For the past three years, people have been asking Peter Larkin, president and CEO of the National Grocers Association, just how big of an impact independent grocers have in the U.S. So he decided to find out the answer.
In April, NGA revealed the results of its Independent Grocers Economic Impact Study at a press conference on Capitol Hill. The numbers are staggering: Independent grocers count $129.5 billion in annual sales and employ close to a million people nationwide.
Now that the information is out there, NGA and its members are leveraging the study’s findings when dealing with state and national legislators as well as suppliers.
“We are using it extensively in our lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill to help frame who we are and to differentiate us from the rest of the industry. Because when we go into a congressman’s office and we talk about representing the independent sector, they don’t really understand, and this helps us frame it,” said Larkin.
The data can be parsed down to the state legislative district, giving independent retailers a valuable edge.
“But it’s being used by them with their legislators and also with their trading partners to help suppliers understand the size and scope and the opportunity that exists in the independent channel,” said Larkin.
Another refrain Larkin kept hearing since he took the reins at NGA was that the organization did not provide the technology resources that its members wanted.
At its show in February, NGA announced a partnership with the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology to create spaces for companies to field test technology initiatives and outline best practices on technology issues.
For example, a supplier could try out a new front-end technology system at the NGA InnovationCenter, while the NGA SolutionCenter might outline how to write requests for proposals.
The partnership also will work to analyze sales data from independents around the country to better understand what individual customers are buying and work with suppliers to implement customer-specific offers.
Larkin likened the initiative to Kroger’s partnership with Dunnhumby or Safeway’s Just For U program. “This would create an opportunity to bring that same level of sophistication to the independent channel,” he said.
In the year ahead, Larkin said NGA and its members expect to continue advocating their positions on crucial issues affecting the industry, including tax reform, the Farm Bill, health care reform, immigration reform and credit card fees.
“And our members are so passionate about these issues that they go out of their way to do their part to support our work here and amplify the industry’s voice in Washington.”
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