COVID-19 Speeds Up Data Sharing for Instacart

Alarice Rajagopal
Senior Editor
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From 2010 to 2015, the CGT Retail & Consumer Goods Analytics Study focused on data sharing; a long-time effort that although deemed important, has had its issues.

While retailers and consumer goods manufacturers would both agree that collaboration around data is useful for both parties, the question on whether or not retailers should charge CGs for that data would also bubble to the surface.

Fast-forward to 2016 and the study shifted focus to analytics as the industries started to mature and executives were now set on putting that data to work.

Last year, the 2019 study found that both CGs and retailers were making steady progress toward attaining the level of analytics expertise they needed to stay relevant with today’s evolving consumers.

However, the one wrinkle impeding their efforts then — aside from the traditional obstacles of corporate reticence and limited resources — was the continued emergence of new data sources to interpret and new shopping behaviors to understand. This has become even more enunciated as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds.

Grocery delivery platform Instacart announced this week it will be sharing data with its consumer packaged goods manufacturers to prevent supply chain issues. Just as COVID-19 has put a lot of business initiatives on the fast track (like work from home, contactless delivery and curbside pickup), Instacart has released this initiative earlier than anticipated.

According to an Adweek article, “The sudden surge in sales, while great for a company’s income statement, has sent a shockwave through supply chains, leading to empty shelves in grocery aisles across the country.”

“Because we’re working with so many grocers, it gives us a line of sight to the purchase behavior of those consumers — a sample that’s much more representative than just one particular specialty retailer,” said Seth Dallaire, Instacart’s chief revenue officer.

The online retailer has already been sharing select insights with CPG companies such as Kraft Heinz and General Mills, and it plans to extend its offering to others in the next coming weeks.

With unusual online shopping habits quickly surfacing among the outbreak, Dallaire said that Instacart’s data “sends an accurate signal to manufacturers from both an inventory perspective and a marketing perspective, allowing them to react and shift resources as needed,” Adweek reported.

Only time will tell whether other retailers will follow suit, but it may be one of the most promising options to getting the supply chain back on track, as the effects have been felt by shoppers everywhere.