NGA is introducing a regular feature that explores the insights of independent grocery operators. This week, Ari Goldsmith, VP of marketing for KeHE Distributors LLC, shares her thoughts with us …
- What were the most important lessons of 2020?
An important lesson that has emerged during 2020 is to stay nimble and find new ways to reach your audience. Prior to the pandemic, KeHE had prioritized communications and experiences in a digital platform through initiatives like piloting a virtual trade show in the fall of 2019. However, COVID-19 accelerated that focus and enhanced our technology and communications to support our partners’ evolving needs.
- What changes do you expect will remain beyond the pandemic?
The pandemic has laid the groundwork for a handful of trends that we can expect to continue to see in the upcoming year. A focus on wellness and well-being, leaning into businesses with a purpose, and at-home DIY or consumption will continue in 2021. You can check out KeHE’s predictions in our 2021 Trends to Watch.
- What are the most important opportunities for independent operators in the coming year?
Independent retailers are the heartbeat of their communities, and there has never been a larger focus on local. With more Americans working from home and no more commutes, shopping in their neighborhood store has shifted from grabbing two or three items to full carts. That dynamic is something to hold on to. Experience is everything! Important opportunities include assortment and innovation with new items and brands as consumers are treasure hunting for that “something different” for the same recipes that they have been cooking in home for nine months.
- What are the most significant challenges for independents?
Consumers’ harmonious omnichannel purchasing is another factor that can be a significant challenge independent retailers face, especially outside of the store. More and more consumers are turning to e-commerce outlets for safety and convenience reasons. One solution is to offer services like curbside pickup or buy online/pickup in-store to avoid losing their local safety-conscious consumers.
- How can independent operators continue to most effectively serve their customers and communities?
Independent retailers can effectively serve their customers and communities by leaning into local and purpose-driven brands. As a trend that emerged in 2020, and will continue in the upcoming year, more consumers are looking to make an impact with their dollars. Offering items that advance a higher purpose can directly connect shoppers to local communities in need. With many consumers cooking from home, independent retailers can also offer recipe inspiration, signage or educational materials provide opportunities for product, which encourage discovery and trial of new items.