A recent profile of Wegmans on Pymnts.com notes the Rochester NY-based, 92-store chain “doesn't just have fans – it has devotees.” The company's well-established reputation preceded it to Massachusetts, where 2,000 shoppers waited outside the opening of its its first store in that state last year.
Customers have been known to write love letters to the company, urging it to bring stores to their area. The retailer also has its own Twitter fan group, under the hashtag #Wegmania.
There are several secrets to Wegmans success. Aside from its fresh trucked-in foods and wide assortment of store-prepared food, Wegmans also synchronized supply data with its suppliers in 2006. This moves goods faster, saving on labor and inventory costs in the process.
By instituting mutually beneficial, vertical integration arrangements with suppliers, Wegmans gets products in stores more frequently. This “no out-of-stocks” policy, combined with gradual store format expansion to accommodate in-store restaurants and coffee shops, has cemented consumer loyalty.
Competitors anxious to enjoy Wegmans-level popularity should study what sets the grocery retailer apart, and adopt the practices that would fit with their store models.
For example, Wegmans owns its own organic farm, allowing the retailer to sell seasonal organic produce below typical market prices. This is very attractive to consumers who are part of the “buy local” movement, and could entice shoppers who are interested in organic products but discouraged by higher prices, thus expanding the consumer base for more niche varieties of fruits and vegetables.