Progressive Grocer Independent

JUN 2016

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16 | Progressive Grocer Independent | June 2016 Dash's Market Cover Story personalized attention," Dash says. "I think our people set us apart. Tey're great at welcoming our guests into our house. Tey have strong people skills and make our customers, our guests, feel at home." For customers who can't make it to the stores, Dash's Market introduced online ordering last year. Marketed almost strictly through social media, the service is quickly gaining momen- tum, and the company has signed on to be the grocery delivery service for the University of Bufalo. Te pickers and delivery drivers are all Dash's employees to help ensure the highest-quality items are selected and delivered by personnel who embody the grocer's high-service mentality. Customers include everyone from busy professionals to mothers of young children to people with mobility problems. Some of the frst online customers were people from out of state who were ordering groceries for their Buf- falo-area parents. Mahoney relates the story of one woman who lives in Florida and talks to her mother every Sunday to place her parents' grocery order for the week. Online Growth One of the most surprising aspects of the online orders is that they're a fip from the fresh-focused in-store baskets to center store-focused orders. "Home delivery for perishables is a tricky sell because people want their steak like this, they want their pro- duce like that," Dash says. "Not that we aren't selling those things, because we are, but our grocery or center store business is really taking of." Te online orders also are about four times larger than the average in-store basket ring. Customers are stocking up when they place online orders, unlike how they shop in the brick-and-mortar stores. "Every "Brick and mortar has become so expensive, online can be our fifth store." —Mark Mahoney, VP/GM order that goes out is like picking up four custom- ers," Dash observes. Currently, Dash's Delivers, as the company's e-commerce component is known, services the 89.5-mile area around the stores. Te East Amherst store acts as the central picking store, and all orders are shipped out from there because it carries the most SKUs of all of the locations and houses the com- missaries for bakery and meat. Te company is considering expanding the delivery zone to additional ZIP codes. Dash sees the service allow- ing the company to grow in markets that may not be ideal for a brick-and- mortar store. "Brick and mortar has become so expensive, online can be our ffth store," Mahoney adds. Continual Growth e-Commerce is the future, Dash notes. "Te old way doesn't work," he explains. "If you run a conventional store today, you're a target. You have to be on the cutting edge or be dif- ferent or have a diferent approach. You can't be a slouch, you can't get away with shortcuts." With the stores' location in a re- gion that has just achieved a stagnant population after years of decline, survival requires an unconventional approach, and growth requires inno- vation to keep attracting customers. Dash's Market is achieving that with growth greater than infation since 2002. "We're very successful, but it's taken us 14 years to get there," Dash points out. Much of this growth is due to word of mouth and customers raving to other consumers. Dash strives to get shoppers to come in just to buy a quart of milk and a loaf of bread. He believes that by treating them well, within a year, those consumers will be doing the majority of their shop- ping at Dash's Market. "Tere is no magic," Dash says. "If you get someone in the door, take care of them; that's how you get them back. If you don't take care of them, they don't come back, because they have too many choices." PGI Partnering With Local Vendors Dash's Markets, with four stores in the Buffalo, N.Y., area, has placed significant importance on partnering with other local vendors since its doors opened in 2002, even before "local" be- came the consumer trend it is today. "We're probably the largest supporter of local foods in western New York," says Joe Dash, owner and CEO. These companies are part of the fabric of the region, he notes. About six times a year, the stores run a special wrap around the weekly ad that features all of the local suppliers in the store, from Mayer Bros. apple juice to Perry's ice cream to Jake's All Natural Rubs. On the store shelves, tags delineate which products are manufactured or sourced locally. "We've always carried the products, but five years ago we said, 'Let's start featuring them all together in one of our fliers.' That's been a home run for us," says Mark Mahoney, VP/GM.

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