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Closing Technology Gap Between Independents, Competition

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ARG’s technology has continued to evolve along with its retailers over the last 20 years based upon the changing market and competitive landscape. 

As company officials have noted, this includes leveraging the advantages of data utilization and machine learning on its repository of retailer data to deliver solutions for individual stores that they are not resourced to do on their own.

“Our goal,” said iPro President Mike Bokarae, “is to close the technology gap between our independents and their chain store competition. Utilizing data through our custom-built technology solutions provides an insulating advantage for our independent retailers, affording them the opportunity to experience lower costs, save time and money and see incremental revenue increase.”

ARG’s technology efforts apply to vendor partners as well. 

“Our vendor partners are subjected to the same changes in market dynamics, and we continue to enhance our solutions to meet their new business needs,” said CEO Jena Sowers.

Data mining is just one example of how the company is helping independents compete. Through iPro Edge, ARG offers retailers and vendor partners a simplified business analytics tool. 

“iPro Edge is the only tool of its kind in the independent retailer space that allows both  retailers and vendors to  share fully representative data and enjoy simplified, action ready business metrics at their fingertips,” said Megan Cappel, EVP iPro Systems.

[RELATED: ARG Has Evolved To Offer Suite Of Services]

Providing this, she added, facilitates a driving principle of ARG’s business management approach – facts matter. 

“When all parties can drive the business with the same fully representative data as a single source of truth, the speed and efficiency of execution against that data delivers exponentially more for everyone,” she said.

Data analytics, category management and demand forecasting have always been important in the grocery industry. But today, these metrics are indispensable “must-haves,” Bokarae said. 

“With the combination of iPro Edge, our robust category management and execution program and our AI-enhanced recommended ordering tool, we continue to evolve our solutions in this space,” he said. “These areas will continue to be the center of focus for us and are where competitive advantages for ARG retailers will be created.” 

ARG collects sales data nightly from 17 different POS systems at more than 4,000 independent retailer locations. 

New ventures

ARG launched a retail media network in Q2 of this year with partner Swiftly. This new platform allows its retailers to monetize their ad space on their digital channels to brands.

“Data shows that consumers are shifting their time and attention to digital media. This is a $100-billion-a-year business that’s still growing, and we wanted to offer our retailers a seamless way to capture this interest by helping them invest in digital circulars and online media,” Sowers said. 

“Similar to the original reason for creating ARG, we must leverage the size and scale of our retailers to begin collecting this incremental revenue stream that is critical for them to compete in the grocery industry.

Bokarae added, “CPGs are continuing to search for the most efficient and impactful ways to engage consumers with their brands and undoubtedly digital platforms are where they are investing. Historically, the independent landscape has been too segmented to provide a consistent ROI in the digital space. 

“We are launching our own digital coupon solution free of any clip or redemption fees while reaching a virtually untouched independent shopper. This allows ARG retailers and vendors alike to unlock marketing dollars that were historically earmarked outside of the independent space, creating new consumer reach and incremental promotion.”

Future

With business strong and new ventures launching, it would be easy for ARG to sit back and relax. But that is simply not in the company’s future. 

With Sowers at the helm, ARG’s plans include continuing to evolve and provide retailers with solutions and technology services that make them as competitive and healthy as possible.  

“Our end goal is to level the playing field for independent retailers and be the best investment for our vendor partners,” Sowers said. “We are only as successful as our retailers, so we will continue to listen to their needs and react accordingly.”

The same is true for vendor partners and teammates.

“Facilitating success for those three constituents will always be our focus,” she said. “Technology will play a huge part in everything that we do, but we will never lose our relationship-driven culture and doing what we say we will do.”

About the author

Sommer Stockton

Web Editor

Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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