Forbes: Publix may have cracked the code in competing against Walmart

NEW YORK — Publix is successfully competing against a retail behemoth like Walmart, in part, because of the company's ownership structure — 80% of the company is employee-owned — argues an article that will appear in the Aug. 12 issue of Forbes. And pharmacy is the company's fastest-growing department. 

Complementing that employee ownership, Publix has both a system of cross-training and promoting from within and a compensation package that provides all employees bonuses tied to a store's performance.  

The ensuing culture is one hyper-focused on customer service. “We believe that there are three ways to differentiate: service, quality and price,” Publix president Todd Jones told Forbes. “You’ve got to be good at two of them, and the best at one. We make service our No. 1, then quality and then price.”

More than 34,000 Publix employees have been with the company more than 10 years.  

According to the article, Publix is trading on that customer focus against Walmart's EDLP strategy, suggesting to the customer that there is still value in the Publix basket and the accompanying service is worth paying a little more.

"It’s a fine distinction to rest an advertising campaign on, but also a unique value proposition: In an age when Amazon’s fast shipping counts as great customer service, Publix wants you to pay for a personal touch in your supermarket," writes Forbes reporter Brian Solomon. "In return it’ll do its best to keep prices competitive and funnel your spending back to the employees who do all the work."