Savant Talks: Christoph Sterkel on Kellanova’s digital transformation

Come along to the 10th edition of Savant eCommerce Berlin to hear Christoph’s Fireside Chat about ‘How to Ensure a Smooth and Strong Evolution from B2B to D2C’.

Tell us about your career so far. How did you get to Kellanova?


After completing my Master’s in “International Business” in London, I embarked on my career journey at Henkel in Düsseldorf. Initially, I served as a Category Manager in the Beauty Care division. Later, I transitioned to become an eCommerce Manager in the Laundry & Home division of the multinational company. Over nearly five years at Henkel, my wife and I made a decision to embark on a five-month-long journey around the world. During this time, I came across an opportunity at Kellanova.

Interestingly, I recall conducting interviews while traveling – one from the lush jungles of Laos and the next from my friend’s place in Singapore. I joined Kellanova in early 2020, assuming the role of Head of eCommerce Northern & Eastern Europe. In this capacity, I oversee the strategic development of eCommerce, encompassing Pure Players, Q-Commerce, and Omnichannel retailers. Additionally, I am responsible for building Direct-to-Consumer Business capabilities at Kellanova Europe.

A recent milestone in this journey was the launch of our pilot shop in Germany: This initiative marks an exciting step forward for us in establishing our direct consumer presence.


Could you tell us about Kellanova’s recent rebranding and digital transformation?


Kellanova, formerly known as the Kellogg Company, is a global snacking, international cereal and noodles, plant-based foods company. The name Kellanova signals the company’s ambition for the future, building on the strong brand equity and legacy built over the past 117 years as Kellogg Company.

A corporation of that size with an annual turnover of over 14 Billion USD has to  embrace the change and adapt itself to new  circumstances. In early October, we initiated the launch of our independent online shop, starting with Germany as our testing ground. This direct approach to selling to both customers and businesses through our platform represents a significant shift for Kellanova, necessitating adaptations to our business processes.

For instance, we’re currently reassessing and adjusting our content to cater to the distinct requirements of B2B consumers, which greatly differ from our existing consumer-oriented content. Additionally, we’re exploring the integration of AI to streamline operations, aiming to expedite processes and alleviate the workload on our teams simultaneously. This evaluation of AI’s potential will help us optimize efficiency and effectiveness in managing our new online channel.


You’re working on projects around expanding Kellanova’s channels, including by opening your own B2B shop. What was your aim in launching such a shop?


Our objective is to meet our consumers and customers where they are. With the opening of a new warehouse, we can now handle smaller shipment quantities, enabling us to cater to the needs of smaller customers. This expansion allows us to establish additional distribution points, addressing the demands of a digital sales channel.

Our aim is to boost sales by reaching out to customers who currently cannot order from us due to minimum order requirements that they can’t meet. This move towards accommodating smaller quantities empowers us to tap into an untapped market segment, thereby fulfilling the needs of a broader customer base.


What capabilities do businesses need in order to sell on marketplaces? How are Kellanova achieving these?


To start selling on Marketplaces, we had to develop new abilities, like setting up a specialized eCommerce warehouse. This warehouse is designed to ship small quantities and use parcel delivery. We also introduced a middleware solution, a software that helps us list our products on various Marketplaces without the worry of selling more items than we have in stock. These were essential steps for a successful Marketplaces presence.

Looking ahead, I’m interested in expanding our offerings to include merchandise products, aiming to provide extra value for our customers. This additional range of products could enhance our value proposition, creating more opportunities in the future.


Which exciting developments are you hoping to see in the world of eCommerce next year?


In the midst of all the exciting things happening, I’m particularly interested in two things: how online shopping advertising is changing (eRetail media) and how AI is getting better.

I believe the maturity level of eRetail Media is very heterogeneous across the different retailers. I do see that many retailers are building the solutions or partnering with tech providers. I am curious to see how this will evolve but also what the affect on customers this race will have.

As for AI, while many of us have engaged with AI tools in recent months, its integration into various processes often remains more theoretical than practical. For instance, when considering the generation of eCommerce content at scale or aiding manufacturers in swiftly analyzing customer reviews, AI’s application seems underutilized. There’s a notable gap between the concept of AI and its widespread implementation across these domains.


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