Giant Eagle is a supermarket chain with over 400 stores in the U.S. states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Maryland. The company was founded in 1918 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Giant Eagle banners include, GetGo Gas Stations, Market District, Giant Eagle Express, Good Cents and Market District Express.
Giant Eagle, a privately held retail grocery store chain, with 417 groceries and 168 fuel/convenience stores operating under the GetGO banner serving 4 states invited Arrow to be a participant as they began the process of looking to improve their direct sale purchase program for the supply of uniforms and outerwear for all GE employees. Their goal was to modernize and improve their corporate image and better showcase their brand but they also wanted to improve the process and, of course reduce cost.
Their current look was stodgy and lacked imagination and they felt their choices were limited to only what was available in the general uniform catalogues being shown them by their current supplier. Also, orders were taking too long from placement to delivery and lack of accountability was causing issues as to what products were delivered, when they were delivered and and in what quantities. Billing was a major issue as quantities of products ordered were delivered to individual stores while invoices where delivered to corporate offices without a simple and efficient way to determine proof of delivery and and match invoices with product delivered.
In addition the current supplier had no leadership team dedicated to meeting and working with Giant Eagle at the corporate level on process improvement, cost control and innovation. It appeared as though the only contact, other than ordering as needed from the supplier’s catalogue via phone or email, was with the Route Sales Reps who were servicing the rental program at the local level weekly. Finally, there was also a huge uniform and textile rental program at each store. While the rental program was never mentioned as part of the focus for the GE buying team it became apparent that there were similar issues in play creating additional opportunity to help them improve both programs and in doing so reduce cost.
While other vendors were trying to spin their general catalogue items the Arrow team came to the table offering GE the opportunity to work as partners in the design of their own custom shirt and their own custom outwear.
This allowed the GE team to be directly involved in selecting not only the look but the colors, fabric and brand name placement in order to end up with a finished product that gave them the comfort, cost and attractive new appearance they were going for. This was huge for them in that all they were seeing from others was different variations of very standard looking products with no chance to offer input or to add or subtract features to suit their needs.
Once a shirt and a fleece jacket were decided on Arrow would be able to use its expertise and buying power to order and hold enough inventory to provide each GE employee with the required number of new uniforms. Also, being able to embroider all garments with the GE brand logo as part of the manufacturing process allowed us to reduce processing cost and meet delivery timelines that were tied to a couple of other policy roll outs they were implementing related to new employee dress and personal appearance guidelines.
As part of the new program roll out Arrow put together a designated “program management team” not only to insure the implementation was successful but to permanently work with GE leadership on process improvement and communication. Each GE location was provided a password protected “snap-site” for web based ordering to improve the ordering process of the past and improve accountability. A regularly quarterly business review (QBR) was also set up as part of an ongoing process improvement and communication initiative. Another element here was to open the Arrow/GE “800 Hotline” to allow any leader or associate to contact Arrow directly to get questions answered, inquire about an order or add additional services.
And finally, by offering solutions that ultimately got GE to include the rental service to all stores as part of the new vendor selection, Arrow was able to offer direct sale delivery though our Route Sales Reps who would be in each store weekly servicing the rental uniforms and related products. This allowed us to hand deliver their direct purchase orders within one week of their order entry vastly improving delivery times, distribution efficiency and greatly reducing cost for GE.
Feedback from Giant Eagle has been extremely positive. This was a tremendous undertaking for them and they are very pleased with the way we went about working with them on the design and then followed through on implementation and execution. Employees love the New Image and appreciate the the look, comfort, and fit of their new new garments. The ordering process has been greatly improved yet simplified. Orders are placed easily, product is received faster and time spent and costs are reduced as a result. There are multiple outlets for communication at all levels that are used regularly and working well.
Quarterly Business Reviews allow for interaction and input at top levels in an efficient and professional setting. The addition of the uniform rental program at all of the GE retail locations has been an added bonus not only for Arrow but for our partner as well. Surveys show service has improved greatly over the previous supplier. Costs for their rental program have dropped 30% not including the corporate savings related to the route delivery of the Direct Purchase uniforms by Arrow’s service employees.
Arrow is perceived and treated as a valuable resource and partner and we are regularly consulted and asked for input on new products, store openings and new concepts. As a result of our partnership and the positive outcomes delivered it is proud to note that the the Giant Eagle purchasing team and vendor selection group was honored and awarded an internal commendation for their selection of Arrow Uniform.
What more is there to say? We are proud to offer and deliver real working solutions and look forwarded to continuing our relationship with Giant Eagle for years to come.