Progressive Grocer

JAN 2017

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F or the past 86 years, Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets has prioritized the customer experience in its stores, through its "stellar customer service [and] quality products at competitive prices," in the words of Maria Brous, director of media and community relations, and that's not about to change now. Addition- ally, according to Brous, "we continue to look towards providing meal solutions for our customers, convenience, grab-and-go items and omnichannel [solutions]." Albertsons' banners, meanwhile, will offer online ordering and home deliv- ery in eight of the nation's top-10 most populous MSAs by the middle of next year, according to Denningham. "Our own employees are involved at every step of the process, from packaging to delivery," he explains, because "we believe e-commerce should be an extension of the in-store experience, with the same high level of customer service and quality fresh products that our customers have come to expect from us." Albertsons will also "continue to enhance and upgrade our stores and our health-and-wellness services across all our banners in the new year," Denningham adds. 2017 won't be without its trials for Bristol Farms, the greatest centering on consumers' continual perception of a flat or slow-growth economy, Davis admits. Additional pressure will come from ever-increasing operating costs from various new government regulations taking effect, including new minimum-wage laws, overtime changes, the Food Safety Modernization Act and new menu-labeling laws, in addition to rising health care costs. "Our focus remains on developing product categories with strong potential to build customer visits, such as our natural and organic … private label offerings, which resonate with customers and are attracting new ones," Drew says. "Additionally, we are executing customer growth initiatives through our delivery platform relationships with Instacart and Google Express, which appeal to the Mil- lennial customers, and are introducing Smart & Final to a mostly incremental new audience." Coborn says providing his customers "an exceptional shop- ping experience" is a top priority. "We will continue to seek out more fresh, healthy options for our stores; our registered dietitians will continue to provide creative new ideas to inspire healthy eating strategies for our guests; and we will continue to evaluate our practices to make sure we are living this vision." As with many retailers interviewed for this feature, Stoa believes that people help deliver extra "value" to the shopper. Marketing efforts, including online advertising, in-store sig- nage and shelf tags in the coming year will focus on the many ways that Festival Foods creates value for its shoppers. From the Tot Spot free child care while shopping in the store, to curbside pickup, Festival's new tag, "It's the little things …," will help draw attention to these extras. Festival is also focused on store growth through acquisitions and new stores. Stoa notes that competition in Wisconsin, which has seen growth from larger regional players like Hy-Vee and Meijer, and the acquisition by Kroger of Roundy's, continues to squeeze small independents. "You swim harder, swim faster and be the consolidator, or get swallowed by those sharks," he says. "So we're focusing on growth." Sunset's Cortesi says he sees consum- ers — particularly Millennials — as desiring to be self-sufficient. "Customers want to get in and get out [of the store]," he observes. "Look at the revelation tak- ing place with [the] Amazon Go store. We want to create the speed and effi- ciency customers are looking for." Sunset already offers a wide variety of prepackaged prepared foods, he notes. "Now our goal is [to] merchandise ef- fectively to satisfy the needs of consumers. We already have the full kitchens on site, so we want to compete against foodser- vice," Cortesi notes. "We can change quickly and come up with healthy options that address a variety of health issues." Prepared foods is more than a catch- phrase at Potash Markets, as the small Chicago indepen- dent "continues to strive to be the most relevant we can be for our customers," Potash asserts. When it comes to improving the customer experience, K-VA-T is interested in "expanding meal solutions in the fresh departments, growing the center store through events that drive basket size on stock-up trips [and accelerating] snacking options throughout the store," Glei notes. e new year will see Natural Grocers also responding to increased outreach from customers on social media. e retailer plans to make it even easier for patrons to connect and engage via its various channels in this area. Similarly, Wright says he'll be focusing on tech improvements in POS technology and online shopping. To enhance the customer experience at its four stores, Healthy Home Market plans to concentrate on "new health trends, educating customers on a healthier lifestyle, online shopping, and our relationship with local growers and producers," Cashion notes. Come what may, Johnson affirms that Newport Ave. Market's top focus, "as always, will be on customer service. We believe that is one of a handful of advantages we have over our competition." 2017 Retail Outlook What areas of the customer experience will you focus on most closely? 58 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | January 2017 Continued from page 54

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