The Great Retail Explosion of 2017

Supplier Opportunities

Bill Bishop, chief architect at Barrington, IL-based consulting firm Brick Meets Click, says suppliers need to think about approaching the two ends of the value spectrum that are growing — the low-price specialists and the high-service and online retailers. “Vendors need to establish and then grow their business with the hard discounters,” he says. “Aldi sells tremendous volumes and is very easy to deal with. People like working with them. I think you’d be surprised how many people rate Aldi as one of their top customers, not only volume-wise, but just because of ease of working with them. Unfortunately, a lot of the bigger companies are still covered with barnacles and aren’t as easy to work with.”

He also lauds the chain’s packaging and displays. “There is some really good produce merchandising going on at Aldi.”

Dick Spezzano of Monrovia, CA-based Spezzano Consulting Service agrees suppliers should establish relationships with the hard discounters. “As Lidl comes into the Southeast and Northeast, they will need local suppliers and national suppliers. You want to be one of those people.”

He says vendors should be mindful these retailers might be interested in value packaging, such as 2-lb. bags of apples instead of 3 pounds, or perhaps bags of six small avocados in place of larger bulk avocados.

Maeve Webster of Arlington, VA-based consulting firm Menu Matters, says produce suppliers need to think about how their produce can best be merchandised via e-commerce platforms. “Produce vendors, first and foremost, need to think about how they can convince consumers of the freshness and quality of an item they won’t touch,” she says. “Second, they should consider how best to package sets or solutions of produce similar to the kits to drive larger volume purchases that make sense and provide additional value.”