The other day I went grocery shopping. I took a small cart and began my usual path through the store. I didn’t find Mandarin oranges, so I asked a helpful clerk if they had any. He mentioned that while there were on promotion the next day, but had not arrived, citing supply-chain issues. I continued on with my shopping. At check out, I was presented with a bill that was higher than expected. ~ By a lot! I was aware we are experiencing price inflation but was completely caught off guard.
In fact, we are seeing the highest inflation in years. Currently, the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) inflation in the US is at 6.8%1. While the drivers of inflation are complex, it does make sense that prices are increasing when supply-chain issues and unprecedented labor shortages are straining the system.
Our partners at retail, are our priority and the work we do for them in-store must be completed. We do our work with pride and with the knowledge that by serving our retail partners and clients well, we are also serving communities and ultimately families.
We do this work with ever-increasing costs.
When that shipment of fixtures or new product that we're placing in the store fails to arrive on time, we need to reschedule the work. Sometimes we are required to send home the staff that arrived to do the job. While not only increasing our costs, we also frustrate that person (or people) we sent home. More than just numbers on a balance sheet, these are our team members, our valuable Associates, our colleagues. When certain areas of the country have high competition for hiring, that increases costs. When Associates are infected with Covid-19 and must go on leave, that increases cost pressures as well. Even extreme weather events cause everything to shift, costs increase.
As a service supplier to the retail industry, profit margins have never been great. Today's pressures create even more strain.
What are we doing about it, you may wonder.
As a solution-driven company, with outside-the-box thinkers, we are working hard every day to look at and do whatever we can to create a fulfilling workplace for our team members. That starts with improving recruiting, onboarding, and retention. We have multiple employee resource groups that spend countless hours looking at improving every area. When people are trained properly, have great mentorship and leaders, are given the opportunity to work on a team, and even work with friends, they come to work enthusiastically. As they build up confidence and capability, those that desire it know there are upward mobility opportunities in the organization.
We work with our retail partners to provide dependable and reliable hours, knowing those hours play a pivotal role in retention. We are advocates for our Associates and built execution schedules that consider variables and drive inconsistent hours out of the work experience. Refocusing our labor to support retail in times of need without impacting store shoppers has enabled us to reduce historic blackout periods. Although there is still work to be done in this area, we have proven that the ability to retain teams has increased efficiencies, which benefit retailers greatly.
Individuals in leadership roles know that a strong positive culture, where Associates find a purpose in their work, attracts and retains the right Associates that love what they do and do a great job for our customers. Our culture committee and leaders have implemented various culture initiatives which have been met with appreciation and celebration.
Finally, we work hard to renegotiate contracts that establish win/win for our retail partners, when successful, we are reinvesting that right back into our people. As a company with no produced goods, we truly are people-powered. It is our people that help us thrive and a thriving workforce executes effectively and within budget, gaining great results for our retail partners.
Links to further reading:
Supermarket News: U.S Shoppers Hold Over-Inflated View of Food Prices
Supermarket News: Grocery Retailers, Customers Paying the Price
Retailwire: What Isn't Wrong With the Supply Chain
Retailwire: Will Retailers Find It Harder to Pass Along Price Increases in the Months Ahead
Canadian Grocer: Canadian Milk Prices Rising Faster Than Inflation: Report