Independent retailers gathered in Las Vegas earlier this month for NGA's executive conference and trade show. WGB previously reported on its events including an interview with NGA CEO Greg Ferrara; the show’s signature Best Bagger Contest and honors the trade group bestowed on its members.
The trade show floor offered independent retailers a chance to see live demonstrations, and meet with tech, equipment and food vendors live for the first time in a year-and-a-half. Following are some highlights.
Jason Wirl of Itasca Retail discussed how its “intelligent inventory platform” based on computer-generated ordering is enabling retailers to be responsive to the wild shifts in market conditions over the recent months, including addressing labor shortages and rising costs; incomplete deliveries and out-of-stocks; sudden pricing changes; and how stores can adjust to new patterns of trip frequency and basket composition that have come with the shift to digital shopping.
Gary Hawkins, CEO of Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART), delivered a keynote address on what he called “Retail 4.0.” or an “age of metamorphosis” in which retail is becoming digitized, mixed with accelerating and converging technologies, to transform how people will shop; retailers will operate; and how brands will market and manufacture in the future.
“The key message from us is, keeping local shoppers local,” says Nick Nickitas, CEO of the e-commerce enabler Rosie. “The way you do that is by building a compelling digital platform that gets people excited to not only shop online, but also shop in your store.” That effort includes white-label products that give retailers control, including mobile apps enabling end-to-end experiences that many shoppers today prefer, but small retailers until now have found difficult to develop and offer on their own.
Steve Dougherty of Rockford, Ill.-based Country Butcher, shows off the company’s jumbo-sized natural dog chew which could double as a baseball bat. Country Butcher was among several exhibitors under the North American Meat Institute umbrella on the show floor. A treat display merchandiser at Hannaford Supermarkets was part of the exhibit.
Kimbel Wells, retail sales manager of the Georgia-based specialty food distributor Gourmet Foods International, manned a tasty booth featuring everything from high-quality imported cheeses to fruit-chunked handcrafted frozen gelato pops from Gelatys (try a few). “A lot of retailers are looking for a one-stop resolution to all their specialty needs,” he says. The company has nine U.S. warehouses and their own import licenses that help bring the world's best flavors and food experiences to local stores, says the company.
Back at the Best Bagger contest, one of several “celebrity rounds” featured Tim Metcalfe, CEO of Wisconsin’s Metcalfe’s Markets, who had a cheering section with their own posters. After edging NGA’s Greg Ferrara in a preliminary bag-off, Metcalfe remarked to the crowd he’d had “47 years of experience” to draw on.