Dutch-Way Farm Raises the Bar on Quality
The grocery store chain remains competitive in rural Pennsylvania by adding online order pickup.
As competition continues to increase in Lancaster County, Pa., Dutch-Way Farm Market has uniquely positioned itself as the local go-to grocer with one-of-a-kind offerings and online order pickup. “We really have unique items that people can’t get anywhere else,” Director of Operations Jason Bennett says. “We develop our own recipes and offer hundreds of items that are made from scratch in our stores. Pairing our unique selection with our exceptional customer service has been our calling card for years.”
Founded in 1972, Dutch-Way began as a farmer’s market that grew into a supermarket with a small, diner-style restaurant attached to the building. The company prides itself on always wanting to do right by the customer. It does that by serving customers in its three locations in Pennsylvania: Myerstown grocery store and restaurant; Gap grocery store, restaurant and hardware store; and Schaefferstown grocery store and restaurant – all under the Dutch-Way banner.
Current owners Rich High, Cliff Snader and Jeff Snader purchased the Gap location in 1994 from the original owner, David Martin, and expanded to the other two locations in 2001. “When they expanded and rebuilt the new Myerstown location, they went out on a limb based on some other local stores that had a larger restaurant attached to it; that’s when Dutch-Way started doing buffets,” Bennett explains. “They saw an opportunity and wanted to continue to expand how we do business.”
Adding a hardware store as part of the Dutch-Way brand was a unique opportunity the company couldn’t pass up. The hardware store and restaurant are not the only unique thing about the supermarket chain. Dutch-Way prefers to take control of all aspects of the business as one of its core values, doing as much as possible in-house. This includes laundry, employing a maintenance staff, floor and fixture cleaning and even operating its own trucks for hauling.
Broadening its Services
In August, Dutch-Way launched its online ordering and curbside pickup service that have been very well received to date. The company started looking into the service about two years ago but tabled the discussion until recently. “We were hearing more about it and realized this is the way the industry is going,” Bennett says. “We believe this isn’t the end of where this goes. It won’t be curbside pickup in the future — it will be delivery or other advancements that we really need to be ready for and we are taking this step to do so.”
Located in rural Pennsylvania, Dutch-Way’s clientele tends to be more conservative and the company was not sure how well online order pickup would be received. The new service has been an added convenience to Dutch-Way’s customers who have described it as “great” and have said they will not go anywhere else. “I think we have gained back some customers and secured more of their purchases because of it,” Bennett notes.
Implementing online ordering and curbside pickup was a learning curve for Dutch-Way. The company had to figure out the logistics of how it would handle this in addition to its store operations, as well as make some changes to the physical appearance of the curbside pickup areas and interior staging areas.
Dutch-Way partnered with Rosie, a provider of e-commerce and data analytics services to retailers, to make shopping in the Dutch-Way Online Market easy. Rosie gathered all the details at the store level and built its online market, as well as trained employees.
One of the biggest challenges in developing the Dutch-Way Online Market was cataloging its one-of-a-kind offerings. “We had to photograph all those items and input all the recipe information,” Bennett remembers. “When Rosie’s people came down from New York to train us, they commented that no other stores had such a large variety of prepared foods.”
Today, Dutch-Way Online Market is available on the company’s website and on the mobile app, which are powered by Rosie. Dutch-Way is promoting its online ordering and curbside pickup through social media and by sending marketing materials to its customers. The company also purchased a new van it uses to transport items between stores, so it wrapped the van in the Dutch-Way Online Market logo to bring awareness.
Quality has always been a major focus at Dutch-Way and the company stresses that with the staff that fulfills online orders. “They need to have everything perfect,” Bennett adds. “They can’t make mistakes when it comes to quality.”