Grocer Displays Differences With Wal-Mart

Discussion
Jun 21, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Dave Spieglehoff, owner of four Pick ‘n Save supermarkets in Wisconsin, compares competing against Wal-Mart’s Supercenter to being chased by a grizzly. He knows he can’t outrace the bear so he needs to make sure he’s able to “outrun the other guy.”

When Mr. Spiegelhoff says “the other guy,” he means all the grocers that are doing the same thing he’s doing; trying to figure out ways to compete with the world’s largest retailer.

Although the task may at times seem daunting and many others have fallen before the same challenge, Mr. Spiegelhoff is not afraid to invite direct comparisons between his offerings and Wal-Mart.

A Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel piece reported how Mr. Spiegelhoff went to a nearby Supercenter to buy a cantaloupe for 98 cents. He put Wal-Mart’s melon on display next to his own. The comparison showed that Mr. Spiegelhoff’s price was higher. It was also a half-pound larger.

Price comparisons do not tell the whole story, which is why the cantaloupe visual display was important. “It’s telling people why they should shop here,” he said.

Finding reasons for consumers to shop at stores other than Wal-Mart Supercenters has become a necessity for Wisconsin’s grocers. The chain plans to have up to 65 Supercenters eventually operating in the state.

“Ultimately, if you survive, you’re a better retailer,” Mr. Spiegelhoff said. “But you better scrutinize everything you do.”

Moderator’s Comment: What lessons about retailing, not just competing with Wal-Mart, can others take from Dave Spieglehoff’s
experience?

We agree with Dave Spiefelhoff that consumers need to know why they should shop at your store. Of course, this assumes the retailer listened to consumers
in the first place to know what they want in the store.

George Anderson – Moderator

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