The four Groups have always been highly pioneering when approaching their businesses. In a mature industry such as Retailing, which requires relatively little capital and technology, innovation almost never means inventing from scratch. Most often it means successfully experimenting market approaches which are unknown in a given territory or techniques not yet applied in a given process. The companies of Agorà Network have often accomplished similar cases of innovation.
SOGEGROSS has always been particularly committed to commercial and customer services innovation. Among its most significant experiences we mention the introduction of the format Cash&Carry in Liguria. It has also been a pioneer in the Discount channel, with the first Stores opened in 1993; the evening and night opening hours were extended in 1992; they were among the first to implement a comprehensive loyalty programme and a loyalty card dedicated to the elderly (Primacard 65). Innovation within the loyalty programme is continuous; currently the main activities are based on the Totem that distributes Check-in coupons and the electronic purse. Among the first in Italy to provide a real e-commerce service with the online supermarket active since 2003, in the province of Genoa. This service has been recently extended with the picking point option (in-store pickup). Only example of everyday low price pricing policy applied to the C&C channel. In 2015 Bistrot Basko was opened in some stores, a real catering point inside the supermarket which, in addition to giving customers a further service, is also the centre of communication and loyalty initiatives such as the cookery school, show cooking evenings, the presentation of books and much more. Over the years, some initiatives have been designed to make the customer shopping experience more and more pleasant and practical: fruit and vegetables and self-service bread, takeaway meat, ready meals prepared in the store, self-scanning and much more.
In 1957 Beniamino POLI, back from Milan, woke in the middle of the night his brother Giuseppe to tell him what he had seen visiting the first supermarket in Italy, recently opened by Esselunga. It did not take long to convince him to turn their grocery stores into a self-service formula first and then, by expanding the size and integrating departments such as meat, into a supermarket. They realised the savings made possible by the pre-packaging of food products with the techniques of vacuum or wrapping. One of the first 5 automatic wrapping machines produced in Italy was sold to them. In the early 80s POLI was among the first to understand the importance of non-food as a critical success factor in supermarkets having a role of attraction. Since their territory was not suitable for the construction of large facilities, they placed the department on the first floor of larger stores, characterising it with the distinctive brand REGINA. Forerunners in their territory also for the introduction of scanner cash registers. Reinterpreting, even if with totally different purposes, the idea seen in Ahold (Netherlands) to get rid of rationalist layouts, POLI launched the first circular supermarket, which proved to be able to give greater value to the shopping experience of his customers. From Delhaize (Belgium) he borrowed and managed to introduce in Italy, despite the resistance of the administrative bodies, selling systems with autonomous collection of bakery products, which became extremely popular and, for this reason, today applied by virtually all major chains. The introduction of self-scanning systems as well was early compared to the market. He was the first to realise the importance of social responsibility in business management: since 2001 POLI publishes its sustainability report. This resulted in an increased awareness of its role and the importance of involving stakeholder in the territories in which it operates, thereby improving the relationship with the community, and therefore with customers, also enhancing local productions. Today POLI is very green: its most recent stores are highly energy efficient. An example: IperPoli, opened in Trento in October 2014, integrates in one single facility the production of food and civil heating and cooling, which is exclusively electric, by using, instead of synthetic gases, CO2; it therefore relies on energy independence higher than 60%.
For IPERAL innovation, or even better evolution, as stated in its corporate mission, is part of its DNA. The continuous improvement of the formulas and business processes allows not only to retain but also increase the number of customers. Since its birth nearly 30 years ago, the Company in fact has interpreted the market trends and changed models and patterns remaining on the market as a protagonist: in the 70s it adopted the formula Cash&Carry, it opened the first hypermarket in 1986 and launched new types of retail outlet such as supermarkets and most recently hyper stores. The knowledge of the territory and the development have enabled Iperal to propose more targeted innovative products and services and almost always before competitors. The attention to people (employees and customers) allows Iperal to stand out in the field of large-scale retail trade (especially multinationals) which is now very undiversified and often too focussed on figures. Iperal is also different for its attention to local products and the quality of perishable products, constantly re-launched with innovative projects: production of delicatessen, bread, pastry, centralised fish and meat ready to cook. This differentiation and innovation is also achieved with projects such as gas stations, designed as a further opportunity for convenience for its customers, or the project Spesa Online, the entry of Iperal in the world of e-commerce, a new possibility of comfortable and quick purchase also for the territories in which the company operates.
TIGROS mission is to give the best service to its customers, ensuring excellent quality, accompanied by a relationship of mutual trust. In order to achieve and maintain this goal every day it is important to foresee the changes and needs of customers and have the courage to innovate. For Tigros innovation means working for a constant modernisation of its stores, to offer customers quality products, freshness and comfort. This is accompanied by the continuous search for new fresh products to offer consumers an increasingly wide and complete range. Some concrete examples of this commitment are the oven for the production of bread and pastry, and the Tigros Drive service, which allows you to order your shopping online and pick it easily at one of the stores equipped for delivery (TIGROS in Solbiate Arno, Malnate, Cantello, Buguggiate, Caronno Pertusella and Besozzo). Quality and innovation are the future: for this Tigros strives every day to improve its offer, customer services, business processes and constantly studies elements to develop the company.