How Weis Markets courts today’s connected consumer

At the Groceryshop conference in Las Vegas, Weis Markets' Ron Bonacci discussed the U.S. chain's strategies for remaining relevant in the Amazon age


It may be 106 years old, but Weis Markets in the U.S. has all the makings of a modern grocery store chain.

In its efforts to court today’s connected consumer, the mid-Atlantic food retailer has adopted digital tools to offer personalized and relevant in-store experiences.

From mobile advertising and wifi-enabled stores to home delivery and curbside pickup, Weis Markets is well equipped to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience, according to Ron Bonacci, Weis Markets’ vice-president of marketing and advertising. He discussed the chain’s technology-driven efforts during a question and answer session at Groceryshop in Las Vegas Monday afternoon.

Led by Theory House president Jim Cusson, here’s an edited version of the conversation.

With Walmart’s push into grocery, the Amazon-Whole Foods merger and consolidation in general, how do you compete in this remarkably challenging time?

I truly believe you’ve got to be relevant. You’ve got to know the community you serve. You have to be in the community and be part of that community. That’s something that Amazon is not going to give you. Yes, they can get personalization in terms of your overall behaviour, maybe characteristics of your life stage and lifestyle, but they’re not going to get down into the weeds.

And we make sure that we personalize the e-commerce experience to make sure it’s really positive, and if it’s not, we survey every customer to make sure that we propel that to a positive experience.

How do you maintain relationships with consumers when services such as grocery delivery diminish that face-to-face interaction?

We make sure there’s a personal touch in all we do. With curbside pickup, we leave a thank you note in the order from the personal shopper. [The personal shopper] leaves a cellphone number to make sure everything is done in a positive fashion. We also want to make sure if they have other needs that we’re there for them.

What technology will change the grocery game going forward?

I think data will continue to drive a lot of insights. You can’t ignore it today in all the aspects of relationships to technology advancement. I think it will play a role in how consumers evaluate the products and services they’re looking for.

I think health and wellness is going to be the next step, and helping consumers build a better life. We have seven nutritionists on staff and offer advice so consumers can make the best decision of what they’re putting in their body.