Sweeping changes in technology and competitive sets haven't changed one rule of retail: Those companies that innovate and make shopping fun will have a big edge.
"Great retailers travel the world and see what works," said Burt Flickinger, managing director, Strategic Resource Group, who was part of a panel about retail and CPG trends at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference in Miami Beach.
"Companies that work on innovation and research trends from local to national will be the winners," Flickinger added.
Panelists addressed a number of challenges for retailers, including a sometimes slow pace of change for traditional food retailers versus an often lightning-fast pace of change for consumers and some competitors.
"In food retail the pace of change is often glacial, it's not a fashion industry," said Andrew Wolf, managing director, senior equity research analyst, Food and Agribusiness Group, BB&T Capital Markets."
Wolf, however, said even if retailers don't make quick transformations, they can improve their games in ways that win consumers, especially with marketing.
"People shop at a store if they have good experiences," he said. "It's experiential and involves good marketing."
One retailer that offers a good experience is Sprouts Farmers Market, noted panelist Scott Moses, managing director and head of Food, Drug and Specialty Retail Investment Banking for Sagent Advisors.
"At Sprouts you can't buy Coke and Tide, but it's a fun and differentiated store," he said. "Produce is well priced."
Another driver of a good experience is local marketing, which is particularly important for younger consumers, panelists said.
"Local is a huge thing and it ties into Millennials," Wolf said. "You can do hyper-local things in the store, and it's about people in touch with their communities."
The panel was moderated by Kevin Coupe, The Content Guy for MorningNewsBeat.com.
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