by Anjli Mehta
September 30, 2019
Proof that not everything is bigger in Texas: Our official state motto is just one word. Friendship.
Really. That’s it.
It comes from Texas’ name, which originated with the Native American (Caddo) word, "teyshas" meaning "friends." But friendship is more than just a motto, it's how we do business. And we’ve been doing it that way for the last 114 years.
In 1905, Florence Butt opened our first store in a humble 450-square foot space in Kerrville, Texas. She relied on her relationships with fellow grocers and volunteered her time and earnings to those in need around her. Since then, we've tried to honor Florence’s legacy and the long-time Texan tradition of creating connections in the community.
There's a reason why so many people flock to this state. It's for everyone. For small historic towns and buzzing modern cities, for BBQ enthusiasts and vegans, for ranchers and data researchers, for all cultures and communities—there's no one right way to be Texan, just a lot of really great ones. That's why every H-E-B store is tailored to the neighborhood it's in. We're not on a mission to create our own communities, instead we're dedicated to serving the ones that already exist.
"We're a guest in these neighborhoods," says Erika Prosper, Director of Consumer Insights at H-E-B. "We want to accommodate the people who live next to our stores. We tailor the layout, the assortment, everything to them. When they leave our store, we want them to feel like we’re one of their neighbors."
It's like when you have people over for dinner, Erika explains. If one of your guests is a vegetarian, you provide a vegetarian entrée because you want them to know that you’ve thought of their needs and you want them to feel welcome in your home. "We do that with the stores," she says. "We take time to understand Texas tastes. If there’s a need for halal or kosher or specific spices, whatever it is, we make sure it’s on our shelves."
We're not on a mission to create our own communities—we're dedicated to serving the ones that already exist.
But it goes beyond what we stock on our store shelves. As we build out digital products, we are considering how to translate the welcoming and hospitable in-store experience into H-E-B's digital spaces.
"You can't use all five senses to experience an app, like you can to experience one of our stores,” says Luis Gutierrez, Principal Product Designer. "But we believe we can still evoke that in-store feeling."
One of the ways we’re translating H-E-B's incredible in-store experience into the new app is with beautiful photography, he explains. It's styled to give off a distinctly Texan feel and stir up the feeling of a home-cooked Sunday dinner. In future versions of the app, we want to customize the photography to each store, Luis says.
"Every store is uniquely tailored to its neighborhood. So the app should be too. If you open the app in a store in East Austin, the photography should reflect the neighborhood, and look a little different than when you open the app in a store in The Heights in Houston," says Luis.
We want to serve our customers like a true neighbor. We set out to create sincere and solutions-oriented relationships with them in the store and in our digital products. That's one of the reasons why our favorite question is "How can we help?"
Sometimes that means bringing in a unique item into a store because there’s a need for it in the neighborhood. But it can also mean so much more. Like providing aid in times of crisis. Or creating digital products to make busy Texans' lives easier. These are just few of the ways that H-E-B takes care of its neighbors.
We're proud to call Texas home. The Lone Star State has a legacy of taking care of its own. So swing by Texas, and don't be surprised if you instantly feel right at home. It's kind of how we do things around here.
Anjli Mehta is UX Writer at H-E-B. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.