If any U.S. retail company understands the importance of selling not just its product, but also the experience of consuming that product in its stores, that company is Starbucks. The Seattle-based king of coffee excels at hiring friendly, motivated and upbeat sales people to help create the relaxed, refuge-from-the-world atmosphere that sets Starbucks apart and keeps customers coming back.
How does Dollar General maintain a consistent quality presentation and high standards for product display, merchandising execution, customer service and store appearance across thousands of locations throughout the United States?
Dollar General employs sophisticated data analytics to gauge item movement, consumer demand and customer segmentation store by store. But beyond that, said Larry Gatta, general merchandise manager, “we go through a category review of every planogram” in the store on an annual basis.
Most of the products and brands sold in a Dollar General store can be found in any number of competing drug, supermarket, club and mass merchandise stores. So what draws millions of loyal customers back to its more than 11,500 locations every day?
With their arrival in early 2008, the new leaders of Dollar General began a massive but methodical transformation of the chain’s critical merchandising and marketing functions. The goal: to tighten up and rationalize a store presentation and product mix that had drifted and lost focus, while boosting turns, shelf productivity and profitability.
In September, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation awarded nearly $4 million to fund youth literacy and education programs at more than 800 schools, nonprofits and literacy organizations across the United States, supporting the company’s mission of “Serving Others.”
When Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts approached the much-heralded chain drug store and supermarket veteran Rick Dreiling to run Dollar General some seven years ago, the move signaled the investment firm’s determination to return its huge but somewhat floundering retail holding to fiscal health and public ownership as quickly as possible.
What retail chain has more stores than any other U.S. company, with plans to open an astonishing 700 new locations this year alone, while approaching $20 billion in revenue and maintaining sales and profit momentum? It’s Dollar General, the storied Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based small-box discount giant celebrating its 75th year in business in 2014.