The Grocery 2.0: Direct to Consumer Story

My grandfather was one of the first direct-to-consumer manufacturers in Russia. After the collapse of the USSR, the retail industry was virtually non existent, so he and his associates went to market stalls across the country to sell packaged rice, flour and cereals. They controlled pricing and margin, knew their customers intimately and even personalized their marketing based on the customer’s look. They advertised in newspapers and customers from as far as Siberia could also order by phone and get the items mailed. This was back in 1993…

Today, direct-to-consumer is on the agenda of CPG companies globally but for very different reasons: falling traffic in brick-and-mortar stores, growing importance of consumer data, pressure on margins, new consumption patterns, changes in the supply chain, etc. Not only manufacturers similar to my grandfather’s company are feeling the pinch, but the likes of Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Unilever and Coca-Cola have it high up their top management’s agenda.

I’ve been in the grocery space for 4.5 years having founded Instamart — the largest venture-backed grocery delivery company in Russia. We have delivered over 100,000 orders to our customers at retail shelf prices. With INS we are taking an extra step forward to give customers even lower prices by cutting out the middlemen — wholesalers and retailers. Doing what my grandfather did 25 years ago, but with the power of technology and blockchain. The INS idea resonated well with a number of manufactures and grabbed the attention of the media.

I feel passionate about the grocery market and how technology could reshape its traditional landscape and consumer experience. I teach a class on retail at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and love to speak at retail conferences.

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