This year’s National Grocers Association Show was packed with experts and peers sharing their advice and experiences in the food and beverage industry. First American colleagues attended to learn more about the challenges and successes our clients faced throughout the year. A wealth of information was shared, but here are the top 5 topics that shined through as game changers for 2017:
5. Digital Transformation
Paper circulars, outdated software, manual inventory and tracking practices, these “tried and true” standards are finally becoming obsolete in the food and beverage industry. At FMS Solution’s Financial Benchmarks session, they shared that from manufacturing processes to retail marketing and advertising, elements at all stages of the product journey are being automated, digitized and bringing in more accurate management and better business results.
4. Payments Technology
At a cyber security breakout session, the discussion centered around the transition to chip-and-pin technology. Though it has penetrated most of the industry, retailers are continuously seeking to improve speed and security with new systems. Stephanie Eriksen of Visa emphasized vigilant training and monitoring of day-to-day transactions to protect your stores, and customers, from potential fraud. Other stores are experimenting with new payment formats like self-checkout, queue-style checkout and mobile pay.
3. Click + Collect and E-Commerce
Several retailers at the show shared their strategies for structuring click + collect programs to compete with online giants like Amazon. These programs influence the entire supply chain of a store, so they require a bit of re-grouping. However, once implemented they show huge returns on the small changes needed to launch the programs. Erick Taylor, President & CEO of Pyramid Foods shared how their store’s approach increased purchases but did not affect labor costs because they could use already-present employee’s stocking time more efficiently.
2. Category Expansion
Several sessions focused on the expansion of non-food categories to increase basket size and margins, both in-store and online. Registered dietitians and consultants Annette Maggie and Shari Stenbach highlighted the profit potential of bundling fitness and cooking equipment with a store’s health focus and promotions. Speakers shared success stories from expanding or adding “Other” categories such as hardware, college apparel, photo services, coffee shops, garden centers and more.
1. Expect the Unexpected
The overall takeaway of the conversations and sessions at this year’s NGA Show seemed to be to “expect the unexpected.” After an eventful 2016, the industry continues to experience major change and innovation. External forces like changes in government regulations and consumer demographics bring variety to the product mix on the shelves. Simultaneously, even more change will result from internal improvements such as technology advancements and the efficiency they bring, even at the manufacturing and wholesale stages.
First American Food + Beverage Division is an industry-specific finance resource. To learn more about how our experience could improve your financial strategies click here.
In 2017, for success in the food and beverage industry it will be important to stay on top of trends and changes. Respond to challenges quickly to maintain your success in the most competitive time in the market yet.