Skip to main content

Narrowing strategy key to win with digital


When it comes to online retailing, said a Walgreens executive, the way to win with digital is by narrowing your strategy, not broadening it.

That’s what Wayne Duan, director of digital commerce for, told attendees of a panel discussion at the NACDS Total Store Expo in Boston on Sunday. Duan added that narrowing down the digital strategy is exactly why Walgreens decided to shut down and two weeks ago.

“At Walgreens, we have an internal mantra. We don’t want to be the next breakfast cereal,” Duan said during the workshop, which also included speakers Soyoung Kwon and Todd Huseby of A.T. Kearney. Duan characterized breakfast cereal as something that is on its way out as consumers switch to smoothies and protein bars as their preferred morning meal.

“You cannot chase after every shiny new object in digital like Periscope, Instagram, Vine, etc. These things will consistently change over time. You have to focus on your digital core and make sure that is really amazing,” Duan said. “The things that comprise your digital core are product images, product attributes, product reviews. If you don’t have your act together with these things, you won’t be able to scale.”

Duan offered some specific recommendations for any retailer interested in becoming more digitally savvy:

  • Success: Are you solving a problem for the customer? Are you making things better for the customer than the status quo?

  • Focus: For long-term success, focus on curation, not throwing up everything that you sell online. Make sure you are looking at paid search and SEO. Make sure your teams are aligned and working together. Make sure your intellectual capital is up to par.

  • Execution: If you can’t execute, the customer won’t reward you. And the way to measure execution is with good metrics.

Todd Huseby of A.T. Kearney talked about the mixed messages CPG companies are getting from retailers in terms of what they want as their digital priorities. His firm surveyed retailers in 2014 and found that retailers still do not understand digital consumer behavior. Soyoung Kwon also discussed the challenges that companies face in navigating the digital waters, specifically how exactly to invest in digital efforts.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds