NGA 2018 was awesome! The morning sessions were impactful, the conversations enlightening, and the show floor was inspiring.  I’d like to share our top takeaways (secrets) from the show with you all with the hope that the knowledge gained at the show would help independents nationwide improve and succeed.

I’ll start with a takeaway that’s not my own, at his first NGA show David Goodwin the operator of Goodwin’s Organics said:

“there are a lot of independents here that are still competing against the big guys”.

He was impressed how hundreds of independent grocers are still operating successfully in the competitive and often discouraging landscape of grocery retail. LIDL has arrived in the US and has plans for rapid growth, the same goes for ALDI’s. The competition is going to continue to grow and thus differentiation in the marketplace is becoming increasingly important. The encouraging point is that hundreds of independents across the US are still making a profit and there are certain strategies and techniques that independents can adapt to improve their competitive advantage. 

Moving on to a morning talk with the Retail Loss Prevention Group, Inc. Brad and Keith delved into the world of profit erosion. Profit erosion takes place in 2 forms: malicious and operational. An example of malicious profit erosion is where an employee is stealing and an example operational profit erosion is where there is profit loss due to training issues. You need technology in your stores to expose both of these profit drains. The key data points that contribute to profit erosion are as follows Item Void, Refund, Suspend, Hand Scan, Negative, Transaction Cancel, Lottery, Coupon, Override, Qty Key, Hand key, transaction void. Put that through a smart algorithm and out pops your problem. If you are completely lost don’t worry we over at IT Retail are here to help. The key takeaway is that thousands of dollars are potentially leaving your store every month and you should know about it and technology can help.  

Pro Tip from Brad: When you have a new hire, during their first week bring them up to your office and show them a video of them checking out a customer and give them some tips on how to improve. Seeing themselves on video will greatly reduce the desire to steal.

Next up we went to a talk on the empowered consumer, this was a common thread across several talks. It’s clear that the consumer is changing, convenience is more important than ever. If you look at sales for cereal they have been trending down for the last 10 years but when you look at cereal bars they are trending upwards -CONVENIENCE IS TRENDING.  The question posed was how do we market to this consumer today? Here’s what we took away:

  1. Authenticity is the key to everything
  2. Build Friendships – talk about what your customers care about
  3. Respect – customer privacy builds trust
  4. Use insight to drive engagement
  5. Start small and build. The channels to do this varied from YouTube to Instagram to Facebook Live.

That’s all I have, for now, I hope that some of these points would be helpful. If you would like to dig in further on one of these points or would like my raw unedited notes from all the talks shoot me an email at email hidden; JavaScript is required.




Author: Luke Henry

Luke Henry is a Project Manager of Retail Next – a cloud-based POS solution for specialty grocers. He has over 10 years of experience in the grocery POS space and is committed to delivering solutions that enable independent grocers across the world to compete against the grocery conglomerates.