David Shapira has helped many residents of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia navigate a difficult recession. As chief executive officer of the Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, Shapira oversees a team that has continued to develop creative new programs that save shoppers money and keep them coming back to the company’s 242 locations.
For example, in September 2009, Giant Eagle announced that it would make 10 common generic prescription antibiotics free at all of its pharmacy locations. Later that month, they slashed prices on more than 100 popular fruits and vegetables by an average of 23%, as part of an ongoing price-reduction initiative.
To publicize these new programs and lower prices, the company sends out its “Giant Eagle Savings Squad,” a group that talks directly to the company’s shoppers about ways to maximize their household budgets. Tips range from ways to save fuel by properly maintaining your car, to using weekly specials in Giant Eagle circulars as a starting point for planning meals.
And, the deals do abound when those shoppers participate in the company’s innovative loyalty programs. Shoppers who purchase gasoline at a Giant Eagle GetGo convenience store, for example, can save up to 20% on groceries purchased at Giant Eagle supermarkets using the company’s foodperks! program. The new program was launched as a spinoff of the company’s already popular fuelperks! program in November 2008.
During the past 18 months, Giant Eagle has been slowly rolling it out to new locations, most recently to stores in northeastern Ohio prior to Memorial Day.
Shapira and company were also right on the mark with the launch of Valu King, a new, private-label-focused discount format. Two of the first three locations — opened between December 2008 and December 2009 — turned a profit immediately.
Although the third store, in Norwalk, Ohio was closed after only half a year in operation, one of the other locations in Eastlake, Ohio, has proven so popular with locals that the company recently announced plans to double the store’s square footage.
“It’s a shame that the economy has been so bad, but on the bright side it seemed that it was perfect timing to introduce something that customers needed,” Jeff Galmarini, a Giant Eagle vice president who helped created the concept, told SN in an earlier interview.
The company has said that it has been able to offer shoppers these significant price reductions and special deals because of its long-term focus on becoming more operationally efficient — a goal that Giant Eagle has achieved partly through the use of technology.
In May, for example, Giant Eagle completed the rollout of a store-specific endcap optimization system, which takes in point-of-sale data, store-specific demand forecasts for individual items, pack-outs of cases, store-specific endcap dimensions and other data, and generates planograms tailored to each individual store. It has reportedly increased endcap sales by up to 18% and margins up to 5%, while reducing labor and replenishments costs up to 10%.