RECAP — TechBrew:AM w/ Travis Hoover

We were joined at TechBrew:AM by Travis Hoover, Senior Vice President, Chief Data Officer at Hy-Vee, on March 13, 2024. Travis shared insights into sharing insights into his IT career, his passion for data, and the impact of data on elevating customer experience. 

Travis has boasted a remarkable career spanning over two decades in shaping and optimizing technological landscapes to foster business growth and innovation. Travis’s journey with Hy-Vee began over 24 years ago when he started as a part-time employee at the Burlington stores. Rising through the ranks, he has held diverse roles, beginning as an IT intern during college.


1.     Digital Shopping Experience

In his role at Hy-Vee, Travis led the development of the company’s first customer-facing mobile app, Aisle Online. The app was developed in-house to enhance the digital experience for customers, allowing them to shop online and create digital shopping lists to improve their in-store experience.

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, technology played a crucial role in enabling Hy-Vee to provide safe access to groceries. The company rapidly rolled out the Aisle Online app, increasing order efficiency by 10 times using data tools like PowerBI. Additionally, Hy-Vee deployed COVID scheduler technology for its pharmacy to efficiently and safely provide vaccinations.

In his current position overseeing the data organization, Travis’s team ensures the capture of quality data to support these systems. Despite the easing of the pandemic, the need for these technologies remains significant.

2.     Moving at the Speed of the Customer

Travis emphasized that the retail industry operates at a rapid pace, constantly adjusting to meet evolving customer demands. This agility can be challenging, often requiring projects to be paused or timelines accelerated to meet customer needs. Travis stressed the importance of continually aligning with customer expectations. This customer-centric approach is especially relevant to Hy-Vee, which places a strong emphasis on customer service and experience.

Travis highlighted his appreciation for the retail industry, particularly in the grocery sector, where one can witness firsthand the impact of corporate decisions on store operations. Given that corporate employees are also customers, they can directly observe the effects of their work.

3.     Power of Retail Media

Last year, Hy-Vee launched its retail media network, RedMedia, to link customers with partner brands across the omniverse. Hy-Vee’s data team plays a key role in supporting the retail media network, leveraging data to offer insights and guide decision-making. Through comprehensive data collection, Hy-Vee ensures that partner brands reach the right customers with the right products at the right moment. This approach enhances the customer experience by facilitating connections between customers and the brands and products they prefer.

4.     Automated Microfulfillment Centers

Travis discussed Hy-Vee’s latest efficiency innovation: microfulfillment centers, developed in partnership with Takeoff Technologies. These centers aim to enhance e-commerce delivery by enabling faster and more efficient order fulfillment. They are expected to increase online fulfillment productivity by up to 10 times, enhancing availability for customers. Moreover, they facilitate a seamless in-store shopping experience by segregating online order fulfillment from in-store shopping activities, thereby improving overall customer service.

Some parts of these microfulfillment centers will be fully automated, incorporating a robotics system. The first center is set to open as early as this summer.

Data analytics plays a crucial role in supporting these centers by leveraging customer data to analyze demand and consumer preferences in the locations where the centers are established.

4.   Global Talent & Innovation

Last year, Travis contributed to establishing the company’s first offshore office in Bangalore, India. Hy-Vee opened its new Global Capabilities Center, Helpful Smiles Technology (HST) Global, in Bengaluru, India. The HST Global team works in conjunction with Hy-Vee’s U.S. technology teams to develop and deliver innovative technology solutions. Bangalore’s rich talent pool and vibrant startup ecosystem will help Hy-Vee enhance business operations and drive technology innovation.

The establishment of this office provided Hy-Vee with valuable insights into the retail grocery landscape in other countries, especially in densely populated areas. For instance, the team discovered that in Bangalore, groceries can be delivered within 7-10 minutes, and retailers commonly utilize a virtual checkout method. This experience has inspired Hy-Vee to continue innovating and improving the efficiency of its e-commerce operations.

With the final word of the event, Travis shared an inspiring message to the young professionals in the audience to find a career that they are truly passionate about rather than simply a job.

Join us for the next TechBrew:AM:

Explore more techBrew:AM RECAPS

Interest Form

Join A TAI Roundtable

Please fill out this form to indicate your interest in joining one of Technology Association of Iowa’s Roundtables.

Participation in the CIO, CISO or CEO Roundtables is exclusively reserved for technology executives of TAI member organizations with these (or comparable) job titles. All other TAI Roundtables is exclusively reserved for individuals employed by TAI member organizations. Not a member? Join now.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.