This is the story of how I won big in Las Vegas, but it might not be in the way you would expect. In a city full of casino floors and world-class shows, my weekend trip consisted mostly of groceries; to elaborate, it was at the 2015 National Grocers Association (NGA) Show last year when myself and a team of marketing students had the opportunity to present a case competition on the topic of technology in the grocery industry. Admittedly, my first thoughts on attending were “Wow, that would look great on my resume,” and “Free trip to Vegas, why not?” Little did I know how much impact that event would have beyond a simple resume boost or weekend getaway.
Throughout the conference, I realized that the operation of retail stores has a lot more to it than just stocking shelves, and I met a variety of people who are passionate about bringing the grocery industry into the increasingly digital world that we live in. These people inspired me to discover more about that industry in the form of summer internships; first with the Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) last year and now with SwiftIQ.
A lot of the responsibilities in my role at IGA revolved around helping retailers find new ways to connect with their customers, so it’s exciting to follow that same purpose here at SwiftIQ, this time from the perspective of a Retail Analyst Intern. When I first heard about SwiftIQ, the company stood out to me with its innovative tools that provide answers about customer shopping behavior at a granular level which suppliers, CPG companies and retailers have never had access to before. I’ve always been curious about analytics and its ability uncover how consumers think throughout the buying process, so I immediately jumped at the opportunity to be part of such a groundbreaking company this summer.
Within my first few days at SwiftIQ, I had the freedom to look at their platform data and dive into any areas that peaked my interest. In just a few hours, I got the hang of the tools and totally geeked out pulling data on customer shopping habits for products like my favorite candy. Initially, I was surprised at how accurately the platform trends fall in line with my own late night candy runs, and it quickly hit me how much power companies could have with access to these actionable insights in real time. In the first week of my internship alone, my mind has been opened to the growing importance of data analytics, and I look forward to seeing how far this growth can take the grocery industry.
The story of how I ended up at SwiftIQ wouldn’t be complete without touching on how I’ve grown personally as well as professionally throughout this process. A huge part of what I’ve learned stems from the colleagues who have influenced me during my internships. In particular, it has been encouraging to work with young professional women who have given me an example to aspire to as a 21-year-old woman myself. Although you might not immediately think of a young, female workforce as typical within the industries of grocery and technology, I’ve been motivated by the success of the women I’ve worked alongside in these areas.
As a millennial, I’m excited to see how the grocery industry continues to shift and adapt to modern trends. My current internship supervisor, Angela Flatland, put it best in her article on Progressive Grocer, “Millennials want to feel a purpose and be a part of something that is evolving and making the industry a better place.”
With all of the people I’ve met and lessons I’ve learned, it’s crazy to think back on how a marketing presentation in Las Vegas has led me to work for a fast-growing analytics company in the city of Chicago. Although I didn’t walk away from Vegas with a jackpot prize, what I gained was a whole lot more valuable.