Entrepreneurship Podcast post

Simple Solutions with Chris Greco

George Grombacher September 7, 2023

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Simple Solutions with Chris Greco

LifeBlood: We talked about using simple solutions to solve complex problems, helping local grocery stores compete with national brands, what price image and known value are, and why a fast nickel is better than a slow dime, with Chris Greco, President and CEO of StoreWise, a company building automation for food retailers.      

Listen to learn how grocery stores think about and change their pricing!

You can learn more about Chris at StoreWise.IO and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Chris Greco

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Chris Greco is the president and CEO of Storwise Inc, tech company building automation for food retailers. He’s also the author of eight steps to overcome overcoming everyday adversity. He’s also a triathlete. Welcome, Chris.

Chris Greco 0:16
Good to be here. George, excited to

george grombacher 0:18
have you on, Chris, tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work, why you do what you do.

Chris Greco 0:25
I love I love things that are tough. And, you know, early stage building early stage companies like we’re doing at Storwize. And there are two previous ones that were a part of this the first time I’ve been part, you know, I’ve been able to come on board, as you know, President and CEO to really make an impact and difference is just, you know, exciting. So I never shy away from a challenge. And I think that early stage companies, especially Storwize, given, you know, our mission is to really help food retailers, specifically the independent neighborhood grocer, this is not the Walmart, not the dollar store, not the Kroger but your your, your your neighborhood, supermarket to really leverage technology to, you know, make their make their operations more efficient and better. And that’s a that’s a purpose, mission and purpose that all of us a store wives are really excited about.

george grombacher 1:23
I appreciate that. My perception is that those, those neighborhood grocers are probably under assault.

Chris Greco 1:34
They’ve done it’s it’s a, so the supermarket in that industry is a trillion dollars. And it’s dominated by really four or five players. Yeah, the ones I just named Walmart dollar, you know, dollars creating these food deserts out and, you know, the smaller communities, which is, which is bad. I mean, you know, George, you and I just spoke about our kids, right, I, you know, I wake up every day, and I don’t want, you know, Jonathan or Amanda, my teenagers, when they have families to have only a few options, which is Walmart and dollar and maybe one other to go shopping for food. I want. I want the community to independent grocer to not only survive, but thrive. And that’s what, you know, that’s that’s near and dear to our hearts. And I want to make sure that, you know, store wise has their place and in supporting, you know, that goal. I mean, a lot of these independent grocers started with a produce stand two or three generations ago. It’s a generational family business that that, you know, all of us Storwize are really jazzed about. So we’re excited, I think, you know, given the recent news, we, you know, just took on a major investor with next equity, great, great capital partner. And then we actually just made our first acquisition, we acquired a company by the margin max. So we feel that Storwize is going to become the de facto software platform for independent grocers.

george grombacher 3:02
Nice. Is it noble, how many independent grocers there are?

Chris Greco 3:08
There’s 21,000 stores nationwide. And what if you think about the top five, you know, Walmart dollar Albertsons, Aldi, Trader Joe’s, there are about 28,000 stores. But the the the independents usually have a smaller, you know, smaller footprint. I think they do. They do fresh food better. They do specialty food better. They do customer service for sure better. And again, I want to see I want to see my local, you know, henhouse and Konstantinos here in Kansas City. They’re great, great, phenomenal grocers very passionate about serving the community. And when when’s the last time you saw Walmart on your on a kid’s soccer jersey? Or $1? Yeah, never like net like, like never. So it’s important for all your listeners to understand that there really isn’t a community without an independent grocer.

george grombacher 4:07
Yeah, I appreciate that. So what are what are the big challenges to an independent grocer I’m sure that certain areas margins are paper thin that what are I guess what are you working to solve

Chris Greco 4:23
that so the price image matters most when you walk into a store you want to you want to be as a consumer, we want to understand that Hey, am I getting my getting good value? You know, are the items that I really desire are the in the store and are they priced competitively? I know in all the research that we do, considers you know, the consumers don’t necessarily just go for the cheapest, but they really are able to balance out that quality. You know versus price now with you know, with inflation, and we have seen more consumers shop at that big box. But look, if you Go through the pandemic, you’ll see how essential we saw how essential the independent grocer, you know, really, really, really is. So our, you know, our software helps with their price image from not only not only understanding, you know, move men, because we just want to always go out go tangential here on a technical track, are we actually capture every single receipt. So we integrate directly with the point of sale, the cash register. And we, we look at every single receipt, and we’re 100% in the cloud. And we have, you know, 1000s of algorithms to help the grocer make better pricing decisions they make they help them understand, hey, where am I having some losses? Where am I making mistakes? How can I order better at a better, you know, at a better cost? How can I quickly see how I’m performing, you know, day over day, week, over week, year, from year over year, these are, you know, an ad that all in one nice, beautiful suite that you can see anywhere, whether they’re, you know, the groceries, don’t vacation much. They’re some of the hardest working people that I’ve ever and I mean, that wholeheartedly that I ever met, but the fact that they’re that they can see that information from any device also matters. So, you know, when I, when I came into the company in 2020, we had just under 200 stores using the platform. And before we acquired margin, Max, we were we were approaching north of 600. And now we’re banging on almost 1000.

george grombacher 6:37
Nice. So price image. Tell me more. It’s not obvious to me what that is like the actual prices people see?

Chris Greco 6:49
Yeah, surprise, surprise image. So that’s it. That’s me, I would say it’s an industry term. So that’s a great question. So when you want when you walk into a store and you go down an aisle, you’ll see these tags. And you want to you want to have a sense that hey, there’s a lot of promotions, you know, everyday low price, you know, temporary price reductions. The your your what’s called your known value item, the things that that consumers, they the consumers will know off the right out right off the top of their head, which is, this is a great price on mill this a great price on bread, this a great price on chips and soda. Those that we you know, our software actually helps brings intelligence to how the grocer price prices that prices, those items. And that’s what’s critical, there’s a there’s a saying that a fast nickel is better than a slowdown in in grocery and what that means they want to drive movement do turn the inventory. And that’s that’s really, you know, that’s really critical in our in our in our software, our platform, can help enable that.

george grombacher 7:57
All that makes perfect sense. There are certain items that I didn’t know how much they cost when I go into a grocery store, but probably not that many. Yeah. And I’m thinking that certainly other people’s behaviors are different. In fact, my wife behavior is probably different than mine. But before automation, then it’s I’m going on feel because I’ve been a grocer. And it’s been in my family for 30 years. So we sort of have a sense of, Well, here’s how we’re going to do it. And it’s this time of year, it’s the fourth of July. So we’re going to push this out. But now you have able to pull all this information and take into consideration well, because of the supply chain and inflation, these items are going to be more expensive. So we need to make sure that we’re changing the pricing.

Chris Greco 8:40
And he’s but you don’t want to and and look, we have customers that are celebrating over 100 years, right in business, you don’t want to take away that intuition. That that’s important. That’s a competitive advantage. That because that that passion and know how that’s something that big box, I think it’s hard for them to replicate. So so, you know, the, in the in the error of you know, AI and, you know, machine learning, there’s a case to be made for a rules based approach, which is the right now the approach the store was taking, but it does account for that gross intuition and allows them to make that final, you know, final decision to how they how they, you know, they they price their store, how they, you know, protect against, you know, malicious and non malicious, you know, malicious stuff and non malicious, you know, mistakes. I think that that’s that’s important and you know, look, but it doesn’t matter. We think the market is telling us that’s important, as evidenced by our growth.

george grombacher 9:49
Yeah, well, that makes sense. Now, information is great. But how do I how is it usable? How do I pick this up? So Tell me a little bit about is it you create a dashboard, you map a store you how, like, how does it actually work?

Chris Greco 10:08
Yeah, we create it. It’s a single dashboard. And we and you can you can see, there’s actually, you know, a video on our site and gaps. There’s images on our site, you can see how clean it is I the one of the I think the the testament to how well we’ve developed. And look, nothing’s perfect, right? Software is hard. But the the UI there was called the user interface. So what that means is, how does how does a grocer who, who shouldn’t have to care about technology really worry about how to use technology? Is it simple to use yes or no. And you know, the number one job of our engineering team is to deliver simplicity. And if it’s simple, if it’s simple to use a simple to operate, okay, it used if it gets used, it’ll drive results. And those results we’re seeing are, are an either increase in profitability or a time savings. That was really important, you know, for the for the independent grocer.

george grombacher 11:16
That makes a lot of sense, deliver simplicity, versus Hey, I’ve created this credibly complicated thing that you’re never going to understand kind of makes me think of Salesforce now that I kind of talked about.

Chris Greco 11:28
But there’s still, but they’re still around. But you see all the competitors that Salesforce had, right. That and that’s, you know, and, and you wonder why, you know, Salesforce and Benioff, I think he you know, he did a great job starting this company. But yeah, I think the the ability to the fact that we’ve been around now we’re going on here, six, we’re relatively new, actually, six years, and technology is old, and grocery, we are babies. And that’s something that we’ve had, we’ve had to overcome with, you know, in terms of our growth, so hey, is is, are you guys going to be here, you’re going to sell out. And I think we’ve proven that we’re not only going to be here, but we’re actually acquiring other companies and consolidating to make it easier for the grocer, the independent grocer to to act. But I think it’s it’s, you know, it’s important that, you know, simplicity is really the number one objective and software. Because if it doesn’t get if it doesn’t get utilized, and then what’s the purpose? Yeah,

george grombacher 12:31
exactly. What what does the sales process look like and implementation? Because I’m sure it’s not necessarily the easiest thing in the world, just to change what you’re doing an implement something new?

Chris Greco 12:45
So, most of that’s a great question. So I’ll answer this way. Most of in our early, you know, in our, you know, we’re kind of now entering this growth stage of the company, we’re early in our, you know, I think we’re really on our way and have the attraction of identified market fit. We’ve, we’ve come in, and we’ve sit on top of other software that they have, that hasn’t been easy, you know, easy to use, but we’re now seeing, we’re actually displacing where, because we really have six modules, you know, so, you know, I didn’t go through all of them. But if we had, you know, you know, more time, that actually impacts some of the most important operations for the grocer. And now they’re, now they’re looking like, look, that’s asking questions, like, you know, what do I really need, and I think that we were doing a better job of not coming in and saying, Hey, here’s our pitch, but hey, let me understand, and this is important for any, you know, you know, any of your listeners who, you know, by the bill, they being at the, you know, Akamai, you know, putting, especially in tech, is it when we start when we start, you know, going into larger, larger companies, you know, I’m talking about the, in our case, independent grocers that, you know, are doing, you know, seven $800 billion a year in revenue. Coming in with a pitch doesn’t make sense, really good. You gotta really come out as advisors, they let me understand your entire technology posture. What do you have? And are we you know, are you know, are we are we a fit, and there’s no solutions? There’s trade offs. Because, you know, displacing isn’t easy. But if you want to be around another 100 years, you got to either you pay now or pay later at some point you’re going to pay. And when you look at the fact that, you know, 56% of Walmart’s revenues are driven by grocery and they did not they’re not grocers first, they are technologists first. You that has to be in the back of you that has to be in the back of your mind. As an independent grocer, not only them but others. And that and that understand either making decisions when are either deciding on technology or postponing, I think the there should every independent grocer should have a position. And understanding their entire technology posture is really the critical first step.

george grombacher 15:21
Yeah. And having a good understanding of it for if I were a salesperson for store wise, that would be certainly the approach that I would take is, let’s just take a big step back and look at everything you’re doing. And if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. So, yes. And then from a training perspective, how hard it is, once people do give you the green light, and you’re moving forward, training up the employees.

Chris Greco 15:44
Yep. So there’s, there’s, there’s only a handful of users inside out inside a grocer or you know, an operation and pricing and loss prevention. There is an there’s an initial, you know, onboarding, but, you know, over time they learn the system, the system learns them, and you can, you can essentially audit and they begin to trust it. And you can automate a lot of the the actions of the software to where your time investment, you know, begins to decrease, but your your your returns, then you start seeing those returns on time, and in some cases of profits begin to begin to increase.

george grombacher 16:24
Is there a standard for when prices change in a grocery store? Is it changed multiple times throughout the day? It’s change weekly,

Chris Greco 16:32
inflation it costs. I mean, and, you know, you’ll, you’ll hear some independent, you know, some gross, I think, some independent gross will say, we didn’t change prices, you know, fast enough with with inflation. So, you know, costs costs are a big thing. And getting ahead of that. I think we I think we help there. I you know, I’ll you know, I also think you have to give in that were capturing, you know, the final step in the shoppers journey, which is the transaction, the sale, that analysis, understanding that market and the consumer, the consumer is important as well. Because we understand, we understand what products they’re buying. So if they’re, you know, for example, if they’re now if they’re now, you know, making if we know, a consumer was shopping there every week, and they’re buying, you know, one gallon of milk, and now they’re shopping every other week, and buying, you know, two gallons of milk. Well, they’re shopping in your store frequently. But are they really? Are they are you sure they’re only going to your store, they’re going somewhere else? That’s analysis we can provide. Yeah.

george grombacher 17:38
And intelligence that I’m sure that sure that everybody would want to know. So I love it. Well, Chris, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you and store wise? And what’s the best way to engage?

Chris Greco 17:51
Yep, so our website, store wise.io. And we are we are recruiting. So we are looking, and we have about five or six positions posted on our website. That’s an that’s, you know, that’s important. And most of those positions aren’t in the city. A few of those are remote. So I urge any your listeners and any I would also encourage there’s any, you know, advice and I’m always Iowa’s God, I have so much to learn. So, if there’s another you know, CEO out there that has gone what we’re going through, I’m open to taking that that phone call or email, but it’s you know, www.storwize.io storwize.io

george grombacher 18:34
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed as much as I did, showcase your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to store wise.io and bring our conversation to life and put eyes on what we’re actually talking about getting in touch for the reasons that Chris was just talking about. Thanks again, Chris. Yeah,

Chris Greco 18:56
thank you George. Really enjoyed it.

george grombacher 18:58
Till next time, remember, do your part like doing your best

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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