Publix accelerates omnichannel efforts
The race among food retailers to "omnify" their operations has prompted Publix to appoint an industrial engineer to the newly created role of VP of Omnichannel and Application Development.
Publix said Erik Katenkamp would serve as the retailer's first ever VP of Omnichannel and Application Development to focus on ensuring shoppers have a seamless digital and physical experience. The $34 billion retailer said Katenkamp was instrumental in launching the Publix Delivery online shopping solution, including formalizing collaboration with delivery service provider Instacart.
“We are proud of the work Erik and his team have accomplished. With dedicated resources, we will be able to focus on the accelerated growth of our omnichannel strategy,” said Todd Jones, Publix President and CEO. “Our online offerings are an extension of our in-store experience. We remain committed to providing exceptional service to our customers in whichever manner they choose to shop with us."
Retailers of all types have been moving at a feverish pace to create the type of seamless physical and digital experience that gave rise to the word omnichannel more than a decade ago. More recently, food retailers have picked up the pace of activity by providing online ordering capabilities and store pick up options dubbed click and collect and partnering with third parties to offer home delivery. Publix has been among the more deliberate retailers in its digital actions, due in part to the company's strategic positioning as a place, "where shopping is a pleasure." It is a strategy the company executes by providing a high level of service in clean and in stock stores that are so highly concentrated throughout the southeast they provide shoppers convenient access.
Publix strengths insulated it somewhat from the rise of online shopping, but the retailer's appointment of Katenkamp to a newly created role shows the company's digital efforts are in for a serious upgrade. Katenkamp joined Publix in 1995 as an industrial engineer in manufacturing after beginning his career in the aerospace industry. He was promoted to business IT manager in 1999 and director of business application delivery in 2006. In 2013 he was named vice president of information systems — application development. Katenkamp graduated from University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering.