NGA’s “Five Questions” is a regular feature that explores the insights of independent grocery operators. This week, Joe Wolf, president of Alliance Retail Group, shares his thoughts with us.
- What was the most important lesson of 2020?
The need for flexibility. We had to be able to react to unique circumstances constantly changing and be able to adapt new strategies. I am proud of our team for their ability to be flexible and remain upbeat through a difficult year.
- What changes do you expect will remain beyond the pandemic?
I think it will be years before our restaurant and hospitality industries recover, allowing our independent operators a unique opportunity to continue to thrive and be successful. I also think e-commerce will continue to grow and be an important part of stores’ offerings as we go forward. Home delivery will become more important as an offering as people become more comfortable with the convenience and safety it allows.
- What are the most important opportunities for independent operators in the coming year?
Competition from the chains is going to be very fierce, so we are going to need to be able to retain our customers and engage with them in meaningful ways (digital/loyalty) to retain their business.
- What are the most significant challenges for independents?
Competition, as well as the ability hire and retain good people. I think the pandemic has taught us a lot about ourselves and our employees. Nothing replaces having a strong team out on the front lines helping our shoppers.
- How can independent operators continue to most effectively serve their customers and communities?
Be flexible, competitive with our pricing and strengthen our customer service to our existing customers as well as new ones we may have picked up during the pandemic. There will be lots of options for the consumers’ grocery business and therefore we have to work even harder to meet the needs of the evolving shoppers.