Exploring the Evolution of the Consumer Goods Industry with SAP's John Buckley

photo of John Buckley
John Buckley, Consumer Products Industry Advisor @ SAP

The consumer goods industry has been through a roller-coaster of transformations over the past few decades. The first guest on Alloy.ai’s new podcast, Shelf Life: Expert Voices from the Consumer Goods Industry, was John Buckley, Consumer Products Industry Advisor at SAP. John has successfully navigated this dynamic landscape for over 30 years, working with industry giants like Maytag, Kraft, Tyson, and Heinz. His experience brings invaluable insights that he shares in our enlightening podcast conversation.

The transformations the consumer goods landscape has undergone, particularly the reshaping triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, have been an area of keen interest for industry observers and supply chain professionals.

  • The surge in e-commerce has significantly altered the dynamic between consumer brands and retailers.
  • Consumer behavior has drastically changed with the onset of the pandemic, influencing how consumers purchase their goods.
  • Supply chain disruption seems to be the only constant — with new disruptions impacting the industry every year and a half, according to Buckley.
Listen to the full conversation on Episode 1 of the Shelf Life Podcast

The changing consumer

The move to e-commerce has presented both challenges and opportunities for consumer brands and retailers alike. Understanding consumer behavior and staying ahead of customer base by anticipating their needs is essential for brands to ensure their products remain available and on consumers’ radars.

Buckley says that companies need to stay close to their consumers and respond to their changing needs, which can be a daunting task given the rapid pace of change in the modern retail environment.

Supply chain disruptions become the norm

Supply chain disruptions pose another significant challenge in the consumer goods industry. Companies need to anticipate and react to potential disruptions by creating different scenarios in their planning systems.

Moreover, understanding the balance between who owns the customer – the brands or the retailers – is an ongoing debate. This dynamic needs to be navigated effectively to ensure a smooth supply chain process and meet consumer demands.

A model for retailer-supplier collaboration

Buckley highlights the importance of consumer-centric collaboration. Understanding each other’s objectives and working together can lead to a win-win relationship for both brands and retailers. The consumer plays a crucial role in this equation.

Planning for potential disruptions, ensuring the right product is on the shelf, and providing a positive consumer experience are critical aspects of a successful consumer-centric collaboration.

Looking into the future, Buckley anticipates that change will remain a constant in the consumer goods industry. Technological advancements will continue to drive transformations, while the focus on the consumer will remain at the heart of the industry. The key lies in adapting to these changes and disruptions, staying close to the consumer, and continually improving the planning and execution process.

The consumer goods industry is a complex and dynamic landscape. Navigating this terrain requires a deep understanding of the consumer, effective planning and execution, and a focus on collaboration. The insights shared by John Buckley provide a valuable perspective for industry participants and observers alike, shedding light on the challenges, opportunities, and future directions of this vibrant industry.

Shelf Life Podcast: Expert Voices from the Consumer Goods Industry

Leaders across the consumer goods industry share their expertise to help you drive growth across your retail and ecommerce business, and grow your career in Sales, Supply Chain, Marketing, and Finance.