US Foods’ Gene Carbonara discusses the acceleration of e-commerce

US Foods’ Gene Carbonara discusses the acceleration of e-commerce

GeneCarbonara_USFoods

Jane Carbonara, Vice President, E-Commerce and Digital, US Foods Inc.

As vice president of e-commerce and digital at US Foods Inc., Gene Carbonara manages the digital commerce strategy for a company that supplies more than 400,000 food stock-keeping units, as well as non-food items, sourced from approximately 6,000 suppliers. The company, which generated $34 billion in revenue in 2022, has 70 distribution facilities and a fleet of 6,500 trucks.

Carbonara will speak at the “How We Modernized Our Technology — and Delivered the Wins” session on June 21 during the EnvisionB2B Conference & Expo in Chicago. Here he shares some of his thoughts on e-commerce and how it fits into US Foods’ overall growth strategy.

DC 360: What drives B2B companies like US Foods to expand online?

Carbonara: For US Foods, e-commerce is less of an expansion and more of a go-to-market strategy. MOXē is our newest e-commerce platform and helps accelerate our e-commerce reach faster than ever before. Another area where we are seeing rapid expansion is our endless aisle program called US Foods Direct. Customers have really embraced the demand for these unique products, and we are seeing material growth and operational savings.

DC 360: What are the biggest internal and/or external obstacles you face?

Carbonara: The biggest opportunity for us is getting customers to reconsider digital technology. Many customers and vendors resist change. I believe there is a value proposition for all of our customers. Whether it’s cost control through our inventory, bill payment, or simple order and delivery visibility, it’s just a matter of finding that feature that works for them.

DC360: What are your biggest wins?Re-realization?

Carbonara: We have many features that facilitate complete and accurate ordering every time but also further grow our market share. We are seeing a significant number of cases being added through our promotional efforts. As it turns out, when you have the easiest ordering experience, people order more.

DC 360: What is your top tip on how to launch or increase B2B online sales?

Carbonara: Organizations need to develop comprehensive journeys that attract customers where they are and facilitate conversions. Engaging the customer in any one channel won’t move things along consistently.

DC 360: Regarding coronavirus and supply chain disruption, what is the biggest adaptation your company has made?

Carbonara: We are more transparent than ever regarding our inventory levels and supply chain disruptions. Customers appreciate it when you share information with them as quickly as possible, because it gives them time to respond.

DC 360: Looking back over the past few years, is there anything you wish you had done differently in e-commerce?

Carbonara: With the decline in demand due to the pandemic, we took the opportunity to focus on developing our long-term strategy. Some of the key action items needed to operationalize the strategy took longer than expected, and it would have been helpful to start them early (for example, product content).

DC 360: What excites you most about new digital commerce technology?

Carbonara: The new ordering platform MOXē streamlines operators’ experiences. We have more customer feedback and real-time analytics than ever before, and we use that to fuel our agile product teams. These teams are innovating features and delivering real value faster than ever before. Additionally, we continue to build AI and automation into e-commerce. We are making great strides in complete and accurate ordering which will serve as a precursor to predictive ordering, which will help us protect and gain market share.

DC 360: Going forward, what do you see as the most important business challenges and opportunities?

Carbonara: In our industry, the technology landscape is crowded and complex. One of our biggest challenges is making it easier for our most visible customers while providing powerful capabilities for our larger, more sophisticated customers. The biggest opportunity for us is to serve this wide range of customers in a stylish way that is accessible to everyone.

Jim Daly is a contributing editor for Digital Commerce 360 ​​and covers B2B digital commerce technology and strategy.

Sign up for a free subscription to Digital Commerce 360 ​​B2B News, published 4 times a week, covering technology and business trends in the growing B2B eCommerce industry. Contact editor Paul Demery at paul@digitalcommerce360.com and follow him on Twitter @pdemery.

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