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Retailer Need Drives NGA’s Leaps In Technology

The Independent's Perspective

Last updated on June 13th, 2024 at 12:00 pm

More than 2,700 retailers, wholesalers and suppliers recently joined us for the 2013 NGA Show in Las Vegas. As I said in my February column, our goal was to offer new and innovative resources to the industry, particularly in the area of technology.

The show opened with a conversation I had with Joe Sheridan, president and COO of Wakefern Food Corp. and NGA’s chairman. In that conversation, we announced some exciting projects that set the stage for the show, and I think these programs will have a strong impact on independents. With this month’s issue of The Shelby Report being focused on equipment, services and technology, this is the perfect opportunity to tell you about these new technology initiatives.

NGA has spent the past few years gathering information from our members on their needs and the challenges that face independent grocers. Our goal was to have a positive impact on their businesses and their bottom lines. That feedback has been used to create a number of programs that have benefited our members and furthered the NGA value proposition. One area, however, that our members indicated to be an opportunity for the association and the industry was technology. We heard repeatedly that independent grocers have unique challenges when it comes to technology and that they did not feel there were many opportunities available to address those needs. That resource gap was particularly felt by small- and mid-sized retailers who, unlike large companies, often are unable to leverage financial resources and manpower to utilize pricey technologies and stay ahead of the curve.

To that end, NGA wanted to gain more insight on these areas and find a way to even the playing field. We utilized an NGA Technology Advisory Committee, which analyzed opportunities for bridging the gap between large and small retailers. Through those efforts, we are excited to announce a few new initiatives that we believe will have a great impact on the independent grocery channel.

First, through the Center for Advancing Retail and Technology (CART), we will bring two new services to NGA members. The first is the NGA InnovationCenter. Through this program, retailers will be able to serve as “live learning labs” for CPG companies and trading partners who want to test new products and solutions in independent stores. These opportunities also will allow companies and retailers to work together to explore best practices in marketing and operations.

A second component of the CART partnership is the NGA SolutionCenter. This will allow retailers to undertake an assessment of the technologies they currently utilize to determine where they can make improvements and how they can grow technologically. The SolutionCenter also will enable them to create a roadmap for improving their technology position as well as discover and procure innovative solutions for achieving those goals. These programs are in partnership with Gary Hawkins of Hawkins Strategic, who many of you may know as a longtime veteran of the industry and a champion of retail technology innovations.

We also announced a program that we think will be a game-changer for independents, Personiphi. Utilizing the advanced technology of Symphony EYC, Personiphi will leverage the independent sector’s abundance of experience to help level the playing field in sophisticated personalized marketing programs and shopper intelligence. Through Personiphi, shoppers will receive offers that are uniquely catered to their individual shopping habits, which can improve customer loyalty and increase basket size and number of trips to the store. The program, which also will allow small retailers to strengthen their relationships with CPG companies through being part of a larger collective, is currently in the proof-of-concept stage. We are excited to get more retailers involved, so get in touch with me if you’re interested in participating or learning more.

We also recently announced discounted pricing on our NGA Online Training & Education Center, thanks to the generous support of First Data. This program is the future of employee training, and allows retailers to pay one price per store, per year to have unlimited employees take ­unlimited courses on an online platform that gives them access any time, from anywhere.

NGA Economic Impact Announcement
Joe Sheridan and Peter Larkin introduce the NGA Economic Impact Study during the 2013 NGA Show.

I also wanted to share a little about a program we are eagerly waiting to launch—The NGA Economic Impact Study. For years, I have been asked, “Just how big is the independent grocery channel?” The study, made possible by supporters like The Shelby Report, will answer that question. The results will include information such as combined sales, taxes paid, wages, jobs created and even the impact on sub-economies such as agriculture and transportation. Once released, the data will be stored on an open website for access by retailers, suppliers, government officials and the public. This will help show just how large of an impact we have on the nation’s economy and underscore our relevance as an industry. We expect that the data will be finalized in the coming weeks, and we are excited to share the results.

For more information on any of these initiatives, feel free to contact me or visit our website at www.nationalgrocers.org.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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