Two initiatives were introduced at the National Grocers Association (NGA) Show that quickly garnered the interest of many attendees. Gary Hawkins, who is founder and chairman of the Center for Retailer & Technology (CART) and a new initiative called Personiphi, spoke to The Shelby Report’s Bob Reeves at the show about them.
The initiatives seek to bring the advantages of customer data mining technology to independents and to leverage the sector’s scale to pull in industry marketing funds and technology solutions providers that have of late been going to larger players (think dunnhumby and Kroger).
“Independent retailers need to really understand what’s happening in the industry on two fronts. What the big retailers are doing, the tools they’re bringing to the marketplace and the impact of those on independents’ business,” Hawkins said. “Hand in hand with that is really understanding what’s happening with industry marketing funds and how those are changing. Traditional trade promotion is declining and that’s only going to accelerate, and that impacts independents more than anyone else.”
Through CART, participating stores serve as live learning labs to showcase and pilot new innovation solutions and to conduct research in partnership with brand manufactures and others, Hawkins said. In short, its goal is to return the independent grocery to a leadership role in industry innovation rather than seeing the technology and funding going to “the big guys first,” Hawkins tells The Shelby Report.
As an independent retailer, Hawkins began to see the power of leveraging customer data early in his lifelong grocery career and launched one of the first loyalty programs 20 years ago. Over time, he has consulted with notable retailers, brand manufacturers, technology companies and wholesalers in the U.S. and other countries around the world.
Now Hawkins is introducing the Personiphi initiative with NGA. It is designed to take back the independents’ most important point of differentiation: knowing their customers. In the last several years, independents have seen an uneven playing field as retailers of scale turned secondary shoppers into loyal customers at their expense.
In addition, there has been a shift in marketing funds in the industry as manufacturers have become more comfortable using shopper data and have been pushing their promotions into a targeted, measurable form, Hawkins said.
“The nut of that is it further disadvantages the independent sector,” he said.
Personiphi’s mission is to unite independents and leverage that aggregation to access marketing dollars so that they, too, can offer their shoppers personalized savings on products they want to buy.
“The takeaway here is that Personiphi is dedicated to working with NGA to unite independents, get them back in the game and bring new marketing dollars to them,” Hawkins said. “I’d love to have any retailers interested go to Personiphi.com and learn more.”
He said conversations also are ongoing with many wholesalers who he said are seeing the effect big retailers with sophisticated tools are having on their customer base.
“They are seeing the need, that the world going forward is really going to be driven by data, not just transaction data but shopper-identified transaction data,” Hawkins said. “So we think there’s a very strong partnership and synergy between what Personiphi is seeking to do and how we can work hand in hand with the wholesalers to evolve the whole independent sector to a new playing field.
“On the CART side, we have a pipeline of more than two dozen innovation solutions providers, new technologies that are really interested in the independent sector who are looking for retailers interested in participating in using some of their stores as live learning labs to work with us in showcasing some of these, learning and seeing how these can benefit the shopping experience.”
See www.advancingretail.org for more information about CART.
More NGA Show photos can be found here. Check back for updates and additional photos from the show throughout the week.