- Market Basket, the 79-store Northeastern chain known for low prices and customer service, has finally launched a website, according to Winsight Grocery Business. The company also now has social media accounts through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- The new website features store locations, company history, online circulars, a shopping list tool and a page where customers can sign up for weekly sales and other notifications.
- Market Basket’s director of operations David McLean told Grocery Business the company developed the website due to customer demand. He said the site allowed recently allowed Market Basket to promote a seafood special that would have been difficult to advertise under its traditional print flyer schedule.
At a time when online shopping and digital spending have become top priorities for grocers, it’s hard to believe there’s a competitor out there that just recently came online. As the Boston Globe recently wrote about the news: "Welcome to 1997."
But for years, Market Basket proved it didn’t need a website to succeed. It typically has the lowest prices in each market it serves, and differentiates itself with a decidedly throwback style of retailing, complete with tie-wearing employees and checkered tan flooring straight out of the ‘70s.
Market Basket is also “maniacal” about keeping operating costs down, according to Mike Berner, a former company employee and now an economist based in Boston. A website was always considered an unnecessary expense, he said, and as a New England institution that thrived on driving customers to its stores en masse, it didn’t need to exist in the digital space.
“Market Basket is something that people around here grow up with,” Berner, who worked for the company for several years during his high school and college years, recently told Food Dive. “Because it’s a regional chain, they’re not trying to get everyone else in the country to know about them.”
In the absence of a company-run site, a few Market Basket super fans filled the void, including Michael Devaney, who began posting store circulars on mydemoulas.net several years ago. According to a 2014 profile, he got around 1.2 million unique page views per month.
Operations head David McLean told Grocery Business that Market Basket’s website and social media launches reflect customer demand. It probably also reflects intense competition in the Northeast, where Walmart, Whole Foods, Ahold Delhaize banners Stop & Shop and Hannaford and various regional chains are all vying for shopper dollars.
Market Basket’s enviable customer loyalty will continue to draw shoppers to its stores in droves. But the company may need to expand into online shopping in the near future, particularly as Walmart expands its store-pickup platform and Amazon extends its reach through its Whole Foods locations. Just don’t expect Market Basket to rush into the arrangement.