Shopper Marketing - May 2017 - 38
HALL OF FAME PROFILE | CHERYL WILLIAMS
different activations against them.
That's a lot of change for any company
to manage. And with Wakefern being
a retailer-owned cooperative, was it even
WILLIAMS: Fifty members own Wakefern
Foods, so ultimately, I work for all of them.
And it really helps because they're all operators who are out in their stores, and they
bring a realism to what we're doing that
helps us be ahead of the curve.
When I worked for Pathmark, sometimes
you didn't know where to go to get approvals. What I like about Wakefern is that the
members volunteer their time to be on committees - store operations, retail technology,
officers meetings, finance meetings, capital
projects - and you always know where you
need to go.
Does that make things easier?
WILLIAMS: Yes, but here you're also held
to a different standard and a level of diligence with the members, so you really have
to do your homework. But yes, it helps you
move faster. When something works, they
are supportive and vocal about it, and sometimes even help convince other members
who may be hesitant.
New Jersey is about as far from
Silicon Valley as you can get. Is there
a technology talent pool you draw upon?
WILLIAMS: Well, we are close to Silicon
Alley, which is down in the lower Manhattan area and is an offshoot of Silicon Valley.
y SHOPPER MARKETING MAY 2017
We are adding an innovation role to our department with the sole responsibility being
how should Wakefern approach innovation
and whether, for example, we should be participating with some of these accelerators.
What did the development of
"ShopRite from Home" entail?
Did success come faster than you
WILLIAMS: I've been involved since the
very early infancy of online shopping. At
Pathmark, I worked on home shopping, but
it was quite different in those days before the
commercialization of the internet. We'd actually create little CDs that we'd distribute to
Here's how it worked: In Manahawkin,
New Jersey, there are a lot of marinas and
fishing boats that go out for extended periods of time. So at the Manahawkin Pathmark,
we used to let commercial fishermen order
their groceries online through a dial-up connection and we'd bring them to their fishing
boats. But it wasn't anything like it is today.
When I came to Wakefern, we started a
home shopping initiative with a company
named "MyButler" out of Canada, and quite
frankly, it was a failure. But you learn.
Then around 2002, we launched the first
iteration of what's now "ShopRite from
Home" in partnership with MyWebGrocer.
It was out of our Oakland, New Jersey, store.
WILLIAMS: I don't know what I expected. Our MyButler experience was such a
miserable failure that I really wasn't sure. But