From Volume to Value: our report of Food Is A Conversation with Kirthi Kalyanam

Last Thursday there was another ‘Food is a conversation’ at Officucina, this time featuring Kirthi Kalyanam. In addition to being a  visiting professor at Google, Kalyanam works in the marketing department and as a research professor at Santa Clara University.He is also a director of Overstock, an online e-commerce platform.

The main topic of the conversation was ‘The new edge of retailing’ and included insight into the digitization of retail, the involvement of social media and the rise of mobile companies. He explained a three step approach: being in the retail industry before internet, Amazon entry and evolution of internet, and life after Amazon.

To create a unique retail company, one should follow the IPACE acronym. Information, Price, Assortiment, Convenience, Emotion. “Not all five levels matter, product matters. No product, no retail,” are Kalyanam’s words.

Retail companies have two important dimensions in which they can be categorized. These are depth and breadth. Having  high depth means that the company is good at making a certain kind of product, so the company is specialized in a certain product. Breadth means that a company has a wide variety of products, but is not very specialized. Then there is the ‘new edge of retailing’ which have both a high depth and breadth.

According to Kalyanam, it was clear that the future of retailing lays in this ‘New edge of retailing’ which involves internet retailers like Amazon and specialized marketplaces like Overstock.

This is also provable in rates. If Amazon is compared to Walmart, Amazon is 7% cheaper, has 23 times more products and has better customer return rates (Amazon 83%, Walmart 66%). This says that Amazon is better in every aspect and therefore has a higher depth and breadth than Walmart.

The conversation was followed by a variety of Egyptian street foods made by Egyptian chef and FIP-student Amr Helmy, for which he spent the whole day to come up with a menu and prepare it for his fellow FIP-students.

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