LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Super Markets has fine-tuned its charitable programs to create better efficiencies, enhance its image with shoppers and reduce labor costs.
In the past, Publix workers packed bags with three different sets of products that shoppers could buy. It would place each bag in a Food for Sharing bin near the store exit. Shoppers could purchase the bag they wanted and it would be sent to the food bank, said Maria Brous, spokesperson for Publix.
But once Publix discovered that the food banks had to break down the bags on their end, Publix decided to go another route. It now lets shoppers donate three dollar amounts — $4.79, $9.62 and $15.04 — at the checkout. The amount is added to their shopping order.
Once the charity drive is over, Publix totals the donations. Based on the amount collected, Publix sends food directly from the Publix distribution center to the charity.
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“When we’re ready to ship to the food banks, we send the preselected, prepaid products on pallets through our distribution center,” Brous said.
While Publix does not earn money from the donated goods, it benefits in other ways, said Jim Wisner, president, Wisner Marketing Group, Libertyville, Ill.
“Having a charity group on-site creates a sense of immediacy, inspiring impulse purchases, especially if the charity hands out a long list of suggestions for what shoppers should buy,” Wisner told SN.
If an event is promoted well throughout a community, supermarkets could effectively drive traffic to their stores that wouldn’t go there otherwise, said Wisner.
Chains should consider offering their private labels as part of food drives to increase exposure of the items, Wisner added.
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Publix joins other retailers that have revamped charitable-giving efforts. Orchard Market, Spring Lake, Mich., experienced an upswing in community goodwill when it opened its doors to a local food pantry last month. In this instance, two representatives from the pantry greeted shoppers near the front door and handed out lists of 17 items most needed by the organization.
The list included Jell-O, popcorn, creamed soups, deodorant, toothbrushes and other shelf-stable products. The total register ring for all items amounted to about $58.
While the primary point of this particular brand of philanthropy is not retail profit, retailers shouldn’t feel guilty if it’s a by-product of the campaign, said Bill Bishop, president of Willard Bishop, Barrington, Ill.
“They should be aware of the fact that while such programs benefit those in need, they are also sales generators,” said Bishop.
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