COLORADO SPRINGS — Independent retailers hope to interest national-brand suppliers in more joint programs, and these retailers are pitching themselves in both traditional and new ways.
A panel of independent operators here last week outlined their selling points, including innovative marketing, closeness to communities and willing partnership for product launches and tests. They also emphasized attributes not always associated with smaller operators, such as the use of leading-edge technology for everything from ordering to loyalty programs.
The panel was part of the Grocery Manufacturers Association Executive Conference, and was moderated by Frank DiPasquale, executive vice president, National Grocers Association.
“There's a lot of upside to our [independent] sector,” said Chris Coborn, president and chief executive officer, Coborn's, St. Cloud, Minn. “I believe we're a very good spend for CPG companies. We're all about performance.”
Gerry “Rudy” Dory, CEO and owner, Newport Avenue Market, Bend, Ore., said independents “are still focused on the sell — I'm not big enough to worry about the buy.”
Dory contended that independents are particularly good outlets for product launches and tests, “and in a lot of cases we're easier to work with [than larger retailers]. We want to be special in our communities.”
Ray Pruett, CEO and owner, Pruett's Food, Broken Bow, Okla., said his company looks at relationships with suppliers as a two-way street.
“We don't want them to throw money at us, but rather to partner with us.”
Independents are using the latest technologies and other tools to enhance their business operations and understand customers, according to panelists.
“We use tools such as price optimization and computer-assisted ordering,” Coborn said. “I'm seeing improvements in turns and margins and more discipline in our operation.”
Dory said his company uses price optimization and has a new loyalty marketing tool that uses an RFID chip. “We are using tools to enhance and grow our business.”