Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen Photo: Axios screenshot

The shift to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated beyond most analysts' predictions, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said on Wednesday at an Axios event.

The big picture: McMullen said the industry had expected the shift to online to take about 3 years. Instead, it took place in only two weeks.

  • Rapid change is the norm in the industry, McMullen said. “If you look at the changes 10 years ago, it was faster than the 10 years before that, and today it's faster than it was two or three years ago.”
  • "I guarantee you what will be successful in the future will be different from what has been successful in the past."

Yes, but: The Kroger CEO said the company's data indicates that online shopping won't remain at its current levels when the pandemic subsides.

  • "Customers that use us online also like to come into our stores, and it's one of the reasons it's so important to have a totally seamless experience where customers can do what is easier for them at that particular time."

Go deeper

Updated Aug 12, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: Industry's digital update

On Wednesday August 12, @Work author Erica Pandey hosted a conversation on how the coronavirus has accelerated a nationwide shift to e-commerce, featuring Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen.

Rodney McMullen discussed how grocery stores have adjusted to changing times and leaned more on contactless options — like online ordering with curbside delivery — to meet customers' needs.

  • On a hybrid shopping experience for customers: "One of the things that we've found is customers that use us online also like to come into our stores. That's one of the reasons why it's important to have a totally seamless experience where customers can do whatever's easiest for them at that particular point in time. From our view, part of this [shift to online shopping] will be permanent.
  • How coronavirus has changed trends in grocery shopping: "When people shop, the basket sizes are significantly bigger when you look at today versus before the pandemic. The other thing that's causing some of [the larger basket sizes] is families have moved back in together. I know a lot of kids have moved back with their parents."

Sallie Krawcheck discussed the financial industry, focusing on how women are being impacted by COVID-19 in their places of work and in their approach to finances.

  • How gender inequities can be amplified by remote work: "Women are a greater share of essential workers and are losing their jobs at a greater rate. And it's a problem at the most subtle level — women are finding all of the micro-inequities of the workplace. It's hard to get a word in edgewise in a meeting. Questions like 'how do I get my point of view heard?' are being really amplified in a Zoom era."
  • On the future role of in-person financial advising and transactions: "[Finance] is going digital first...The argument that you're not going to have the same relationship [with your financial advisor] if you don't meet in person isn't right."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with
Okta CEO Todd McKinnon who discussed how brick-and-mortar businesses have shifted to e-commerce as a result of the pandemic.

  • "Companies [are] realizing that we're in this pandemic world for a long time. So they really have to have their digital strategies put together...When you can't go to the hardware store, the hardware store has to get online. And that's happening now."

Thank you Okta for sponsoring this event.

Updated 18 mins ago - Science

In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed over 51,620 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

More than 1700 firefighters are battling 26 major blazes across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: More than 8,100 wildfires have burned across a record 39 million-plus acres, killing 29 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 33,880,896 — Total deaths: 1,012,964 — Total recoveries: 23,551,663Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 7,232,823 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021
  5. Travel: CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S. waters — Airlines begin mass layoffs while clinging to hope for federal aid
  6. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  7. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.

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