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Independent Grocers: The Future of Food Retailing

Author: Peter Larkin

The Independent View

Peter Larkin

Independent Grocers: The Future of Food Retailing  

 February 26, 2013 

As independent grocers focus on being at the forefront of the latest trends and technology, their businesses continue to grow and the industry's future has never been brighter. We saw this evidenced by a large increase in our registration numbers for The NGA Show (over 2,700 retailers, wholesalers, and suppliers attended), as well as a sold out expo floor. These numbers further underscored growth in the independent sector and an enhanced NGA value proposition. 

Through input from our members, we saw a need to continue offering ways to strategically increase sales and improve operational efficiency. At the NGA Show, we offered six hands-on education tracks featuring new ideas that grocers can immediately implement in their stores on topics including leadership, customer service, operations, general merchandising, fresh foods, and technology.

Independent grocers understand the value of good talent to ensure a successful future. As Millenials begin to take over key leadership positions in their stores, training is crucial to ensure they have the skills to manage store-level hiring, recruit specialized positions, and transition from manager to leader. Through NGA's Store Leadership Program, as well as a refresher course for alumni of our Executive Leadership Development Program, the NGA Show provided many opportunities for grocers to invest in their future leaders. The Women Grocers of America also sponsored a 5k Fun Run to benefit WGA educational and professional opportunities for the next generation.

In addition, our industry recognizes its comparative advantage over big box shops; we are uniquely able to connect with customers and communities on a personal level. With that in mind, the Show offered opportunities for grocers to understand their value proposition and grow sales by increasing basket size via these personal interactions. In addition, attendees connected with their community through the National Best Bagger Contest, the culminating championship of local and state competitions.

Grocers have also learned that the best way to enhance any bottom line is through enhancing operational efficiency. As consumers become more technologically advanced, independent grocers understand we must progress as well. We have done this by growing mobile marketing campaigns, embracing mobile payments at the front end, and using personalized marketing to strengthen customer relationships. The NGA Show featured education on new market trends and technologies to strengthen those efforts.

Although our industry is focused on communities, as small businesses many of our members are affected by national legislation handed down from Capitol Hill. On top of our daily efforts to keep our members educated on the issues, the NGA Show featured an opening keynote by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, Co-Chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, who discussed financial implications of our country's current fiscal status.

Grocers came to the NGA show to talk retailer-to-retailer, business-to-business, about real issues and solutions. The independent industry will continue to flourish because we connect personally with our customers, support local communities, provide excellence in quality, and stay focused on innovation and consumer trends. Independent grocers understand that the future of food retailing is in our hands, and we are more than ready to embrace it.


Peter Larkin

For the press releases and photos from the NGA show, visit www.theNGAshow.com