Steve M. and I attended the 2016 National Grocers Association Show at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas from February 28 through March 2. A key topic throughout the conference was e-commerce. A couple of the educational sessions focused on working with and marketing to the millennial generation. The networking among the attendees and vendors made it apparent that this independent grocer group is a positive and supportive one. Sessions and discussions supported the belief that this is an exciting time to be part of the industry.
It’s no secret that e-commerce in general is booming—and it continues to grow. Several big-box grocery stores have implemented online shopping options, including in-store pickup. To compete, independent grocers are implementing online shopping options as well. Several vendors at the show were marketing products to support independent grocers in implementing an e-commerce program. One vendor that stood out was Birdzi Inc. Birdzi Inc. sponsored the technology track workshops that I attended. Each workshop had a few speakers who were knowledgeable about the specific topic but offered different perspectives, which took the information to a practical level that you do not normally get in a workshop. A key message throughout these sessions was to get started sooner rather than later and partner with someone in the technology sector that you can trust.
The e-commerce and millennial generation topics blended seamlessly, as it is apparent that millennials gravitate toward the e-commerce option. Now that the millennial generation makes up about one-quarter of the U.S. population, it needs to be a consideration for employers and retailers. Steve attended the workshop, Millennials in the Workforce, which offered suggestions for recruiting, training, and retaining millennials. Another workshop available was Marketing to Millennial Shoppers. Additionally, the National Grocers Association Show held a student competition event and included a couple students from the event in a panel to discuss the competition topic, Implementing an E-Commerce Program.
The theme of this four-day show was “Proud of the Past. Focused on the Future.” Not surprisingly, that was a great theme and the content of the show remained true to it. The show was an amazing opportunity for those in attendance—including Steve and me—to learn and network. In addition it was a great opportunity for independent grocers to collaborate and prepare for the future.