Do you recall the first time you came across Sprouts?
It was when I met the founders, Stan and Shon Boney. I met them in Austin
and we walked the store together. Stan in many ways reminded me of my
grandfather, talking about being a merchant and very business-minded.
Walking the backrooms, I said to Shon, “There’s not a lot of inventory back
here.” And Stan, from the corner, says, “Can’t sell it if it’s in the stockroom.’”
What are the things you feel Sprouts can still do better?
The things the company excels at are health, value and customer service.
And I would also say we excel at carrying di;erent kinds of products—not
just the large natural and organic brands, but also our own unique brands,
and private label. We spend a lot of time and intentional energy on new
brands, local brands and emerging brands.
In our journey over the last two years, we’ve developed a terrific suite
of products in the deli area and in meat and seafood, and we’re ready
now to take the next leap into really merchandising those areas in a more
experiential way that customers want to see.
Can you discuss the importance of buying relationships?
It all starts with produce. We’re one of the few food retailers out there whose
relationships go straight to the growers. We don’t do a lot of middleman
buying. We have a number of accounts out there where I’m talking to the
grandfather, President Jim Nielsen is talking to the father, and our produce
buyers are talking to the grandkids. That’s what allows us to bring the
freshest product to the stores. Our goal is to go from farm to store in 48
to 72 hours. That’s a point of di;erence, being able to do that as quickly as
we do. We sell two to three times more produce than some conventional
retailers. That allows us to move a lot of product and keep it at ambient
temperature, so the freshness is very di;erent.
Just as CPG brands are tra;c drivers for conventional stores, our tra;c
drivers are produce, meat, nuts and trail mixes. That’s what we are.
In a recent conference, when asked how Sprouts does what it does,
you said something to the e;ect of “look at Chick-fil-A.” The message I
got was, “It’s harder than it looks.” Can you elaborate?
Successful brands today are very intentional about what they do. One of
my favorite examples is Geico, which does a few things really well that
rigorous training and continued education
to help customers with their speci;c needs,”
Elevating Engagement With the enormous changes taking place in the industry, Sprouts is focus- ing heavily on having a strong mix of digital capabilities, both in-store and online, according to CMO Shawn Gensch. Having recently refreshed its
website and mobile app with new features
that allow its suppliers to engage with shoppers before they visit a store, other digital
features include educational articles, brand
pro;iles, recipes and discounts. A key element of Sprouts’ updated website and mobile
app is personalized content based on lifestyle
and shopping/dietary preferences, which
enables users to ;nd exclusive mobile coupons, unique sale items relative to customers’ home store and promotional challenges
to unlock special rewards.
“We know service is the foundation of
customer engagement, so we continue to
integrate digital strategies into our unique
shopping experience so that customers can
engage with our brand whenever and how-
ever they want,” says CMO Shawn Gensch.
“We understand healthy living is a journey
and want to be there for our guests wherever
they are on their path. Digital is crucial to
Sprouts’ grocery delivery partnership with
Instacart allows customers to choose from
more than ;;,;;; products throughout
the store for delivery in as little as an hour,
or for later in the week to ;t their schedule.
“Home delivery will continue to be a huge
opportunity for Sprouts and our supply chain
Sprouts’ Distribution Network
Sprouts uses KeHE and UNFI to distribute
packaged groceries and self-distributes
fresh items from its distribution centers
in California, Arizona, Texas and Georgia.
The retailer’s decentralized produce-buying
strategy utilizes regional buying teams
to source product from a variety of local,
regional, national and international suppliers,
which gives it tremendous flexibility and
scalability as it grows to consistently
deliver the best product at the best
possible prices every day.
Associates gather to
applaud the Sarasota,
Fla., store’s first customer
at its opening last year.