Alert Innovation Adds Hershey’s Chief Digital Officer to Retail Advisory Council

Collaborating with Leading Grocery, Retail, and Technology Influencers

BOSTON, MA Alert Innovation, a leader in grocery automation and micro fulfillment systems, strengthens its Retail Advisory Council (RAC) with the addition of Doug Straton, Chief Digital Officer at The Hershey Company.

With a successful career growing top global brands such as Unilever, LVMH, TAG Heuer and L’Oréal, Straton adds his experience to the RAC’s vast knowledge of online consumer behaviors, and best practices for omnichannel e-commerce.

“Grocery shoppers have shifted their spending to online channels dramatically over the past 16 months. In response, many of our retail partners are embracing automation,” said Straton. “I’m eager to provide a CPG perspective to the groundbreaking work at Alert Innovation, in particular the Alphabot platform that allows retailers to successfully fulfill orders that include temperature-sensitive products like chocolate through its system.”

The RAC is an alliance of executives and academics with expertise in grocery, retail, consumer behavior and e-commerce, and was established to influence development efforts at Alert Innovation focused on improving omnichannel grocery experiences. In addition to Straton, members include:

  • Peter Fader – Professor of Marketing – The Wharton School, University of PA
  • Chris Haimbach – US Head of Sales, Commercial Strategy & Operations, Consumer Health Care – Bayer
  • Ann Raider – Executive, Global Retail – IRI
  • Peter Larkin – Former President & CEO – National Grocers Association

“We are thrilled to welcome Doug to the RAC, and look forward to his valuable contributions and guidance as we expand our roadmap of automation solutions for grocery retailers,” said John Lert, Founder and CEO of Alert Innovation.

Learn more about the Alphabot system at

About Alert Innovation, Inc

Alert Innovation® is a thought leader in Retail and Grocery automation, driving innovation that improves lives by transforming how retailers operate and people shop. Alert Innovation is an industry leader in robotic e-grocery fulfillment. The Alphabot® system, designed by the Alert Innovation team is a unique automated fulfillment solution that utilizes patented omnidirectional robots in a temperature-controlled system for fresh, efficient, and high-quality grocery fulfillment. Alert Innovation also designed the Novastore™, a store concept utilizing the Alphabot system, delivering a dynamic and efficient shopping experience.

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RAM Communications
Ron Margulis

Novastore - Supermarket of the Future

Imagine a store that removes the drudgery of grocery shopping. A store that’s about experiences and fresh.

We didn’t just imagine it, we’re building the automation to make it a reality. We call it Novastore™.

Novastore is all about what shoppers like about shopping, fresh food and store experiences.

Center store items are removed letting fresh items and open sight lines take center stage.

Novastore offers more of an inviting, healthy, fresh market feel. By removing center store items, this selling space is about half of what it was. This lets the expanded Novastore fresh department offer more inviting color and variety.

Kiosks let shoppers place orders in store and handle cashier-less checkout. Shoppers can also use kiosks to get recipe recommendations or order meal kits.

Novastore is also about experiences. A chef can give cooking instructions, offer recipe ideas, or offer samples.
You might even find that some of your shoppers are already Novastore shoppers. They’re making larger than normal online purchases but still visiting the store for fresh purchases. They’ve already adopted a Novastore shopping profile.

Since Novastore is about experiences, the expertise of your store associates will be even more important. Shoppers will want guidance on which meals to select, how to prepare or season seafood, the cheeses or breads that work well with their other menu items.

Shoppers still want and need their center store items. In a Novastore, they can order online or in store for pick-up or delivery. They don’t have to trudge through aisles to select what they know by label.

While a Novastore has a smaller selling footprint, it sells more per square foot and makes more money. This isn’t Novastore magic. It happens because a Novastore uses automation to fulfill orders for center store items. These items are moved to a locations atop or adjacent to fresh sales floor.

A visit to the Alphabot system can be another Novastore shopper experience. Shoppers can visit and watch the Alphabot robots automatically fill their grocery orders.

By lowering labor costs for order fulfillment, the Alphabot system makes store-level ecommerce profitable in a Novastore.

The Alphabot’s 3-D architecture and higher order fulfillment rate delivers more sales per square foot more profitably than a similar sized center store footprint.

To keep labor costs low and make it easy for shoppers, Novastore even includes an auto-dispense capability. Shoppers pull up, scan a code, and Alphabot robots bring their grocery order straight to their car.

You don’t have to imagine a store that shoppers enjoy shopping, or a store that makes ecommerce order fulfillment profitable. Your shoppers are already shopping that way and we’ve started implementing the technology that makes Novastore a reality.