Campbell Soup makes biggest e-commerce move yet

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Campbell Soup makes biggest e-commerce move yet

By Mike Troy - 07/20/2017

Campbell Soup Co. thinks it can grow its e-commerce business to $300 million within five years and it just named a former Kohl’s, eBay and Amazon executive to lead its efforts.

The $8 billion CPG company, best known for its namesake brand as well as Pepperidge Farm, Bolthouse Farms, Swanson, Pace and Prego, named Shakeel Farooque to the newly created role of Vice President and Head of Digital and E-Commerce. He will build and lead Campbell’s digital and e-commerce organization, focusing on scaling the company’s digital marketing capabilities, creating an integrated e-commerce approach, driving innovation and developing a new supply chain model. He will report to Mark Alexander, Campbell’s President Americas Simple Meals and Beverages.

“E-Commerce is a significant growth opportunity for Campbell, and it represents the future of food commerce,” said Alexander. “Only those who get there in a fast and smart way will win, and Campbell intends to do just that. We have an accelerated strategy to invest and grow in this space. It starts with talent. Shakeel is a builder – a builder of organizations, ideas, partnerships and solutions. That’s exactly what we need him to do here.”

Farooque’s hiring comes as Campbell and virtually all large CPG companies struggle with top line growth challenges against the backdrop of private label and niche brand competition, shifting consumer preferences and deflation. Campbell President and CEO Denise Morrison believes accelerating digital marketing and e-commerce efforts can help the company drive growth in a rapidly-changing food landscape. In addition, Morrison told investors at it recent investor day that other keys include:

 ·       Building greater trust with consumers through real food, transparency and sustainability.

·       Continuing to diversify Campbell’s portfolio in fresh foods and health and well-being.

·       Increasing its presence in the faster-growing snacking category.

While the company has specific initiatives in place against each strategy, it has been particularly active in the area of e-commerce even prior to Farroque’s hiring. In early July, Campbell launched an updated Campbell’s Kitchen skill for the Amazon Echo Show, Amazon’s new hands-free smart device that adds a visual component to Echo. The new skill lets users see and hear step-by-step instructions while making recipes and ask questions.

“We anticipate that visual and voice technology will change the way our brands connect with our consumers,” Greg Shewchuk, Campbell’s Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer said when the upgrade was announced. “The Campbell’s Kitchen skill brings new utility to the connected kitchen by encouraging users to engage, discover and cook meal solutions that work for their busy schedules.”

Campbell also recently formed a dedicated team to accelerate its partnership with Amazon to fast-track digital and e-commerce capabilities. And just two months ago Campbell announced a $10 million strategic investment in Chef’d, a meal kit provider that launched in 2015. The investment made Campbell Chef’d’s largest strategic investor and gave the company a seat on the board. Under the terms of the partnership, Chef’d will help with infrastructure and distribution of meal solutions through the Campbell’s Kitchen site while Campbell expects to benefit from Chef’d’s insights on e-commerce business models, access to data analytics and insights on shopper behaviors. The two companies will also test various capabilities over the three-year agreement around product innovation and fulfilment.

“E-commerce will transform the food industry in similar ways to how it transformed entertainment and apparel. It is a game changer for consumers, food makers and retailers alike,” Morrison said when the Chef’d deal was announced. “The movement is irrevocable and irreversible. In the future, shopping for and preparing meals will be flexible, fully automated and even anticipatory.”

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