Glass Half Full – Takeaways from the 2018 NGA Show

February 20, 2018

In this age of disruption it’s easy to buy into the doom and gloom. However, a number of speakers at this year’s NGA Show pointed out that things aren’t as dire as many believe. Independents have faced shifts in the marketplace for decades and while we’re in what some are describing as a “retail metamorphosis,” there are a number of areas where independents can differentiate themselves in the marketplace.  Below are some key takeaways from The NGA Show, held last week in Las Vegas, Nevada.

**Retail Relevancy: Succeeding against a formidable new competitor – whether a hard discounter or any other retailer is about staying relevant, said Harold Lloyd, president of Harold Lloyd Presents. Independents have faced many fierce competitors over the years, but the key to success is to “focus your shots to achieve points of difference,” he emphasized.

**Foodservice Strategies: Independents can make meaningful gains in foodservice without having to launch in-store restaurants, said Mike Eardley, president and CEO, International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). One useful approach is to leverage portable foodservice equipment that can change out offerings by daypart, including a concept called “Pop-Up Wok,” developed by IDDBA as a concept for its members.

**Specialty Spotlight: Independents have an opportunity to enhance their businesses through the fast-growing segment of specialty foods, Phil Kafarakis, president, Specialty Food Association, told the audience at an NGA workshop. “These products embody what consumers are looking for today,” he said. SFA is collaborating with NGA on show education sessions, and inviting independents to become more familiar with its resources, including the Fancy Food Show.

**Deli on Demand: Foodservice is a powerful opportunity for independent grocers, and one of the cardinal rules is to accurately analyze demand to avoid out of stocks on key items, according to a workshop on this topic that leveraged the expertise of International Foodservice Distributors Association. “When a store is out of stock on rotisserie chicken at 5:15pm, customers will leave to go to another store and pick up other items too,” warned Kellie Janssen, president of foodservice distributor Henry’s Foods.

**Power of Independents: The latest version of Nielsen’s insight pieces for NGA identifies new winning strategies for independents, based on in-depth consumer research. A panel of retailers addressed important goals, such as getting even closer to communities, addressing ethnic marketing, and figuring out e-commerce.

What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas – or at least that’s how the old saying goes, but hopefully, the lessons learned from this year’s NGA Show are taken back home with attendees.