Mid-Market Retailers See Growth, Opportunities with Technology

Apr 2019

There’s a steadily thriving niche of local, mid-market grocers that are integral to their communities. Over the past six years, in the face of new, large-scale competitors, these mid-sized stores have remained steadfast; over the last six years, mid-market retailers saw an average growth of about 6.5% (“Mid-Market Grocer Growth: Organic, Seeded, or Grafted?” 2018) according to Great North Labs. Loyal customers drive the products these stores carry, and while smaller and mid-sized retailers may not have the reach of nationwide chains, they’re flourishing in part by making pointed improvements to their business models while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.

One of the ways that smaller retailers are growing is by digitizing their business models.  A study conducted by the National Center for the Middle Market found that middle market retailers in general who “adopt and effectively harness digitalization posted revenue growth of 10.5% over the past year, while over U.S. retail growth was only 3.6%” (“Middle Market Retail: How Digital Transformation is Fueling Growth,” 2018).  While it may seem like an obvious choice to make that technological leap forward, it by no means is an easy feat. While this study concluded that 65% of mid-market retailers move to match the perceived level of digital sophistication demonstrated by their competitors, ‘playing catch-up’ without a clear digital transformation vision can actually work against the main purposes of digital transformation–leveraging technology to drive simple, effective ways to boost business. That’s where iTrade comes in. We have the technologies to do just that.

We recently surveyed mid-market retailers and distributors to validate a few things: 1) whether the mid-market trade press and studies are consistent with what’s happening ‘on the ground’, and 2) the effects of digital transformation on processes like procurement and traceability in the mid-market.  As part of our survey, we spoke directly with store and procurement managers, discussing why they believed their stores were standing strong amidst competitive pressures. “A high emphasis [is] on the in-store customer experience,” one manager in California cited, adding that their cheese department and botanical sections were unparalleled.  We also learned that while this store procures about 90% of its goods from a few distributors, it processes many purchase orders via email and phone. In a conversation with a procurement manager at another retailer—this one in Colorado—we discovered that many of its processes surrounding produce waste, expiration, and inventory levels were largely manual.  To balance out these errors, this store offered strategically attractive products tailored to the growing population of consumers looking for eco-friendly grocery options, like 100% organic produce, pasture-based dairy, free-range eggs, and humanely raised meats. Also, this retailer decided to take its products online—giving its customers the opportunity to verify which stores have their desired products in stock.  Small steps like these can make big differences.

Over the course of our interviews and surveys, we learned that digital transformation across the mid-market naturally means different things for different organizations. These differing approaches are exactly why iTradeOrder is such a powerful solution.  iTradeOrder gives the mid-market the procurement and traceability capabilities of the ‘big guys,’ helping them to maintain—and even augment—their consumer-focused, local niches. Whether it’s harnessing our extensive traceability to more precisely calculate product shelf life and improve margins on produce, having an easy way to discover new vendors and offerings through iTrade’s network of over 6,000 trading partners, or making the benefits of Blockchain technology real, we make digital transformation something practical, tangible, and easy-to-implement.

Does your digital transformation strategy take into account how you procure your products, how you track their freshness, access traceability and quality control data, or perhaps even incorporate Blockchain? If so, let’s set up a quick 15-minute call by clicking here. We’d love to talk to you.

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