How is retail going to look like in a few years’ time? Which are going to be the key consumer expectations? In which way technology is really going to transform the way we shop? How this evolution will play out in different marketplaces, anyway? These are questions difficult to answer. The shopping experience complexity is growing. Borders between virtual and physical environments are increasingly blur. Implications for retailers, suppliers and even manufacturers are many and quite significant. To say those are one billion questions is to fall short. Far short.
Many retailers and manufacturers are trying to sharpen up their strategies to meet the needs of the shoppers of the future. Some of them have already realized this is a mission too difficult and with a lot at stake as to try to accomplish it successfully on their own.
In Co-Society we can’t insist enough on the role of startups as a part of an innovation ecosystem around consolidated players in a market. One way to do it is by creating a program to offer them an opportunity to collaborate and work together, trading their fresh ideas and approaches for an exclusive access to the market, their capacity for rapidly prototyping a new technology or business model in exchange for getting a first big client on the spot if their idea is proved right.
That is what Mondelez International is doing this summer with its Shopper Futures program. Mondelez International is a global snacking powerhouse, operative in 165 countries and with a revenue of 34 billion dollars last year, a world leader in biscuits, chocolate, gum, candy, coffee and powdered beverages, with billion-dollar snack brands such as Oreo, LU, Nabisco, Cadbury, Milka or Trident. Shopper Futures is a program looking for entrepreneurs who are developing technology platforms and mobile solutions that are solving business challenges in the retail sector.
Mondelez is making an open call to startups that are disrupting the retail space, covering areas including the checkout experience, mobile payments, shopper analytics, inventory optimization, loyalty programs, interactive displays and more. The three-month program is meant to pair entrepreneurs with brand marketers from participating Mondelēz International brands. Shopper Futures is designed to give retail startups an opportunity to work side-by-side with some top retail food brands to design and launch a market-ready pilot in 90 days. A group of finalists will be selected to participate in a pitch day in August, where the brands will select their final startup partners for pilot planning.
Shopper Futures wants to identify early-stage innovators to learn from them, to harness the startup entrepreneurial spirit to discover technology solutions for real business challenges. Brands will offer in exchange access to consumer insights and marketing expertise to help develop their product and go-to-market strategy.
Two elements make this program especially worth to highlight:
Shopper Futures will include on the pilots not just start-ups but also retailers willing to participate and partner, proving perhaps that if trying to build an innovation ecosystem, the more kinds of players involved, the better.