2019 Retail Pacesetters: Meijer operates supercenters at a high level

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2019 Retail Pacesetters: Meijer operates supercenters at a high level

By Mark Hamstra - 05/07/2019
Meijer, a pioneer of the supercenter concept, continues to push forward with expansion of its core one-stop-shopping format while also experimenting with other retail designs.

Last August, the privately owned chain opened a store called Bridge Street Market in its headquarters market of Grand Rapids, Mich., one of several local urban grocery stores the company is planning. The 37,000-sq.-ft. store offers a complete selection of groceries, but no pharmacy or many of the electronics, apparel and other general merchandise found in its 150,000-sq.-ft. supercenters.

“This is new territory for us, but we believe this is not only a smart business move and addresses the need for new ways to serve our changing customers, but it also positively impacts our community,” Meijer president and CEO Rick Keyes said in a statement.

One of the keys to Meijer’s success has been its skill at operating large-format stores successfully, said Neil Stern, senior partner at Chicago-based consulting firm McMillanDoolittle. “Meijer is good at food, they are good at nonfood, they are good at pharmacy, and they are good at the health side of the business, as well as being a really good supermarket,” he said. “Making these large stores relevant has been one of their big successes.”

The 241-store chain also has “one of the best loyalty programs in the market,” Stern said, and it continues to be a technology leader with such rollouts as its recent expansion of the Shop & Scan mobile self-checkout application to stores in the Chicagoland market.

Meijer also was one of the early partners of Shipt, the third-party grocery delivery specialist. As of late last year, the company expanded its click-and-collect service, also handled by Shipt, throughout its Midwest operating area. Both services are available in 227 Meijer supercenter locations in six states.

Meijer touts its status as a destination for family health and offers a suite of pharmacy services, including pharmacy rewards through its mPerks loyalty program.

The company seeks to make it easy for its customers to keep track of their health with tools that include higi health stations — available in every Meijer pharmacy — that measure blood pressure, heart rate, body mass index and more. Customers can create a higi account to track their health over time and keep a digital record of their progress.

Meijer also has partnerships with healthcare providers and hospital systems in many of its markets designed to increase services through in-store and campus medical clinics.

Its focus on its communities’ health needs also is reflected in its recent launch of a Consumer Drug Take-Back Program, which helps customers dispose of unwanted drugs, in part to keep them out of the wrong hands. It is installing secure in-store kiosks designed to help customers safely and properly dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs at no cost.

Meanwhile, the company also is expanding into new locations with its traditional supercenter format, with three new stores planned for openings during the first half of this year in the greater Cleveland market, including one located in one of the nation’s oldest Kmart Supercenters, which has been closed for some time, said Chuck Cerankosky, an analyst at Cleveland-based Northcoast Research.

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