What You Need to Know From This Year’s NGA Show


Discover the trends, technologies, and transformations that are moving from the conference floor to the grocery store. 

The annual National Grocers Association show recently wrapped in Las Vegas. This year’s event was hosted at Caesars Forum and saw over 3,600 industry professionals, a new record for attendance. With over forty sessions and workshops and nearly 350 exhibits, there was plenty to keep everyone busy.

With so many things happening, it’s easy to lose track of some of the main talking points from the three-day event. So, we tried our best to bring the four most prominent questions from this year’s show back from Las Vegas with us. 

Question 1: Where is AI headed? 

Each day, the buzz surrounding artificial intelligence is getting bigger. At this year’s NGA show, Webstop CEO Shawn Tuckett moderated a packed session about how AI is impacting the grocery sector, during which panelists discussed the most pressing questions about the technology’s future. The session made it clear that most retailers are still in the exploratory phase, trying hard to figure out how to best use AI to meet their goals. 

While it’s true that more and more AI services are beginning to emerge, many are still unfinished products. The gap between potential and actual utility underscores a broader industry trend of cautious optimism. By all accounts, the retailers who attended the NGA show were keen to adopt AI, drawn in by its potential to revolutionize everything from inventory management to customer service. Yet everyone seems acutely aware of the need for patience as these technologies mature and evolve. 

Question 2: How do we use technology to reach the in-store shopper?

As much as digital technology has worked to reshape the grocery industry, the vast majority of shoppers still prefer to buy their groceries from aisles in a brick-and-mortar store. But just because the majority of transactions are still taking place in-store doesn’t mean that technology isn’t playing an important role. Instead, it creates a unique opportunity to enhance the in-store experience rather than replace it. 

When integrated strategically, technology can streamline the shopping experience and provide new avenues for engagement and loyalty. Whether it’s interactive digital displays, personalized promotions, or wayfinding technologies, the blending of digital and physical shopping experiences is on the rise. It’s not about choosing one over the other but rather leveraging the strengths of both to create a more responsive, engaging, and convenient shopping experience that drives shoppers to the store. This was at the heart of a lot of conversations at this year’s NGA show, which frequently turned to how to use in-store technology to support retail media strategies as well. Speaking of which…

Question 3: What’s going on with retail media?

Retail media networks continue to solidify themselves as an indispensable part of grocery strategies as retailers consider the best ways to generate additional revenue from the major CPG brands. By now, most retailers know the importance of investing in retail media, understanding it to be the clearest route to opening up alternative revenue streams. But as major retailers solidify their own networks, independents have been left wondering what the direct strategies are that can lead to getting their piece of the pie. 

For many independents at the NGA show, this meant realizing that they can’t do this alone. The truth is most independent retailers aren’t big enough to get the attention of CPGs retail media teams directly.  Success means being a part of a larger media network with the scale to compete with the biggest Tier 1 competitors. By shifting to strategies that focus on collaboration and partnerships, independents have an exciting opportunity to get their share of the CPG revenue pie.

Question 4: How is inflation impacting the grocery industry?

Whether it was in sessions or casual conversations, there was one topic that seemed to be on everyone’s mind: the pinch that everyone is feeling from inflation. After a few years of boosted profits across the board, the current economic environment demands a different approach. Plenty of people around the NGA show were talking about how they are channeling their creativity into finding innovative solutions that can bring shoppers back and increase revenue. This shift in strategy underscores the urgency of adapting to the new normal because relying on past success is no longer viable. 

All in all, it was an informative and inspirational few days in Las Vegas, as the NGA show revealed that the independent segment of grocery is still strong and ready to tackle the latest challenges in the industry. The only thing that could potentially rival the experience of the show was the meal we ate at Bazaar Meat by José Andrés in the Sahara. The steak was worth the trip!

Want the full experience?

For a copy of the slide deck from either of our presentations, reach out to service@webstop.com!