Publix will introduce a complementary valet service at stores throughout Tampa Bay, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal. The service is already available at select stores in Palm Beach and Boca Raton but the company is preparing to expand it even more.
The Lakeland, Florida-based grocer with a cult-like following is known for its Southern hospitality. This is one way the store tries to make shopping as easy as possible, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported.
The company is awaiting approval and go-live dates for valet parking at other locations, Publix spokesperson Brian West told the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
Publix, well known for its customer service, cleanliness and neatly arranged shelves, strives to go above and beyond in its efforts to make shoppers happy. Publix employees greet customers as they walk in the door and assist them in carrying bags, with a strict "no tipping" policy. In a 2017 survey, Publix received the highest customer experience rating of any business across 20 industrues.
The sudden need to grow this initiative likely came from increased competition in Florida from other grocery chains like Walmart, Lidl, Sprouts, Lucky's and Earth Fare. Publix is doing everything it can to keep customers on its home turf satisfied and preserve their loyalty.
Earlier this year, the grocer announced a $1.5 billion expansion plan, building new stores in the Mid-Atlantic and remodeling existing ones. Publix has always had steady organic growth without acquiring other retailers, focusing its growth on its home state of Florida. The first Publix store outside of the Sunshine State opened 61 years after the retailer was founded, a 1991 location in Savannah, Georgia.
Publix is expanding its valet parking program as another enticement for convenience-seeking customers to shop there over other grocery or convenience stores. Valet parking makes the process less of a hassle and more enjoyable, creating a more efficient grocery trip for consumers and exemplifying the company’s customer service mission. Valet parking service also bookends the shopping experience, being the first and last thing the consumer experiences and making the service more memorable.
Publix's valet service is unique in the grocery industry. It's likely to attract millennials hungry for grocery experiences, as well as older shoppers who don't want to walk far. It is also handicap and expecting mother friendly.
While the new service makes it more convenient for shoppers who want to use the brick-and-mortar store, the 87-year-old grocer has stayed up-to-date with e-commerce trends that serve consumers wanting to spend more time elsewhere. It offers grocery delivery via Instacart and plans to have same-day delivery available at all stores through the platform by 2020. It has a variety of meal kits — including "dinner kits" and slow-cooker kits — and curbside pickup for online grocery orders.