For this study, I visited twenty Sprouts Farmers Market locations across the Phoenix-metro area to determine the company’s in-store strategy to make their locations a destination that customers pleasantly anticipate visiting. As a business student myself and a Sprouts employee, I have familiarity with the company and desired to learn more about why Sprouts stores are so appealing and fun to visit. My method was to determine a representative sample of stores in the “Valley” to visit. At each location, I requested to speak with a manager and asked him or her four questions about that particular store. I also spent approximately forty minutes examining each location and observing details about each store according to a precomposed list of things to particularly notice but with room to add details regarding each store’s unique elements and commonalities with the other locations. The results of this study were rewarding, as at nineteen of the twenty stores I was able to speak with a manager who graciously answered my questions. I collected much data from these interviews and from my own observations. The most significant conclusion I reached was that Sprouts Farmers Market promotes health, natural-eating, freshness, and friendliness in every area. From pleasant employees to natural lighting to unique brands, Sprouts endeavors to carry products that meet the special dietary needs of each customer no matter how general or specific they may be. Another key discovery I made is that the entire company and each individual store revolves around the produce department. Because this is the core of the business, extra measures are taken to promote it, such as frequent produce deliveries to ensure fresh products are on the shelf, extra lighting in that part of the store, and frequent stocking and sweeping to keep the area full and clean. Additionally, the produce department has ample signage denoting organic and local products and information signs about how to consume various produce items, including information to learn about the farmers who grew the goods. Beyond these key elements of Sprouts Farmers Market, an intangible element exists which sets Sprouts apart from its competitors, and that is the personal touch. Sprouts’ employees are friendly, welcoming, and helpful. They are encouraged to ask customers if they need assistance and to inquire how their day is going. The employees are also educated on the products they sell as well as various dietary trends so that they can help shoppers find products that fit their needs. This warmth, helpfulness, and friendliness trickles down from the top management at each store and is communicated to the customers through their interactions with the employees. This personal touch is so important to Sprouts Farmers Market that the company even has a program to encourage employee helpfulness. It is called the “Yes” Program, and essentially empowers employees and managers to authorize price adjustments, exchanges, returns, and the like to assist and serve shoppers with exceptional customer service and provide whatever is necessary to make the customers happy and desirous to become repeat shoppers at Sprouts Farmers Market.
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