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COVID hasn’t stopped innovation at Hy-Vee

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The essential nature of the services that Hy-Vee provides in eight Midwestern states was brought into sharp focus by COVID-19. The company deserves high marks for quickly and effectively adapting operations to ensure that customers continued to have access to food, medicine and other basics throughout the pandemic. The necessity of dealing with the formidable challenges involved in that effort hasn’t, however, prevented Hy-Vee from innovating.

In just the past few weeks, the company has moved to expand its offerings, improve access to health care and highlight the impact nutrition has on a person’s well-being. Hy-Vee teamed up with online retailer Pair Eyewear at the beginning of September to bring kiosks to selected locations (the first of the units is in the just-opened Hy-Vee in Grimes, Iowa) that enable shoppers to try on frames and place orders for prescription and nonprescription glasses. Pair Eyewear fulfills the orders and ships them directly to the customer.

Hy-Vee is continuing to develop formats that complement its supermarkets, unveiling plans for Wall to Wall Wine and Spirits. The new division will operate stand-alone stores that feature a compelling assortment of wine, beer and spirits, along with nonalcoholic beverages and some food. The first four Wall to Wall Wine and Spirits stores are slated to debut in West Des Moines, Iowa, where Hy-Vee is headquartered, and three cities in Nebraska.

“At Hy-Vee, we focus on the evolving lifestyles of our customers,” Randy Edeker, the company’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said when he announced the new format in August.

The commitment to stay in sync with the needs of the communities where it operates also drives Hy-Vee’s service offerings. The company has, for example, recently held immunization clinics — for both coronavirus and influenza — at such major events as the South Dakota State Fair and the University of Iowa football team’s season opener, as well as sponsoring special drive-thru clinics for immunocompromised individuals seeking a third dose of the COVID vaccine.

Hy-Vee’s nutritionists are also making a difference in people’s lives. This month dietitians are providing 1,000 free biometric screenings, helping identify risk factors for such conditions as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. The retailer is also offering a free yearlong program for schools designed to encourage students to adopt a healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition and fitness.

All of which makes it clear that Hy-Vee is not content to rest on its laurels. The propensity to innovate that it has shown should give the company an edge as consumer behavior evolves.


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