Meet the Expert: Wendy Frytak
If you’ve shopped online with us before, you know Wendy Frytak’s work. “I touch everything that goes public on our site,” says Frytak. As the digital product specialist for Lunds & Byerlys, she watches over the entire online shopping experience — from providing detailed information about each product we sell in our online shop and highlighting delicious recipes to helping customers with one very important, mission critical 2020 task — recreating State Fair foods at home.
“Obviously with the State Fair on hold we’re going to highlight a lot of food-on-a-stick recipes,” says Frytak. “Not everyone likes to cook, so we will have recipes for people who want to make State Fair foods and we will have prepared foods for those who don’t.”
Finding moments of joy is important, of course, but this year has brought many serious and weighty concerns, many of which have affected the food supply chain and the shopping experience. Frytak and our entire digital team have been on the front lines, helping customers navigate the new realities of shopping and staying safe. “As a company, and with the type of work I do, we have helped people feed and nourish themselves and find comfort in an uncertain situation,” she says. “We never closed our doors. We have been a steadying presence. We’ve been nimble and we’ve adapted to supply chain changes and we’ve continued to offer the best experience possible.”
Indeed, creating the best experience possible for online shoppers is central to Frytak’s work. “We want customers to have a similar experience, whether they’re in the brick-and-mortar store or our digital space. We try our darndest every day to create the same experience you would have in the store.”
Shopping Online vs. Shopping in Person
What does it mean to recreate the in-store experience online? One aspect Frytak takes into consideration is how products are organized. “Much like in the store, we have special areas for certain products, but they are on a digital shelf [instead of a physical shelf],” says Frytak. She curates content around those products to help customers with one of life’s central questions: What’s for dinner tonight? “I’ll highlight digital recipes, seasonal content, our L&B private label products,” she says. “Anything I think is relevant to the consumer that week.”
This month, she’s put a special focus on Lunds & Byerlys fresh produce. “I’m really enthused about our produce department, especially right now with summer produce at its peak,” she says. The produce departments at our stores feature a lot of local and regional produce, and Frytak thinks locally sourced produce is a comfort to customers during this uncertain time. It’s an environmentally friendly choice, too, which is a comfort for Frytak and, she hopes, for customers. Knowing your food is grown close to home confers a sense of security and commitment to sustainability.
Frytak has also taken note of something that, on the surface, seems less pressing but is still important: the clean and inviting way our produce departments are laid out, which she works to replicate in our online shop. “When I walk through our produce departments, I know the quality of the food and I know the aesthetics. We try to do that online, too,” she says. “I’m tasked with presenting products to our customers in ways that meet our brand standards.”
Frytak also highlights holidays and other big events (like the State Fair) in the online shop. Not only does curating products and recipes around a special event help shoppers plan meals for those occasions, it also helps give them the feel of an in-person experience, where shoppers naturally encounter special displays, seasonal decorations and recipe suggestions.
Lunds & Byerlys’ Long Legacy in the Twin Cities Goes Online
Frytak has a background in the culinary arts and she started out at Lunds & Byerlys as a FoodE Expert, one of our in-store experts who offer cooking insights and help customers solve kitchen conundrums. So one of her big commitments for the online shop is making sure every customer can easily find alternatives for various products and recipes when something doesn’t meet their needs.
“From my perspective on customer service, and because we have so many different types of customers, I try to provide alternatives,” says Frytak. “I want alternatives for a family of four looking for value, for people on restricted diets or who have health concerns, for customers who are looking for organic options, and for people who are vegetarian, vegan or gluten free.”
Lunds & Byerlys has specialized in offering local products and a wide variety of choices in the Twin Cities area for over 75 years. That, says Frytak, has led to a “sense of camaraderie with our customers that you might not find at other stores.” While that camaraderie might look a little different in the digital space, “we still try to adhere to those principles and maintain our brand standards online,” she says.
What does that mean for our digital shoppers? “For us, it’s about food,” says Frytak. “What’s for dinner tonight? Do you want to impress someone? Is it a special occasion? Do you need advice about meal planning or if you have a health issue and need some guidance from a nutritionist? You can ask those questions online as well.” Whether you are shopping virtually or in the store, “we have people who can help you.”