At The NGA Show in Las Vegas, NGA officers outlined the ways independent retailers differentiate themselves.
NGA CEO and president Peter Larkin and NGA chairman Rich Niemann on Sunday said that community engagement, dedicated associates, great fresh foods, technological innovation and partnerships have benefited independent grocers during tough economic times.
“If there’s one characteristic of independent grocers, it’s that they have deep roots in their communities,” said Niemann, who is also president and CEO of Niemann Foods.
“For many NGA member companies this is a bedrock operating principle that has remained constant from generation to generation. And such a deep-seated local focus means that independent grocers know their customer better than any chain competitor ever could.”
The community engagement also extends to the associates that work in the stores. These associates are often living and working and volunteering in the community.
“These are the people who offer exceptional customer service every day while maintaining our operations at peak efficiency,” said Niemann.
Independents generally have strong fresh food departments, and NGA emphasized the local aspect of these programs that teach customers to cook seasonally and explain where food comes from.
Larkin said innovation in technology is a top priority for independent retailers, fueled — Neimann added — by the entrepreneurial and risk taking nature of independent operators. Technology was described in a broad sense — including online shopping, social media, updated store design and layouts with energy efficient lighting and temperature controls, waste reduction and recycling.
Finally, the NGA executives said the partnerships between independents and manufacturers to help supply retailers with data, knowledge and expertise.
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