The Retail Learning Institute and IGA Coca-Cola Institute have joined forces with microlearning provider Qstream to add its science-based approach to their lineup of learning resources and technology for independent food retailers.
Chicago-based RLI, part of the Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA), offers 600-plus industry-specific blended learning courses for onboarding, compliance, department operations training and more. It selected Qstream to offer customers science-backed knowledge reinforcement via the provider’s spaced-repetition methodology. Qstream’s bite-size on-the-go microlearning interventions test and reinforce key information from training courses to ensure that employees’ skills stay sharp. The platform’s analytics also identify knowledge gaps so HR, training teams and store operators can take action.
“To be successful in retail environments, you must focus on your front-line workers,” said Paulo Goelzer, CEO of Retail Learning Institute/IGA Coca-Cola Institute. “Qstream helps us deliver a modern and valuable learning experience for employees without pulling them out of the floor, helping organizations improve workplace safety and customer service to give them a competitive edge.”
Added Dan Whelan, CEO of Boston-based Qstream, “Reinforcement is a critical component of any training program, and we have no doubt that the retail space will benefit from utilizing our scientifically proven microlearning platform.”
Shoppers See Drug Stores as Grocery Destinations, Too
A new study from Acosta Group affirms that shoppers use trips to drug stores to stock up on everyday essentials, including groceries. According to Acosta’s "Drug Store Channel Shopper Insights Study," released ahead of the upcoming National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) meeting, 69% of drug store shoppers look for groceries, personal needs items, and other food and nonfood products for themselves or their families. That’s about equal to the 71% who go to those stores to pick up prescriptions and the 70% who shop the pharmacy area for over-the-counter items.
The survey also underscored growth and potential in this retail sector, which gained strength during the pandemic and has been fueled by consumers’ overall interest in health and wellness. "We heard repeatedly from drug store shoppers that convenient location, discounted pricing and one-stop shopping are appealing drivers in choosing drug stores over other retail options," said Kathy Risch, SVP, consumer insights and trends at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Acosta.
In a competitive retail market, brick-and-mortar drug stores are seeing traffic increases. Acosta’s survey showed that 58% of consumers visit drug stores two to three times a month, and a third of younger shoppers have increased their number of trips to such locations.
Younger shoppers, including Millennial and Gen Z customers, are also more likely to place orders on a drug store’s e-commerce site. When buying online, customers of all types are purchasing a variety of products, with 61% of survey respondents reporting that they buy groceries and other household goods from stores’ apps and websites.
"As we work with our clients, we are focusing on the importance of the omnichannel experience to grow opportunities within small-format retail. Critical to success in drug stores is bridging the gap between the physical and digital shelf to meet the way consumers want to shop this channel," observed Shannon Hodock, SVP, client development at Acosta.
Survey participants also shared areas for improvement at both physical and online drug stores. Among other suggestions, shoppers said they would like to see more staff members, fewer out-of-stocks and more consistent online ordering experiences.
ALDI Adds Exclusive Mother’s Day Gifts to Its ‘Aisle of Fun’
ALDI is preparing for Mother’s Day with premium exclusive gifts starting at just $4. Gifts include everything from sparkling rosé and a wine-dispensing tote, to home décor and kitchen must-haves such as serving boards.
The limited-time ALDI Finds will be available in the retailer’s famous “Aisle of Fun” throughout the rest of April. Self-care gifts include slippers, bath bombs and a candle, while gifts for the home cook include a roasting pan, serving board and cheese knives. Gifts are also available for the wine lover and the home decor lover, such as a 4-pack of glassware and a vintage area rug.
Last month, ALDI unveiled its latest line of wearables that reflects its loyal fan base as well as its focus on affordability. This ALDI Gear Collection is larger than last year’s original line and includes everything from tchotchkes to accessories to clothing, all priced under $10.
ALDI is one of America’s fastest-growing retailers, serving millions of customers across the country each month. With about 2,200 stores in 38 states, Batavia, Ill.-based ALDI U.S. employs 45,000-plus associates and is No. 24 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
The Fresh Market has launched an in-store fundraiser in states recently affected by devastating tornadoes. Customers can round up their purchases at the register or make a donation from April 19 to May 2 at stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee.
Funds raised through the campaign will support Feeding America partner food banks closest to disaster areas in each state, including:
Alabama: Montgomery Area Food Bank
Arkansas: Arkansas Foodbank
Illinois: Northern Illinois Food Bank
Indiana: Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana
Mississippi: Mississippi Food Network
Tennessee: Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee
"We are deeply saddened by the destruction and loss of life caused by the recent tornadoes," said Jason Potter, CEO of The Fresh Market. "As a company with a strong commitment to giving back to the communities we serve, we are proud to partner with Feeding America to provide critical food support to people affected by these devastating storms."
"We are grateful for The Fresh Market and their continued partnership during this critical time," said Lauren Biedron, VP of corporate partnerships at Feeding America. "This generous campaign will help provide much-needed assistance to communities put at risk for food insecurity by these devastating tornadoes.”
Independent halal grocer Mannan Supermarket, located in the New York City borough of Queens, is teaming up with Zara Charitable Foundation to combat food insecurity among local children. The foundation will underwrite the cost of a year’s worth of fresh, culturally appealing products sourced from Mannan to feed 200 diverse families served by The Gaton Foundation, a Jamaica, N.Y.-based nonprofit group that provides proper nutrition and wellness.
According program organizers, the timing of the initiative comes after a rollback of pandemic-era assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). “Food prices are increasing at the same time inflation is eating away at the value of money at the same time food benefits are vanishing, making it three times more expensive for families to afford to eat healthy,” explained Mannan's Mahinur Rahman. “When Zara suggested we work together to secure fresh, culturally relevant food to help people make ends meet, we were proud to supply the need.”
Added Tony Subraj, managing partner of Jamaica, N.Y.-based Zara Realty and a leader of the Zara Charitable Foundation: “Many families are struggling to put food on the table and, after both SNAP and WIC resources got reduced, we knew how important it was to step up and help hardworking families maintain access to fresh, nutritious food.”
The program kicked off in early March, when a Mannan Supermarket location in the Queens neighborhood of Jamaica donated a variety of foods to feed local families through Richmond Hill High School. Residents received products such as roti, lentils, tortillas, rice, butter, bread and crushed tomatoes.
It’s been a busy week for sustainability news in the food retailing business, as Earth Day has become a touchstone for sharing progress toward environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. The latest: United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) has rolled out a new Climate Action Partnership aimed at helping its suppliers make credible climate commitments.
The partnership, an extension of UNFI’s Climate Action Hub and part of its Better for All strategy, is designed to provide UNFI suppliers with resources and tools to “innovate and scale” climate solutions. To become a partner, suppliers must have their climate commitments verified through approved third-party organizations such as the Climate Collaborative, Climate Neutral, The Climate Pledge, the Science Based Targets Initiative or the SME Climate Hub.
According to UFFI, more than 40 suppliers have already joined the partnership following early outreach efforts, including Conagra, Bob’s Red Mill, Dr. Bronner’s, Gaia Herbs, Danone and Lundberg Family Farm. “By encouraging our suppliers to set climate goals, we are also making it easier for our customers to choose products that take action on climate,” said Alisha Real, UNFI’s VP of ESG and social impact. “It’s a win-win for all, and a collective step forward to addressing some of today’s most urgent issues.”
Earlier this month, UNFI revealed that it had completed its largest solar array investment to date at a distribution center in Howell, N.J., reflecting its own credible climate commitments through the Better for All sustainability agenda.
Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 49 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.