It took 100 years, but Demoulas Super Markets has finally gone digital.
Director of operations David McLean says the decision came as a means to better connect with its consumers, and ends what undoubtedly was the longest holdout of any nearly $5 billion retailer to establish a virtual presence.
How do you start your mornings? Our morning routine includes making sure that every single one of our 79 stores is ready for our customers. pic.twitter.com/u9DHKMZ45M
— Market Basket (@MarketBasket) November 1, 2017
Market Basket, founded in 1917, is known for high-volume stores, service and low prices supported in part by an efficient operation that eschews some common industry practices such as extended store opening hours, a traditional loyalty program and extras including, until now, a digital presence.
The virtual slack was taken up in part by what McLean describes as “fan sites” like one that went up at mydemoulas.net in 2011. That site is still operating.
In 2014, Market Basket was embroiled in a high-profile battle between members of its founding family for control of the chain, leading to a six-week employee walkout. So management installed by one side of the family introduced its own website. But the site—along with the management—departed upon a settlement restoring control to Market Basket’s current CEO, Arthur T. Demoulas. Employees then used a variety of social media platforms to organize and broadcast messages, so it was not as though the brand lacked an online presence—it just never formally had one of its own until now.
The new website, created in collaboration with the company’s information technology department and outside vendors, provides information for shoppers including a store directory, online circulars, a company history, a shopping list tool and a new form allowing customers to receive weekly sales flyers and other offers directly from the company via email. McLean says the site already paid dividends when the company used it to promote a seafood deal that would have been difficult to have done previously, given its flyer printing schedule.
“There’s been a change in consumer desire for us to have this,” McLean says. “There are a lot of ways this can help our customers with questions they have for us from getting directions to store to finding the weekly circular.”
The site does not currently offer online commerce, although McLean says some personal shopping services in its trade areas, including Instacart, offer its customers the ability to shop remotely.
Demoulas operates 79 Market Basket stores, including new units that have opened this year in Lynn and Fall River, Mass. McLean says the chain is currently seeking environmental and other approvals to build a second store near Portland, Maine. Sales this year were approaching $5 billion companywide.