Innovation Within Reach

Aug 15, 2018

When IGA CEO John Ross joined IGA last fall, his first order of business was to get out of the office and into the stores so he could see and hear firsthand what IGA was all about. With every store he visited, his excitement grew.

From northern California to New England, to southern Georgia to downtown Seattle and all over Australia, Ross was introduced to a hugely diverse group of IGA retailers serving communities of every size, and customers from every economic background. And they were delivering that service in a way that the corporate chains could never hope to do—with customized offerings and experiences that reflect the local marketplace.

According to Ross, it’s the diversity of IGA’s retailers, their stores, and the communities they serve that makes IGA so fascinating—and so special.  “IGA is the world’s best example of localized retailing, all rolled up under a national brand. It’s amazing to see how IGAs are differentiating around the world,” he says. “Like in coastal communities where they have access to fresh local seafood. Or in the south or Midwest where IGA stores are doubling down on meat with local beef, pork, venison with onsite smoking and sausage-making. Or in IGA locations all over the world with the most incredible assortments of local produce you’ve ever seen, and delis stocked with original recipes that reflect the tastes of the region. There’s no other brand like it.”

It’s all confirmation of what Ross has maintained since his first day at IGA: Innovation is born and bred by independents, and collectively, IGA is smarter and better than any national chain ever could be.

So how do you harness the individual innovation of 6,000 global independents and use it for the benefit of all? Enter IGA Best Practices, a new program that shares IGA retailers’ successes in a way that makes it easy for other IGA retailers to copy and customize ideas for their local markets.

Opportunity for Innovation

It’s no secret that grocery shoppers are more complex than ever before.  On one hand, they want grocery experience that is faster, easier, and more memorable. On the other, they want better quality without going over budget. And that, says Ross, is precisely why IGA Best Practices is needed.

“Today’s shoppers expect convenience without compromise, and on the surface that’s a pretty overwhelming place for a retailer to be in,” he says. “But if you’re a part of a 6,000 store IGA think tank filled with some of the most creative retailers in the world—and you’re all facing the same challenges on a local level and all ready and willing to share your successes—suddenly what was once an obstacle begins to feel a little more like an opportunity for innovation.”

IGA Best Practices inspires innovation by offering up solutions that hit all the marks with today’s shoppers. From annual tasting events that increase sales by 20%, to a 1-day promotion that can triple your sales, IGA best practices have proven ideas that in many cases can be implemented immediately with little effort and only marginal cost.

How it Works

  1. Watch The IGA Minute for a weekly featured best practice, and visit the best practices library for best Capture2practices searchable by category. 
  2. Read the step-by-step implementation instructions, then get your team involved by printing or emailing the PDF instructions and reviewing together in a team meeting. Don’t forget to review the pro tips so you can avoid common mistakes and focus on what works.
  3. Strategize with your team to personalize the best practice for your store, create a timetable for implementation, and get busy executing your best practice in your store!
  4. Let us know what worked, what didn’t, and why. Your feedback will help us hone our best practices, making them more impactful with each experience. Email and share your implementation stories.
  5. Most importantly, visit com/corporate to submit your own ideas. We want to hear about every innovation—big or small—that is making a difference for your store, whether it’s building the bottom line, creating a stronger team, cementing shopper loyalty, or making operations run more smoothly. And there just might be some rewards coming up for the best of the best practices—so you’re going to want to get started today!

A Target in Sight

In Ross’ eyes, the first benchmark for the best practices program is clear:  He wants to end the year with an enormous stockpile of best practices being implemented in IGA stores.

“At our best, we’re already delivering exactly what shoppers want—a fresh, local, high-service shopping experience in a store that uses creative and innovative ideas to cater to the needs of the community,” he says. “So for me, success looks like thousands of  IGA retailers all over the world taking these best practices and implementing them in a way that works for them. When we do that, I have no doubt that our shopper experiences as a whole will keep getting better and better. Won’t it be great if a year from now we find what was once our “best” is now our “norm.” Making the best even better will be a cool problem to have.”  

Ready to get started? Watch The IGA Minute for a weekly featured best practice, and visit the best practices library for best practices searchable by category. 

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