- Ahold Delhaize has named Farhan Siddiqi as chief digital officer and a member of the executive committee, according to a company press release. Siddiqi’s appointment will be effective January 28. He most recently served as chief digital officer for McDonald’s, where he led digital strategy and helped launch mobile commerce, including self-service kiosks, in 20,000 restaurants.
- At Ahold Delhaize, Siddiqi will be tasked with transforming and innovating in the digital space across Ahold Delhaize’s brands, focusing especially on loyalty, data analytics and personalization, to help the company reach its goal of doubling net consumer online sales to $8 billion by 2021.
- “I’m thrilled to welcome Farhan to Ahold Delhaize,” Frans Muller, president and CEO of Ahold Delhaize, said in a press release. “With his knowledge of the digital customer experience in a wide variety of industries, he will help further accelerate Ahold Delhaize’s digital transformation, a key element in our Leading Together strategy.”
Hiring a global executive to lead digital strategy worldwide is an ambitious move on Ahold Delhaize’s part, and further signifies its commitment to excelling in the digital and e-commerce space. Recently, the grocery company began piloting digital features in-store at Hannaford, and has expressed plans to introduce similar digital updates to other U.S. banners. A number of digitally enhanced stores that enable easier online access and e-commerce in stores have also been unveiled in Europe.
With its eyes on digital integration and e-commerce, the next logical step for Ahold Delhaize would be to make improvements to mobile apps, checkout processes and more, and to roll out these tech tools to more stores globally. This is a massive undertaking for a company with 6,700 stores, however, so it will be interesting to see how the strategy is deployed in the various countries where Ahold Delhaize has a presence.
Siddiqi’s experience with McDonald’s gives him major credibility in this endeavor. Managing digital strategy and mobile commerce for 20,000 restaurants – far greater than the number of Ahold Delhaize grocery stores worldwide – indicates that he will have a solid understanding of implementing mobile and digital tools on a mass scale. His customer-first approach is also going to be valuable in driving customer loyalty and determining what shoppers want. The challenge in this new role, however, will be to tailor the tools to fit each unique grocery banner and personalize the approach for customers.
Ahold Delhaize’s new executive also boasts experience in creating customer loyalty programs, implementing digital payment solutions and establishing strategic partnerships for large companies including Target, Bank of America and General Electric – and Ahold Delhaize has already has made strides in these areas. It has several customer loyalty programs in place, including Food Lion’s Shop & Earn Program and Hannaford’s My Hannaford Rewards, and it has piloted cashierless technology in Europe that could come to the U.S. The executive team will likely look to Siddiqi to leverage his expertise to improve and expand upon existing programs and efforts, or to speed up their presence for additional Ahold Delhaize brands.
The role of chief digital officer is becoming a C-suite staple in today’s grocery industry. Kroger’s chief digital officer Yael Cosset plays an increasingly high profile role for the company. Publix recently added the role to its executive roster, expanding the responsibilities chief information officer Laurie Douglas to include all things digital. H-E-B also increased its emphasis on digital when the company appointed its first ever chief digital officer, Jag Bath, last May.
As grocers integrate digital across their operations to address competition and evolving consumer demands, look for not only more executive-level digital roles, but additional supporting digital positions to help companies keep up.