BJ’s Wholesale Club on Tuesday announced new websites dedicated to two of its private consumer product labels, Berkley Jensen and Wellsley Farms. This is the first time the company has created dedicated e-commerce sites for its exclusive brands, according to a company press release.
The sites showcase a broad assortment of each brand and create shoppable, dedicated experiences. Members of the warehouse club retailer can opt for its “pick up and pay” omnichannel service, where non-perishable products can be reserved online and picked up in-store in as little as two hours.
Earlier this summer, the retailer unveiled an improved mobile site making it easier for club members to manage memberships, as well as browse, research and save on purchases.
While BJ’s is struggling as Costco and Walmart’s Sam’s Club dominate the membership-based retail warehouse market (and amid some evidence that Amazon is challenging the model with its own robust Prime membership), the retailer has spent this year beefing up its omnichannel services, mobile capabilities and B2B operations.
Now it’s highlighting its private label offerings with dedicated sites and marketing. The popularity of less expensive store brands, a major feature of no-frills German grocery chains like Aldi, Lidl and Trader Joe’s, has only grown in recent years as their quality has improved.
“Our exclusive brands offer members exceptional value on a wide range of items, from fresh produce to paper goods to baby supplies,” Rafeh Masood, BJ’s Wholesale Club senior VP and Chief Digital Officer, said in a statement. “The new websites allow BJ’s to tell the story of these brands, educating members on the quality and assortment while allowing them to research products and shop.”
Younger shoppers, particularly the millennials who came of age during the Great Recession, are less brand-loyal than their parents and grandparents. That’s provided fertile ground for retailers with high-quality private label brands. The number of heads of households under 35 years-old earning more than $100,000 a year who shop at dollar stores increased 7.1% between 2012 and 2015, compared to 3.6% at all retail stores, according to Nielsen research. Some 29% of millennial dollar store consumers earn over $100,000 annually and account for about 25% of sales at those stores. Much of those sales are no-name brands of common household items, according to market research firm NPD's Checkout Tracking.
Amazon's private label brands are performing particularly well. Its lines of detergent, baby wipes and batteries, to name a few, are experiencing runaway growth in several categories, according to research from 1010data and One Click Retail. That can make deciding whether or not to sell through Amazon a tough decision for a brand. On the one hand, you can control much of your marketing and branding; on the other, Amazon knows what and how much you’re selling and might develop a competing item based on your best-selling product.
"If I were a CPG maker or retailer, I would definitely have to figure out what should I do now," Mihir Kittur, co-founder and chief commercial officer at e-commerce customer engagement firm Ugam, told Retail Dive. "They’re clearly seeing pressure from subscriptions, like The Dollar Shaving Club, and private label. But it depends — across the board, there are brand-conscious shoppers and price-conscious shoppers. As people get more price sensitive, they start to move to private label, and that will happen more in any economic downturn."