Robynn Shrader is chief executive of the National Co+op Grocers, a business services co-op for 150 natural food co-ops in the United States. At the International Summit of Cooperatives she will be speaking about digital, data and co-op competitiveness.
Anca Voinea: What will you discuss in your speech?
Robynn Shrader: I am participating on a panel related to “Increasing Our Capacity to Act on Our Competitiveness”. I’m excited to be a part of this as I see embracing data as a vital concern for co-ops as a way to be more competitive.
AV: Have you attended the Summit before?
RS: I’ve been twice. It’s one of the best-run conferences I have ever taken part in. The quality of speakers and presentations are top-notch. Not to mention, it’s the one of the most ideal opportunities to connect face-to-face with your international peers.
AV: Are there particular studies or speakers that you are looking forward to this year?
RS: I am looking forward to Monique Leroux’s leadership and her opening address. I’m interested in hearing what she has to say about the state of international co-operatives, as well as her vision for the future.
AV: What is one issue that co-operators should be talking about at the Summit?
RS: Technology. Specifically, gathering and then leveraging data to help our co-operatives thrive. Co-operators must get better at embracing data and knowledge.
It is transforming businesses in general, and I am concerned co-ops are falling behind the pace. Even in the USA, co-op grocers are behind conventional grocers with respect to harnessing point-of-sale data and other customer insights. When we embrace and leverage data, it creates a better experience for our customers and our businesses.
Secondly, the fundamental importance of good governance. Co-operative leaders should never take their eyes off this virtue. When you don’t tend to good governance, that’s when you realise the costliest damage.
- For more of our coverage of the International Summit of Co-operatives, visit thenews.coop/summit.