PROFILE

Keith Anderson

SVP, Strategy & Insight, Profitero
Keith Anderson is senior vice president, strategy & insights, for Profitero, where he leads product strategy and the analyst team. Keith’s insights on technology and retail have been featured in Financial Times, re/code, Bloomberg, Forbes Magazine, and Shopper Marketing Magazine. He has been a featured speaker at RetailNet Group, Brand Activation Association, Food Marketing Institute, Retail Council of Canada, and other retail, technology, and media events.
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  • Posted on: 05/26/2022

    Is now the perfect time for grocers to sell imperfect food?

    There's a huge need for waste reduction in grocery (and other categories). The ugly/imperfect foods model seems to have potential, but I'm equally intrigued by the "upcycling" trend that converts food that's traditionally wasted into more palatable products.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2022

    Will a TikTok-like video feature make a grocery app go viral?

    I'm not sure this will be the key to their success or failure, but it's a clever and on-trend way to stand out in a crowded online grocery landscape. And given the centrality of food culture to their offering, short-form video makes a lot of sense.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2022

    Would grocery delivery be a healthy addition to Apple’s business?

    It's a little tough to imagine Apple emerging as a leading online grocer. They do love to operate marketplaces where they can take a material cut of every transaction (as they do in music, for example). And there is promise in building personalized nutrition plans on top of the health and fitness data. But Apple emerging as a grocery retailer? I can believe they've explored the idea in some form -- the size of the prize makes it an intriguing target. But I'm skeptical they'd pursue a model resembling Instacart's. I think it's likelier that Apple would try to offer differentiated advertising and personalized product recommendations.
  • Posted on: 03/16/2022

    Will Target Zero help guide sustainable choices?

    It's good to see Target making an effort to increase transparency and communicate more clearly about product characteristics that impact the environment. I would love to see much more transparency about retailers' and brands' "back-of-house” decisions about how they power, heat, and cool their production, storage, and office facilities and move goods point to point. From a climate impact perspective, clean energy and logistics are mission critical. The most forward-thinking brands I'm observing (e.g. Bite) are leading with clear messaging on these topics in addition to decisions they've made about product form (concentrated tablets) and packaging (plastic-free and 100 percent compostable and recyclable).
  • Posted on: 08/10/2021

    Will voice shopping ever take off without screens?

    The closest experiences to "good" I've had with voice shopping combine voice input with screen output. Versus typing or swiping, voice input really can reduce friction. But voice output of, say, search results is usually limited to awkwardly reading the title of one or two products, which is why voice-only interaction is only really viable for tasks like re-ordering or adding items to lists. I do see a lot of potential for VISO (voice input, screen output) modes of interaction, though I can't point to tons of great examples. Amazon is experimenting with everything from live shopping to AR for fashion, and I think something will eventually prove to be a better experience than typing or swiping.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2021

    Will retailers and brands pay a steep price for greenwashing?

    There are legitimate initiatives at both retailers and brands, but greenwashing largely prevails. Decarbonizing commerce is increasingly the highest "environmental" priority, but nothing happening in retail or CPG today is at the pace or scale required to align with industry or society-level targets. The real work needs to involve the entire supply chain and logistics network. What is produced and how, and how those goods ultimately flow (or circulate) between producers, retailers, and consumers has massive implications for the industry's impact, and I think consensus is building that more accountability is needed upstream. The industry's energy, heating and cooling, and transportation systems need to be prioritized. Technical solutions already exist, as do consumer-accepted (if not preferred) alternatives for many cases. But the economics can be challenging, if only because they require significant capital expenditure and process re-architecture. I've often noted that the only thing that seems to motivate retailers more than their own consumers is what their competition is doing. I'd love to see more competition on this front.
  • Posted on: 04/22/2021

    Say goodbye to Walmart’s robotic towers

    The drivers of automation tests are pretty clear: pressure to maintain service levels while managing labor expenses; the unfavorable unit economics of online versus self-service retail; and, most recently, the comparative resilience and reliability of robots during a pandemic. It's perhaps unusual to see such a large, relatively capital-intensive initiative suspended or rolled back so quickly, but Walmart is clearly following its customer and continuing to invest in future-ready operations. Given its scale and leverage, perhaps Walmart is also negotiating favorable terms with some of its partners, enabling it to test and learn nimbly while sharing or shifting the risk to emerging technology providers eager to produce case studies.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2021

    Should Amazon open clearance stores?

    Amazon has played with similar concepts in both the virtual and physical realms, for example with the Warehouse Deals section of its site and the roving Treasure Truck promotions. It also owns Woot, one of the original "surprise and delight" experiences in e-commerce. But as TJX, Costco, and others have proven, there's still demand for a serendipitous "treasure hunt" that is hard to reproduce in a fully digital format. It makes sense that Amazon would continue testing and learning at the intersection of physical and digital.
  • Posted on: 03/29/2021

    King Soopers: Killed in the line of retail duty

    My first job in retail was at a King Soopers in Aurora, Colorado. Condolences to the victims of this tragedy and other gun violence. I do think front-line retail workers deserve more respect and better compensation for the service they provide and the risks they're subjected to. Customer-centricity isn't inherently in conflict with an expectation of being treated with dignity, and it's on executives and store leadership to create a culture and environment for that.
  • Posted on: 03/24/2021

    Walmart uses brutal self-assessment in omnichannel turnaround strategy

    Candor and transparency are important, and this kind of "brutal" self-assessment can drive change if it's paired with a plan. But it's equally important to be thoughtful about how and when this type of message is communicated, or it can backfire and be demotivating.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2021

    Starbucks’ meatless store pilot ran in stealth mode

    Given the explosive demand for plant-based options, I do think there's demand for a format like this. But it's also possible that Starbucks is using the format to test many different menu items and will scale the most successful ones to its core format. These types of experimental concepts can be powerful incubators of high-potential ideas, but many go nowhere. I've seen the most success when there's a hypothesis being tested and a spectrum of possible end-game outcomes, from low-effort and low-commitment ways to apply what was learned (like adding a few new menu items) to the potentially transformational (like scaling a new store format).
  • Posted on: 12/23/2020

    Will online delivery go more eco-friendly post-pandemic?

    Over the last 24 months, I've seen an explosion of innovation in retail and consumer products, from new product development to packaging to storage and handling to logistics. A lot of the innovation has an explicit sustainability angle -- typically reducing emissions and eliminating unnecessary plastic and other waste. In parallel, rising quality and lower costs have increased the appeal to shoppers, retailers, and brands. Plant-based, circular, renewable, reusable, compostable, lightweight, low-cube, electrified, and no-rush are among the retail-relevant trends that can have economic and environmental benefits. Supply chain and physical realities may mainstream some of them anyway. When I see models like Zero Grocery, I see entrepreneurs trying to build businesses from the future back. Will this one have the timing and execution to lead the industry? I am not sure, but I think there is a lot to inform and inspire.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2020

    Are endless aisles more trouble than they’re worth for retailers?

    This is a great topic -- as e-commerce has abruptly grown as a percentage of all retail, unit economics and incrementality are top of mind. On the demand side, retailers that don't have sophisticated search algorithms and personalization capabilities or a strong editorial/curatorial voice will increasingly frustrate shoppers. On the supply side, as noted, the complexity is a function of how much a retailer tries to manage itself versus offloading to 3PLs and suppliers.
  • Posted on: 11/19/2020

    Walmart goes to the dogs (and cats, too)

    These are smart moves for Walmart given the growth of pet ownership and the opportunities driven by trends within the category, like the humanization of pets. Along with the pet pharmacy and the other initiatives noted, this does seem to make Walmart a more complete provider of pet goods and services to loyal Walmart shoppers, helping some shoppers consolidate trips and positioning Walmart on better footing versus the specialists. It also gives Walmart a point of difference versus other price- and value-driven players like Chewy and Amazon. I'm curious to see how else Walmart leverages its growing omnichannel capabilities in this category too.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2020

    Will pop-up e-commerce fulfillment centers help Walmart manage demand?

    Reconfiguring existing assets to fulfill demand differently just makes sense. If you already have a network of DCs and can re-purpose and re-train in time, it's a great way to add flex capacity with minimal disruption to other channels' operations. For fulfilling national demand, this probably is more efficient than picking from stores. That said, the perennial tensions around who does what and who gets credit for what are important to consider, and there needs to be an effort to help each part of the business (channels and functions) understand the role they're playing.

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