Management Tour Report: Innovations in US Retail

Visit top US companies: Zappos, Facebook, Google, Whole Foods Market Inc., Instacart, Plug and Play Tech Center, Airbnb, Costco Wholesale Corporation and Wegmans. Useful experience, a lot of interesting things!

In October of this year, our company organized a corporate tour dedicated to innovations in US retail. Zappos, Facebook, Google, Whole Foods Market Inc., Instacart, Plug, and Play Tech Center, Airbnb, Costco Wholesale Corporation and Wegmans – all of these companies from San Francisco and Las Vegas opened their doors to us.

Members of the group
Day 1
Visit Zappos in Las Vegas

Our tour participants visited Zappos in Las Vegas. The program of the first day of the tour consisted of a meeting with top managers of the company, communication in a “question-answer” format, acquaintance with features of the corporate culture, specifics, and innovations of the company, and a sightseeing tour.

The computed revenue of Zappos Company is 2 billion dollars and the company has 2000 employees. The online shoe store Zappos, which has grown from a company with an office in a bedroom into a multi-billion corporation for 10 years, is considered to be a business with No1 corporate culture in the world. Western leaders and managers often use phrases like "Zappos-like" or "Zappos-style" when they want to describe the style of business that is based on the power of corporate culture.

Here's a Zappos

In just a few years, Zappos has become a leader in the market, and the company's corporate culture played a pivotal role: they built a philosophy, which was followed by all employees from the chief executive officer to the technical support specialist. In order to make friends with customers, Zappos introduced many special features which were laughed in other online stores. In the USA, the company provides free shipping both ways. The buyer can change shoes for free if he or she didn’t like it or if the footwear didn’t fit. Moreover, the purchase can be returned within 365 days. The company has a free day-and-night call center that does not use hackneyed phrases. The longest conversation with the buyer lasted six hours. The company’s warehouse also works around-the-clock. It helps to deliver shoes one day faster. If there are no shoes of the right type or size on the warehouse, the operator directs the buyer to the competitor’s website. 

Communication with company employees

Zappos company is a sponsor of one of the Las Vegas football teams. Administration of the football club is located at the company’s office, so all work is conducted here. 

Day 2
Visit to Facebook and Google

It is a dream for many people to visit Facebook and Google company, but it has become a reality for our tour participants.  The program of the second day of the tour consisted of presentations from top managers, meetings within companies and question-answer sessions.

Facebook social network (Menlo Park, California) has become a symbol of our time. Here we make friends, fall in love, break up, watch many videos and do business. Facebook succeeded in gathering all the news of public life on one website. You can post photos, for example, on Twitter, but you don’t have an opportunity to download or look through the whole photo album with one click, as you can do on Facebook. In Instagram, you can share photos instantly, but, unlike Facebook, the application does not provide a choice of settings. Facebook offers to its users an opportunity to post videos, news links, and personal notes without a strict limit of the number of characters. Moreover, company employees are constantly improving the service. Today, Facebook is one of the most visited websites in the world.

Communication with a company employee

Google is an American cosmopolitan technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products that include online advertising technologies, search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware.

Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were Ph.d. students at Stanford University, California. Together, they own about 14 percent of their stocks and have a control on 56 percent of shareholders' votes by keeping control of the stocks. They were incorporated into Google as a private company on September 4, 1998. The initial public offering (IPO) was on August 19, 2004, and Google moved to its new General Headquarters in Mountain View, California, with a nickname Googleplex. In August 2015, Google annunciated about plans to reorganize its various interests as a conglomerate Alphabet Inc. Google, the leading subsidiary company of Alphabet group, would remain an umbrella company for the Internet issues of Alphabet. When restructuring was completed, Sundar Pichai has become Google CEO and replaced Larry Page, who became CEO of Alphabet.

Also, our participants visited Whole Foods Market Inc. It is an American supermarket chain that specializes in the sale of food products without artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats. The network has 473 stores in North America and the United Kingdom.

Day 3
Instacart, Plug and Play Tech Center and Airbnb

Instacart is an American company that operates as a grocery delivery service that delivers products on the same day. Customers choose products through a web application directly from retail stores. Previously, Instacart had operations and services in the United States only, but in November 2017, the company announced that they want to conduct delivery to Toronto and Vancouver.

Did you know that Instacart:

  • It is a marketplace platform where except product offers from different companies, you have an opportunity to place an order, even pay for it, without going to the website of the online store; 
  • The company collaborates with more than 300 stores across The United States;
  • It is No. 1 company after Amazon in the e-commerce segment with a 3-5% capacity of total sales;
  • The company collaborates with Costco, Kroger Co, QFS, CVS, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Wegmans companies;
  • There is a system of dynamic goods updates;
  • The company is planning to enter the market of Eastern Europe by 2020.

The Plug and Play Tech Center is an accelerator and corporate innovation platform with global general headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, in the Silicon Valley. The center claims to be the largest accelerator in the world. It runs two programs per year in each industry (in general, 50 accelerator programs per year) and has 220 corporate partners and 200 venture capitalists in its ecosystem. Recently, the Silicon Valley business magazine called the company “the most active venture capital firm in Silicon Valley”.

Airbnb is an American company that manages the online market and hotel service. Airbnb offers rental housing for a short time, including cottages, apartments, homestays, dorms or hotel rooms. The company does not own a real estate. This is a broker that receives a percentage fee for each reservation. The company has more than 4 million listings in 65,000 cities (191 countries) and has contributed more than 260 million checks.

At the Airbnb office
Day 4
Costco Wholesale Corporation and Wegmans

On the fourth day, we had an open dialogue about all the twists and turns of work in Costco Wholesale Corporation and Wegmans companies, visited its store-warehouse, talked about all the technological peculiarities of receiving and shipping products and made small talks with top managers. Costco Wholesale Corporation is an American cosmopolitan corporation that manages a network of warehouse-based membership clubs only. Since 2015, Costco has become the second largest retailer in the world after Walmart, and it has been the world's largest retailer of choice for beef, organic products, grilled chicken and wine since 2016. 

Wegmans is a private regional American supermarket chain with General Headquarters in Rochester, New York. Wegmans had 95 stores in the Atlantic and New England regions, in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Virginia in November 2017. The company was founded in Rochester in 1916. Wegmans appeared on the Fortune annual list for the top 100 companies to work with because this list first appeared in 1998. The company is staying among the top ten for 8 years at a stretch. In 2017, the company celebrated 20th anniversary in the list and took second place after Google. Wegmans cooperates with Instacart in order to offer products delivery.

Day 5
A visit to Restaurant Depot Company
In Restaurant Depot

The Restaurant Depot company is a wholesale supplier and carrier of food products. The distinguishing capacity of this company is that it offers to customers high-quality products at low prices. Also, the company has a wide range of products for independent restaurants, foodservice outlets, and non-profit-making organizations.

In stock

Participants of the management tour have learned the secrets of the largest companies in the world from first hand.


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The impressions of previous tours participants:
Having already taken part in educational tours, these people are happy to share their knowledge and impressions.
Anton Nesiforov
Anton NesiforovProcess Manager for fruit and vegetable preservation, beverages, and alcohol

On our tour of Germany, we visited the most famous food exhibition, the Green Week, as well as numerous retail chains and enterprises operating in various interesting industries. We have a lot to learn. We must take the best and use it. Thank you, FastForward, for your careful approach to creating this tour.

Alena Nesiforova
Alena NesiforovaUnified Concept Manager for Izbenka and VkusVill

We visited several retail stores in Germany, as well as manufacturing facilities. What we liked the most about the stores we visited was the high quality standards of German retail. Retailers know how to sell high-quality goods at affordable prices, and this is probably the main secret of Germany's retail success. As for production, we were inspired by some of the small family businesses we saw.