Privately held regional supermarket operator H-E-B has roughly 400 stores in Texas and its Southern neighbor, Mexico. The retailer operates a number of formats in addition to the standard H-E-B supermarket, including Central Market, Mi Tienda and Joe V’s Smart Shop, as well as nearly 40 H-E-B Plus “superstores.”
Located primarily in the San Antonio and Austin, Texas, markets, H-E-B Plus stores range in size from 120,000 to 180,000 square feet and devote about one-fourth of their space to non-grocery categories. Stores carry a full assortment of grocery and health & beauty items, as well as roughly 40,000 additional SKUs of general merchandise.
In recent months, the Path to Purchase Institute visited a number of H-E-B Plus stores, taking notice of some unique departments and elements that differentiate the Texas-based retailer from a typical supermarket chain.
An increasing number of H-E-B Plus stores and some hybrid locations boast different foodservice counters and sit-down cafes for in-store dining. The retailer also carries a number of store-within-a-store concepts, like the Beauty by H-E-B concept first introduced in 2019 at a store in San Antonio. To gain a larger slice of the beauty category, the concept offers an expanded, curated assortment of mass and trendy products and a more modern and enhanced shopper experience.
The expansive Kodi shop commands attention, devoting plenty of space to H-E-B’s Yeti-like, outdoors private label spanning coolers, tumblers, accessories and even some apparel. The retailer launched the shop in 2018 and now operates Kodi concept shops within nine H-E-B Plus locations. The section is impossible to miss, with massive black and white “Kodi” arches hanging above that seemingly send shoppers into the camping section of a miniature Dick’s Sporting Goods or REI.
The shop gives off a wood cabin/industrial vibe and uniquely merchandises a slew of products designed with “Texas families and the Texas outdoors” in mind, according to H-E-B. Elevated with messaging like “Taming the Texas Terrain” and “Raise Your Expedition,” Kodi clearly targets adventurers.
Inside the section, half of a steel trailer built into a merchandising wall stocks a variety of temperature-retaining tumblers and water bottles under a large header communicating a “From backyard to Big Bend” message.
A black wall display merchandises a number of Kodi containers and smaller coolers, some attached to the wall in plastic cases. An affixed TV screen plays different informational and promotional videos for the brand.
The section is made even more adventurous with faux rock terrain and black rubber tubes used to draw attention to coolers.
Mia’s Mirror is a store-within-a-store format that launched in 2012 and is located in a number of H-E-B Plus locations to showcase fashion and accessories.
In general, H-E-B is considered to have one of the cleaner and more engaging shopping environments in the supermarket sector. Stores feature high ceilings, large windows and aisles that are relatively free of clutter. Signage and decor pay heavy homage to the chain’s Texas locale, showcasing cowboy imagery and graphics of local sports franchises.
H-E-B Plus stores are typically more brightly lit than traditional supermarkets and house more elaborate food stations that are identified by large, illuminated ceiling mobiles of various shapes and colors. General merchandise departments, such as apparel, baby and entertainment enjoy distinct aesthetics, with fixtures and layouts varying by category, but share a common use of large-scale graphics and bold colors.
Table displays are common for merchandising particular brands, such as Revlon’s Big Sexy Hair and lip care brand Eos.