Hy-Vee Honored as Retailer of the Year by CSNews Sister Publication

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Hy-Vee Honored as Retailer of the Year by CSNews Sister Publication

Hy-Vee store exterior

DES MOINES — Progressive Grocer, a sister publication of Convenience Store News, is honoring Hy-Vee Inc. as its 2017 Retailer of the Year.

Des Moines-based Hy-Vee was chosen due to its reputation as a retailing innovator and leader. According to Progressive Grocer, the company’s variety of store formats to better serve diverse markets, investment in click-and-collect services, chef-inspired prepared foods, in-store dining, health and wellness, and diversification in products and services has pushed Hy-Vee ahead of the competition.

Hy-Vee is an employee-owned corporation operating more than 240 retail stores across eight Midwest states with sales of $9.8 billion annually. The company's convenience store business consists of 139 company-operated Hy-Vee Gas Station locations. It was ranked No. 54 on the 2017 Convenience Store News Top 100 list of the largest chains by store count.

In an effort to continue providing customers with the service they’ve come to expect from Hy-Vee, the company holds fast to a business philosophy that requires it to always be in tune to customers’ lifestyles.

“Just pay attention to the direction they’re heading, and try and get there at the exact right time when they want us to be there,” Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker told PG. “That’s easier said than done, and sometimes hard to predict, but I think it just takes a lot of time studying the industry, studying life’s trends and life stages. For all retailers, that’s challenging. We’re obviously in an evolutionary time.”

Hy-Vee relies on three platforms  service and experience, health and wellness, and culinary excellence and expertise  to grow and sustain the business in this evolutionary time.

Catering to the changing tastes of customers, Hy-Vee is offering customer service in a format that’s more appealing to younger consumers, while still providing the customer service older customers continue to prefer.

“[Younger consumers] don't want to speak to anybody,” said Donna Tweeten, executive vice president, chief marketing officer and chief customer officer. “But they still want to know where the Velveeta is. So, we have to create new technology – call it ‘Hy-Vee Siri,’ for lack of a better term – and the database will pull it up and answer back. That kind of customer service has to be layered on top of still walking the customer to the product. You have to do both. An 85-year-old isn’t going to want to talk into their phone.”

Hy-Vee’s focus on health and wellness sees it look beyond the pharmacy and to its foodservice program. Hy-Vee customers can even meet with a dietitian or visit a health clinic through the store. As for the food on offer, Hy-Vee endeavors to keep raising the bar in terms of food quality, selection and customization.

Representative of the health and wellness and culinary excellence platforms of the business, Hy-Vee has entered into strategic partnerships with fast-casual burger chain Wahlburgers and boutique fitness concept Orangetheory.

Multiple store formats and an ecommerce push are two other strategies that prove that Hy-Vee is committed to serving customers based on their evolving tastes and needs. It’s also placing an emphasis on corporate responsibility, leading initiatives on sustainability and charitable donations. For Hy-Vee, it’s imperative to keep the pace with customers and meet their expectations for retail even before they know what they want.

“If you haven’t been on a dead sprint trying to stay ahead of change and make calculated decisions to take risk in spots, you’re going to be in trouble, because it’s hard to catch up today,” Edeker told PG. “The reality is there are companies and aspects of our business that can be completely disrupted from areas that you’ve never really considered coming at you before. So if you’re behind the ball today, it’s hard to get in front of it. I think you have to be more aggressive about trial and taking risk than you ever have before."

To read the full story, visit Convenience Store News' sister publication Progressive Grocer.