2019 Retail Pacesetters: Giant Eagle offers value in food, fuel and pharmacy

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2019 Retail Pacesetters: Giant Eagle offers value in food, fuel and pharmacy

By Mark Hamstra - 05/07/2019
Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle is a regional stalwart that is expanding both its supermarket operations and its footprint as a convenience store operator.

The privately owned retailer, which lists annual sales of $8.9 billion on its website, operates 216 supermarkets and about 200 GetGo fuel locations. As 2018 ended, the retailer completed the acquisition of Ricker Oil, which added 56 Ricker’s c-stores in the Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Ind., markets to the company’s roster, further expanding Giant Eagle’s operating area in Indiana.

The company’s connection with its c-store and fuel operations has been an increasingly important element of its operations as it leverages the fuel centers as part of its fuelperks! rewards. The program, which is connected to Giant Eagle’s Advantage Card loyalty system, now also includes its former RxRewards program, which allows customers to earn food or fuel discounts based on both the number of prescriptions filled at Giant Eagle and the money spent on prescription co-pays and cash prescriptions.

“Their fuel rewards program remains very popular, which is not a surprise because gasoline is something everybody wants to save money on,” said Chuck Cerankosky, an analyst with Northcoast Research based in Cleveland.

He also highlighted the company’s extensive and growing private-label program, which includes more than 10,000 products under the Giant Eagle, Nature’s Basket and Market District brands, all supported with a double-your-money-back guarantee. The Market District brand — its premium and specialty private-label line — shares its name with Giant Eagle’s high-end format that has helped it remain relevant in markets where customers are seeking that level of experience.

Burt Flickinger, managing director at New York-based Strategic Resource Group, said that Giant Eagle has maintained a competitive pharmacy offering while competing against Rite Aid on the drug store retailer’s home turf in western Pennsylvania. “Giant Eagle, the Shapira family [owners] and [president and CEO] Laura Karet have always looked at the perfect combination of pharmacy, food and fuel as something to really give value to consumers in their greater Pennsylvania, Ohio and contiguous markets,” he said. “They’re one of the leaders in pharmacy.”

The retailer’s pharmacy program is comprehensive and includes a well-developed specialty pharmacy operation for patients with complex therapy needs, along with an extensive prescription delivery program and a dedicated pharmacy mobile app.

Giant Eagle also takes steps to remain a leader in e-commerce to satisfy the needs of its customers who prefer to either have groceries delivered or to order online and pick up at the store. Last year, the retailer debuted a scan-as-you-shop mobile app at its Market District format. The Giant Eagle Mobile Shopper app is linked to customers’ Advantage Card, allowing customers to apply discounts while they shop and earn fuelperks! rewards.

Giant Eagle also is one of the leaders in grocery delivery in the markets where the service is offered, and it has been expanding its Curbside Express
click-and-collect service.

“We believe the savviest Giant Eagle customers will use our various, technology-driven services interchangeably,” said Dan Donovan, a spokesperson at Giant Eagle. “The goal for us is to equip our customers with an array of unique and helpful tools.”

This story is one of 20 profiles of retailers who are making a difference in the industry. To read more, click here