E-commerce has been an avenue for businesses to expand and showcase their wares. And the COVID-19 pandemic showed many large grocery retailers the need to enlarge their online offerings.
Hy-Vee, The Shelby Report of the Midwest’s Retailer of the Year, has spent the last few years continuously expanding its e-commerce to not only innovate in a technologically-driven world but also introduce the brand to a wider market. Hy-Vee aims to make the lives of its customers easier, healthier and happier and it uses e-commerce to accomplish this.
The most ambitious of the company’s innovations is Hy-VeeDeals.com and Hy-Vee Aisles Online. As the name suggests, the Hy-VeeDeals website brings deals to everyone, anywhere in the country. It has become one of the company’s highest priorities.
Hy-Vee hopes to offer services well outside its market area through the e-commerce offering, as well as familiarize new customers with its brand.
The site also allows customers to buy items however they wish – even in bulk – or using personalized coupons, something Jeremy Gosch, CEO and president of Hy-Vee, says is becoming more prevalent to offset rising costs of inflation.
“Hy-VeeDeals.com allows customers to pick and choose what they want from us,” he explained. “We are always trying to find ways to serve our customers and everybody is trying to find ways to save money. The thing about Hy-VeeDeals.com is customers can find what they need in any shape or form from anywhere.”
Hy-Vee Aisles Online allows customers to order groceries online and have them ready for pickup within two hours or get them delivered to their homes.
While many retailers found that e-commerce was necessary with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hy-Vee had its program in place. But the company has continued to expand it.
“Hy-Vee was on the front end of e-commerce, especially in our eight states where we do business,” said Georgia Van Gundy, EVP, chief administrative officer and chief customer officer. “It’s evolved over time and what drives that is our customers’ needs.
“Once [the pandemic arrived], we started making changes to e-commerce. We knew customers wanted their groceries within two hours. So we went from fulfilling our orders at a fulfillment center to actually going back to the store level and having people doing our Aisles Online and fulfilling orders within the stores.”
Aisles Online pickup kiosks are attached to or located near a store. The special areas “reduce the distance and labor of transporting orders to the pickup space and limit products’ exposure to the elements,” according to a news release.
“We really ramped up the work that we’re doing from an e-commerce perspective so that we could meet our customers’ needs,” Van Gundy said. “We knew we needed to add a lot more digital offerings.
“The people picking the orders can communicate back and forth with our customers, making sure that we’re meeting needs by talking to them about out of stocks or some of the different products and services that we might be able to substitute for them. We want to maintain that connection with the consumer and make sure that we get their orders correct.”
Last year, Hy-Vee combined its previously separate Hy-Vee and Aisles Online apps into one to make shopping easier. The app learns about the user to offer recipes, how-to videos, seasonal products and special deals. It allows customers to use every aspect of Hy-Vee, including ordering groceries online, pre-paying for prescriptions and keeping track of their Hy-Vee Fuel Saver + Perks rewards.
Hy-Vee also offers a premiere subscription service, Hy-Vee Plus, which allows members access to extra savings and exclusive benefits both in store and online. The benefits include exclusive monthly deals and offers such as free grocery delivery on orders of $30 or more; free two-hour express pickup; access to a personal shopper to get and give real-time feedback on online orders; and the ability to earn exclusive fuel rewards with purchases.
“Consumers want to make fewer trips and be able to get more done in the trips that they make. That’s what’s exciting about our stores and all our e-commerce offerings…people want to be able to access more,” Van Gundy said.
PetShip and Vitamine are similar to Hy-VeeDeals.com. PetShip is an e-commerce platform for Hy-Vee that focuses on pet and animal products, while Vitamine is a personalized service that delivers vitamins to customers’ homes.
Alongside the app and website, Hy-Vee offers products through social media, Hy-Vee Seasons online magazine and its digital streaming network, HSTV. Customers can also view items to purchase instantly through platforms such as Facebook or Instagram.
Customers can also use their phones in store through Hy-Vee’s Scan & Go option. Consumers can link their preferred payment methods to the app. While they go about shopping, they can scan and bag their items and checkout via the app.
“Scan & Go was something we saw during the pandemic. People wanted a fast and convenient way to shop that didn’t require them to touch any keypads or even speak to our associates if they didn’t want to,” said Randy Edeker, chairman and executive director.
Hy-Vee Seasons is its monthly magazine that features food and drink recipes, how-to articles and home display features. Last year, Hy-Vee began offering the publication digitally. The digital edition allows readers to interact and engage with content through videos, games and animations.
Hy-Vee’s Helpful Smiles TV is the company’s visual media brand that has some 50 series showcasing different products and brands in a variety of cooking, pet, holiday, home decor and fashion shows.
HSTV is a free streaming platform for original content that meets online shopping. Viewers can shop the products seen on an HSTV show and they can be shipped anywhere in the country.