Hugo’s Family Marketplace serves rural communities and metro areas across North Dakota, all while maintaining a local family feel to its stores.
“The No. 1 thing that differentiates us is our team and our long history of being a family-owned company, over 80 years,” said Kristi Magnuson Nelson, president and CEO. “Many of our team members have been a part of Hugo’s for 20, 30 and even 40 years. They are part of our family and communities.”
Hugo’s operates 11 grocery stores, eight Caribou Coffee Shops, six Hugo’s Wine & Spirits, three pharmacies and one pub. The grocer opened its 11th store, Hugo’s Pure Market, last fall in downtown Grand Forks.
“This store has a more urban feel with new technology and amenities,” Nelson said. “This store features our pub, The 506 Pub, as well as Dorothy’s Treats with gourmet popcorn, warm cookies and Caribou Coffee. [It also has] the Mezz, which overlooks downtown Grand Forks and can be rented out for private catered events. There is also a Hugo’s Wine & Spirits at this location.”
Hugo’s has offered online ordering for many years and expanded the service to all of its stores a few years ago.
“Our advice to others is to find the platform and program that works for you and your customers,” Nelson said. “That may be different from one grocer to another. Shop online at your stores yourself so you can see how the customer experience is. Update your system as time goes on to keep it fresh and relevant.”
Hugo’s uses Freshop as its online platform and has its own team deliver orders with Hugo’s company branded vans. “We value that personal interaction with our customers, and they know that our standards have been maintained from the time they place their order to the time it is delivered to their door,” she said.
Hugo’s recently added the option to use EBT payments online, which Nelson said is something many customers wanted.
“Changing and adjusting your platform to make shopping online easy and enjoyable will ensure you have more people using it regularly,” she said. “With many people wanting to limit their exposure to others, online shopping has become even more important to the success of our stores.”
Nelson said Hugo’s uses social media to promote its stores. This includes a mix of interactive, informative, promotional and fun posts, keeping an audience of more than 23,000 engaged.
“Often, we do a paid sponsorship so our information will be seen across Facebook, Instagram and other platforms,” she said. “The amount of exposure for the cost of the promotions is tremendous. With so many people using social media, it is a great way to reach our customers. Along with traditional methods like radio, television and print publications, we feel our online presence adds to make a well-rounded advertising campaign.”
Nelson said she has seen similar supply chain issues as other grocers, but not as severely as some parts of the country.
“We work with our vendor partners to make sure we have access to alternative brands and are able to offer substitutions where there is a lack of available product,” she said. “We move and rotate products efficiently and pay particular attention to our ordering so we can experience minimal shortages.”
For more information, visit gohugos.com.