Viewpoints

Independents Making New Technology Inroads

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It wouldn’t be surprising if independents have mixed views on technology to enhance shopping experiences.

On the one hand, they want to participate, because technology is increasingly central to how retailers interact with shoppers today, from mobile apps to personalized promotions.

But on the other side, independents probably wonder how to keep up with all the latest innovations, in light of constrained financial and human resources.

As it turns out, independents haven’t lost any enthusiasm for technology.

“I’m very enthused about smartphone shopping apps,” said Rich Niemann, president and CEO, Niemann Foods. “I think it’s a really great way, for independents especially, to get involved and connect with their customers, both in terms of assisting in shopping, and also from an order-planning standpoint.”

Niemann made these comments in an SN Total Access Video interview in advance of this week’s NGA Show in Las Vegas.

Independent retailers are getting new support from NGA in their efforts to adopt a range of technologies, many of them customer-facing. The association is hoping to level the playing field for independents, who compete with larger operators that have considerable resources.

SN Total Access: NGA Show articles, awards, videos

This NGA activity was spurred on by its Technology Initiatives Advisory Council, and the association has partnered on a number of efforts with Gary Hawkins, a former independent grocer who is CEO of Hawkins Strategic.

Here are some of these new programs, with information taken from NGA’s descriptive materials:

• A new NGA SolutionsCenter will help retailers assess their individual technology needs and bring them resources for solutions.

SN Total Access: 2013 NGA Show Video Series

• A new NGA InnovationCenter is setting up live learning labs at participating retail stores to pilot new solutions for technology and other areas, conducting research in partnership with brand manufacturers and finding in-store marketing and operation best practices.

• A new platform called Personiphi aims to aggregate transaction data from NGA member retail stores and apply sophisticated personalization and offers from CPG brand manufacturers to create personalized offers for individual shoppers.

These are all positive directions that will bring needed resources to the association’s members. It all comes down to this: Independents don’t need a ton of hand holding, just a bit of support to help even the odds as they battle bigger rivals.

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Liz Webber

Liz Webber is Engagement Director / Fresh Market Editor at Supermarket News. She covers fresh foods for the magazine and creates multimedia, blog posts and other content for the website. She joined...

Elliot Zwiebach

Elliot Zwiebach has been with Supermarket News for more than 45 years — a span difficult for him to comprehend, having once been the youngest reporter on the staff. During that time he has...
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