“As grocers, we have experienced more change in the past year than we have in the last 50 years,” says Deana Percassi, director of public relations for Wegmans, Rochester, N.Y. “Not just the changes seen in our stores, but those that go unseen, as well. From supply chain and workforce to communication and operating procedures, the way we do business is very different.”
In the year since COVID, the pace of change has been equally demanding. The sense of urgency for grocers to implement social distancing measures, limit the number of people in a store at a given time, and bring in new suppliers to keep the shelves stocked was real and ever-present.
“The store experience during the pandemic is, and will continue to be, very different,” says Percassi, who adds that Wegmans has had to adapt and connect with its famously loyal shoppers in new ways.
“While we were used to seeing our customers every day in our stores, that has shifted, and we’ve had to meet them where they are,” she says. “Today, we are focused on building relationships with customers digitally, and have broadened our online shopping platform.”
Wegmans reports seeing a “tremendous increase” in its e-commerce business and expects demand will continue to grow. All of its stores now offer online ordering via curbside pickup and delivery.
“We were offering online grocery ordering prior to the pandemic and saw those numbers increasing every month, so we know this trend would have continued to grow regardless,” says Percassi. “With that said, the pandemic certainly accelerated the growth as it became the best option for customers looking for a contactless shopping experience. We see online ordering becoming a new norm in the future and will continue to find ways to best serve our customers through e-commerce options.”
Since last spring, the Wegmans app has doubled in business. “Customers are using this to order their groceries online, and since January, we’ve fulfilled over 1 million e-commerce orders across the company,” she says.
Wegmans has also seen an increase in the number of customers purchasing its Meals 2Go, which allows them to order Wegmans meals to be picked up or delivered to their door.
For customers who prefer to shop in-store, Wegmans introduced its SCAN app to more than 82 stores, allowing customers to scan and bag their groceries while they shop. “All of these things have kept our customer base strong,” Percassi says.
For more reflections on the past year, click here.
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