Could greengrocers in Greece have the key to retailers competing against online giants?

As online giants such as Amazon and buy warehouses in the middle of nowhere to stack up with products, automate processes and ensure even same day delivery of goods, the highstreet and smaller retailers are taking a huge hit. As Amazon streamlines its processes and “corrects” or optimises mistakes of retailers in the past it is making it difficult for smaller retailers and stores to survive.

As outlined in a previous article The Death of the UK High Street – and What Retailers Can Do to Compete -it is clear that brick and mortar retailers can no longer compete on price alone. With Amazon harnessing an ever-growing amount of buying power it is able to squeeze suppliers and force prices down. Suppliers have no choice but to comply. As competing in price is no longer an option for retailers who pay higher rents, wages and even taxes than Amazon there seems to be no hope for the long term survival of high-street retailers.

While on a recent visit to Greece I noticed how small green grocers offer a lot more than simply a place to buy your daily fruit and vegetables. Local greengrocers in Greece are a community hub. Customers converse, find out the behind the scenes news of current events or happenings in the area, ask for weather updates and discuss the issues of the area. This makes this local visit to a green-grocer much more of an experience than a typicality.

More importantly they offer their knowledge about the goods they sell. Their life-long experience in trading in local produce, offers insights not replicated online by even the most technologically advanced online retailers. Whether discussing the various modern strains of tomatoes, the difference in taste of produce throughout the seasons, the best crops from each region, they offer a far more sophisticated service than meets the eye. Part of their service relies around their personal curating of the finest groceries available. Green-grocers in Greece often put their family name on their business. A sign of their pride and passion in their craft. Putting their family name on a service they themselves stand by and use. They are committed to providing their customers with only the best seasonal produce at fair market prices.

If one region has produced better olives this year they will buy from that producer and price the olive oil accordingly. Lesser quality oil will be marked at a lower price and you will be advised to buy it for cooking purposes. Truthfulness and sharing their own knowledge is at the core of their business.

Greengrocers share their advice on food substitutes, if what you are looking for is not in stock, or if it is not a particularly good crop this year. They know the best ways to prepare, cook and serve the products they sell. They tell you how to select the perfect tomatoes for use in a salad or the best tomatoes to use in a soup. A skill not available in large online platforms. You are not only buying vegetables, you are learning about the food you are eating, the best ways to cook it and what to serve it with.

This is a vital lesson for highstreet retailers trying to compete with ever growing and aggressive online retailers. As the perceived risk of buying online diminishes they are closing the gap between buying in-store and online. Businesses have to invest in offering consumers more value and a much more immersive shopping experience.


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