“We want to give as much variety ... to our consumers and provide them with easy access to our amazing brands,” Ahluwalia said. “We have put a bold ambition that 20% of our business by 2030 should come from digital commerce, and we are in high-single digits right now ... It means that we really need to continue to step up our growth agenda, focus on brilliant execution, make sure that we are testing and learning over time because the space of e-commerce evolves very quickly.”
Focusing on the basics to drive e-commerce
Ahluwalia believes in the “school of thought that if you ... do brilliant basics very well,” a brand will succeed in the market. The basic for Mondelēz is ensuring consumers can find the product online and ensuring a robust customer experience regardless of if they shop online or in-store.
"We know that consumers shop on omnichannel [since] COVID much more, and this entire thing of online and offline is blending very, very quickly. We also know that consumers who do a click-and-collect, for example, a majority of the consumers would even make a trip in-store. So, that your digital shelf presence is informing your in-store presence."
While economic factors like high inflation is making consumers do more in-store shopping, they are still relying on a host of digital means to inform their purchase decision, and brands still need to invest in digital capabilities if they want to win in the market, Ahluwalia explained. “We know that online drives offline now and vice versa,” he added.
A part of that investment is the continued investment in retail media, Ahluwalia said. These activities can include paid search, online content on product pages, and ensuring the product is available online. “We all know that the growth of retail media has been phenomenal, and it also provides rich data,” he added.
But while brands might be distracted by the "shiny toys" like new technology, they must focus on the e-commerce basics if they want to win in today's marketplace, Ahluwalia reiterated.
"[We] just focus on making sure that our flywheel, which is our internal operating module, spins fast and efficiently. So, the flywheel starts with what do you want to sell. Make sure that it's available online; ... the content is great, so consumers know everything about it; comes on search; consumers don't have the patience to scroll 100 items, ... and then last but not least, you activate your plan at all touch points."
DTC still has a role to play
Though many food and beverage startups are turning away from DTC models, Mondelēz still sees it as an important of its overall customer strategy, Ahluwalia noted. While DTC is “a very small” but “growing” part of its e-commerce business, Mondelēz provides a unique experience to its branded e-commerce site and is focusing on several key initiatives across three geographies, he added.
"Our approach is very focused, make sure that these few initiatives do well [in] India, US, UK ... And once we have proof points that it actually meets or exceeds our benchmarks, then we can potentially expand. We are still committed [to] DTC, and we feel that it can drive revenue. If your proposition is tight, and it can also drive equity for the brand.”
Part of that value proposition is “making that gifting moment special” for the consumer with its branded DTC websites, including Oreo, Sour Patch Kids, and others, Ahluwalia said. On the Oreo website, consumers can customize cookies by picking different fillings and sprinkles or putting someone’s name on the cookie, he said. And similarly, Mondelēz is providing a similar service to the UK with its Cadbury chocolate brand, he added.
While the purpose of the DTC model is to provide a “playful” brand experience, it also needs to provide a different experience to its traditional channels, Ahluwalia noted.
“We want to make sure that our value proposition needs to be highly differentiated than what we said in other channels, otherwise consumers won't come right to the [online] store. Why would they go to a brand.com if they can find the same product in Walmart or Amazon.”