Publix Super Market, Inc.: A Customer Service Leader

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG296
Case Length :14 Pages
Period : 1980 -2011
Pub Date : 2012
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization :Publix Super Market, Inc.
Industry : Retail
Countries : USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Services Offered

Over the years, Publix expanded from just a grocery store to a full-service supermarket. From pharmacies to ATM networks to gift cards, Publix continuously offered customers various value-added services to make their life easier.

The chain's motto was "love to shop here, love to save here". In 1982, for the convenience of its customers, Publix launched Presto!, an ATM network, in front of its stores. As per 2011, Publix owned over 1032 Presto ATMs spread across Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

Marketing Management Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Marketing Management, Case Studies

The Presto Point of Sale (POS) located at every Publix checkout register allowed customers to make purchases with their debit, credit, and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cash. Presto members were not charged any fee for using the Presto ATM.

To save customers time and money, Publix introduced Pharmacy sections at its stores beginning 1986. The first pharmacy outlet was opened at Publix's store in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Publix pharmacies stocked many varieties of branded and generic drugs and offered some of the most often prescribed medications absolutely free for customers. Customers could automatically refill their prescriptions online. Publix pharmacies also offered comprehensive immunization program for customers. Besides pharmacies, Publix also opened Gift Card Centers at its stores where customers could find a variety of gift cards from over 70 retailers...

Customer Service
Publix was a leader in customer service. The chain's philosophy was to offer first class customer service and to ensure that each shopping trip was a pleasure for its customers. Its mission was to passionately focus on customer value. Publix thrived by keeping customer experience as its primary focus and it had never disappointed any customer knowingly, said industry observers. Even if it did, it apologized, they added. "Customer service is our position in the market. Our associates know how important customer service is to our business. If we're going to meet our customers' expectations, we've got to deliver on service," said Ed Crenshaw (Crenshaw), CEO of Publix...

The Road Ahead

As of 2010, Publix was the largest employee-owned supermarket chain in the US with retail sales of US$25.1 billion (Refer to Exhibit VI for the top ten retailers in the US). Despite a challenging economy, Publix's sales for the third quarter ended October 2011 were US$6.4 billion, a 5.5% increase compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. In the first nine months of 2011, Publix sales were US$19.7 billion compared to US$18.8 billion a year earlier. Analysts said that despite the tough economy, Publix had done well because it maintained its strategy of providing excellent customer service along with quality products. "Publix has used customer service as a major differentiator versus its competition. This includes being in stock at rates better than the competition as well as having more and better-trained employees [...]. In a soft economy, I don't see them moving away from this (a strong service model) because, like Wegmans, it is part of the culture...


Exhibit I: ASCI Scores by Industries (Supermarkets)
Exhibit II: Publix: Key Figures
Exhibit III: Images of Publix Supermarkets
Exhibit IV: Seven Business Lessons from George Jenkins
Exhibit V: Publix Awards and Recognitions
Exhibit VI: Top Ten Retailers in the US

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