The Toronto Star interviewed Greg Ramier from Loblaw Companies, a well-known retail brand.
Greg Ramier, president of the market division at Loblaw Companies, recently talked with the Toronto Star about everything from self-checkouts to the move toward less packaging and how much of a threat online delivery services pose to the traditional grocery store. You can view the full interview in this link. Here are some of the highlights:
“Over the last number of years, we’ve ramped our efforts on two fronts,” Ramier told the paper. “One is increasing the number of local producers–we made a commitment a couple of years ago to buy another $150 million in local produce. We’ve started to partner a lot more with growers.
“There is (also) a higher interest in nutrition among Loblaws customers. That plays out in several different ways. We’re finding things like meatless proteins are becoming really important. We’re finding fresh vegetables are becoming really important.
“We’re finding sustainable seafood and local produce are also becoming more important. We understand that our customers care about all that and we want to have a great selection in it.”
Innovation, with choice
Ramier also pointed out that while Loblaws has innovated considerably over the years — for example, by introducing the self-checkout — some customers are resisting such developments.
“For us, it’s about choice. We want to be able to provide great full-service checkout experiences for customers who want that or have big baskets. And we want to provide really fast and great checkout experience for people who want to use self-scan,” he said.
“I see online being more relevant and more important to customers going forward,” Ramier added. “That’s why we’re focused on it. But that still means that more than nine out of 10 of our customers really care about the experience when they walk into our stores. It comes back to choice and convenience.”
One of the things that Loblaw Companies is viewed as having managed to do well in recent years is integrate new companies and their cultures and supply chains into its own operating system.
“I would say is that there are always things to be learned from any retailer,” Ramier elaborated. “And we always try to learn as much as we can, whether they’re a different part of our company, or a different company.”
Loblaws has also been introducing programs lately that a marketer would call experimental: nutritionists, cooking classes, singles nights, among others, based on the notion that Loblaws stores have been hubs for their local communities for years.
“We have customers who’ve had generations of shopping with us,” Ramier told The Toronto Star. “We actually have colleagues who have generations of working for us. We find it’s very important to build connections with those stores, with the local communities.”
“You need to understand those and listen and try new products and services to stay ahead of those needs,” he elaborated. “And making sure every time a customer walks into your store, they get a great experience. That sounds really simple, but it does keep you awake at night.”