BJ’s Chris Baldwin on what keeps this CEO up at night

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BJ’s Wholesale Club — simply known as BJ’s — has 215 stores in 16 states with 25,000 associates and sells more fresh food per member per year than its competitors, says President and CEO Chris Baldwin. He sees the company as a high-frequency club store that adds immense value to its 5 million members. “We save them 25 percent a year on their grocery bill,” he says, “so our role in their lives matters.”

This week on Retail Gets Real, Baldwin joins the co-hosts to discuss his personal story as well as how BJ’s stays competitive in a rapidly changing industry.

Co-hosts Bill Thorne (left) and Jessica Hibbard (center) with BJ’s Chris Baldwin (right).

Co-hosts Bill Thorne (left) and Jessica Hibbard (center) with BJ’s Chris Baldwin (right).

At BJ’s, the clubs are used as “learning labs” for research to better understand consumer behavior, leading to tangible changes in the stores. General merchandise is now laid out in quads that display fewer items instead of aisles, so customers can walk around and interact with products. Sales have increased as a result. “Given the amount of change going on in the retail business in the United States these days,” Baldwin says, “every retail company is a bit of a perpetual experiment about how to deliver to increasingly complicated consumer propositions.”

Baldwin is also an executive member on the NRF board of directors, a position he uses to advocate for the retail industry. “The industry is in a massive transformation,” he says. “Our country is over-stored, and it’s going to take a while to shake out.”

Listen to the episode for Baldwin’s take on what qualities are needed in new entrants to the industry to see retail thrive. Subscribe to Retail Gets Real to catch the special upcoming episode on retail predictions for 2018.

Nadee Bandaranayake is a part of NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast team. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.