IGA Global Rally Breaks Records

Nov 12, 2020

The IGA Global Rally Virtual Conference shattered previous attendance records thanks to the virtual format that allowed anyone and everyone to attend safely without traveling. Well over 1,000 people logged in over the course of the day when the event aired on Tuesday, with hundreds more watching globally in their own time zones. The digital format also allowed store managers, department heads, and associates to watch the Rally together in store offices and break rooms throughout the day, growing the audience exponentially. 

And while the IGA Global Rally Virtual Conference has ended, there's great news for anyone looking for insights on independent grocery retailing during the pandemic and beyond: the content is still accessible to watch and learn from.  

"In the midst of COVID, we're all having to figure out new ways of doing business, whether you're an industry association, a wholesaler with your food shows, an NGA or FMI. A lot of what we do is face to face," IGA CEO John Ross said. "While we couldn't get together in person this year to share the connections we make as we've done for decades, we could get together virtually to share the information that's driving sales for retailers, both here in the U.S. and globally."

This year, more people registered for this virtual event than any IGA event in recent memory, which means more people were able to learn how COVID has changed shopper behaviors, how our retailers are adapting, and how innovative new IGA programs will help independent retailers better cater to shopper needs moving forward, from using analytics to strengthen their business to digital services that engage shoppers wherever they are. And for the first time in Rally history, the audience got to see those programs and services in action during the live broadcast at an IGA store: Fairvalue IGA in Lenoir, North Carolina. 

Shawn Yambor and John Ross
Fairvalue IGA President Shawn Yambor and IGA CEO John Ross discuss Fairvalue's market insights during the IGA Global Rally Virtual Conference.

The content discussed and shared during Tuesday's Rally is now available for you to watch, download, and learn more about, so read on below for the highlights, and bookmark the agenda page to download resources, use the contact information to get started on the new programs you need now, and come back to it when you're ready to implement a new program later. 

Session Highlights

Digital Media: Is it Finally Time to Let Go of the Weekly Circular?

As a best-in-class digital advertising program, the technology used for the National Digital Ad 2.0 is not often accessible for independent retailers due to the high cost, but thanks to IGA's power of scale and investment, now all IGA retailers have affordable access to this shopper-driving program. IGA Senior Director of Red Oval Partnerships Heidi Huff, IGA Senior Manager of Program Development Sarah Rivers, and President and CEO of Geissler's Supermarkets Bob Rybick spent the session discussing the benefits of the National Digital Ad 2.0, including: 

  • More robust shopper offers from leading national brand manufacturers within the growing IGA Red Oval Family.
  • What the National Digital Ad 2.0's new rich media functionality means for retailers and shoppers.
  • How retailers can customize the Ad for their store with local offers, including examples of how Geissler's Supermarket has integrated video into their ad.
  • How the geo-targeted media buy works and helps independents secure national shopper marketing dollars and reach their shoppers and their competitors' shoppers.
  • On average, retailers using the NDA 2.0 are seeing a 20 percent lift in sales on NDA items.

"The retailer has the ability to customize their local content—and that's the thing that's so compelling about it," said Rivers. "We've bought hundreds of thousands of dollars of media to promote nationally, but then the retailer can promote their local ad with the national offers to their local community with whatever they want to make it extremely local."


eCommerce: The Next Frontier for Grocery

For independent grocers, the pandemic has moved eCommerce from a "we'll get to that someday" wish list item to a requirement for staying competitive in the new normal. In this session, IGA's John Ross and Sarah Rivers discussed the strategy behind IGA's new eCommerce program, a best-in-class eCommerce platform that syncs your email, your National Digital Ad, IGA-created shopper education content, and your social media to draw shoppers in and keep them coming back. 

Rivers also spoke with a panel of IGA retailers using a wide variety of eCommerce programs, who shared insights about adopting online shopping during COVID, what works and what doesn’t, and the impact eCommerce has had on their shopper loyalty, acquisition of new shoppers, and overall sales.

  • Lake Region IGA's Jim Shook and Irene Cooper recommend retailers start with click and collect, as it's inexpensive and quick to launch.
  • Pat Ptacek of Ptacek's IGA recommends getting online as soon as possible, saying, "You have to have a digital footprint now—we have to be in that playground if we want to be relevant anymore."
  • Adams Hometown Markets' Russ Greenlaw says the future of grocery is online. "There are estimates that 40-50 percent of retail food will be sold online, and we have to keep up with that."
  • The IGA eCommerce platform is like an easy button: its integration with other platforms make the strategy and content portable, so it's available to you whether you use the IGA eCommerce program or another.

While IGA's eCommerce platform is an easy button solution for retailers, Ross stresses that a number of IGA wholesalers also have programs designed to get retailers up and running fast. According to Ross, the end goal of quickly getting IGA retailers on an eCommerce program that works for them is all that matters. 

"You can launch now, catch up, and grow fast," Ross said. "But wait too much longer and you will miss out. Shoppers who create their first transaction with a retailer are seven times harder to switch by the time they have done their fifth transaction. So it's our goal to get 100 percent of retailers on some form of an eCommerce platform as soon as possible so that they don't miss out."


International Leadership Roundtable

IGA’s global leadership shared how COVID-19 has impacted everything from their way of life to employee and shopper behaviors in this session. In a discussion with IGA CEO John Ross, IGA leaders from Australia, China, and South Africa shared:

  • Their experiences in the early weeks of the pandemic and how shoppers are behaving now.
  • How eCommerce has affected sales in their countries.
  • What they're doing to keep the market share that they earned during COVID.
  • Their predictions for the future of independent grocery post-COVID.

Using Analytics to Chart Your Course in the New Normal: Understanding Your Trade Radius

In this session, IGA Senior Vice President of Business Development Doug Fritsch shared how IGA’s new state-of-the-art mobile analytics tools can help retailers:

  • Better understand the competition and the state of the market.
  • Better understand why shoppers shop your store. 
  • Identify where increased COVID sales are coming from.
  • Make simple and affordable improvements that will help them hold on to sales post-COVID.

Fritsch and Ross demonstrated how the IGA 360 program works by showing data from Fairvalue IGA to its president, Shawn Yambor. "Before we were working from instinct, trying to compete head on with everyone around us," Yambor said. "Now we know who our biggest competitors are and the ones we can probably ignore. And that's so helpful to everything we do—especially right now."


Driving Private Label Sales: Best Practices from Best-in-class Retailers

"The economic downturn really drives private label performance," IGA Exclusive Brands Director Robin Groscurth said. "This is the time for its resurgence." Watch the session to:

  • Discover how IGA Exclusive Brand’s new look, visual merchandising, and marketing strategies are giving the line new appeal to inspiration-starved home chefs and cash-strapped shoppers alike. 
  • Learn about IGA Exclusive Brand's three lines: core (value), differentiated, custom (specialty).
  • Hear from an IGA retailer using best-in-class private label practices to drive independents’ traditionally low private label sales to the national average and beyond.
  • Learn how to engage your wholesaler in IGA Exclusive Brand.
  • Find out what's coming up in 2021 for IGA Exclusive Brand.

Keeping Shoppers Beyond COVID: Increase Buying Confidence

In this session, IGA CEO John Ross talks with Senior Brand Manager Joel Widmer and Marketing Specialist Megan Drazer about creating an omni-channel experience to educate and engage shoppers, which will make your store their first choice in every category. Some highlights from the session include:

  • What an omni-channel marketing experience is and how it helps you communicate, earn, and keep shoppers.
  • How best practices for in-store merchandising and online shopper marketing combine to create that omni-channel experience.
  • We can see an immediate and sustained increase in comp store sales when we put the new messaging into the store. 
  • Information on the IGA Seasons Subscription, a new program of quarterly sign packages.
  • Details on the Family Meals Made Easy program, which includes in-store displays and online content.

Issues to Solve for Independent Grocers in the U.S.

National Grocers Association CEO Greg Ferrara spoke with IGA CEO John Ross about what government relationship issues will impact independent retailers as the pandemic continues, including:

  • What the recent U.S. election results mean for independent retailers.
  • What NGA does for IGA and how IGA retailers support NGA.
  • How the modernization of the Robinson-Patman Act antitrust laws will impact retailers.

"It takes money to move Congress," Ross said. "I wish it weren't the case, but it's true." NGA has created the NGA Fund for Fair Competition (FFC) to support NGA's efforts to create a level playing field for competition in the food retail sector. If you would like to support their efforts or learn more, click here or the button below and IGA will match contributions up to $10,000. 

donate now


Throughout the 5-hour event, attendees learned how retailing has changed rapidly in the last year due to a global pandemic. Like retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, and service providers, IGA has pivoted to give retailers what they need to earn and keep customers long after COVID. Those programs were on full display during the Rally, and retailers can visit the Agenda page for downloads. 

"Retailing is a journey," IGA CEO John Ross said. "You don't have to be perfect to succeed. Anything you try is going to help, so take what you know you need now." Then, come back later to look into other programs. 

"This is our time to grow share," he continues. "Clean up your store, do the signage and décor. Spend what you can while you have money in the bank to invest in your store's future."

What programs or information discussed at this year's IGA Global Rally do you want to hear more about? Tell us in the comments below and we'll do a deeper dive into those topics. 

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