The CIO of Clorox Drives Product Innovation For Customers And Consumers

8 March, 2018 / Articles
Dictionary Series - Science: innovation

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is a challenging one for a variety of reasons, one of which is the business-to-business-to-consumer nature of the industry. A CPG company must develop a relationship with a customer, who is a middleman in the form of a retailer who owns the relationship with the ultimate consumer of the product. Clorox is a $6 billion revenue CPG company, and its chief information officer Manjit Singh has helped the company work better with customers and with consumers. Singh has developed methods to develop direct relationships with the end-consumers through better consumer journey mapping exercises using digital marketing while facilitating direct shipping enabled through supply chain efficiencies.

At the same time, Singh and his team have gotten involved in new product innovation. An example of this is the Brita Infinity Pitcher, which is an Internet of Things product that measures usage of the filter and will automatically order a replacement filter from Amazon so that the consumer knows to change out the filters when the new filter arrives. IT developed the Brita Infinity Pitcher in concert with the Research & Development department. Singh covers each of these topics among others in this far ranging interview.

Peter High: You are the Chief Information Officer of The Clorox Company. Could you give an overview of the organization?

Manjit Singh: Clorox is a global consumer packaged goods (CPG) company. We operate in most countries around the world, selling a number of large brands including Brita Water Filters, Glad Trash Bags, Fresh Step Cat Litter, and our ubiquitous Clorox bleach product. We are also in the personal care business with our Burt’s Bees business. Most recently, we purchased a probiotics business called Renew Life which is doing well.

High: You have focused on both the internal and external aspects of digital transformation. Could you give us an overview of each of those pathways?

Singh: For the last couple of years, we have been focused on improving our digital marketing capabilities. The IT organization, alongside the Marketing organization, has been busy building a platform and a capability for us to ensure that we understand our consumer journey. We need to ensure we can interact where and how the customer wants, whether that is mobile or web or in a store. We are pleased to be one of the digital leaders in the CPG business.

We realized that there was an opportunity for us to take the same approach in some of our back-office capabilities, specifically around our supply chain and our transactional environments.

If we want to be at the right place at the right time with the right product for our customer, we must make sure that our supply chain can match those opportunities. Today, we are not geared to do as well because we are used to shipping large truckloads of product to our customers, which may or may not be the way that the consumer wants to receive our product.

Though we would love everybody to have a truckload of Clorox products show up at their doorstep, they might just want a single item or a set of items. We need to make sure that our supply chain is ready to adapt to that changing world, which means it must be much more agile than it is today, much more capable of predicting where products need to be, and when they need to be at that location.

High: I know one of the interesting complexities of your business is the B2B2C nature of CPG and Clorox more specifically. I believe roughly 25 percent of your net sales for Clorox flow through Walmart. I know that now you are having more profound end customer relationships and impacts.  How do you think about the difference between the consumer and the customer at the end of the day?

The science man and innovator, Fernando Fischmann, founder of Crystal Lagoons, recommends this article.

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