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An Interview with Sameer Bandeali

Digital and eCommerce Leader at Maple Leaf Foods

Sameer Bandeali’s role is a very unique one, especially in such a large organization. He is currently helping shape the Ecommerce Strategy at Maple Leaf Foods while simultaneously helping run digital insights and analytics as well as optimizing various digital marketing functions such as SEO, SEM, technology stack, etc. Sameer has over 7 years of experience in everything Digital. From working on ERP implementations to optimizing the Digital Customer Experience, he has a wide array of digital expertise. 

What does your role involve?

Sameer Bandeali: First and foremost, my role consists of managing three key buckets: analytics, digital best-practices/optimization (including content, technology and people), and eCommerce.

From a digital standpoint, I'm responsible for gathering data and generating insights from the analytics of all our digital campaigns, as well as working with my team to optimize our spends. I'm also focused on helping develop different digital capabilities on owned properties, such as our website.

In addition to those responsibilities, I am also working on developing our eCommerce strategy. It’s still in its early stages, but we’re responding to the industry to be the key leader within their grocery eCommerce space.

What are your three biggest business priorities?

Bandeali: It's simple: eCommerce. eCommerce has been a huge focus for us as of late, and it will continue to be over the next 12 months.

From reading the news, to industry research to the discussions that I've had with my peers at other CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands, we know that the traditional grocery industry is being disrupted. There are a lot of things happening in the space, from a technology standpoint as well as a consumer behavior standpoint. Change is occurring right in front of us, both in the United States and now Canada. 

What's the biggest challenge for you, your team or your business?

Bandeali: From a business landscape, our biggest challenge is tying our digital efforts directly back to the bottom line.

As a CPG brand, we know that content is critical from both a brand awareness and engagement standpoint, especially on our digital channels. Our analytics clearly showcase that what we’re producing is resonating with our audience, however, because we don’t sell directly to our end-consumer, it’s hard to track it directly to the bottom line.  

Another (internal) challenge we're focused on is increasing our annual digital media budget to ensure that we have a strong digital presence across each of our brands, on multiple platforms. We know this will make it easier for people to discover and engage with our brands, who we want to be present 24/7 on multiple mediums.

In both challenges, we’ve realized as a team that it's more about making sure that consumers can see helpful, value-adding content wherever they are instead of us having them drive to certain areas that we want them to go to.

How does eMarketer help you overcome those challenges?

Bandeali: I work with a lot of analytics and insights, so it’s important for me to have industry-specific data to compare results to. eMarketer’s consistent methodology helps me legitimize findings and reinforce a certain campaign direction. I've actually had multiple executives ask me to gather data directly from eMarketer when I'm working on identifying certain trends or testing theories. 

Were you familiar with eMarketer before joining Maple Leaf Foods?

Bandeali: I've used eMarketer in previous roles at different organizations, and was so happy to learn that I’d have access at Maple Leaf Foods. It’s a critical tool that I use to do research, and the data that I get from eMarketer is trustworthy. It helps me form a credible, internal standpoint.

Can you walk me though a specific use-case where eMarketer has helped you? 

Bandeali: When I was analyzing our media budgets, I used internal data to understand the breakdown of how Maple Leaf’s spend was allocated between digital and traditional media. Then, I wanted to compare that data to what other CPG brands were spending on certain formats to see if we were following the trends. I looked up the stats on eMarketer to see how well we allocated our budgets, and found that we were doing things a little differently. eMarketer data helped inform our updated budgets, with more emphasis on digital channels for our category.

What's your favorite thing about having access to eMarketer? 

Bandeali: First, I like the convenience of getting an email that contains different articles and reports; it keeps me up to date without much effort from my end.

Second, I love having the ability to create custom charts, or being able to slice and dice the charts and make the final product as relevant as possible. For the type of work that I’m doing, this feature has been very, very helpful. The familiarity of the red and black charts is something that people respect. It helps me legitimize my POV whenever we're discussing data, trends or information. 

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