- BJ's Wholesale Club is opening two new locations in New York, one in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City and the other in Newburgh, according to a press release. The stores, due to open in early 2021, will mark the company’s 220th and 221st locations. The Newburgh store will feature a gas station.
BJ's has also appointed Monica Schwartz as senior vice president and chief digital officer, the company said in a separate announcement. Schwartz, whose role will begin Aug. 3, will be responsible for the strategic leadership of the company’s digital business. Schwartz will report to President and CEO Lee Delaney.
Schwartz came from Home Depot, where she held the role of vice president of online merchandising and was responsible for leading the company’s online merchandising efforts.
BJ's is working to expand and promote its grocery business through not only its physical presence but also its digital one. The announcement about its store expansion heavily promoted the savings it offers on groceries as well as its fresh food options and e-commerce offerings.
Over the last few years, BJ's has been focused on improving its grocery offerings. In 2018, BJ's began offering more perishable goods and fresh products in an effort to boost in-store traffic. In 2019, it also launched five new private label wines, and its Wellsley Farms line has remained a pillar of the company. Groceries accounted for 85% of the retailer’s first-quarter merchandise sales, Delaney said during a May 21 conference call announcing the results. Comparable-store growth rose 33% during the quarter as the pandemic began, according to the company.
The pandemic also had an impact on BJ's e-commerce demand, and the company's decision to bring on Schwartz, who played a role in developing Home Depot into one of the top ten retailers in the country, reflects BJ's commitment to its digital operations. In the past few years, BJ’s has introduced an improved website, digital coupons and same-day delivery. In the first quarter of 2020, the company began testing curbside pickup and started allowing customers to pick up perishables ordered online in select stores.
“We remain committed to scaling our digital business and launching new offerings that deliver convenience and delight our members," Delaney said in a statement. “We’re thrilled Monica is joining the team. Her extensive knowledge, experience and diverse background will be instrumental as we continue to accelerate our digital priorities and transform BJ’s Wholesale Club.”
But as BJ’s works to catch up to competitors’ digital and grocery offerings, its competitors continue to speed ahead. In June, Sam’s Club rolled out curbside pickup to all its locations across the U.S. and in 2019, the retailer began testing faster Scan & Go technology and added the ability to purchase alcohol through its Scan & Go app. The same year, it expanded its same-day delivery to all its stores through Instacart.
While BJ’s could pass Costco in terms of e-commerce offerings, Costco is still the crowd favorite. In particular, Costco’s popular private label line, Kirkland Signature, has shoppers locked in, posing a challenge for BJ’s.