Announcing IGA's 2021 Five Star Retailers

Mar 10, 2021

We don't need to tell you that 2020 was an intense year, especially for independent retailers and their teams. Unexpected out-of-stocks, new safety procedures rolling out every week, implementing special shopping hours for at-risk populations—our retailers and their teams used their independent flexibility and ingenuity to adapt in ways we could have never imagined even a year ago. 

Reacting to the significantly evolving ways IGA retailers were going to market in 2020, IGA's evaluation of stores adapted significantly, too. The 2020 Assessment pivoted to reflect the changes our stores were going through. "We didn’t want to continue the same assessment—someone running around telling you all the little things that need attention when demand is through the roof wouldn’t be helpful," says IGA CEO John Ross.

To reflect the new landscape, we streamlined the survey to address what was really important, eliminating graded questions about in-stock levels (since many retailers were still experiencing uneven supply levels), and refocusing what customer service looks like during the pandemic (since shoppers can't see an associate smile through a mask). 

But with so much on retailers' plates over the past year, one might wonder why we even continued with the Assessment in the first place. Ross has an answer. "Shoppers are coming to our stores more than ever before," he says. "Many are new shoppers, visiting our stores because other choices aren’t open or because they don't feel safe traveling to the big box store in the next town. If we want to convert these new shoppers into loyal shoppers once COVID-19 is a memory, we need to make sure we are serving them well."

IGA’s Assessment Program helps retailers determine how they are serving those shoppers well, and where they need to improve. As Paulo Goelzer, president of the IGA Coca-Cola Institute, says, “The Assessment Program is not about catching you doing something wrong, but rather identifying tactical ways we can help you do better.” 

It aims to identify and honor the stores that are excelling in the independent industry and offer guidance and feedback to those who need it through the comprehensive analytics provided throughout the year-long study. See what changed this year, who earned Five Star status, and what IGA plans to change for the upcoming assessments.

Five Star Award Winners

The Five Star Award winners were determined from the average of the last three assessments in 2019 and 2020, including the summer/fall 2019 shops and the 2020 summer shop. If a retailer opted in to the fall assessment, the higher score would count for their 2021 Five Star consideration. But if the retailer didn't receive an assessment shop in 2020, the score would be based on the average of the 2019 summer and fall shops.

To qualify for Five Star status:

  • The retailer must have been a member of IGA for at least one year (beginning in 2019)
  • The store owner must be the same for all three shops conducted

Stores excelling in operations, merchandising, and service earned high marks, setting a high standard for IGA retailers everywhere. See this year's list of outstanding retailers who earned Five Star status.

IGA 5 Star

Looking Ahead to the 2021 Assessment Program

What can we expect in the 2021 Assessment Program? New measurement goals and a more modern and advanced process for providing retailers with the purposeful feedback they need to continually improve the shopping experience.

"We'll continue our streamlined study in 2021 to ensure we're addressing what's really important during COVID-19," says Jason King, training and development manager for the IGA Coca-Cola Institute. That means working with the National Retailer Advisory Board (NRAB) to develop criteria that is current and valuable to IGA retailers and reflects the shopper experience.

Two different times in 2021 (April and August) a trained local shopper will visit the store for an assessment. "Local is the keyword. Because the assessor is a shopper of the area, the feedback you get is more targeted to your shoppers—and ultimately more useful in gauging how well you are meeting your shoppers’ needs," King says.

The assessor will walk the store to fully document—via photos—the strengths and opportunities for improvement. This initial walk will be conducted unrevealed. Then, once they have completed that task, they will present management or the service desk with a letter informing management that they will complete the remaining assessment with photos.

Those photos are then analyzed by to ensure the data is both objective and accurate. Store owners and directors will receive reports following each evaluation.

An accessible dashboard maintained by will allow retailers to see photos and other data and information collected during the assessment. Then the retailer can sort their results by different criteria (e.g. departments) to easily interpret their results. 

The 2021 evaluations will begin in April 2021, with the second beginning in August. King encourages anyone with questions about the program or in need of access to their scores to contact him, which you can do here

Want to know more about the Five-Star Assessment Program? Click here.

You May Also Like

These Stories on Corporate News

Subscribe by Email

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think