At IGD’s new-styled BIG DEBATE there weren’t half a lot of old-school PowerPoints. Some were impressive, entertaining. But I’m struggling to think of any new news from the event. (And where was Michael Buerk to make us laugh?)
That’s why I always like the audience polls at the event. And never more so than this year. The time for thought leadership, and for big, top-down strategic reveals, is over. The course for the big four has been set. Whatever you may think of ‘the plan’ (and there was certainly no-one prepared to debate the merits of the various resets), now is a time of execution. And for suppliers, as much as journalists, there was probably a sense of frustration, a sense of wanting the retailers to deliver on their plans and their new promises. They could not.
The timing didn’t help. Tesco’s results weren’t out till the next morning. As honest as the presentation of CEO Dave Lewis was - and despite more promises of a change of behaviour - he could not offer any reassurance that the reset is working. For evidence of a brighter future we had to wait about 15 hours.
So, the star of the show was arguably the audience, and those polls. The result that interested me most was around online: a poll in which 52% predicted online food retail will one day be as profitable as physical stores are now. What the poll didn’t say was whether that was because they thought store profits would fall even further. Down to 2%, according to Lewis, store profits are nothing to get excited about, for sure.
In fact, I was more excited by a presentation from Just Eat CEO David Buttress. A great example of a technology company that really understood the value of its data and used it inveigle itself into the fragmented but growing food-to-go market. (And 86% of THE BIG DEBATE’s delegates believe food to go will continue to eat into the share of food retail.)
I’m also excited (if that’s the right word) by our test drive of Amazon’s fledgling Fresh service. Our Amazon 33 was delivered in 46 minutes. For £6.99. If they can achieve that sort of performance at scale, they may not make any money, but it sure would be a game changer, and not just the weekly shop.