Wegmans has a better website, but did it need one?

Discussion
Source: wegmans.com Photo: RetailWire
Jan 17, 2020
Matthew Stern

Wegmans, one of the most respected players in the regional grocery game, is trying to stay ahead of trends by spiffing up its website and mobile app with a redesign.

The new website and mobile app feature improvements, such as the ability for customers to see digital coupons as they build their personalized shopping list, more personalized on-site search results and curbside pickup/delivery options, according to Progressive Grocer. The chain sent out an email last week to shoppers featuring a screenshot of some of the enhancements reflective on the site.

Wegmans has managed to garner a cult following with a legion of “Wegmaniacs” shopping its stores and singing its praises. This has continued to be the case as the privately-owned chain has expanded from its New York state base into New England and down the Eastern Seaboard. The opening of its first North Carolina location brought out huge crowds, with 3,000 people lined up before the store’s 7 a.m. opening. The chain estimated that 30,000 visited the location by the end of day one. 

Surveys have attempted to identify what exactly it is that makes Wegmans so special. A 2017 study of 12,700 shoppers by Market Force Information found that it was the specialty departments and item availability that distinguished Wegmans from the competition. However even back then, the survey noted an uptick in the use of online ordering across grocers.

Around the time of that survey, Wegmans began piloting its grocery delivery services, utilizing Instacart as a delivery partner.  Today the Wegmans website offers its Wegmans Unlimited Delivery service, which it describes at present as being a branded name for Instacart Express.

Digital transformation has become a major point of focus for the grocery world, with grocery chains of all sizes pursuing upgrades both to improve the e-/m-commerce experience and to facilitate new technologies that blur the line between digital and physical retail.

Some have gone even farther with how they’re leveraging customer-facing technology, as in the case of Stop & Shop. The Ahold Delhaize-owned chain has rolled out an in-store, googly-eyed robot named Marty to identify spills and alert store staff accordingly.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What separates a strong website from a weak one in the grocery channel in 2020? Will the kind of improvements Wegmans has made be essential to its ongoing success?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Wegmans spiffing up their website and mobile app allows them to bring their excellent brick-and-mortar image to the internet."
"Updating a website or app is far different than updating a store. It’s a fairly low-cost effort versus the rebuild of a store."
"Online grocery sales are on the rise. Wegmans, an excellent operator, is smart to ensure its digital experience is as strong as its in-store offerings and service levels."

Join the Discussion!

13 Comments on "Wegmans has a better website, but did it need one?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

Digital transformation has become a big deal in the grocery business. H-E-B recently refreshed their website as well. Ease of maneuvering, letting customers take advantage of digital offers, ordering ease, and the ability to create shopping lists are all important in customer acceptance. Wegmans’ website is clean and easy to use. This is a nice refresh for them.

Michael Terpkosh
BrainTrust

A strong website and mobile app for any retailer, including grocery channel retailers, must keep up with current technology, web-features and the latest functionality. Consumers have certain expectations for their internet experiences. Let’s call these HIGH EXPECTATIONS. As consumers browse across the internet their expectations are constantly changing and being raised by the coolest, most awesome functionality. Retailers need to keep up to maintain their internet relevance. Wegmans spiffing up their website and mobile app allows them to bring their excellent brick-and-mortar image to the internet.

Jeff Weidauer
BrainTrust

The new Wegmans website and mobile interface are nice upgrades, but it’s doubtful that they will have any significant impact on sales or loyalty. Wegmans’ popularity is due to its stores, the products, and the people. What we need are helpful tools, especially mobile-based, that reduce shopping barriers. Using my phone to make sure a product is in-stock, suggestions from the list-builder for things I typically buy, or a voice-powered interface, for example.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust
Suresh Chaganti
Co-Founder and Executive Partner, VectorScient
8 months 6 days ago

It is good that Wegmans continues to make investments in digital transformation. Whether it yields any tactical gains in 2020 is not as important. What matters is that they are ensuring that they continue to innovate, push the envelope and be prepared to take advantage of the inflection point in grocery delivery when it happens.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

Any website re-design runs a very high risk of redirecting too much money and focus into something which can have only minimal return. Certainly from what has been written, it sounds like the focused changes are useful. But are they strategically important enough for the investment?

All that said, there is also one major risk I’ll point out with a re-design. With an existing site which customers have figured out how to use (for better or worse), the new site must replicate all that works before it adds new things. Sounds easy — but it’s not. And we have plenty of examples of companies who became too distracted by website redevelopment.

I hope Wegmans made a good choice — they’re quite an interesting chain. And every retailer should approach website redesign with caution.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

You don’t have to be sick to feel better. Wegmans’ leadership in the brick-and-mortar space is now extending into the digital world. The key to leadership in this space is ease of use (user friendly, number of clicks), convenience (between store and online), transparency, personalization, and easy interaction (including retailer suggestions that fit me). Never bet against Wegmans!

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Online grocery sales are on the rise. Wegmans, an excellent operator, is smart to ensure its digital experience is as strong as its in-store offerings and service levels.

John Karolefski
BrainTrust

It’s always wise to enhance a website every now and then with better graphics and new ways for shoppers to interact. For Wegmans’ updated site, I especially liked the ability for customers to see digital coupons as they build their personalized shopping list.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I think we are looking at this the wrong way. Ongoing improvement is the path to ongoing success. Resting on your laurels is a sure formula for failure. Wegmans continues to improve everything it does, so why should its web efforts be an exception?

Brian Cluster
BrainTrust
Relevancy is a key for retailers today to ensure that they are among the select few retailers that customers today are thinking about as they plan their next trip/e-commerce purchase. In fact, a recent Deloitte study presented at NRF shared that relevancy was the number one determinant for consumers when picking a retailer, beating out price. And being relevant today means providing the right digital touchpoints for your customers to conveniently discover key products and services in your store in an app, on a website or through social media. Wegmans was wise to invest the time and financial resources on the website as it can be the starting point for many shoppers wanting to order online and pick up in-store. They have also simplified the purchasing effort for customers following a specific dietary goal by allowing customers to easily shop by attribute (Organic, Vegan, Family Pack, Gluten Free, etc). This is no easy task to maintain. It demonstrates their customer-centric approach as well as their ability to organize and master their data and use it… Read more »
Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

The digital refresh Wegmans has made to both their website and mobile app are strong updates that reinforce their brand and overall shopping experience. One of the main items I saw as lacking in the previous versions was that there had been a disjointed experience when it came to online (or mobile) ordering for delivery or pickup. What was once a fractured experience requiring either two apps or websites (with Instacart) is now delivered with a unified experience. This will make using pickup and delivery much easier and will certainly become a frequent occurrence in our household with this needed integration! Kudos to Wegmans for these enhancements, both sorely needed and demonstrating they will embrace digital experiences for their customers.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

All online retailers (even beyond grocery) must be easy to navigate and very intuitive. In the grocery business, when the technology “remembers” the customers based on purchase history is a must. Suggestions based on that history is also important. These feature are fairly standard today.

Updating a website or app is far different than updating a store. It’s a fairly low-cost effort versus the rebuild of a store. Furthermore, compared to brick-and-mortar stores, which have been around for centuries, websites have only been around since the 1990s, and apps are even younger. While websites are more mature when it comes to a good, intuitive and easy user experience, apps are still evolving.

In addition, the consumer is going back and forth between traditional retail and digital retail. Good retailers offer both experiences.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

The same thing as with a website in any channel: the ability to find what you want, with a minimum of effort (you’d think it would be simple by now, but I continue to be surprised by “what were they thinking?” moments when shopping online).

How much difference it will make is, of course, debatable. Normally with these kind of (presumably) marginal improvements, my comment is “worry about this when you have everything else right”…but many would argue that Wegmans has.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Wegmans spiffing up their website and mobile app allows them to bring their excellent brick-and-mortar image to the internet."
"Updating a website or app is far different than updating a store. It’s a fairly low-cost effort versus the rebuild of a store."
"Online grocery sales are on the rise. Wegmans, an excellent operator, is smart to ensure its digital experience is as strong as its in-store offerings and service levels."

Take Our Instant Poll

How likely is Wegmans to see an improvement in business thanks to its new website?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...