NGA Recap: Where Grocery is Headed and How We Want to Shop

By David Sauter, CEO

Published: March 9, 2020

The NGA Show, a gathering of the nation’s finest in grocery put on by National Grocers Association, was packed with thought-bending and chatter-inducing learnings across the fields of technology, innovation, merchandising and guest experience. It was a great three days in San Diego with an energetic group of grocers!

Although there were too many booths and programs to possibly take everything in, Bill Zoelle and I were able to touch on many terrific topics in grocery. Bill Bishop of Brick Meets Click was our guide. He helped us to navigate the venue, introduced us to many folks and provided many helpful insights and observations for us to discuss and ponder. 

David and Bill at NGA Show
Here we are on a break, with me looking very intrigued and Bill shadowed in a hallow from the sun and giving me a stare like I am saying something cogent! Mostly we were laughing and smiling!

Neil Stern, a senior partner of McMillan Doolittle, provided glimpses into how food retail is being presented around the world, including everything from unique in-store design and experience to new ways to shop and engage in grocery. Neil also provided great statistics on the pace of change and how Amazon continues to disrupt food retail like they have done to general retail. For example, by 2025, online grocery has the potential to grow to $143 billion or 14% of total grocery expenditures in the United States. Is this a threat or an opportunity for regional players?

On Monday, Feb. 24, we sponsored a panel on Next Gen Recruiting Strategies, fueling a great discussion between Cheryl Shartle, the human resources VP of Colombiana Foods, and Cara Olson, the human resources director of Sendiks. We each shared different ways we have navigated finding and retaining great people in a very competitive market. Cheryl shared a creative way to engage and retain their people with an art room, while Cara shared how they are partnering with local schools to teach and inspire students interested in the food industry! We outlined our work with Jesse DeMoulin, the recruiting director at Festival Foods, and how we have leveraged social media advertising to attract and engage potential associates faster and differently than competitors. It starts with treating them more as guests than employees. You can further dive into how to use social media to supercharge your recruiting efforts.

One night when we were huddling around a space heater at a cocktail reception (it did get chilly at night), we just started chatting with a guy from AppCard, Yair Goldfinger. Slowly we found out he is a bit of a legend in the tech industry, the CEO of AppCard and one of the inventors/founders of ICQ (the forerunner to modern text messaging). That was during the same era I entered the web technology space, so discussing the evolution over the years was fun, an enlightening chat and a very direct and insightful perspective on the state of retail technology. Basically, he believes there is a lot of room to advance and get better. And we have to agree!

To finish off our adventure, we took a tour of the Maritime Museum. We walked and imagined how different life was aboard these ships, the HMS Surprise and the Star of India, further solidifying that even though we think things are changing fast, we have come so far and change can be exciting!

Our plan for The NGA Show was simple: Engage, learn and discover insights we can share with our current clients and can utilize to make new connections. We believe we can help navigate these ever-changing waters and be a force multiplier for more retailers! 

Ready for more insights from The NGA Show? Let’s connect!