expanding selection of online courses that have been developed to meet
the needs of food retailers,” Strange says. “Store employees can partici-
pate in more than 130 grocery-specific training courses anytime, any-
where and at their own pace. NGA also offers webinars every Wednesday
on trending topics within the industry, as well as government affairs and
Supermarkets have to readapt to the changing marketplace, and
especially in a small town, implement strategies to keep consumers
from traversing elsewhere to shop, says Dr. Richard George, professor
emeritus at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
“You have to be the town’s draw,” George says. “If you have a parking
lot, offer it one day a week for the high school band to practice in and
serve them cookies afterward. Let the local CYO or Little League use
your parking lot for a car wash, and work with the local dietician so you
are perceived as the local health and wellness place.”
They also need step up their game when it comes to quality.
“You’ve got to have the right assortment and be spot on when it comes
to fresh,” George says. “If people are going to a Walmart Supercenter or
the town is large enough to warrant a CVS or Walgreens, they are going
to have food, but not too much in the way of fresh. You have to be identified as the butcher, the artisan baker. You have to offer the things that
the other stores either do not or cannot go into. You have to be perceived
as the community’s grocer—you are the lifeblood and you have to do
whatever it takes.”
TIME IS VALUE
“Time is a value proposition,” says Mike Smith, a former vice president
at ALCO, and presently a consultant and owner of Plan-ergy, a Grand
Rapids, Mich.-based consulting firm. “Time is still a huge value propo-
sition in a community where the nearest Walmart is 25, 35 or 50 miles
away. So there is still a tremendous amount of opportunity for large
scale chains or local independents to capitalize on these communities.”
Interestingly, online shopping is not as big a threat in rural America
as in the rest of the country, Smith says. “Online commerce and e-com-
merce penetration is still a very small fragment of the business,” he says.
“UPS and Fed Ex do not deliver as often, and the availability and stabil-
ity of the internet is a whole different ballgame.”
However, with a much more limited population small-town retailers
need to practice strict category management, Smith says. Using apparel
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