There was a certain admiration for a century-old supermarket chain as it bucked trends and refused to go online.
Even when Market Basket launched its official website this week, it did so on its on terms. The site is more informational than transactional, like an online brochure rather than a retail outlet.
“They seem to be twenty minutes late to the party launching a website, but they weren’t going to do it until it was strategic and right for them,” says Jay Childs.
Childs, of Exeter, created a documentary film about the epic ownership feud between two cousins three years ago. “Food Fight: Inside the Battle for Market Basket,” is still screening.
He wonders if the DeMoulas family ownership struggles set the stage for the company launching a website this week. Market Basket also set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
However it came about, loyal customers applauded the move. On Facebook, a Plymouth, N.H., resident asked for Market Basket to open a store in her town. In the next comment, a woman from nearby Lebanon asked for a store in the Upper Valley.
For his documentary, Childs interviewed scores of Market Basket employees and customers. The new website may seem counterintuitive, he says, given the company culture.
“Their whole culture with their customers is based on personal relationships,” he says. “That’s why they don’t do self-checkout. The whole idea is that it’s a transaction and a relationship between you and the person ringing in your groceries and the person bagging your groceries.”
He is curious what will become of a Market Basket fan site now that the real thing just went digital. The unaffiliated site, which has nearly 55,000 followers on Facebook, did not immediately respond when contacted for this story.
Childs says there was talk in recent years of the company creating a website. He anticipates it evolving to meet needs and customer demands.
“They’re probably one of the last $4 billion companies that hasn’t had a website," he says. "But again, I was surprised but not shocked because, like I said, they don’t just follow the trends. They do things when they think it makes sense and when they think it makes sense for their customers.”