CMA|SIMA Private Networking Groups: 9 Key Insights from Q2

July 20, 2021

We Share 3 Key Takeaways each for Brands, Retailers and eCommerce.

Each quarter the CMA and SIMA host a number of Private Networking Groups (PNGs) made up of suppliers and retailers to discuss industry pain points and best practices. Participation in these groups is by request only to account for competitive overlap. Some have been meeting since 2017, so the richness in conversation among peers results in extremely actionable insights.

While the full notes remain available to participants only, we wanted to share some of the key takeaways from recent meetings for brands, retailers, and on eCommerce discussed at Executive Roundtables hosted during our annual Conference in June.

These takeaways are meant to both inform on real-time industry topics and make members and non-members aware of the networking opportunities available through ARC (The Association for Retail and Consumer Professionals).

So, without further ado, here are 9 key insights from our networking groups in Q2.

Key Takeaways for Brands

  1. Raw material cost increases are starting to impact food, consumables, and hard goods like motor oil in a major way (less so on other discretionary categories like writing). Up to this point/during the pandemic branded sales largely outpaced private label; attendees speculate impending price increases could push consumers back to PL.
  2. Suppliers continue to see supply and availability issues and, in some cases, are still struggling to stay in stock. This is making it difficult to parse out whether sales trends within categories are driven by actual underlying consumer behaviors/preference or just availability.
  3. eCommerce penetration appears to have remained stable despite the country opening back up, with 80-90% of online grocery sales going through click-and-collect/store pickup. Private label is typically not prioritized online, as search ranking and page placement is largely funded by brands, and attendees wonder about the outlook for private label in an increasingly online retail environment.

‌Key Takeaways for Retailers

  1. Some major retailers are moving to smaller headquarters, or closing certain offices completely and eliminating permanent in-office positions. Offering flexibility is viewed as a requirement for retaining top talent going forward.
  2. While many were expecting a return to the office in summer 2021, that date is now being pushed back—with factors such as reduced size of office space and specific employee space designation causing unforeseen complications. All agree that we will eventually see a permanent blend of remote and in-office work.
  3. Virtual onboarding has negatively impacted retention over the past year, especially among more junior level employees. Organizational cultures have suffered, despite many investing in virtual events/workshops, and participants agree in-person social corporate events should return as soon as possible.

Key Takeaways on eCommerce

  1. Combined B&M and online data sets for a consolidated view of the business continues to be a challenge. Retailers with robust omnichannel execution are best suited to provide this view but lack of consistent approaches and execution could make it difficult to develop national solutions.
  2. For businesses that were first built direct to consumer (DTC), expanding in to brick and mortar represents a whole different paradigm than traditional brick and mortar moving into DTC. Considerations include:
    • Pricing strategies to retain DTC margins and yet create the right level of velocity to compete at shelf
    • Packaging changes to reflect store shelf dimensions and cases/packages per shelf
    • Consumer/Shopper strategies that recognize different shopper behaviors (online vs. brick and mortar), executed in the most efficient way.
  3. Chewy continues to carve out its influence in the pet channel, looking to offer services for the full lifecycle of a pet. Chewy’s assortment continues to become more robust and shoppers can now work/chat/schedule an appointment with a veterinarian through the platform.

Want to Get Involved?

Private Networking Groups are a great benefit for CMA and SIMA members. Connect with other peers in a non-competitive setting, share knowledge and see how other companies are dealing with the same issues you face every day.

For more information or to participate in a Private Networking Group through the CMA or SIMA, feel free to contact Director of Content and Member Engagement Jackie Lewis: