Conseil en innovation stratégique

Doing well by doing good : Wegmans inspiring success in retail

Wegmans Food Markets is the 46th largest U.S. private company, with $7.4 billion of annual sales.  It is a regional supermarket with only 98 stores in ­states of the northeast and mid-Atlantic region.  Despite this small footprint, Wegmans has a loyal customer following and a value proposition that helps it disrupt every new market it enters.

Interestingly enough, this family owned/driven company has been ranked #1 for corporate reputation among the 100 most visible companies, according to the 2019 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient. At local level, it has been opportunity for a Celebration Cake (or tangerines as healthier option) with employees and customers in all stores.

Their success depends on their unique ability to bridge the best of four worlds. 

  1. First, Wegmans stores carry a wide selection of 50,000-70,000 products compared to a competitor average of 40,000.  This is possible because its stores are very large, measuring up to 140,000 sqft.
  2. Second, Wegmans creates a shopping atmosphere that mimics European open-air markets where customers can see and smell foods being cooked/baked.
  3. Third, Wegmans is focused on providing a customer-focused experience, driven by friendly, empowered workforce.
  4. Fourth, Wegmans captures value by offering consistent low prices on popular items and bulk purchase options through its Family Packs.  An independent study found that average prices are 13% cheaper at Wegmans than Giant or Safeway

Its restricted footprint to only six states allows Wegmans to overturn fresh inventory 100 times per year, compared to 20 for competitors, which supports its wide selection.

They focus on employees satisfaction, earning a spot on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For every year. They attract strong employees with competitive salaries and unique perks, including a $4.5 million annual scholarship program. Wegmans also ensures that its employees are trained in customer service and food preparation.  For example, it requires a 40-hour class for new cashiers and sends its chefs all around the world. As the VP for HR stated, “The first question you ask is: ‘Is this the best thing for the employee?’ That’s a totally different model.”  This committed workforce delivers the customer-focused experience.

At the end of the day, they do have the buying power of Walmart but bet that consumers are making choices based on how a company operates – not just what they make or sell. And it is winning bet 😉

‽ And you : how much have you changed your operating model to match highest reputations standards, take your role in society seriously, and make decisions through this broader societal lens?

Antoine Mahy, associate director