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Is your store all it could be? And moreover, how would you know? As an independent retailer, you have the flexibility to make changes quickly, but how do you determine what you’re doing right—and where you have room for improvement?
That’s where IGA’s new and improved Assessment Program can help. After nearly a year of reviewing, researching, and revising, IGA and new assessment partner Survey.com introduced the new Assessment Program at the IGA Global Rally late last month. Now it’s time for the much-anticipated launch of the new program, beginning with the first round of assessments running March 11 through April 11, 2019.
“There are new processes, new tech, and new vendors in the marketplace now to help national retailers evaluate their performance and shopping experience,” IGA CEO John Ross said, “and as an 1100 store chain, we have an obligation to give our retailers the information and ideas they need. We chose to connect with one of these best-in-class vendors to help us modernize our Five Star Assessment Program, and the result is new modern digital tools; skilled raters used to doing reviews for national chains; and significantly reduced costs.”
IGA retailers can expect a number of positive changes to their assessment process, all of which are designed to provide a better, more impactful analysis of the store, and to help retailers understand both what is working and what needs attention.
Perhaps the biggest change in the Assessment Program is the overall goal.
“The new Assessment is not about catching you doing something wrong, but rather identifying tactical ways we can help you do better,” says IGA’s Paulo Goelzer, who is driving the new program. And that focus on improvement is precisely why Goelzer, president of the IGA Coca-Cola Institute, is involved. Going forward, IGA Coca-Cola Institute training courses and IGA’s Way to Care shopper experience program will strategically align with the Assessment to provide tangible ideas for improvements.
IGA has enlisted the help of Survey.com, a tech-enabled retail services company focused on solving retail programs and capitalizing on growth opportunities. With extensive experience collecting and disseminating data in a way that is easy for retailers to both understand and use, Survey.com was the perfect company to measure and monitor IGA’s shopper experience.
Working with Survey.com, the NRAB, and a special Assessment committee made up of IGA retailers, IGA landed on an improved series of measurement criteria. With more focus on operations, merchandising, and service; and significantly less focus on IGA branding, the new Assessment Program criteria are designed to help guide continual improvement of your IGA shopping experience.
Three times a year a trained local shopper will take an unrevealed assessment of your store. Local is the key word. 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.
Moreover, that local assessor in your store isn’t just filling in a survey. He or she takes the time to walk the store to fully document—in pictures—both what you’re doing right and what looks like it could use improvement. Those photos are then analyzed by Survey.com to ensure the data is both objective and accurate.
Those photos taken in your store? They’re shared with you—along with all the other data and information recorded during your visit—in a simple but robust dashboard. The dashboard allows you to sort your results by criteria or departments—and also shows you how you did in comparison to your fellow IGA retailers.
The March assessment is important because it gives you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the program and get ready for subsequent assessments, but it also gives IGA a performance benchmark that will provide insight into how questions and scoring should be tweaked to ensure the new assessment is focused on the right behaviors and Five Star recognition is on target.
Once the results of the first round of assessments are complete, IGA will work with the retailers of the Five Star Committee to review, and if necessary, recalibrate the rating scale to ensure it is an accurate representation of our alliance of stores.
Which begs the question: If I was Five Star before, can I expect to be Five Star again?
As Ross said in his blog on the characteristics of a Five Star store, if you continue to focus on operations, merchandising, and service to exceed shopper expectations, you should expect to continue to earn high marks. And if you were a retailer who missed Five Star solely because you didn’t meet the branding requirements, it is entirely possible your score will go up.
Better still, under the new Assessment Program you have the opportunity for even higher recognition with Five Star Platinum—a new recognition level for the top three percent of IGA stores, designed to help IGA identify retailers who are truly setting the standard for great independent retailing.