H-E-B said Thursday that it has launched a new online store offering 50,000 nonperishable items available for purchase and shipping at its heb.com website.
The offerings include popular private brands like Central Market Organics and Café Ole Taste of Texas Coffees, the San Antonio-based retailer said.
The site also features a selection of “Totally Texas” items that were previously unavailable outside of the state — an offering the retailer said would provide gift ideas and a taste of home for Texans livings anywhere in U.S. except for California, Hawaii and Alaska, and in US. military bases overseas.
“We’ve been receiving calls for decades from Texans around the country that miss their favorite foods from home like H‑E‑B Texas‑Shaped Corn Tortilla Chips and H‑E‑B Café Ole Taste of Texas Coffees,” Martin Otto, chief merchant and CFO of H‑E‑B, said. “Now, even if you move outside of Texas, you’ll still have a ‘neighborhood H‑E‑B’ just a click away.”
The “Totally Texas” page includes products made in Texas or inspired by Texans like Whataburger Whatafries and Spicy Ketchup, Franklin Barbecue Sauce made in Austin, H‑E‑B chips, sodas, salsas and more. HEB.com will also offer a broad assortment of general merchandise items, including the popular Mexican‑inspired Cocinaware cookware line made exclusively for H‑E‑B.
Shipping fees vary and average $5 to $10 per order, the company said. Some products require a minimum order quantity, but all products are priced at the same prices shoppers can find in‑store. H‑E‑B said it will offer a “no hassle” return policy for online orders, allowing shoppers to return any product ordered online to any H‑E‑B store anywhere for an full refund. Products can also be sent back using free shipping.
A shifting focus toward smaller retail formats and the strong U.S. dollar influenced Planet Retail’s list of the Top 25 Global Retailers, on which Walmart, Costco and Carrefour took the top three spots, respectively.
The ranking is based on 2015 sales in U.S. dollars, which Planet Retail has forecast for the year while taking into account historic performance, store opening projections (which are reflected in store counts provided) and an estimated comparable store growth rate.
With a projected $527.8 billion in sales, Wal-Mart Stores bests all other international retailers by a wide margin, according to Planet Retail.
“Walmart remains by far the leading player but will not rest on its laurels,” noted Robert Gregory, head of advisory for London-based Planet Retail. “In fact, there are a number of key strategic initiatives it is pursuing at home and abroad.”
These include restoring performance in some faltering international markets and focusing on e-commerce around the world.
“Walmart was initially slow to embrace e-commerce, but is making up ground fast with global e-commerce sales growing at more than 20% per annum,” Gregory said.
While the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer has online operations in most countries in which it operates, its key markets for digital sales are the U.S., U.K., Brazil and China, according to Gregory. Walmart considers Asda in the U.K. and Yihaodian in China to be best-in-class for e-commerce, he said.
No. 2 retailer, Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Wholesale Corp., with a projected $127.9 billion in sales, has about 70% of its 687 outlets in the U.S., according to Gregory who said it is scheduled to open 24 new stores by fiscal year 2015.
“While the growth of ancillary businesses and an expanded service offering should boost domestic sales, international club expansion will drive new member growth, which will propel a stronger bottom line,” he said. “The first store in France is scheduled for 2016, following on from entry into Spain in 2014.”
French retailer Carrefour is No. 3, with $119.8 billion in sales when converted to U.S. dollars, and 12,965 outlets.
Gregory noted that despite increasing sales in their local currency, many European and Japanese retailers declined their ranking on the list due to currency exchange rates to the U.S. dollar.
Kroger, with $116.4 billion in sales and 3,750 stores takes the No. 4 spot, followed by Tesco.
The U.K.-based retailer is coming off a “nightmare year, rocked by leadership changes, the accountancy scandal, negative like-for-like sales and a record loss,” according to Gregory. “Further disposals are likely [such as Dunnhumby] and international markets such as South Korea, as it looks to rebuild its balance sheet and generate funds to invest in the U.K.”
While the outlook for Tesco and its 7,990 stores isn’t all doom and gloom, it still has a fair amount of challenges ahead.
“Tesco is currently on a journey and recent trading has actually improved and it is actually performing stronger than rivals such as Walmart’s Asda,” added Gregory. “However, it will be a long journey and with like-for-likes at its hypermarkets continuing to decline and with store openings being scaled back, Tesco is likely to fall further down the global ranking in the coming years.”
7-Eleven parent Seven & I, is the No. 6 retailer with $101.4 billion in sales across 38,009 outlets which include its retail banners and itsofferings such as department stores.
It’s followed in the ranking by Lidl parent, Schwarz Group, with $99.7 billion in sales. Earlier this summer, Lidl confirmed plans to expand beyond Europe for the first time, to the U.S., but these stores are not expected to open in the near-term and therefore did not factor into Planet Retail’s projections. Schwarz Group has also announced market entries in Serbia (Kaufland, Lidl) and Lithuania (Lidl), according to Gregory.
With $96.2 billion in sales, U.S.-based Walgreens Boots Alliance is ranked No. 8. Its position was boosted by Walgreen’s acquisition of the remaining 55% of Alliance Boots that it did not own, to form the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise and the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the world.
Japanese retailer Aeon is No. 9 on the list with $92.1 billion in sales and 19,171 total outlets. And rounding out the top 10 is Aldi, which, according to Gregory, is among the retailers who’ve slipped down the ranking due to an unfavorable EUR-to-USD exchange rate.
Aldi’s expansion plans include new stores in a range of markets including some in Western and Southern Australia and West Coast and Southern California stores in the U.S. In addition to acquiring the Bottom Dollar chain from Delhaize, it hopes to more than double its stores in the U.K. by 2022, according to Gregory.
Minneapolis-based Target Corp., No. 11 on the list, “will accelerate small-box and urban expansion, via TargetExpress and to a lesser extent CityTarget,” said Gregory. “After having opened its first TargetExpress location last summer in its home market of Minneapolis, Target is set to open eight additional locations in 2015, more than half of its total planned store openings for the year.”
With $79.9 billion in sales, France-based Auchan is the 12th ranked retailer, followed by Metro Group (No. 13) with $77.9 billion in sales.
No. 14 on the list, CVS, with $70.5 billion in sales and 7,923 stores will continue to expand organically as well as benefit from the store-within-a-store concept that will result from its purchase of Target’s 1,660 in-store pharmacies and 80 in-store clinics, Gregory said.
“A clear trend amongst all players on the ranking is the shifting focus towards smaller formats,” he told SN. “Even the likes of Walmart are trying to decrease the proportion of sales from big-box stores as they look to embrace smaller formats, such as Walmart to Go and Walmart on Campus.
“In addition, investing in stores to make them a more integral part of the online shopping experience has become a priority with all leading players introducing click and collect facilities across their store networks. Clearly, this will be part of their attempts to reinvent the weak performing big-box stores, as well as measures such as improved service, greater use of in-store technology and trying to cater to the mobile shopper in the stores.”
Other notable retailers on the list include No. 19 Albertsons, with $56.8 billion in sales, whose ranking was boosted as a result of its merger with Safeway, and No. 22 Ahold, whose $46.7 billion sales projection does not include its forthcoming merger with Delhaize, according to Gregory.
Reader score: 83
Location: Iowa, Neb., Ill., Minn.
Year founded: 1983
This Midwest chain received top scores in service and price satisfaction and above-average scores on cleanliness and perishables. Earlier this year, the company named a new CEO: Reynolds Cramer, who started out as a stock boy on the supermarket floor at age 16.
Reader score: 83
Location: Calif. and Nev.
Year founded: 1934
This family-owned chain received the top score on cleanliness and perishables, an above-average score on service, and a below-average score on price satisfaction. Current CEO Michael Teel is the grandson of the Raley’s founder; he ran the company from 1996 to 2002 and returned to the helm in 2010 in an effort to keep the company private.
Reader score: 83
Location: N.H., Mass., Maine
Year founded: 1962
This New England-based, family-owned discount grocer competes hard for price-conscious shoppers. In January it announced a 4 percent year-long discount for customers.
Reader score: 84
Location: Ariz., Calif., Colo., Nev., N.M., Okla., Texas, Utah, and Kan.
Year founded: 2001
A newcomer to the list this year, Sprouts Farmers Market (SFM) specializes in fresh and whole-grain foods. With more than 170 stores and 1,400 team members, the chain went public last August; shares have fallen about 20 percent since its market debut.
Reader score: 84
Year founded: 1983
The warehouse chain received the top score in price and perishables, an above-average score for cleanliness, and a neutral score for customer service. Of course, Costco’s (COST) model minimizes service and quick cashiers in exchange for the deals it can offer customers on a daily basis.
Reader score: 85
Location: Fla., Ala., Ga., N.C., S.C., and Tenn.
Year founded: 1930
The largest employee-owned supermarket in the United States, Publix is also the most profitable. The chain was the only grocer to appear on J.D. Power’s list of 2014 Customer Champions, which recognizes outstanding customer service.
Reader score: 87
Year founded: 1967
This offbeat supermarket chain, which features a limited assortment of goods and specializes in store brands and unusual foods, has gained a rabid fan base. Its Hawaiian shirt-clad workers cater primarily to gourmands and high-end shoppers.
Reader score: 88
Location: N.Y., N.J., Pa., Md., Mass., and Va.
Year founded: 1916
Wegmans received the highest possible ranking on perishables, service, and cleanliness, and the second-highest ranking for prices. Wegmans has been recognized not only for taking care of its customers, but also for taking care of its employees: The chain ranked fifth on Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.
The supermarket as we know it is changing. A wave of consolidations is sweeping the industry, and the largest chains are changing focus as they face increasing competition from more niche stores. Online-only competitors like Amazon (AMZN) Fresh and FreshDirect are also gaining market share.
The changes could be good news for consumers, many of whom have qualms about the current in-store shopping experience. A survey of more than 27,000 subscribers in the May issue of Consumer Reports finds that although most consumers are satisfied overall, more than half had at least one complaint about their current store. Almost a third of customers had two or more problems with their grocer.
The survey revealed that a few stores are doing a great job of satisfying their customers. The magazine graded 55 major chains based on the consumer survey and found that east-coast chain Wegmans ranked the best, with a score of 88 out of 100 possible points.
At the other end of the list, retail behemoth Wal-Mart (WMT) scored the worst, receiving a paltry 67.
Consumers are becoming far less loyal to their supermarkets and are increasingly willing to visit more than one store, picking up the basics at one supermarket, traveling to another for ethnic or gourmet foods, and filling out the rest of their needs with online shipments.
Reader score: 81
Location: Texas, northern Mexico
Year founded: 1905
H-E-B appeals to the Texas pride of its customers, with private labels often referencing the Lone Star State and “Hill Country Fare.” The chain received above-average rankings on all categories on the survey.
Reader score: 81
Location: N.C., S.C., Va., Ga., Tenn., Fla., Md., Del., and D.C.
Year founded: 1939
In January, supermarket giant Kroger (KR) finalized its purchase of this southeastern chain for $2.5 billion. The combined company will operate more than 2,600 stores and employ more than 368,000 workers.
H-E-B has expanded its co-branded Whataburger line with the addition of salt-and-pepper seasoned Whatafries.
Whatafries, a potato chip version of the french fry, launched in H-E-B stores in original flavor last spring. The latest flavor launched Jan. 31.
“We continue to receive overwhelming customer support for our Whataburger line of products,” Reade Ahrens, H-E-B’s group VP of grocery procurement and merchandising, said in a statement. “We want to provide Texans with the products and brands they love, and our goal is to continue introducing new and unique items our customers will enjoy.”
As reported, H-E-B partnered with the San Antonio–based hamburger chain last year to sell Whataburger’s ketchup varieties: Fancy Ketchup and Spicy Ketchup, in 20-ounce bottles, and its Original Mustard in 16-ounce bottles.
Whatafries are available in 7.4-ounce bags.