Independent Innovators

Once again we honor the best in the industry with our Outstanding Independents Awards. In our upcoming February issue of PGI, you’ll see profiles of these retailers and the innovative strategies that led to their selection.

As with last year, the awards will feature three Overall Outstanding Operators, which are being honored for the overall success of the company and its impact on its communities and employees. Complementing these awards are the category-based awards, which honor a grocer’s innovation or success in a specific area of the business. These Outstanding Independents – in alphabetical order – are B&R Stores; Coborns, Inc.; Festival Foods; Joe Caputo & Sons Fruit Market IGA; Kudrinko’s; Martin’s IGA Plus; Newport Avenue Market; Ptacek’s IGA’ Mega Foods; Supervalu; and

While each of these winners may have differing approaches to how they go to market, what remains consistent among all of our winners – past and present – is the extremely close ties they have to the communities they serve. This closeness is demonstrated in a variety of ways. Of course, they all support local charities and food banks, and raise money for a variety of causes.

But their community ties go beyond that. These retailers know their customers intimately – often because the owners and employees of independent grocers are also members of the communities they serve. They are the friends and neighbors of their shoppers, they play pick-up games of basketball with them on weekends, and often they are related to them, particularly in the cases of family operations that are several generations old.

Such close relationships give independent grocers insights into their shoppers that they can never glean from transaction or market data, regardless of how rich it is. And this is why I believe such grocers will continue to adapt and successfully face new competitors, whether in the form of a Wal-Mart Supercenter or AmazonFresh.

We’ll be recognizing these winning grocers during our Outstanding Independent awards reception, which will be held Monday, Feb. 10 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Mirage St. Thomas A Ballroom during the NGA show in Las Vegas. We hope you can join us there to recognize these truly outstanding grocers.

Tech Trends

In the February issue you will also find the first part of our special research study on Technology and the Independent Grocer. Progressive Grocer Independent teamed up with the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology and the National Grocers Association (NGA) to develop this in-depth snapshot of where the industry is now and where it is headed with regards to technology. Part I, in this issue, focuses on marketing and digital technology including websites, loyalty programs, digital coupons, social media and mobile apps. Part II, to be published in the June issue of PGI, will cover operations technology such as workforce management technology and in-store systems, including point-of-sale systems and back-office reporting solutions.

The study provides a wealth of data and input from independent grocers, both single-store operators as well as small chains. Our thanks to CART, NGA (including the folks on the NGA Technology Committee), and the Retail Feedback Group for their help in putting this study together.

There you have it -- two great reasons to checkout our February issue if PGI!!

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