Perrier:              We talked about cyber insurance with our friends over at Martin Mary Reed and the feedback and the questions coming out from the industry has been tremendous. I don’t know if I told you guys I was on the phone the other day with a company from Israel.

Mark Fairhurst:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sylvain Perrier:              Who is actually in our space …

Mark Fairhurst:             Okay.

Sylvain Perrier:              And they said, “We love the podcast.”

Mark Fairhurst:             Oh they’re actually subscribing?

Sylvain Perrier:              Yeah.

Mark Fairhurst:             Wow.

Sylvain Perrier:              They’re subscribed and they’re like they’re so excited and but and they love it because I know we actually normally release our episodes on Sundays.

Mark Fairhurst:             Right.

Sylvain Perrier:              Right? They kind of cue it up for the week?

Mark Fairhurst:             Yup.

Sylvain Perrier:              So they work on Sundays, and they play it in the office.

Mark Fairhurst:             [Laughs].

Sylvain Perrier:              Out loud on a speaker.

Mark Fairhurst:             That’s fantastic.

Sylvain Perrier:              That’s great, right? So they’re like, they had a bunch of questions and they’re gonna send questions. You know the one thing that’s really interesting about this space that we’re in in grocery retail is …

Sylvain Perrier:              You know historically we used to say, “Oh the landscape is gonna rapidly morph and change.” It’s happening today.

Mark Fairhurst:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sylvain Perrier:              There isn’t a week that goes by where there is a major announcement, whether it’s a new partnership, whether it’s a new piece of technology. Even greater than that is we’re actually now seeing retailers kind of morph the way that they do business.

Sylvain Perrier:              You know we did the interview I think, Mark, was it last week or the week before with Canadian Grocer?

Mark Fairhurst:             Yes. Yeah. Yup, yup.

Sylvain Perrier:              Right? And the whole title of it was autonomous vehicles.

Mark Fairhurst:             Correct.

Sylvain Perrier:              And they wanted our opinion in terms of you know do we see grocers adopting autonomous vehicles.

Mark Fairhurst:             Yup.

Sylvain Perrier:              And you we made the point of you know, for us to really drastic change in this space it’s going to take the large three automotive manufacturers to really lobby the governments hard, but it doesn’t preclude the fact that we’re seeing some tremendous investment in this space.

Sylvain Perrier:              You know Kroger working with doing a pilot in California in terms of delivering groceries in an autonomous vehicle and I think that’s great. We have this amazing show coming up in Las Vegas.

Mark Fairhurst:             Yes.

Sylvain Perrier:              I think it’s at the end of October.

Mark Fairhurst:             Yup.

Sylvain Perrier:              It opens on the Sunday.

Mark Fairhurst:             Yes.

Sylvain Perrier:              The 28th?

Mark Fairhurst:             Ah yes the 28th.

Sylvain Perrier:              28th.

Mark Fairhurst:             Yup.

Sylvain Perrier:              A Grocery Shop, which is a spin off of Shop Talk.

Mark Fairhurst:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sylvain Perrier:              We were at Shop Talk the last, which was this year. The grocery track was phenomenal.

Mark Fairhurst:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sylvain Perrier:              The content was amazing. The attendees and the buzz was just, was just great. I’m excited to see the trends that are going to be discussed at the show. I’m more curious to see what’s really going to be transformational at the end of the industry.

Sylvain Perrier:              And much like we’ve done in our other shows, in other episodes, we just don’t rely on our own knowledge.

Mark Fairhurst:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sylvain Perrier:              We bring in a special guest, and I will tell you, ladies and gentlemen, if you’re listening we’ve brought the one guy who gets this industry from end to end. Calling from somewhere in the United States, likely in the West Coast ’cause he knows better than the rest of us the weather’s way better in California.

Sylvain Perrier:              Joining us is the super market guru himself, Phil Lempert. Phil.

Phil Lempert:                Well thank you so much for inviting me.

Sylvain Perrier:              Oh you’re welcome. It’s great to have you on our show. And you know for those of you who don’t know Phil, he’s the guy all the major networks, whether it’s TV, radio, trade publications.

Sylvain Perrier:              He’s the guy they go to to de-mystify whatever may be happening from a product perspective, from a trend perspective, but quite frankly just to understand what is gonna be … what is happening in this space and what may be coming down the pike in this space.

Sylvain Perrier:              So it’s great to have you on our show today. So, so tell me from your perspective when you look at the retail landscape today what gets you really excited?

Phil Lempert:                Well what gets me excited, besides the work that you’re doing and what’s going on at Grocery Shop, is the fact that we’re really attracting for the first time ever whole new level of expertise to grocery.

Phil Lempert:                You know being in grocery was never the cool guys, but now we’re attracting people from Harvard and MIT and Stanford and people who really want to transform our industry. And that’s probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen.

Phil Lempert:                My job is to walk up and down the aisles of supermarkets and tap consumers on the shoulder and say, “Why did you buy this? Why didn’t you buy that?” And consumers are getting smarter than ever before so we’re really looking at this industry through a very different lens.

Phil Lempert:                And when I look at what Grocery Shop is doing, and you mentioned it earlier. They are not only attracting people that typically are not on the platform speaking, but they’re, they’re attracting people, CEO-level, who are really sharing the idea.

Phil Lempert:                Today’s food entrepreneur whether it’s for products or whether it’s for retail, are really driven by a whole new set of rules. It used to be you know driven by money. Now they’re driven by a social conscience, health and wellness, enhanced nutrition, life hacking.

Phil Lempert:                You know the world is upside down and I think for me that’s fabulous.

Sylvain Perrier:              Absolutely now I’m kind of curious how hard is it being a grocery retailer today when you have the myriad amounts of pressure coming down from the consumers who just want more and so is it become that much more of a challenge for a brick and mortar operator?

Phil Lempert:                Absolutely. And not only do you have the challenge from the consumer, but now you have the challenge, you know, from all new kinds of retailers who wanna sell food. Whether it’s food from e-commerce, whether it’s players who have never been in food before but decided because food is so big they want a piece of it.

Phil Lempert:                You know Kimbal Musk is a great example. Instacart, great example. I mean these are people typically who have not been in the food world that are coming in the food world. So you’ve got those challenges as a retailer and also, frankly, the traditional supermarket that’s 42,000 – 45,000 square foot is a dinosaur. It shouldn’t exist. It probably became extinct 10 years ago and these retailers just never did it.

Phil Lempert:                So we’re also looking at that physical configuration. How do we have to change this? And when you think about how a supermarket is built and how it’s put together, that we walk through the produce department then up and down the aisles and we’re you know passing by some 40,000 products. That’s absurd.

Phil Lempert:                Who says the supermarket should look like that? That’s not the way we eat. Why not re-envision a supermarket to be mirroring the way we eat? We buy foods for breakfast. We buy it for lunch. We buy it for snacks. We buy it for dinner. Why doesn’t the supermarket set up like that?

Phil Lempert:                And there’s certain products like milk, for example, that might be in all four of those areas. But we need to rethink the physical lay out of the supermarket if in fact we want consumers to get excited.

Phil Lempert:                And now with automatic replenishment what we’re gonna see is you know half the products that are in the supermarket, those brand names that we never want to run out of, those are gonna disappear, which is gonna give us a lot more space in that store to really have conversations with the produce guy, with the meat manager, with the baker and really get into a whole culinary experience, if you would, versus, again, that boring idea of walking up and down aisles.

Sylvain Perrier:              Yeah and that’s an interesting concept because at the end of the day what it lends itself well is to take the products that are ultimately very commoditized.

Phil Lempert:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sylvain Perrier:              You know I can get these online and for us at home with me and my wife I won’t go to the grocery store to buy Tide detergent. I’m not being offensive to Tide. I think it’s a great product, but I don’t need to see it on our store shelf.

Sylvain Perrier:              I’m actually more interested in, as you’re suggesting, having a conversation with the butcher behind the counter to understand what is this steak that I’m going to buy? Where did this cut of meat come from? And what can I do with it, right?

Sylvain Perrier:              So it’s a richer experience and then so the store becomes significantly decluttered in that sense. And it’s more akin to my lifestyle and likely to a bunch of other consumer’s lifestyles. But when I think of those concepts then I start to wonder are we over-retailed in America?

Phil Lempert:                Absolutely. We don’t need the amount of stores that we have, and also a lot of the stores that we have are mirror images of their competitors. So yeah maybe the floor’s a different color and so on, but it’s the same basic products.

Phil Lempert:                Which is why what we’re starting to see with retailers like Green Zebra or Erewhon, you know these brick and mortar experiences that are smaller, that have unique offerings that we can’t get elsewhere, that’s, that’s becoming very exciting you know for retail.

Phil Lempert:                Why should I have to, you know, go to Albertson’s and Safeway and see the same products? Especially when their stores are across the street? So sure I can save 10 cents on a can of peas. Big deal. That’s not what retailing and merchandising is all about.

Sylvain Perrier:              Yeah that’s true. So I’ll, let me relate an example to the audience. So north of Toronto there’s a very small family um retail outfit called Vince’s Market. And the majority of the people unless you’re here in Toronto will have not heard of it.

Sylvain Perrier:              So the family operates, I think, maybe 10 locations maximum. Kevin, do you know?

Kevin Glen:                   I know they had their location in Etobicoke.

Sylvain Perrier:              Okay.

Kevin Glen:                   Right? And they had one in Sharon in well.

Sylvain Perrier:              Correct yeah and I think they’ve subsequently opened more. The family turned around and ended up purchasing a Target location at one … Target decided to exit the community and space. You know reaction being this is a Target facility, maybe 50,000, 60,000 square feet.

Sylvain Perrier:              It is attached to a Cadillac Fairview Mall, which in the U.S. equivalent is, is like you know I can’t … Simon’s Malls right I think it’s called? Where they have the Lexus parked outside and the valet parking.

Sylvain Perrier:              So you’re kind of like why would a very small, small, small local retailer make that type of substantial investment? Well when you visit this location, and I met with the manager at the front door on the opening day and I said to him, “Why this?”

Sylvain Perrier:              He says, “You understand two things. First of all we know we’re not capturing your entire share wallet as a consumer. So we’ve actually made the decision not to put every single product that we can fit inside 50,000 square feet. That’s number one.”

Sylvain Perrier:              Number two is they’ve created these very, very unique food stations. Much like Price Chopper did with their concept that they did before the Market 32 came out.

Phil Lempert:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sylvain Perrier:              And so they’ve put in these very unique food stations inside. So unique that they have attracted European CPG’s into the Canadian marketplace to feature certain products – cheeses, prosciuttos and so on and so one. It is, and coffees, and it’s amazing when you walk in. It’s literally a culinary experience every station that you go to and I’m like wow this may be my new favorite grocery store. And that’s a great example that relates back to what you were saying, Phil. I did not get a chance to talk to any of the CPG’s inside the store.

Sylvain Perrier:              But historically my conversations with CPG’s is they’re playing a little bit of catch up on this whole e-commerce thing. And, they’re a bit worried. Is that the sense that you’re getting from your conversations?

Phil Lempert:                Yes, I think that not only CPG’s, but also retailers are fearful of what’s going on with e-commerce. E-commerce in the States in now about two percent. That’s it. I mean some people have said it’s gonna go to 10 percent.

Phil Lempert:                I don’t think so until we get to that automatic replenishment that we were discussing where our refrigerator doors and our cupboards have scanners built in and the shelves are scales and it can automatically monitor when I’m gonna run out of that milk and it sends me something on my phone saying, “You’re gonna run out of milk in a day. Should we order it?” And I just press yes and it magically arrives.

Phil Lempert:                I think that right now, and there are a couple exceptions, I think Wal Mart with Jet.com is an exception. But right now, all these people are just throwing everything they can against the wall to see what sticks.

Phil Lempert:                We don’t know where e-commerce is gonna go. I think we have an indication if you look at Target, you know, purchasing Shipt. What they want to do is they want to build a relationship, not just deliver groceries. So their model, Shipt’smodel, is that every time you order you have the same person picking your food and delivering your food to you.

Phil Lempert:                And that elevates that whole experience unlike Instacart where basically I’ve probably ordered from Instacart 100 times since they’ve been in the Los Angeles area. I’ve never seen the same person twice. So it’s a very different model, and it’s interesting to see what retailers are gonna do.

Phil Lempert:                Basically the retailers are telling me that Instacart is a short-term solution for them. They’re gonna want to do it themselves. Whether they go out there and buy Instacart or some of the others the way Target bought Shipt, but they want to control it more than it’s being controlled now.

Phil Lempert:                As far as you know e-commerce goes for CPG companies, certainly down here in the States … Dollar Shave Club is that perfect example and Bonne Bouche Socks and so on going direct to the consumer. And we’re seeing a lot more of these CPG companies, including food, wanting to go direct to the consumer, again to build that relationship because at the end of the day that’s all you’ve got.

Phil Lempert:                You’ve got a relationship. You can always have somebody make a better looking product, a cheaper product, a higher quality product whatever it is, but it’s that customer relationship that whether you’d be a retailer or a CPG company that you need to own and to protect ’cause that’s how you’re gonna make your money.

Sylvain Perrier:              No absolutely and I feel like when we started our business here in Mercatus we were really assuring the notion of e-commerce 2.0 and 2.0 you know really what it means is it’s not so much a closed system, more platform based.

Sylvain Perrier:              The ability for a retailer to leverage the investments that they’ve made in other pieces of technology by integrating them into a, you know, a central platform and so on. And then we rapidly went through what … I don’t want to call it a 3.0. I think it’s more a 2.5. This notion of the gig economy, right? Let’s super commoditize this element of this last mile and swing the pendulum towards that area, and I can see why retailers would wanna try that out because you know when your biggest expense is your labor, and someone offers you a solution where they take that expense away from you, you know the cost of trying it is next to nothing.

Sylvain Perrier:              But I can imagine if you wake up one morning and suddenly you realize well wait a minute, this is a full-fledged business. I can make money at this. What do I do? I can expect some retailers today are kind waking up and then maybe a little bit of a state of panic.

Phil Lempert:                Absolutely right because again not only do you want to own it from a quality stand point, but you know when I think, and I buy as you probably do, a bunch of things on Amazon. Amazon owns that relationship with me. Not one of the products that I’m buying has any kind of relationship with me. Some of them don’t even know who I am. Some that do ship by themselves you know do but there’s no contact so you know just picture Amazon owning that customer relationship. And if Safeway or Albertson’s or Schnuck’s or any of these retailers lose that relationship and it goes to a third party, then all of a sudden you’re really gonna stay up nights worrying that, you know, somebody’s gonna steal your business.

Sylvain Perrier:              Yeah absolutely and I’ve tried ordering food, you know when using Amazon, and it just, I don’t know this … for me I feel like I’m cheating on my grocer. [Laughing]. And it sounds kinda cheesy.

Phil Lempert:                I won’t tell him. I won’t tell.

Sylvain Perrier:              No but it’s, it, it sounds cheesy even to hear myself say it but really I just … there’s something incredibly impersonal, impersonal going to the door and there’s a brown box and you know the tape says you know, “Watch our new TV series Jack Ryan” whatever it’s called.

Phil Lempert:                Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sylvain Perrier:              And there’s something inside that it’s supposed to be you know conducive to me, you know my survival and my health. I just don’t know I mean I feel like there’s, there’s … I’m missing that emotional attachment and when I look at these services if it’s not coming directly from the retailer I don’t know I’m just not connecting as a consumer.

Sylvain Perrier:              I get the convenience aspect of it. But it’s just not the same. I’m kinda curious to hear from you what gets you excited? You know being the guru that you are, when you kind of look into your crystal ball, because I suspect you may have something that looks like that, when you look into it and you think, “You know in the next three to five years I’m really jazzed about this and I wanna see that.”

Phil Lempert:                Well I think overall what I’m really excited about is the fact that finally people feel the need to connect with their food both intellectually and physically. So I think that that’s big. And I think the tactics that that’s gonna take is gonna be what’s really interesting.

Phil Lempert:                That we’re starting to see 3D printed food. Talk about waste constantly. Forty percent of all food is being wasted. Well you know you go into a supermarket and you look at their pastry case and there’s beautiful birthday, wedding cakes and everything else there that, you know, the waste factor in my opinion probably is 40-50 percent.

Phil Lempert:                You know why can’t we just have a 3D cake printed on demand? We’re starting to see apps that connect farmers to consumers so a farmer puts out what their crop is today and they’ll deliver it to you.

Phil Lempert:                So I think technology, really having a, having a huge place and talking about technology cellular agriculture gets me really excited because when we look at how we are growing our food, how we’re growing our livestock, it’s a very inefficient system.

Phil Lempert:                Especially as we now have more climate change than ever before. And we have all these factors. If you look at the hurricanes that just took place, you know, here on the East Coast. I mean we have lost tens of thousands of pigs. A couple hundred thousand of poultry as well as the fields.

Phil Lempert:                And then what we have is we have all this land that basically is gonna be destroyed for growing foods for another five to 10 years. So we’ve gotta re-look at that and for me a lot of that has to do with indoor farming that we’re starting to see really taking place in Europe. And in Asia. Where we can grow our foods faster because the lights are on 24 hours a day.

Phil Lempert:                We don’t rely on the sun. Uh where it’s a controlled environment. Where we don’t have food safety issues like we had earlier this year that the government still doesn’t know where E. coli you know hit the whole arugula business and arugula has still not come back from that.

Phil Lempert:                So I think technology gets me very excited about what’s going on both from farm as well as connecting us to farmers. And frankly, we’re all gonna win by that because the more we know about our food, to your point, more emotional we can get about it the better we’re gonna eat.

Phil Lempert:                I really suggest that one of the reasons that we have this huge overweight problem around the world is people are not emotionally connected with their food. You know they’re just shoveling it in because they’re hungry or it’s 12 noon so it’s time for lunch.

Phil Lempert:                But we have to make that mind-body connection and really, really be much more mindful of what we’re eating if we’re gonna reverse that.

Sylvain Perrier:              Absolutely and to add to your narrative … you know I can’t agree more with this whole notion of the, you know, the environment and how we grow food or raise farm animals, right? If we’re seeing now in just in uh I think it’s on the East Coast of Canada … we’re seeing a lot of Israeli farm growing techniques and technology trickling in.

Mark Fairhurst:             Even, I was just having a conversation with some relatives last week in Leamington, Ontario which you have all these hydroponic green houses. There’s no soil involved whatsoever.

Sylvain Perrier:              Correct. Yeah and the Israeli’s have become really famous in growing tomatoes.

Mark Fairhurst:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sylvain Perrier:              In the desert in using these types of technologies. Um that’s kind of finding its way because you know, Phil, you’re so right I mean you get one hurricane, especially a hurricane Michael that just struck, eliminated literally as you said for five years uh some of the best growing land for certain types of things.

Sylvain Perrier:              When I kinda look at the landscape of what’s emerging in terms of technology I’m … you know if I put my consumer hat on I’m thinking greater convenience, greater transparency, but a greater risk to privacy.

Sylvain Perrier:              So that is one that, you know, I’m keeping my eye out where California is by 2020 is gonna come out with their own version of GDPR.

Mark Fairhurst:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sylvain Perrier:              Uh which is really critical. And I think that’s something that anyone whose running a loyalty program of some sort or any some sort of online registration mechanism where you’re sharing private information is gonna have to keep an eye out.

Sylvain Perrier:              Where also I think retailers are catching up to where the banks were in the 80s and the 90s, which is the notion of share wallet, looking at the data, hopefully leveraging it to create some sort of personalization. To recommend content. To grow share a basket.

Sylvain Perrier:              We know Kroger is number one in this space here because of their strategic investments they’ve made in the past. I think you’re gonna see that type of thinking and knowledge trickle in to some of the technology that may make its way into retail. I think that’s incredibly exciting.

Sylvain Perrier:              I also think that we are about to step out of … I call this we’re in a world of Wal Mart 2.0. Phil you probably remember this. Do you remember what it was like 20 years ago when you were a retailer trying to compete against Wal Mart?

Phil Lempert:                Yup.

Sylvain Perrier:              It was atrocious, right? You needed to find a way to differentiate yourself.

Phil Lempert:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sylvain Perrier:              I think we are going back into one of those phases again where retailers are gonna have to re-learn how to properly compete and differentiate themselves against Wal Mart.

Phil Lempert:                I think you’re right and especially I’m watching very closely what’s going on at Jet.com in New York and you know I think that Wal Mart is gonna stay ahead of their competitors by having Jet, by experimenting with a lot of the things that they’re doing with Jet.

Phil Lempert:                And moving it forward into Wal Mart, you know, 4.0 and everybody else is going to be playing catch up because the first go round with Wal Mart it was all about price and assortment. And nobody could beat their prices.

Phil Lempert:                But in the meantime, what Wal Mart has done is they’ve created a huge infrastructure that from farm right to the stores that nobody can compete with.

Phil Lempert:                So it’s not just about price anymore with Wal Mart it’s being as smart as Wal Mart has been as a retailer.

Sylvain Perrier:              Absolutely and I would, I would say they’ve not been afraid to invest not only in the infrastructure, but to invest in innovation.

Phil Lempert:                Yup.

Sylvain Perrier:              And then the whole process.

Phil Lempert:                They’re constantly out there experimenting with C stores, with other store formats and so on. And I mean even if you look um earlier this week you know at Sears filing bankruptcy, you know, that’s a perfect case where you had one of the top retailers in the world slowly, painfully going out of business because they just never got it.

Phil Lempert:                They weren’t investing. They weren’t looking at innovation. They weren’t seeing what’s next. They weren’t getting online. You know every retailer should be looking at that and get very nervous.

Mark Fairhurst:             Yeah and I made the comment today on social media when the announcement came out last night. Ultimately Sears, specifically in Canada, lost its way the moment they decided to abolish their catalog.

Phil Lempert:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mark Fairhurst:             And they had no hope in hell in surviving because they had not even conceptualized … not only did they not conceptualize what was gonna keep them afloat. They even, and this is a true story, they co-opted the idea of e-commerce to a series of organizations that were responsible for the publication of the catalog.

Mark Fairhurst:             So if that’s not a recipe for disaster I mean I have no clue then what is.

Phil Lempert:                Exactly. If we think of their catalog as really the first direct-to-consumer uh play that anybody did and then everybody you know copied them, made it better. Then we got into QVC. Now we’re direct to consumer from manufacturers. Yeah they have it but to your point you know you can’t sit back and stop innovating and stop thinking.

Phil Lempert:                And not everything that you’re gonna do is gonna work. And not everything that you do is, is gonna be profitable but you need to be out there doing these things.

Phil Lempert:                You know bringing it back to food in Chicago you know Mariano’s is really the leader, in my opinion, for [inaudible 00:27:06] which is one of the reasons that I feel that Kroger, you know, bought Roundees and Mariano’s.

Phil Lempert:                And um I was just talking to Gary Zeikl a couple weeks ago. They had one of their gross run offerings, which was their oyster bar, and it was written up. I think it was in Chicago Magazine as the hottest pick up place Friday nights in Chicago where people would go there instead of a bar to meet.

Phil Lempert:                And I said how’s everything going with the oyster bar and stuff like that? He said I had to close them. And I said what do you mean, you know? I thought they were doing so well.

Phil Lempert:                He said yeah they were doing too well. There were not enough oyster shuckers in Chicago that I could hire or people that I could train. So again the innovation has to keep on coming and keep on coming whether it’s a food service operation, whether it’s a retail operation, whether it’s a product.

Phil Lempert:                I mean look at Apple. You know and everybody laughs the once a year you know Apple meeting that they have where they talk about innovation and you know the next series of iPhone and then you have some of the pundits that say, “Oh well you know it’s not that innovative. They haven’t done anything.”

Phil Lempert:                They are constantly pushing themselves to innovate, to create what’s next, what’s new and even if it’s little things. I think back on my iPhone that I have today versus my first iPhone. Wow. What a difference. And then I think back to what my iPhone is today to when I bought a Newton and before that a mini computer. My iPhone does more you know for $1,000 bucks than a mini computer that I bought you know 25 years ago for $100,000.

Sylvain Perrier:              But you know and we went to the moon in 1969 with considerably less technology. Well you guys went. I mean we watched on TV in Canada [laughing]. Sorry about that.

Sylvain Perrier:              Ladies and gentlemen, we’re here with Phil Lempert. He is the supermarket guru, Now Phil you’re going to Grocery Shop and if our listeners want to get ahold of you how do they do that?

Phil Lempert:                Sure well at Grocery Shop I’ll actually be having two conferences there, what they call talks, so I have four presenters who get up, they talk for seven minutes and then I question them about their talk for seven minutes.

Phil Lempert:                So on Monday the 29th at 4:15 we’ll be doing food safety and supply chain transparency. That’s gonna cover block chain, internet of things and beyond and then on Tuesday morning at 9:15 I have a panel using data to drive in-store conversion and we’re gonna be talking about that.

Phil Lempert:                But I’ll be there the whole time. You know it’s just send me an email [email protected] and we’ll hook up.

Sylvain Perrier:              Oh that’s great. And mark if people want to get a hold of us for anything regarding the podcast and if they want to get a hold of us at Grocery Shop?

Mark Fairhurst:             Yeah absolutely. We’re sponsoring Grocery Shop. We’re one of the uh level five sponsors. We’re thrilled to be able to uh showcase uh everything that Mercatus is doing and support not only our clients who are attending but also uh our partners as part of our larger technology ecosystem.

Mark Fairhurst:             We will be at booth 314 uh in the trade show area and we will be there from noon on Sunday to Wednesday at noon when the show closes, and we encourage everyone to stop by.

Mark Fairhurst:             To reach us any other time please go to our website triple w mercatus.com Find us at the bottom in the footer, our social channels. Follow us there and uh we look forward to uh hearing comments and accolades and critiques of our podcast and uh we look forward to seeing everyone at Grocery Shop.

Sylvain Perrier:              Phil, it was a pleasure to have you on the show and thank you everyone for listening. Our next episode is in the works and the release date is TBD so check back soon. Update your feed. You won’t wanna miss it!


Sylvain Perrier

Sylvain is president and CEO of Mercatus Technologies, and the driving force behind the leading digital commerce platform in grocery retail today.

Phil Lempert

For more than 25 years, Phil, an expert analyst on consumer behavior, marketing trends, new products and the changing retail landscape, has identified and explained impending trends to consumers and some of the most prestigious companies worldwide. Known as The Supermarket Guru®, Phil is a distinguished author and speaker who alerts customers and business leaders to impending corporate and consumer trends, and empowers them to make educated purchasing and marketing decisions.