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EDC15 interview: Dave Crellin, Sainsbury’s


Dave Crellin, Sainsbury's

Dave Crellin, Sainsbury’s

Dave Crellin is head of online operations development at Sainsbury’s, and at the eDelivery Conference (EDC2015) on 13 October at the Hammersmith Novotel in London, he’ll be speaking on the topic of balancing customer demands with the challenges of speed, convenience and flexibility.

We caught up with Dave to hear about his role, his view of what’s going on in the industry, and what he’s looking forward to at EDC2015.

eD: Tell us about your role.

DC: I’ve been leading the operations development function at Sainsbury’s Online for the last three and a half years. We are a project-based function, with projects lasting between three months and multiple years, developing our fulfilment capability to add efficiency or capacity or to improve the customer offer. We span all aspects of the operation – store picking, delivery and operating model, dark store / warehouse fulfilment, click-and-collect – with multiple variants within these areas. There is consequently significant variety in the ‘typical day’ but the main focus for the role is leading the development of the channel and its requirements through a much larger organisation and structure.

eD: And what’s the best thing about your job?

DC: The variety. There’s so much going on of such different types that it’s impossible to get bored.

eD: What do you think the rest of the ecommerce sector might learn from the supermarket sector?

DC: Service levels, whether that’s customer choice or at point of fulfilment.

eD: Returns is a huge issue in the ecommerce world – do supermarkets have the same challenges, are you able to deal with them better than the average?

DC: Returns are less of a volume issue in grocery but they do happen, typically for a substituted item a customer decides not to take. Individual items can add up though, especially in larger operations. The nuance for grocery is that we need to be very careful about the cold chain and product life, so returns particularly in chilled / fresh and frozen might be wasted for either reason. Returns can be onerous but nothing like on the scale other types of businesses will see.

eD: Do you have the same peak periods as everyone else in retail or does your business/sector experience its own rhythms?

DC: We see a typical grocery pattern, although it’s exacerbated as we significantly over-index in big weekly shops. We see a slacker period in the summer, peaks around Christmas and Easter and a big uplift from August to September as families return from holidays and children go back to school.

We have volumes that are also more susceptible to market activity than our store colleagues, as trading across to a different online grocer is easier so we see the impact of our own promotions and deals and can also see the effect of some of our competitors’ activity.

eD: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges currently facing the retail delivery sector?

DC: Running a model which combines profitability with the service levels we want to achieve for our and finding enough profitable capacity to service the growth in the market.

eD: Why are you attending EDC2015?

DC: There aren’t many opportunities to get the collected view of specialists in this area and this is one of the very few which fits the bill. There’s always something interesting from outside my immediate area of focus as well, whether it’s a particular session or a conversation in passing.

eD: What will you be speaking about?

DC: Fulfilling New Customer Demands: Speed vs Convenience vs Flexibility? We’re all busy trying to offer the best customer propositions but doing so in a world increasingly focussed on margin makes these questions especially pertinent.

eD: What do you hope to learn, are there any of the other speakers you are looking forward to hearing from?

DC: There are a couple of former colleagues that I’m looking forward to hearing and Calum Lewis from Lego has a fascinating brief and an interesting angle from which to address it.

For more details, including registration information please visit the eDelivery Conference site.

Other speakers confirmed for EDC2015 include: Richard Jenkins, head of RFID strategic development at M&S, Calum Lewis, operations director at Lego, and Julian Callede, chief operating officer and co-founder of

Sponsored by Royal Mail, the format for the eDelivery Conference will be as follows:

  • 08:00 – delegate registration
  • 09:00 – conference begins
  • 09:30 – free exhibition and workshop registration
  • 17:00 – conference closes
  • 17:00 to 20:00 – post-conference cocktail party

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