Trader Joe's Vice President of Marketing Matt Sloan and Marketing Director Tara Miller spilled some of the retailer's supply chain secrets during the latest episode of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast. Both Sloan and Miller took to the airwaves to explain key creative strategies the chain has been employing as of late, including the buying strategy that's getting it through this particular storm and whether or not it’s going into delivery after all.
“Our stores were already busy and already selling a lot of product, and to have, in some cases, that volume double…well, it just ground the support system to a halt,” Sloan explained. “If you have more truckloads than you can accept, things just get clogged up. And that’s what happened.”
In order to weather the intense grocery demand in the last couple of weeks, Trader Joe’s had to switch up its own buying strategy. This included buying up and selling products that fit the retailer’s current specifications, even those that didn’t have the traditional label on them.
“The buying team was calm and methodical and really looking at ‘what do we need’ and ‘how can we best fill that need.' And it turns out by looking in places other than the usual places,” Sloan noted.
Next on the podcast's agenda was grocery delivery, a metaphorical elephant in the room for Trader Joe's since it is one of the few grocery retailers that has not debuted its own service—despite consumer interest.
"Customers are asking if given current circumstances, we're planning on offering delivery or curbside pickup," Miller remarked. “We understand the impulse, and we know that some other retailers are offering these services. We also know those offerings don't always translate into positive results."
Both Miller and Sloan commented on the expensive nature of building an online grocery service and that this infrastructure takes away the need for people—which it would rather invest in.
"Creating an online shopping system for curbside pickup or the infrastructure for delivery—it's a massive undertaking," Sloan said. "It's something that takes months or years to plan, build, and implement, and it requires tremendous resources. [And] at Trader Joe's, the reality is that over the last couple of decades, we've invested those resources in our people rather than build an infrastructure that eliminates the need for people."
Will Trader Joe's ultimately join the online grocery delivery sector? And how will this bolster its relationship with suppliers? Deli Market News will continue to follow along with the latest grocery retail updates.