The retail apocalypse is causing one company to rethink its entire strategy

It didn’t take long for The Hershey Company to mention its push into e-commerce on Wednesday’s earnings call.

In prepared remarks at the beginning of the conference call, president and CEO Michele Buck listed online retail as a major focus and potential growth area for the company. She discussed collaboration with brick-and-mortar retailers as well as efforts to better accommodate the needs of online shoppers.

Her comments did not fall on deaf ears.

Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow circled back to them during the question-and-answer portion of the call, asking about what he interpreted as a “change of tone regarding the sense of urgency to get bigger in e-commerce.” He said that in his discussions with investors he had noticed concern over the dwindling number of cash registers — the epicenter of the confectionary impulse purchases so crucial to Hershey sales.

“I think it is fair to say that we are dialing up,” replied Buck, who also stressed that Hershey’s impulse and take-home business showed “pretty strong performance” during the period.

The CEO went on to discuss how Hershey’s was reinvesting additional resources in the e-commerce initiative and partnering with customers. She said there was major interest among the company’s brick-and-mortar partners to expand online offerings.

The exchange echoed many others occurring all over the retail industry as cash-rich and acquisition-happy online conglomerates like Amazon disrupt the landscape. Companies are scrambling to stay competitive as consumers increasingly shop online.

Hershey’s efforts also show that it’s not just traditional brick-and-mortar shops that are compelled to adjust. The sweeping changes are affecting companies across the retail pipeline, from suppliers to those that provide back-end services.

For a recent example of how quickly a retailer’s fortune can change, look no further than Blue Apron, the meal-prep delivery service that recently went public. Mere weeks before Blue Apron’s initial public offering was supposed to price, Amazon bought Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 billion.

  • frankw

    Buying your Hershey bar on-line? Am I reading this right? I guess I’m getting too old and tired. I can remember buying a Hershey bar for a nickel and a quarter lb. bar for $0.25. Sorry, kids, but its all yours. I don’t want to play anymore.