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In Support of REAL Local

by Adam Zack — March 4, 2015

Jensens_TrueLocal_DigitalBillboard_Redesign-01There is a certain national natural foods chain that really, really, REALLY tries hard to make its customers think it is a local company. And they do a really good job of reinforcing that brand image in their stores. But you know and I know that besides stores in Austin, Texas (or Texas in general if you want to really get liberal with the boundaries), it’s not local at all. But you are. And your customers should be reminded that you are. After all, you are the one who supports the local schools, sports teams and churches. You donate food to feed the needy in your city. You shop in your community. You pay taxes that go directly into your town. Your customers sit by you in church. They run into you at the movies. They see you working really hard in your store. Really, you are helping support your customers and their families. It’s an easy thing to say that you are local. Anyone can do that. Your advantage comes with the irrefutable proof that your profits, which are a very small percentage of sales, do actually stay in your community. They are not forwarded to Wall Street. They are not distributed to institutional investors. They stay with you and are reinvested in your town, in your customers’ town.So how a...
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Let’s all have some Pi!

by Adam Zack — February 25, 2015

PiDayPieCherryPi – A transcendental number, approximately 3.1415, represented by the symbol π, that expresses the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle and appears as a constant in many mathematical expressions. 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288 (to infinity…)

“When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it’s not, mmmmmmmm, boy.” – Jack HandyMarch 14 is designated as National Pi Day. It was recognized and passed by Congress in 2009. I swear. Not making this stuff up. You may remember from high school geometry using the infinite number 3.1415 to solve problems. And it worked. With the mighty pi there wasn’t a circumference or circle area that I could not conquer.Now, as retailers our problem is how to differentiate ourselves from our competition and voila, we are able to use Pi to solve the problem! Who’d have thought that high school geometry would ever result in anything useful?Since every March 14 is Pi Day, it’s an annual promotion that you need to start and follow through on. But since March 14, 2015 (3.14.15) is a ONCE IN A CENTURY Pi Day, it’s a promotion you need to really embrace. Now of course most of our cust...

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Dear Lord, Show Me a Sign!

by Adam Zack — February 18, 2015

BadSignssign: noun \ˈsīn\ : a piece of paper, wood, etc., with words or pictures on it that gives information about somethingThere are a handful of retailers that do signs right. I mean really do in-store signage right. Signs that convey the store’s brand, the item’s purpose for having a sign, the pertinent facts the customer needs to know about the item and the personality to actually persuade the customer to purchase. Stores such as Metropolitan Market in Seattle, Dorothy Lane Market in Ohio, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and West Seattle Thriftway are some that really get it when it comes to signage. They invest the resources (and it is a serious commitment – with at least one full-time sign person per store) required to tell their story through their signage. And it works. These retailers are extremely successful.There is another group of retailers that simply does a horrible job at signage. Displays will have no signs at all. Spelling will be incorrect. Prices will not be clear. There will be nothing at all that would make a shopper stop and take notice of the display. Watermelon may be a great deal at 99 cents each (or is it per pound, not a great deal at all), but when the watermelon looks like a pineappl...
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IN DEFENSE OF OUTSOURCING

by Adam Zack — February 12, 2015

IMG_0504Ok, this week’s topic is going to read like I am so biased, and of course I am, but I have not always been on this side of the issue. What I am talking about is whether you should outsource your advertising and marketing projects or do them in-house. Duh, of course I am going to say, “outsource.” DW would cast a horrible karmic curse on me if I advised our retail partners to take their marketing efforts in-house. But’s there’s much more to it than just taking the biased side in support of my employer.You may remember from our introduction that I was on the operations side of retail for over 25 years, and still am on a consulting type basis. I know how it seemed like every warm body with a marketing degree seemingly knew what was best for my business and through their incredible savvy could transform my ad and brand into an award winning, life changing, profit generating, cost saving program! I must be the fool to ignore their expertise! And there were a lot of these people. A LOT. So being the prideful know-it-all that I was, I resisted. I politely declined meetings. If they were persistent, I politely took meetings and then politely told them “No, I’ve got it covered.” If they impol...
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BE MINE, VALENTINE

by Adam Zack — February 3, 2015

A friend is having a surprise 60th birthday party for her sister.  “Can you help me with some addresses for people to invite?” she asked.  “Of course.  When is it?” I inquired.“It’s Valentine’s Day, which is no big deal to older people.” She answered.  Well, first I am not excited about being lumped in with “older people” and second, I think she’s underestimating that Valentine’s day still does mean something to most couples who still like each other. It’s not big like Christmas or my birthday, but as a retailer with the opportunity to spark a little romance for these couples, it’s a great way to be involved in their lives on a day designated for love.  You know the old Valentine’s traditions:  Roses from a local florist, chocolate from See’s or Godiva, candlelit dinner at fancy restaurant, and, well… you know the rest. Or at least you should know.  So the opportunity lies in providing the traditions – and doing them very well at a great value.  Several of the retailers we work with have been doing just that for years and letting us at DW Green tell their story to their customers. Offering imported, long stem florist quality roses arranged in a vase that saves them $40 and waiting in line at the florist. And offering local, handmade chocolate truffles saves them a trip to See’s candy. A four course, chef prepared dinner – complete with chocolate dipped strawberries that is packed ...
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The Most Important W

by Adam Zack — January 27, 2015

Most of us who went to school remember the 5 W’s. Who, What, When, Where, and Why. In this age of equality for all words, letters, colors and numbers, is there really one that is most important? Is there one word that proves that there is a master word among the millions of words available? I assert that when it comes to our field of marketing and branding the maverick grocers of North America, the question that matters most and that each should be asking first and foremost is WHY? Let’s start with a true-life example that occurred last week. A well respected and prominent owner of 15 grocery stores recently asked a share group I am in for input on creating a full color magazine style holiday guide for his company. What were costs and ways to fund it? Who was best to create it? When was the best time to distribute it? Where should he get it printed? I related this inquiry to the consciously attuned guru leader at DW Green and, after assuming the lotus position, chanting Ommmmmmmmmm and lighting the incense, received a response: “My son, the question first to be asked and answered is what is the purpose of this holiday glossy full color marketing piece?” The Why. Why should they publish this magazine? Is it the best use of their funds to achieve their purpose?In marketing decisions we too often concentrate on the first 4 W’s and fail to fully flesh out our purpose for what we are doing. What is the end result we are trying to achieve a...
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RESPONSIVE FRUSTRATION

by Adam Zack — January 20, 2015

In addition to being an admitted retailaholic, I am also an oenophile. No, that is not something depraved or salacious (or maybe it is?). An oenophile is a wine enthusiast. I really love the whole process of searching, choosing, pairing, savoring and consuming. But this week’s column is not about wine. We’ll save that for a time when my writing senses can be piqued with a glass of wine as I write, and early morning is not such a time. Well, at least not this morning. But I digress. I get a lot of wine related emails touting new finds and hot deals. Those emails ultimately have a link to the wine seller’s website to find out more details. Like most of you, I am on the go a lot and view many emails on my iphone, which ultimately leads to Responsive Frustration. I tap on the link for the website so I can take advantage of that hot wine special, and the website comes up all tiny on my phone. I try to zoom and navigate to try to purchase the wine, but ultimately lose my patience before I can even find the “add to cart” and “checkout” and just abandon the whole thing. It happens about 80% of the time. So why don’t more retailers create their websites with Responsive Design so that they can be properly viewed on a smart phone or a tablet? What makes more sense than having your customers be able to actually (and conveniently) view specials and recipes from your website while they are IN your store? Try this as an experiment: From your phone ...
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Ask the Retailaholic…

by Adam Zack — January 14, 2015

Dear Retailaholic,I’ve been in a long-term relationship, and I’m starting to get worried that things may be heading down the wrong road. We started out many years ago as a result of convenience. I was in a hurry to get to a party and I turned the corner and there he was. He was clean and well groomed. He was amply stocked with all of my favorite things. He was friendly, not pushy, and genuinely happy to see me. I bought a bottle of wine from his eclectic, fairly priced selection for my party, and well, I was smitten. I found myself going out of my way to stop by to see him. Twice a week lunches turned into dinners, which soon turned into weekly shopping. Next thing I knew he was wooing me with promotional offers, free cake on my birthday, and weekly specials that were just too hot to resist. Before I knew it, I moved across town just to be near him. His employees knew me by name. I felt special. I felt appreciated. I felt loved. I wouldn’t even look at another grocery store. But then things started to change. It was around the time the recession was happening. The familiar faces I was so used to seeing started to disappear. The mouth-watering deli selections started to look a little tired. The hot specials became luke-warm at best. I started to feel unloved and most importantly, unappreciated. I admit it, my eyes started to stray, even though he still had my heart. If only he would show me he still cared! Make me feel like I was the customer who meant the worl...
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JUST WHO IS THIS GUY?

by Adam Zack — January 6, 2015

Who is this new guy writing the Retailer Insight column for DW Green Company? Does he know the difference between a cantaloupe and a Tuscan melon? Does he know the difference between EDLP and EBIT? Just what “retailer insights” can a dude working for DW Green have that I don’t already know?Hello, my name is Adam Zack and I’m a retailaholic. I’ve been in the grocery business pretty much my whole life. My degree is in business administration (University of San Diego 1986) and I ran a successful chain of 8 stores from 1988-2011. The last four years I have managed the most successful single store in San Diego. My passions are food, wine and the ocean.So why the hell did you leave that to work for DW Green? Are you crazy? Well, it was time to take the next step from running a family business. It was time to get on the other side of the table and try and help blend the creativity that thrives at DW Green with the chaotic everyday operations that retailers face daily. I know what it’s like to operate on a 1-2% net margin. I also know what it’s like to be behind the 8 ball when times get tough and competition is putting on its steel toed boots and taking aim at your backside. I know that nearly every independent grocery retailer has unique strengths and benefits that they should be expressing to their customers. Creative differentiation is the path to success, and I have not seen anyone who can beat DW Green’s inspired passion to help independents kic...
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Quality vs Low Price—The Holiday Dilemma

by Adam Zack — December 18, 2014

So the holidays are here…a time to celebrate love and good cheer with family and friends. It’s the time to be thankful. A time to express our gratitude with gifts, cards, great wine and a memorable meal or two or three!  Nothing shows how much you care like the cheapest turkey you can find!  Or the Prime Rib roast that is a little tough and gristly, but good Lord only cost $3.99 per pound!  The tradition of finding the cheapest meal ingredients possible, and bragging about it to those beloved cherished guests has always been somewhat of a mystery to me.  Sure, everyone loves getting a “deal”.  Everyone loves finding that great bargain that saves money.  But aren’t we talking about a special occasion?  A gathering that happens once, maybe twice a year?  Isn’t that a good reason to seek out the highest quality?  The best turkey?  The most tender cut of quality beef?For most supermarkets the quandary comes with appealing to those masses seeking the bargain of the century.  If we don’t have the cheapest turkey in town, maybe we will lose customers to the competition.  It’s definitely a valid concern because when they come in to buy the cheapest main course, they also buy the rest of the items for their meal.  So let’s think of some options for next year, after all, we want their Christmas dinner to be memorable for how absolutely delicious it was. We want them to say “It was better than a fine restaurant!”  Next year, let’s promot...
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