Progressive Grocer

JAN 2017

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mazon's foray into brick and mortar is either going to conquer the world or crash and burn, depending on which pundit you choose to believe. It's gratifying to see the e-commerce titan recognize the value of physical stores in making this move in the direc- tion of traditional retailers, who have been busy launching their own om- nichannel initiatives like online ordering for home delivery or in-store pickup. In any case, it acknowledges that consumers still place value in a tangi- ble shopping experience, and by most indications will for the foreseeable future — which is a good thing for traditional grocers, who, for the most part, are not panicking over Amazon's latest venture while continuing to invest in the shopper experience. In fact, that's one of the key priorities among retailers we queried for our 2017 Retail Outlook, which starts on page 52 of this issue. "While there will always be a percent- age of consumers who are driven solely to make purchases by price, there will also always be consumers who choose where to purchase goods based solely on where they feel connected," says Wayne Denningham, EVP and COO at Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos., "the butcher who knows exactly how to cut and package your meat, the florist who remembers that you buy pink roses for your mother every month, the wine steward who calls you when there's a great buy on a wine they think you'll love, the checker who remembers that you've donated $20 to every holiday food drive and grows more appreciative year after year, or even the delivery driver who knows to put the fruit you've bought on the side of the kitchen where you keep your fruit bowl." Chris Coborn, president and CEO of St. Cloud, Minn.-based Coborn's Inc. says that providing his customers "an exceptional shopping experience" is a top priority. "In 2017, we will continue to build on our vision statement, which reads, 'Be remarkable. Inspire happi- ness, healthy living and simplicity one guest at a time,'" notes Coburn (whose next-generation concept is PG's Store of the Month in this issue, starting on page 42), adding that the company will continue to implement its new "Say Yes to the Guest Policy," which empow- ers employees to ensure that shoppers' expectations are exceeded. Meanwhile, grocers continue to seek the perfect balance between the physical and virtual shopping experiences. De Pere, Wis.-based Festival Foods is investing in its e-commerce and mobile experience, which EVP/CFO Kirk Stoa sees as both a challenge and an oppor- tunity: "We now can deliver click-and- collect, but what's the mix of online and in-store going to look like in the long term, and what does that do to our capi- tal structure?" he asks. Dan Shanahan, president and COO of Wooster, Ohio-based regional grocery chain Buehler's Fresh Foods, asserts that "the current decade is different in that it feels like there are multiple significant trends swirling about, converging and hitting tipping points." Shanahan concludes: "Making things better for our core base while simultane- ously embracing these multiple signifi- cant trends will allow us to stay relevant and lead the way." PG Leading the Way Amid the expansion of e-commerce, consumers still place value in a physical store, which is a good thing for traditional grocers, who are continuing to invest in the shopper experience. A Jim Dudlicek Editor-in-Chief [email protected] Twitter @jimdudlicek 8 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | January 2017 Note By Jim Dudlicek

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