Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer – The Ahold banner makes a couple of bold moves in an effort to differentiate itself from mainstream competitors. With a name like Giant Food Stores, consumers tend to expect a lot. To be honest, though, the 96-year-old, Carlisle, Pa.-based chain, part of Ahold Delhaize USA, is generally viewed by shoppers as a very average supermarket, consistently ranked near the middle of the pack. “It’s a reliable, middle-of-the-road grocer, but not a destination,” confirms Karen Strauss, principal at Wilton, Conn.-based Cadent Consulting Group. That’s all well and good, she continues, except that Giant happens to operate in the same market as some pretty heavy hitters, most notably Wegman’s.
Although e- commerce reportedly represents only about 2% of total Ahold sales, “Online ordering and fulfillment are definitive ‘must-have’ services for grocers to compete both locally and nationally,” says Scott Langdoc, senior vp and practice lead at Boston-based BRP Consulting. From Kroger and Safeway to Target and Walmart, “Major national brands are pouring millions into e-commerce, and regional brands must work to keep pace as differentiating will be increasingly difficult.”
That said, Langdoc likes what he sees from Giant so far. But in order to stay ahead of the curve, the chain will have to remain “hyper-focused” on ways it can improve. “Customers expect the perfect blend of the assortment they know from Giant stores along with the most efficient, frictionless e-commerce experience possible,” he says. So although the chain is off to a good start, there’s no letting up.
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