Anthony Fletcher, CEO of graze.com
1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?
The food industry is relatively underpenetrated by technology compared to most other major industries. By placing technology at the core of what we do, graze continues to disrupt the food industry and revolutionise snacking. Our intelligent use of data has facilitated rapid growth into new markets, and will continue to do so.
2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?
To keep innovating. We’ve launched into the US, and into retail in the UK, and this expansion of the brand is all part of our ultimate vision to be the number one healthy snack brand in the world.
3. With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?
Mistakes are all part of the evolution of the brand – and our only regret would be not making our big mistakes even earlier and quicker. At graze, the technology in our supply chain has enabled us to fail fast and learn from it, and this has meant we can take bigger risks that other FMCG companies. We receive 15,000 customer reviews an hour, and this feedback from our grazers means we can take a new product to market in 48 hours. When we launched into America – rolling our into every US state at once – this flexibility and responsiveness helped us correct mistakes faster, and by utilising our data effectively we localised 90% of our range along the way to suit the different consumer tastes.
4. What is the future of the physical store and the high street?
Graze has become multi-channel in reverse. Launching on high streets was a huge brand opportunity for us to reach out to new customers, but we clearly see the future of our high street sales hand-in-hand with existing online sales, giving our grazers multiple activation points for purchase. Online brands still struggle to create the same customer trust and familiarity as physical high street stores, but they can innovate faster than traditional FMCG brands – so being a successful multi-channel retailer brings the best of both worlds.
We’ve also plugged a vital gap in retailers after the abolition of ‘guilt-lanes’ of supermarkets, putting profitability back after the unhealthy confectionary was removed. This focus on healthier choices isn’t going away, and retailers will have to adapt to incorporate this societal shift.
5. What technology-related plans have you got for the next 12 months?
Moving into stores has added an extra layer of diversity in the data sources available to us. We can now bring our rapid data analytics to third party loyalty schemes and in-store sales to improve and evolve our product and service, and educate retailers on how they can be using their data more intelligently too.
6. With the issue of digital wildfire how do you understand and control your growing digital landscape?
Companies and brands have always been vulnerable to corporate misinformation or false rumours, and digital wildfire is just the 21st century guise of this. To combat this, companies need to embrace the new – and more transparent – digital era; exploiting the immense opportunities provided by social media and successfully building up consumer trust via these platforms. The digital landscape provides just as many opportunities as it does threats. In the US, graze has received over seven million impressions on Instagram – illustrating an incredible organic following, and a measure of our brand strength that we couldn’t have calculated 10 years ago.
7. What other retail business do you admire?
Charles Tyrwhitt for their multi-channel success, and Moo.com for their staggering expansion into the US.
8. If you hadn’t been a retailer what would you have liked to do?
I’m a scientist, but I quickly realised I wouldn’t be satisfied working in research. Working in a laboratory wasn’t actually as inventive or fast-moving enough for me. I always felt I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and work for innovative businesses, even before I knew what that really entailed.
9. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?
Too early to tell.