This week we are proud to spotlight Bridget Wojciak who recently took on a new role at Kroger where she leads digital merchandising strategy for key company focus areas like owned brands. In this article, Bridge walks us through her new position, the skills she gained in her previous position as Director of Nutrition at Kroger, and the importance of dietitians exploring non-traditional roles at retail.
Q. Please describe your new role at Kroger and your new responsibilities. What do you enjoy about it?
A. As a member of the Ecommerce team, I am a digital site merchandiser, where I lead digital merchandising strategy for key company focus areas like owned brands. Ecommerce merchandising is simplifying and optimizing how an online shopper finds the products that meet their needs. This involves building a data-driven merchandising strategy, allowing products to be displayed on a website in a way that increase findability, conversion, and revenue while also ensuring products are easily accessible using on-site search. Collaboration is one of my favorite parts about the role. I am fortunate to partner daily with many groups across the organization to create best-in-class Ecommerce experiences, making online grocery shopping more convenient and enjoyable for shoppers.
Q. What experience and skills did you gain as the Director of Nutrition at Kroger that positioned you for this role?
A. Program development involves a toolkit of skills that will be handy with any new role. It involves strategy and goal setting, implementation, measurement, and ongoing improvements. I had the opportunity to build a suite of enterprise-wide nutrition programs. The process of creating innovative programs lends itself to seek to understand the problems shoppers face, knowing industry trends and headwinds, building relationships with new teams, and learning to pivot quickly when faced with unforeseen challenges. My previous roles taught me to stay laser focused on what is important, people. This includes the customers you serve and the teams you lead.
Q. What made you decide to apply for this position?
A. After five plus years working in the healthcare arm of Kroger, I gained a wide breadth of experiences. During this time, I worked directly in the stores, provided direct patient care, lead teams, created enterprise-wide programs, and went on to lead the nutrition-focused healthcare strategy. Each new role came with new opportunities to work with internal and external cross functional partners. I had the chance to collaborate and learn from people across 84.51 data science, technology, site experience, marketing, merchandising, and ecommerce. Collectively, they taught me a broader understanding of how the company operated.
Like many Dietitians, my scientific curiosity means I am always asking, “How does that work?” The best way to learn is by doing. I had collaborated with the ecommerce team on some large nutrition initiatives. I also started using grocery delivery myself and saw how much easier it made my life. I was fascinated by the contribution that online shopability, along with pickup and delivery services, was making in simplifying how families received the food on their dinner table each week. I came into healthcare at the start of my career with the intent of making people’s lives better. I still feel I can do that in my role in ecommerce.
Q. What allowed the ecommerce team to see you were right for the position? How can retail dietitians readily demonstrate the ability to transfer skills?
A. I highly recommend taking on projects that give you experience collaborating with new people and teams. I had the benefit of working closely with the ecommerce team before I took a role within the department. This allowed me to gain a foundational understanding of the department’s goals and structure.
The core focus of every department across grocery retail is the same. It is the shopper. Our collective goal is to create value for them and help them solve everyday problems to make their life easier. There was a clear connection between how my previous work had solved problems shoppers were facing and how I could do that again in ecommerce.
Q. Retail RDs sometimes worry that moving to another retail function will take them too far from nutrition. What is your response to this?
A. When dietitians grow into non-traditional roles it is a benefit to all parties involved in retail grocery. It allows the grocer to adopt a new innovative and strategic lens, keeps customers and their needs at the forefront, and allows for career development for the dietitian. For retail dietitians worried moving to another function will take them too far from nutrition, consider the further you move out of a traditional dietitian role, the more nutrition expertise is incorporated into areas where it has not been present in the organization in the past. Regardless of the role, your nutrition knowledge still comes with you. When taking on a non-nutrition centered role, your nutrition expertise can add a benefit that will set you apart and show your ability to always keep the needs of the shopper top of mind.
Q. Why do you think it is important for dietitians to explore other roles at retail?
A. Having dietitians engaged in non-traditional roles across all facets of a retailer allows a retailer to gain the full benefit of employing food and nutrition professionals. Utilizing dietitians in a shopper-facing capacity is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unlocking potential benefit to the retailer, the shopper, and the community. Incorporating dietitians and their knowledge of food and human behavior at the strategic leadership level of an organization allows the full benefit of dietitians to be integrated into the long-term plans. It can help gain benefits like increased shopper loyalty and basket size, and drive innovations across new business development and merchandising.
Q. What advice do you have for retail RDs looking to expand their roles in the retail setting?
A. You spend every day at work surrounded by teachers. There is something to learn from everyone. Make it a priority to connect with people across all areas of the business, asking how they have gained the knowledge and experience needed for their roles. If you are striving for a specific role, start by assessing the responsibilities of your current position. Then focus on where you aspire to develop professionally by practicing applicable skills and collaborating with teams you aspire to be a part of in the future.