訂閱

多平臺閱讀

微信訂閱

雜志

申請紙刊贈閱

訂閱每日電郵

移動應用

商業

御龙在天礼包兑换中心: 只開一元店,如何做到收入數百億?學學這家公司吧

憑借711一樣的便利和沃爾瑪一樣低的價格,達樂已經成為美國零售業的巨頭。未來它能增長得多大?

圖片來源:123RF

肯塔基州的斯科茨維爾是一個僅有4500名居民的小鎮。小鎮的廣場上有一座四四方方的磚房,它也是達樂公司(Dollar General)最老的門店之一。打眼一看,就知道這是一家有年頭的商店了。過道里亂糟糟的,天花板很低,燈光昏暗,店里堆著一排排的塑料儲物盒、一堆堆的衛生紙,冰柜里塞滿了冷凍比薩。這種雜亂中透露著廉價的感覺,很符合人們對一元店的固有印象。

不過進門不遠,你就能看到與這里的氛圍貌似不太協調的東西——一臺貌似還挺高檔的冷柜,里面裝滿了星巴克的飲料,冷柜上面還有大家熟悉的星巴克的笑臉美人魚標識。在這里,只要花上2美元,就能買一杯雙份意式濃縮咖啡,5美元就能買兩罐咖啡星冰樂。要知道這里可不是城市,在小鎮里能喝到正版星巴克飲品,何嘗不是一種低調的奢華。更何況這里離真正的星巴克至少有30分鐘的車程。因而這里也成了本地咖啡愛好者趨之若鶩的去處。不過,星冰樂也不是這家一元店里唯一上檔次的消費品。這家達樂門店還賣克里格公司的K-Cup咖啡、達能公司的酸奶。就在去年圣誕節前不久,它還開始售賣樂高玩具,價格在8到20美元不等,

哪些人是達樂公司的典型顧客呢?對此,達樂公司的CEO托德·瓦索斯表示:“我可能沒有很多錢,但這并不意味著我不想擁有一些好一點的東西。對于這些顧客,我們既可以為他們提供價值,也可以提供他們想要的生活品質?!?/p>

瓦索斯對他的目標顧客群的收入水平估計得很準。達樂公司有57%的顧客的家庭年收入不到4.99萬美元,30%的顧客的家庭年收入低于2.5萬美元。(美國人的家庭年平均收入是6.1萬美元。)在撰寫此文的過程中,筆者走訪了25家達樂的門店,每家商店的櫥窗上都有一張很大的海報,上面寫著該商店接受食品券。

雖然達樂公司的服務對象是美國經濟金字塔的底層,但它的業績卻是美國零售行業最高的之一。2018年,該公司的同店銷售額連續第29年保持增長——雖然該公司的電商業務只貢獻了很小的銷量。這個成績是任何一家美國主流零售商都無法比擬的。就連號稱零售業的霸主的沃爾瑪,在2010年代早期也經歷了近兩年的同比銷售額下滑的局面。

更重要的是,在為低收入人群提供品質生活的同時,達樂公司也奇跡般地避開了整個零售行業的雪崩式衰退。2018年,達樂公司的營業收入達到256億美元,首次超過了梅西百貨的銷售額。它的股價已經接近歷史最高水平,市值達到330億美元,達到梅西百貨的5倍以上。

1955年,達樂公司在肯塔基州的斯普林菲爾德開設了第一家零售店。在之后的60多年里,達樂公司靠著一套非常簡單的經營策略成為了美國零售業的巨頭之一——走“農村包圍城市”戰略,專門在大型零售商不愿意來的小鎮開店,商店只保留最基本的功能,縮窄售賣的商品類別,限制店員人數,將主要精力放在一件事上:低價,低價,還是低價。大衛·珀杜曾經在2003年至2007年擔任達樂公司的CEO,現任美國喬治亞州參議員,他表示:“達樂就像一個孩子,他的爹媽是711和沃爾瑪。它以沃爾瑪的價格,提供711的便利?!?/p>

正是這種奇妙的“結合”,催生出了一個快速成長的家庭。按門店數量計算,達樂目前已經成為美國最大的零售連鎖店。10年前,達樂在全美有8400家門店,現在已經增長到15472家了。值得一提的是,大約75%的美國人在家門口5英里的范圍內就能找到一家達樂商店。

達樂近幾年的增長,與另一個因素也有重要的關系——近些年來,美國人的消費理念出現了深刻的甚至貌似是永久性的變化。現在就連中產階級家庭也更多地去T.J. Maxx這種折扣店而不是去商場買衣服,他們在購買日用品時,也開始比以前更青睞深度打折的一元店。特爾西咨詢集團(Telsey Advisory Group)的分析師喬·費爾德曼認為:“一元店已經越來越被所有各個群體接受?!痹誥夢;逼詰那釗兆雍?,大家都明白了活面子不如活里子這個真理。現在經濟復蘇了,但大家也習慣了“消費降級”的生活,去一元店購物并不會有什么羞恥感。

一元店行業仍然有很大的發展空間。尼爾森公司的數據顯示,一元店是去年美國開店數量唯一上漲的零售類別。不過據一些專家估算,一元店只占全美零售業銷售總額的4%。達樂公司還想繼續深耕這一市場。在去年年底的一次收益電話會議上,瓦索斯對分析師表示,他認為美國至少還有12000家到13000家一元店的開店空間。光是今年一年,達樂公司就將新開975家門店。就像瓦索斯所說的那樣:“現在,省錢是一件比任何時候都時髦的事?!?/p>

過去10年里,達樂公司的擴張策略可以說幾近完美。店里的那些星巴克飲料為低收入者提供了奢侈的享受,同時也讓中等收入家庭更有了幾分“配得上身份”之感。現在,達樂公司將中產家庭當作重要的增長來源,而且它也愿意走出傳統的舒適區,去牢牢抓住這些中產消費者。

在拓展業務的過程中,如何不損害現有的完美的商業模式,是擺在達樂面前的一個挑戰。達樂的商業帝國可以說是在冷凍比薩和薯片上建立起來的。但它現在也在進軍新鮮農產品、肉類和健康食品領域,這些領域的成本更高,利潤卻更低。同時,達樂公司也計劃進駐一些較大的城市,并且向西海岸進軍——美國西海岸已經被別的一元店品牌占領了,達樂在那里的品牌認知度相比并不高。

為了應對這些風險,達樂公司打算穩扎穩打進行改革,每次只在一小部分門店搞試點。不過不改革肯定是不行的。瓦索斯表示:“零售業正在以前所未有的速度變革,你必須具有足夠的靈活性,才能確保你的發展方向是顧客希望你發展的方向?!苯萄稻馱諭咚魎溝納肀?。從達樂位于納什維爾的總部大樓向外望去,不遠處就有一家商場,里面的西爾斯百貨早已人去樓空。

The boxy, brick-fronted shop in the town square of Scottsville, Ky. (population: 4,500), is one of the oldest stores in the Dollar General chain—and it looks its age. The aisles are cluttered; the ceilings are low; the lights are dim. There are rows of plastic storage containers, towers of paper towels, and fridges full of frozen pizzas—the kind of seemingly random, dirt-cheap bric-a-brac that fits the drab dollar-store stereotype.

But not far past the entrance, shoppers can spot something incongruous: a sleek cooler full of Starbucks drinks, topped by the coffee chain’s smiley mermaid logo. There, a shopper can grab a Doubleshot espresso for $2 or get two cans of frappuccino for $5. They’re the sort of modest extravagances associated more with bougie city thoroughfares than with rural town squares—and, with the nearest actual Starbucks a 30-minute drive away, in Bowling Green, they’re a magnet for caffeine cravers. And frappuccinos aren’t the only semi-upscale impulse purchase on the shelves. This Dollar General also offers Keurig K-Cups and Dannon yogurts; not long before Christmas, it started selling Lego kits priced from $8 to $20.

“Just because I don’t have a lot of money, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel like having some of the finer things,” says Todd Vasos, CEO of Dollar General, paraphrasing his prototypical shopper. “We can offer her both value and an indulgence she may want.”

Vasos is on target about his customers’ income. Some 57% of Dollar General’s clientele live in households with income of less than $49,900, according to research firm Kantar, and 30% get by on less than $25,000. (The average U.S. household income is just under $61,000.) Of the 25 stores visited in reporting this article, each had a sizable poster in its window saying the location accepts food stamps.

But by serving the bottom of the nation’s economic pyramid, Dollar General has generated one of the top performance records in retail. In 2018, the company reported its 29th straight year of same-store sales growth—despite minimal e-?commerce. That’s a streak no other major U.S. retailer can match: Even mighty Walmart endured nearly two years of comparable-?sales declines earlier this decade.

What’s more, tapping the aspirational strain that Vasos (rhymes with “Bezos”) describes has helped the company sidestep the recent retail meltdown that has vaporized many other national chains’ stores in recent years. Dollar General racked up $25.6?billion in revenue in 2018 and eclipsed Macy’s in retail sales for the first time. Its stock is near an all-time high, giving it a market cap of $33?billion, five times higher than Macy’s.

The chain opened its first retail store in 1955 in Springfield, Ky., and for most of the ensuing six-plus decades, it has thrived with a simple playbook: Open small, no-frills stores in towns that bigger retailers shun; offer a narrow product range; and limit staffing, the better to keep prices cheap, cheap, cheap. “Dollar General was like a child whose parents were 7-Eleven and Walmart,” says David Perdue, the company’s CEO from 2003 to 2007 and now a U.S. senator from Georgia. “It offered 7-Eleven convenience at Walmart prices.”

That metaphorical union has created a fast-growing family. Dollar General is now the largest U.S. retail chain by store count, with 15,472 stores, up from 8,400 a decade ago. Remarkably, some 75% of Americans now live within five miles of a Dollar General.

But another factor has been just as important to the recent surge: a profound, seemingly permanent change in how American consumers shop. Just as middle-class shoppers now buy more apparel at bargain retailer T.J. Maxx than at department stores, they also frequent deep-discount dollar stores more often. “The dollar stores have become a lot more acceptable to all income demographics,” says Telsey Advisory Group analyst Joe Feldman. The privations of the Great Recession scrubbed these unglamorous bargain basements of their stigma; the economy came back, but the stigma didn’t.

The industry has plenty of room to grow. According to Nielsen data, dollar stores were the only category of retail whose total number of U.S. locations increased last year. But by some estimates, they account for only 4% of total retail sales. Dollar General hopes to keep capitalizing. On an earnings call last year, Vasos told analysts that he thought the country had room for another 12,000 or 13,000 dollar-store locations; this year alone, Dollar General will open 975. As Vasos notes, “Saving now is more chic than ever.”

Over the past decade, Dollar General has played the expansion game to perfection. Those Starbucks treats in Scottsville aren’t just splurges for lower-income shoppers; they’re signals to help middle-income ones feel at home. Today the company sees that middle-class market as a crucial source of new growth, and it’s willing to stretch outside its comfort zone to capture them.

The challenge is to make sure stretching doesn’t blow up a perfectly good business model. Having built its empire with the help of frozen pizzas and potato chips, Dollar General is making a bigger push into fresh produce, meats, and healthier fare—arenas where costs are higher and margins slimmer. It also aims to widen its footprint in larger cities and on the West Coast, where other dollar stores are better established and where it has less brand recognition.

To counter these risks, Dollar General plans to change slowly and deliberately, tweaking only a small percentage of its stores at once. But not changing is not an option, says Vasos: “Retail is moving faster than ever, and you have to be flexible to ensure you’re moving where the customer wants you to move.” If Vasos needs a reminder of that, he can check out the view from his headquarters in a Nashville suburb—a vista that includes a mall anchored by a vacant Sears.

****

在20世紀50年代,有一段時期,肯塔基州斯普林菲爾德的很多男性,都穿著亮粉色的燈芯絨褲子。之所以出現這樣壯觀的場面,還要感謝一位叫卡爾·特納的人。特納家認識一位做布料的朋友,一不小心囤了太多的粉色燈芯絨,特納便勸說這位朋友將這些布料統統做成男褲,他以極低的價格買了下來,然后在自己的商店里以每條褲子1美元的超低價格大量出售。

卡爾·特納和他的父親JL·特納于1939年在肯塔基州的斯科茨維爾開了一家小店,它就是后來達樂公司的前身。這家小店起初是為一家百貨公司供貨的,后來由于生意不景氣,特納父子便轉而為農村地區的低收入家庭提供服務。由于老特納經營有方,憑借“賣啥都1元”的噱頭,這家小公司的分店越來越多,售賣的商品范圍也越來越廣。

1968年,達樂公司掛牌上市,在接下來的幾十年,更是呈爆炸式增長——方法仍然是開更多的一元店,這些商店與老特納時代的夫妻店并沒有什么本質區別。達樂公司始終沒有偏離最初令它成功的路線。小卡爾·特納(卡爾·特納的兒子,曾經在1977年至2002年間任公司的CEO)在2018年出版的自傳中寫道:“大多數零售商到了某個階段,都會抵御不住升級的誘惑?!鋇錮止救床皇欽庋?。零售業咨詢機構Customer Growth Partners公司的總裁克雷格·約翰遜這樣評價達樂:“他們對低收入消費者的需求了如指掌?!?/p>

隨著時間的推移,達樂公司已經總結了一套可靠的開店公式。它的門店通??諶絲誆壞?萬人的小鎮——這樣小的市場不足以吸引來沃爾瑪等大型超市與其競爭。它的門店平均占地7500平方英尺左右,還不到一個沃爾瑪超市的零頭。它銷售的商品不會超過1萬件(沃爾瑪是它的10倍)。在這種規模下,一家達樂商店每值一個班,只需要兩到三名員工。而且由于小鎮的房價和工資都比較低,達樂可以將其絕大多數產品的價格控制在10美元以下,同時仍然能夠獲得可觀的利潤。

這個公式意味著消費者在店里只能買到一兩個品牌的花生醬,或者兩三個型號的洗衣粉,而不像大型超市那樣有各種各樣的品牌供你選擇。達樂商店里的漂白劑、洗潔精等商品的規格也比其他超市小,經濟條件較好的購物者有可能會誤以為這些是“旅行裝”。但對于到一元店購物的消費者來說,他們之所以會買小號的洗潔精,很可能是因為他們手里的錢只夠買它。

達樂的經營方法雖然帶來了顯著增長,但隨著時間的推移,效率不足的問題也暴露了出來。到2007年,它的銷售額增長率已經落后于它的兩個主要競爭對手Family Dollar和Dollar Tree。松散的庫存管理意味著受歡迎的商品經常缺貨,與此同時,它的很多商店都很破舊。

私募巨頭KKR公司認為,只要對達樂的管理層進行重組,它的增長勢頭很快就能反彈。于是2007年,KKR以70億美元收購了達樂。僅僅兩年后,KKR便推動達樂再次上市。這也是KKR有史以來最成功的交易之一。2013年底,KKR出售了其持有的最后一批達樂股票,此時達樂的股價已經比2009年的IPO價格翻了近三番。到今年5月,已經翻了將近六番。

達樂的成功轉型,得益于KKR引入的一支精干的管理團隊,這些高管在藥店和超市行業擁有豐富的經驗 (瓦索斯本人就在藥店行業摸爬滾打多年),他們做出的戰略決定,也幫助達樂從其他零售商那里搶來了更多顧客。達樂不斷地改造店面,改善照明設備,使購物區更加寬敞。新開的門店也更加時尚和井井有條。

達樂公司也大力改進了庫存管理。有時當商店經理意識到對同一商品銷售了太多不同版本時,就會下架多余的商品。同時它也加大了自有品牌的銷售力度,自有品牌商品一方面利潤更高,另一方面也能更加自由地提供非標準的小號包裝。現在的達樂對顧客的理解已經到了細致得驚人的地步。每個季度,達樂都會對幾十萬名消費者進行訪問,每年還會進行一次“深度”調查,所有這些都是為了確保店里的1萬件商品符合顧客的需求。

一元店里未必賣的都是不知名的牌子。達樂的快速增長和影響力,讓可口可樂和好時等大品牌也不敢輕視。在產品的大小和包裝上,這些大品牌也更愿意聽從達樂的意見,甚至愿意在達樂的商店里做銷售展示,這可是以前高檔零售商超才有的待遇。AlixPartners公司的零售業務總經理喬爾·拉姆伯特表示:“曾經有一段時間,那些大型的消費性包裝產品公司只希望一元店早點消失,但是他們現在也需要一元店這個渠道?!?!-- cend -->

At one point in the 1950s, a surprisingly large contingent of the men in Springfield, Ky., were wearing bright pink corduroy pants. For that sartorial adventurism, they could thank Cal Turner. A family friend had been swimming in an oversupply of the fabric. Turner persuaded the friend to turn it into men’s pants, which he bought for a pittance and sold in enormous quantities at his own store—at the low price of $1 a pair.

Cal and his father, J.L. Turner, had started the business that became Dollar General in Scottsville, Ky., in 1939. The company was originally a wholesaler serving department stores, but when business faltered, the Turners went down-market to serve lower-income rural shoppers. Under J.L.’s leadership, the company gradually expanded into more stores, riding the success of the one-dollar-an-item gimmick while selling a broad enough assortment to justify its original name: Dollar General Stores.

The company went public in 1968, and it grew explosively in the next decades—often at the expense of the kinds of mom-and-pop stores that the Turners had once operated. It never strayed from what made it successful. “Most retailers at one point or another fall prey to the temptation to upgrade,” Cal Turner Jr., Cal’s son and the company’s CEO from 1977 to 2002, wrote in his 2018 autobiography. Not Dollar General: “They know the wants and needs of the lower-income shopper like the back of their hands,” says Craig Johnson, president of retail consulting firm Customer Growth Partners.

Over time, the company translated that knowledge into a reliable formula. It has typically focused on towns of no more than 20,000 people—markets too minor for Walmart and big grocers to bother with. Its stores average around 7,500 square feet, tiny compared to a Walmart super?center. It sells no more than 10,000 items (a big Walmart might sell 10 times as many). At that scale, a Dollar General store needs only two or three employees on any shift. And with real estate and labor costs low, Dollar General can keep the vast majority of its items under $10 and still turn a tidy profit.

The formula means a Dollar General shopper might find only one or two brands of peanut butter or three sizes of Tide laundry detergent, rather than the endless assortment at big-box rivals. The chain also emphasizes smaller formats of products like bleach and dish soap. A more affluent shopper might think of these as “travel size”; for dollar-store customers, it’s often a matter of buying only as much as they can afford at that moment.

Dollar General’s approach sparked remarkable growth, but over time, efficiency suffered. By 2007, its sales growth was lagging its two rivals, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree. Lax inventory management meant favored items were often out of stock, and many stores were shabby.

Private equity juggernaut KKR saw Dollar General as a company that could rally with a management shake-up, and it bought the company for $7 billion in 2007. It took Dollar General public again just two years later—in what turned into one of its most successful deals ever. By the time KKR sold off the last of its shares, around the end of 2013, Dollar General’s shares had nearly tripled from their 2009 IPO price. By this May, they’d risen almost sixfold.

Key to the turnaround was KKR’s decision to bring in a crack team of executives with experience in the drugstore and supermarket world (including Vasos, an Eckerd and Longs Drugs veteran). That team, in turn, made strategic choices that helped Dollar General woo customers away from such retailers. The company continually remodeled stores, improving lighting and making shopping areas more spacious; new stores were better organized and sleeker.

Dollar General also vastly improved its inventory management. It removed redundant products, as managers realized they sold too many versions of the same items. It ramped up its private label brands, which sold at higher margins and gave the store freedom to offer nonstandard, smaller sizes. Today the company knows its shoppers at a surprisingly granular level. Dollar General does panel interviews each quarter with hundreds of thousands of shoppers, along with an annual “go deep” survey, all designed to make sure that its 10,000-product lineup matches what its customers want.

That lineup isn’t limited to no-name brands. Its enormous growth and reach have given Dollar General even more clout with national brands like Coca-Cola and Hershey. They’re more likely to give the chain the sizes and packaging it wants, along with better-looking point-of-sale displays once reserved for fancier retailers. “There was a time the big consumer packaged-goods companies just hoped it would go away,” says Joel Rampoldt, a managing director in AlixPartners’ retail practice. “Now they need the dollar-store channel.”

****

雖然達樂的管理層非常擅于經營,但如果沒有經濟?;栽邢呀峁乖斐傻難現爻寤?,它可能永遠也無法達到現在的高度。2009年和2010年,雖然消費者越來越缺錢,窮人越來越多,達樂卻還在擴張門店和產品種類。很多中產消費者也背叛了沃爾瑪、塔吉特百貨等各大超市和藥店,成了達樂的忠實顧客。

隨著經濟好轉和失業率下降,很多分析師認為,一元店的鼎盛時期可能已經過去了。不過經濟?;?,工資并未恢復原來的水平,工薪階層和中產階層也已經養成了消費降級的習慣。消費品研究公司TABS Analytics的執行總裁庫爾特·捷達認為,貧富差距也是讓達樂能夠繼續發展壯大的一個重要原因。

在爭奪消費者的戰爭中,還有一些競爭對手主動給達樂送了一波助攻。比如CVS在2014年停止賣香煙,煙民們只得去一元店買店。沃爾瑪把它的服裝和美容產品搞得更加高端化,將低端市場拱手讓給了一元店。

As savvy as its management has been, Dollar General might never have reached its current heights without the dramatic disruption of the Great Recession. In 2009 and 2010, the company was broadening its assortment and improving its stores even as the ranks of cash-strapped shoppers surged. Middle-class consumers defected to Dollar General and its rivals from Walmart, Target, drugstores, and supermarkets.

As the economy improved and unemployment fell, many analysts assumed the dollar stores would give up some of their gains. But wages didn’t recover, and the working and middle classes remained cost-conscious. Kurt Jetta, executive chairman of -consumer-goods research firm TABS Analytics, says income inequality is a key reason the dollar-store juggernaut has continued to roll.

In the enduring battle for shoppers, Dollar General also got an assist from some rivals. CVS, for example, stopped selling tobacco in 2014, driving smokers to dollar stores. (See our feature on CVS in this issue.) Walmart, meanwhile, tweaked its clothing and beauty-product assortment to make them more upscale, ceding some of the lower end to the $1 crowd.

****

關于一元店的五大傳說

美國有近3.2萬家一元店,而且它們越來越不符合大家心目中對一元店的傳統印象。

傳說一:件件都1元

幾十年來,這一點基本上是正確的。Dollar Tree開了15300家商店,也仍然遵循著這一準則。不過達樂和Family Dollar等一元店中的多數商品的價格是在1到10美元不等。

傳說二:只有窮人才到那購物

在經濟?;詡?,一元店也走進了中產階級的生活。2018年的一項調查顯示,在一元店的老主顧中,有21%的人的家庭年收入在10萬美元以上。

傳說三:他們只賣垃圾食品

沒錯,一元店里主要賣的是冷凍比薩和包裝零食。但是一些大型連鎖品牌現在也加入了一些健康食品,比如新鮮農產品等。

傳說四:他們賣的都是清倉處理的垃圾產品

一元店以前確實是賣清倉處理商品的地方。但現在他們的影響力越來越大,連寶潔和可口可樂也要專門為他們定制產品。

傳說五:一元店只在偏僻的地方開

一元店確實主要開在農村地區和小城鎮,不過Dollar Tree在市區和城市近郊也有堅實的存在,達樂公司也在擴展這個市場。

Five Myths About Dollar Stores

The nation now has nearly 32,000 dollar stores, and they’re increasingly unlikely to match their popular stereotypes.

Myth No. 1: Everything Costs $1

That was largely true for decades, and it still is at the 15,300-store Dollar Tree chain. But the bulk of items for sale at Family Dollar and Dollar General cost between $1 and $10.

Myth No. 2: Only poor people shop there

Dollar stores made inroads into the middle class during the Great Recession. In a 2018 Inmar survey of dollar-store patrons, 21% reported annual household income of $100,000 or more.

Myth No. 3: They sell only junk food

Yes, frozen ?pizzas and packaged snacks abound at dollar stores. But major chains are now adding healthier fare, including fresh produce at some locations.

Myth No. 4: Their merchandise is closeout junk

Dollar stores once sold a mishmash of clearance and overstock items. But such is their clout now that consumer giants like P&G and Coca-Cola make products just for them.

Myth No. 5: They’re only in remote areas

While the chains do skew toward rural America and smaller towns, Dollar Tree has a strong presence in cities and suburbs, and Dollar General is expanding there.

****

常言說得好:塞翁失馬,焉知非福。2015年,達樂的主要競爭對手Dollar Tree在競標中擊敗達樂,成功收購了另一家業績較弱的一元店品牌Family Dollar。然而這次收購嚴重阻礙了Dollar Tree的發展,二者合并后的新公司擁有15300家門店,與達樂不相上下,不過由于對Family Dollar的數百家門店進行了大修,合并后Dollar Tree的增長已經放緩,最近該公司還因為這筆交易而減記了27億美元。

在爭奪主要顧客群的戰爭中,所有這些因素使達樂已經站在了領跑者的位置。據摩根大通最近估計,一元店增長最快的顧客群將是那些年收入在5萬到7.5萬美元之間的家庭。達樂將那些最常光顧的購物者,也就是那些收入最低的家庭稱為“永遠最好的朋友”,將中等收入顧客稱為“朋友”,而對于那些中等偏上收入家庭則稱之為“老朋友”。而且達樂也很愿意更好地了解這些“老朋友”。

Perhaps the biggest windfall came disguised as a setback, when archrival Dollar Tree beat Dollar General in a bidding war for the weaker-performing Family Dollar. That 2015 acquisition has seriously hampered Dollar Tree. The combined company has 15,300 stores, almost as many as Dollar General, but its growth has slowed as it overhauls hundreds of Family Dollar locations. Dollar Tree recently took a $2.7 billion write-down related to the merger.

All these factors put Dollar General in the pole position in the race to serve households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a year. Those are the fastest-growing part of its clientele, J.P. Morgan recently estimated. Dollar General refers to its most frequent shoppers, those with the lowest annual incomes, as “BFFs,” or best friends forever, while mid-tier shoppers are “friends.” The next tier up, the one J.P. Morgan identified as the fastest growers, are “acquain?tances,” and Dollar General would like to know them much better.

****

從商業角度看,賣碎牛肉和西紅柿,本來就比賣玉米片和冷凍墨西哥卷餅的風險更大。農產品和鮮肉極易變質,員工需要密切關注它們,如果變質了,就要立即處理掉。零售業咨詢師克雷格·約翰遜表示:“在這方面,需要投入的管理要比以前高得多?!斃孿適稱返睦蟊糾淳筒桓?,再加上勞動成本的上漲,或許會使利潤更加單薄。

盡管存在這些麻煩,但新鮮食品很可能是達樂下一階段的關鍵增長點——尤其是如果它想讓“永遠最好的朋友”和“老朋友”多來光顧的話。穆迪的分析師米奇·查達表示:“關鍵是要讓顧客額外挑選一件以前不會買的東西?!備菽岫鏡氖?,消費者平均每次在一元店會消費13美元,而在沃爾瑪等大型超市則會消費40美元。以達樂的備貨規模,在日常食品上要想取代大型超市是不可能的。但只要消費者每次進店多買一樣東西,就會對公司收益產生很大影響。

達樂公司已經有證據表明,發展食品業務是一個正確選擇。該公司稱,傳統的達樂商店在添加了幾臺冰柜后(說明他們增添了食品種類),第一年的收入一般會增加10%到15%。現在,達樂已經開始在450家門店銷售農產品,其中包括2003年推出的幾十家小型超市。達樂今年還將額外在200家門店投放農產品。相比它一萬多家的門店數量,200家只是一個小數字,不過也足以試驗食品是否能激發消費者的忠誠度了。

達樂公司也在采取各種措施,確保食品的庫存和其他產品庫存一樣受到嚴格管理。比如它目前正在賓西法尼亞州測試一個冷庫設施,這個冷庫將僅用于存儲其自有商店的易變質食品。達樂的店長杰森·雷瑟表示,測試該冷庫的目的是降低系統性成本,避免熱門商品缺貨,“將命運掌握在自己手里”。比如如果達樂公司能將牛奶更早地放進冷卻裝置,以減少變質造成的浪費,它在牛奶上的利潤有可能會翻一番。

達樂永遠不會成為全食公司。在田納西州亨德森維爾的一家達樂商店里,最貴的紅酒是Barefoot Moscato,一瓶只賣13.1美元。不過它新推出的食品卻包括了很多富裕階層的消費者也喜歡的東西。達樂正在更多商店推出“更適合你”的產品,如它自家經營的“Good & Smart”商標下的產品,以及Annie’s、Nature Valley和Kashi等知名品牌的產品。達樂也開始賣水果了,而且它的展示方式也令這些水果顯得很誘人——這些水果裝在貌似由木頭做成的箱子里,只有湊近了看,才能發現它們是塑料做的。

As a business proposition, selling ground beef and tomatoes is inherently riskier than selling corn chips and frozen burritos. Produce and fresh meat spoil; employees need to keep a close eye on them and toss them if they go bad. “You’re talking about a level of supervision that is much higher,” says Craig Johnson, the retail consultant. That can mean higher labor costs that eat into the notoriously thin fresh-food margins.

Despite that hassle, fresh food could be the key to Dollar General’s next growth phase—especially if it makes both “BFFs” and “acquaintances” visit more often. “The key is to have [customers] pick up an extra item that they would not have in the past,” says Moody’s analyst Mickey Chadha. Shoppers spend $13 on the average dollar-store visit, according to Nielsen, compared with $40 at a big-box store like Walmart. Dollar General doesn’t have the product selection to replace supermarkets for regular food runs, but capturing just one more purchase per visit has a big impact on revenue.

The company already has evidence that food pays. It says that at traditional Dollar General stores that add a bunch of refrigerators—a sign that they’re expanding their food options—sales typically increase 10% to 15% in the first year. Dollar General sells produce at 450 of its stores, including a few dozen in a mini-supermarket format that it launched in 2003. It’ll add such items at an additional 200 stores this year, a tiny fraction of its fleet but a big enough laboratory to test whether food spurs greater loyalty.

Behind the scenes, the company is taking steps to make sure its food inventory is as tightly managed as the rest of its lineup. Among other major initiatives, it is testing a cold-storage facility in Pennsylvania that’s just for perishable food in its own stores. The idea is to take costs out of the system, avoid being out of stock of popular products, and have “control over our destiny,” says chief merchant Jason Reiser. Dollar General could potentially double its profit margin on milk, for example, by getting it to coolers earlier, reducing spoilage.

Dollar General will never be Whole Foods. At a store in Hendersonville, Tenn., the most expensive wine is a Barefoot Moscato, at $13.10 a bottle. But its new food offerings include many of the aspirational trappings that more affluent shoppers prefer. The chain is introducing “better for you” products at more stores, including foods marketed under its own “Good & Smart” label, alongside name brands like Annie’s, Nature Valley, and Kashi. The stores that sell fruits, meanwhile, present them in surprisingly inviting displays, in crates that look like they’re made of wood—and reveal themselves as plastic only when you get close enough to touch them.

****

最近,羅利、納什維爾或者費城的消費者在逛街時,可能會無意中路過一個持著“DGX”標志的現代化的小店面。這些商店是達樂公司的另一個實驗品。它們開在城市的中心,主打功能飲料和外賣三明治等產品,旨在吸引更年輕的消費者。今年還將有10家DGX商店將陸續開業,它們將成為達樂與Dollar Tree競爭的新戰線——畢竟Dollar Tree在達樂垂涎的城市地區已經深耕多年。

但即使是對于這些門店,達樂也沒有從根本上改變它的成功秘訣。DGX商店里雖然有壽司、加州起泡酒和樂高玩具,但大部分商品的價格依然在1美元以下。而且它們都是基本的、必不可少的東西。在這里,1美元可以買4卷衛生紙,一個雞肉派(雖然營養差了點,但也夠頂一頓飯了)。這也說明,達樂的核心顧客群仍然是那些沒有多余的奢侈空間的消費者。雷瑟表示:“1美元并不是沖動性消費的價格點,而是‘如何才能挺過這個月’的價格點?!?/p>

就連達樂公司采用的技術裝備也反映了這個沉甸甸的事實。越來越多的達樂商店都在過道里擺放了很多價格掃描設備,好方便消費者計算消費總額,以便他們到了收銀臺,才發現身上的錢不夠用。一位公司高管表示:“他們的預算里,并不總是有那多出來的1美元?!倍咀畈輝敢庾齙?,就是讓他們在結賬時感到尷尬。(財富中文網)

本文另一版本登載于《財富》雜志2019年6月刊,標題為《如果沃爾瑪和711有個孩子……》。

譯者:樸成奎

Shoppers wandering through downtown Raleigh, Nashville, or Philadelphia recently may have stumbled upon a small, ?modern-looking storefront under a “DGX” sign. These stores are another Dollar General experiment: They’re placed in city centers, and they emphasize products like energy drinks and grab-and-go sandwiches in a strategy aimed at younger shoppers. Ten more DGX stores will open this year; they’ll be a new front in Dollar General’s competition with Dollar Tree, which is better established in the urban areas Dollar General covets.

But even at these stores, Dollar General is not fundamentally changing its recipe for success. There may be sushi, sparkling California wine, and Lego sets, but much of the selection at DGX is still priced at $1 or less. These are basic, almost essential items: four rolls of toilet paper for $1, for example, or a $1 chicken pot pie that, for all its potential nutritional drawbacks, still adds up to a meal. They’re also reminders that Dollar General’s core business still depends on the patronage of shoppers without much room for luxury. “One dollar isn’t an impulse price point; it is a ‘get-through-the-month’ price point,” says Reiser, the chief merchant.

Even Dollar General’s tech reflects this reality. A growing number of stores have price-checking scanners sprinkled through the aisles. The idea is to help shoppers keep track of their totals, lest they get to the cash register and realize they don’t have enough money. “They don’t always have that extra dollar in their budget,” says one executive; the last thing the company wants to do is embarrass them at checkout.

A version of this article appears in the June 2019 issue of Fortune with the headline “‘If Walmart and 7-Eleven Had a Baby…'”

我來點評

  最新文章

最新文章:

500強情報中心

財富專欄